american dreams in china

It begins in 1985, during China’s national study-abroad craze: a time when undergraduates are infatuated with America and believe it is their only hope of a good future. Three close buddies at Beijing’s prestigious Yanjing University — Cheng Dongqing, Wang Yang and Meng Xiaojun — have comical yet fateful interviews with U.S. immigration officials. Naive country boy Cheng’s visa applications are repeatedly rejected; cinephile/lady-killer Wang foregoes his application to stay home with his American girlfriend, Lucy; and golden boy Meng coasts through his interview and takes off for New York, hoping to land on the cover of Time magazine.

Everyone knows about American Dreams, but more and more, people around me have started to talk about “Chinese Dreams”. This movie is actually based on a real story. There is a private language school in China, known as the New Oriental School. The headmaster is Minhong Yu and he was born into a poor family in a rural area of China, His father’s innovation and determination inspired Yu to consistently pursue his dream. Yu overcame many obstacles in his life, including childhood poverty, two failures of the university qualification exam, a one-year delay in university due to sickness, and several refusals for over sea’s study visas. Although Yu never had a chance to study abroad and fulfill his American Dream, he made up his mind to become an English teacher and help Chinese students learn English so that they could follow their dreams.

Today, Yu is known as the “richest teacher in China”, and the “Godfather of English Training”. He has a network of 57 schools, 733 learning centers, 32 New Oriental bookstores and more than 5,000 third-party bookstores, in excess of 17,400 teachers in 50 cities, as well as an online network with over 8.3 million registered users.

All around me, I have seen and heard numbers of such cases in Shanghai – it is a city full of possibilities and always open to new ideas.

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