Around this time of year, American college kids migrate across the country to colleges far from home. It's not like this in every country. In Europe, Australia, and South Africa where I grew up, kids typically go to college in their home town. So this rite of passage, this educational journey, is not to be taken for granted. It's a challenging, wonderful growth experience for those privileged to partake and no doubt contributes to the adaptability of young Americans.
In China, a small but growing percentage of students are also going to college, but the large educational migration occurs when high school graduates leave their rural homes for the large industrial cities. Like their American counterparts, they'll live in dormitories, meet new people, party, and see things they've never seen before. But they'll be working in large factories pumping out clothing, sneakers, iPods, notebook computers, and stethoscopes.
Besides the obvious differences between factory life and college life, there's another striking contrast. In China, kids send money back home to support their parents. In America, we send money to support our kids education. We also need to provide for them - clothing, sneakers, iPods, notebook computers, and for medical students, stethoscopes.