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 China
An attempt to describe the Chinese people can be a very complicated and challenging task. Chinese people are very diverse in their country of origins. In China, the Han Chinese constitutes 95% of the nation's population and is also the largest ethnic group in the world. The remaining 5% of China's population are made up of 55 other ethnic groups. Although many of these minorities live in China, they do not consider themselves as Chinese. The minority population is spread in the western part of China, the border regions around India, Afghanistan, Russia, Central Asia, and Vietnam. The three largest minority groups including the Tibetans, the Uighurs who live in Xinjiang province in northwestern China and the Mongolians who live on the northern grasslands of Inner Mongolia.1
Within the Han ethnic group, there are many subtleties in their beliefs and practices that make it difficult to categorize this group as one homogenous group. For the general public, the Chinese are assumed to behave like other Chinese and speak mutually understandable language. In reality, depending on where the Chinese come from, their spoken language, religions, cultural practice can be different from each other. For instance, within Mainland China, there are more than a dozen Chinese dialects and people who speak these dialects do not necessary understand each other. Outside of Mainland China, the Chinese from Hong Kong may share a dialect with the Chinese from Southeast Asia. Although they may speak the same dialect and mutually understand each other, their religions, beliefs, daily practices or the food they eat can be different due to local influences. Because the Chinese people are very heterogeneous and their differences can be quite subtle to a non-Chinese person, it is important to first understand where the Chinese are from and the dialects/language they speak.
There are seven major groups of Chinese dialects that are differentiated on the basis of phonological features, vocabularies and grammar. The major dialects groups are: Baifanghua (known as Mandarin), Wu, Yue (known as Cantonese), Min, Kejia (known ass Hakka), Xiang, and Gan. Mandarin is the largest dialect group that many native Chinese speak. The non- Mandarin groups are also called the Southern dialects.

Family & Education
In traditional Chinese culture the first born son is considered the hope of the family. In the past, one of his many obligations and responsibilities was to look after his parents in their elder years. This meant that at either his parents retirement, or at the birth of his first child, his parents would come to live with him and take their honored position as part of his household. It was expected. The comfort of their later years was in direct proportion to the economic prosperity of their first born son.

Education is a precious privilege and a keen recognition of this is ever so evident in China, where it is taken very seriously.Not so long ago, perhaps fifteen or twenty years, only the top 5% of high school graduates were admitted into college, and thus securing a higher education was a rare privilege indeed. This resulted in a climate of very fierce competition for the few spaces available, which still exists to this day. For this reason education is considered a family venture. Everyone participates.

In China it is said that the three most important persons in your life are: your mother because she gave you birth; your father because he guides your upbringing and prosperity; and your teacher because a teacher nurtures your mind. Children in primary school know from a very young age that they are expected to do their best to secure a complete education with the highest marks possible. With the law of "one family, one child", this responsibility becomes more pronounced. From as early as first and second grade they are taught that school is important and they must do their absolute best. In classrooms of forty to seventy-two students each, a child learns quickly that one’s education is one’s own responsibility. Primary, middle, and high school pupils and students spend six to eight hours a day at school –- between eight and nine o'clock in the morning and five o'clock in the evening.
This rigorous schedule is broken up by a lunch break and much-needed nap between noon and two p.m. Both pupils and students. often stay after school to study and do homework, and in middle and high school, schools are often open on Saturday for special classes and homework. Traditionally, when someone graduates from university it is time to begin thinking about getting married. It is not legal to marry before age 23 so women usually marry between the ages of 23 and 27, and men usually marry between the ages of 26 to 33.
Soon after this time a child is planned and the cycle begins again.

Education in China is viewed as a life-long process.
Throughout life the quest for knowledge and the desire to better one's mind is fervent. Every morning various exercise classes are held in the cultural plaza of every town and on any given evening one can join in a public concert or ballroom dance class in the parking lot of a main office building, or attend a lecture at a local institution of learning. Weekends are filled with music lessons and English classes and both young and old can be observed edifying their minds, bodies, and spirits in their quest of knowledge.
 
 
 
Last Updated: 3/17/09
Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School    500 Dorset Street    South Burlington, VT 05403    (802) 652-7100
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