Hope in Xianlin

Fang Shu, Lin Qing and Zhang Wenying

Ginling College set her new campus in Xianlin by the end of 1990s. Since then, more and more universities and colleges have moved from the downtown to Xianlin, a suburb of Nanjing. Xianlin used to be a pasture and was acquired by a property developer decades ago. Now it has become the university town that has gathered thirteen universities and colleges. In recent years, Xianlin has developed so rapidly that property prices have skyrocketed. The high rise boom has made us ignore many significant phenomena and people worthy of careful consideration, especially women. Our college has started a curriculum on women’s studies for freshwomen, which makes us pay much more attention to the women around us.

Therefore, we interviewed three women who all live in Xianlin and are close to us in their respective ways. Our lives are bound up with them. Their lives like mirrors reflect our own. We learn from them and we learn about ourselves. (Ed note: A video of those interviews appears below.)

The first interview is one of the landladys who often lingers around our school gate. Within her hands, there is a small cardboard on which it says “Cheap Accommodation Provided”. Her job is to ask people passing by whether they need to rent a hotel room for an hour or even longer. The price of the room she provides is very low in order to attract more customers. When passing by the school gate, we often see her promoting rooms. Out of curiosity, we interviewed her and found that she and the other landladies actually live a difficult and miserable life. Their houses were demolished decades ago and most of them who were farmers lost their fields. In addition to the unbalanced economic development and the inequality of opportunities for females, they can’t find a decent job. Without a regular income, they find that accommodation in a university town is a good business opportunity. Nevertheless, they don’t have many customers and are only able to maintain their livelihood. Some of them even live in the basements now. Thus we hope the government and the society can pay much more attention to them and handle the issues of the landladies’ well-being.

The second interview is with a helper in our school’s canteen. We often see her busy collecting plates and clearing tables. She is from Chaohu, a neighboring city of Nanjing. She was a farmer from a remote village and could only earn 10,000 RMB a year. Seeking jobs on her own, she came here for a relatively high-paid job. Though she misses her hometown a lot, she feels satisfied with her current life in that she can provide better living conditions for her children. She believes that she can make a good living by great efforts.

The third interview is with our classmate—a girl from Ginling College. At present, the enlargement of the number of students in universities and colleges makes job hunting a quite difficult task for all graduates. We students face the same severe employment pressure as the first two interviewees. However, she is filled with a great hope, ambition and confidence about the future. The development of Xianlin university town offers her plenty of chances. It provides her with advanced educational facilities and favorable career development. At the same time, she is willing to make contributions to the development of Nanjing.

With the development of the society, our economy has become uneven and the inequality of opportunities for females is more and more serious. In our university town, Xianlin, many women don’t have good living conditions but still struggle to live positively. There are many ill fortunes and sorrows in Xianlin. However, there are many more women who have great hopes and confidence for the future. It is the women that shine a light for the development of Xianlin.

In every city, in every place, there is both sadness and happiness. We have sympathy for the unfortunate ones. Meanwhile, we are supposed to cherish a hope for these who still have dreams.