The Transformation Of Chinese Culture In River Town By Peter Hessler

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In the novel, River Town, Peter Hessler writes about his time teaching English and American Literature in Fuling, China. Hessler came about this opportunity by volunteering in the Peace Corps. Hessler taught classes in writing and speaking, but most of his time was devoted to teaching literature to third-year students. Throughout the book, Hessler also describes his time in Fuling. His intensive detail about the small fishing villages in the mountain, the housing situation the students have on the college campus, and the culture shock that he goes through while living in a town that hasn’t seen an outsider in years. Hessler describes the students and the people’s regime as they go throughout the day. He talk about how the boats always leave …show more content…
There was the morning routine- the exercises, the bells, the classes- and often in the afternoons there was the whisk of brooms as the students did their mandatory campus cleaning. On Mondays and Thursdays they cleaned their classrooms. Sunday nights were political meetings…(Hessler p. 14)”
Reading this quote not only set up the whole book for me, but it gave me a general idea of what this river town is like and how the people are. It made me respect the people and culture a little more and made me really enjoy the books more than expected. This quote right here is a perfect description of Chinese culture to me. These students are objective driven, respectable, and strict. The go to school with one goal in mind and they plan on achieving it. They believe hard work always pays off and they shouldn’t waste their time when they don’t need to.
The students also go through military training and they see this is a patriotic thing, mostly because the state is paying for their education. In a way, their strict behavior is a way to honor their country and their culture. Throughout the book, Hessler describes how the town and students go through these routines and it becomes part of who they are. They play croquet, the villages get on boats and go somewhere out of site for a period of time and then come back, the students come to class no matter what the weather
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Hessler does a great job about analyzing how the students think by using the students journals to show the differences between Americans and Chinese people. Within the first few chapters of River Town, he describes how the students view Americans much differently. In one part of the book, Hessler’s friend and coworker, Adam, compliments a chinese student on her freckles. Usually, a girl or anyone would probably be a bit bashful, but would take the compliment because here in America, freckles are considered to be cute. However, the student acted embarrassed and did not say anything. Adam read in one of his students journal entries, “We chinese have our own taboos. We never make frivolous remarks about people’s appearance. (Hessler, pg

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