I got my first project idea when I came across a Chinese made documentary called “Kindergarten” that documents the everyday lives of kids age 2 to 7 attending a boarding kindergarten in China. I was floored by the fact that parents were sending their two year olds to boarding school, and I started researching the idea and found that kindergarten has become an increasingly competitive thing in China as parents try to give (what is often their only) child the best possible chance at success. A lot of the schools, both boarding and day, have long waiting lists and are very expensive. My project would look into the way early childhood education is dealt with in China. Prof. Fernsebner suggested another documentary called “Please Vote for Me” about elementary education, so I’ll definitely be looking into that one as well. There are lots of interesting articles coming out about the growing focus on early childhood education and the pressures it puts on parents as well as students. It would also be interesting to compare how the the Chinese are approaching kindergarten in relation to the way those in other countries do.
My second idea stemmed from the article about pet ownership I read in China Digital News the other day. As pet ownership is rising in China so are tensions between pet owners, largely wealthier city dwellers, and non pet owners, mainly poorer and rural Chinese, over the merits of owning vs. eating dogs and cats. Treating animals as pets is so ingrained in American culture at this point that it is intriguing to see China just now grappling with what it means to bring animals into homes, some even treating them as substitute human companions.