I had a bit of an insight into "being a Chinese teenager" this weekend. The word "patriotic" came up in our textbook and I told my students that I thought the Chinese were a lot more patriotic than the British. When they asked why I explained about British dissatisfaction with everything from the weather to the Government. But it turned out their "why" was asking why I thought Chinese teenagers were patriotic. I told them that every time I ask a student whether they love China, they always say "yes". I noticed some smirks at this and the most confident student in the class muttered, "They are just cheating you!". So I asked him if he loved China. "Of course", he replied. I asked the other students one by one and they all answered yes. "So are you all cheating me now?" I asked. Some furtive glances and nervous smiles made it clear that it was time to move on to another subject. Even after so many years here, it still amazes me how deep-seated the fear is amongst the Chinese to say or do anything against the accepted way. It seems that "speaking your mind" is quite literally a foreign concept.
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