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China's only-child generation learns value of hard w

Lunchtime is the hardest lesson of the day for college student Xiao Zhou.
He is working as a waiter collecting dirty dishes from the dining hall of the People's University of China, as part of a compulsory labor course.

"I wish I had more hands when the dining hall is crowded," he said.

"I will never again leave my dishes scattered around after a meal now that I know how hard the real staff work here," he added.

The week-long labor course at the prestigious university is compulsory for junior and sophomore students, who can score two credits by working in the kitchen, planting trees, cleaning classrooms and dorms, attending bathrooms, or assisting in school shops.

The course's head teacher, Wang Yongsheng, said, "We do this to teach them the value of labor."

Wang said his generation believes that everyone should work hard and efficiently, be respectful of and be grateful for other people's labor, and always be ready to help others.

"These values have been reflected in President Hu Jintao's listof honors and disgraces," Wang said.

Eighty percent of Chinese college students are only children, and they are commonly perceived as lazy or incapable of manual labor. Only children have been dubbed "little emperors or empresses" as they are doted on by parents, grandparents and otherrelatives.

"The work is hard but interesting," said a Beijing University student surnamed Li, who was working as a shop assistant. She developed pains in her back and legs from standing all day.

"This is far more difficult than I anticipated," she said, admitting she once thought herself capable of any job.

Chen Yi, a postgraduate student at Zhejiang University, worked as a volunteer for the annual West Lake Exposition in Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province.

"I feel happy helping others and receiving just their thanks," she said.

Thousands of students like her have worked as volunteers for the expo in the last five years. They have received and interpreted for delegates, cleaned the expo hall, and assisted in meetings.

In Jiangsu's Yangzhou University, senior physics students are required to dredge the the sewers.

"I vomited as I smelt the sewers," Xia Weiwei recalled. "Five to six hours a day for half a month really taught me the hardship of labor."

The ability of spoiled only children to care for themselves andto mix with others has been often doubted and discussed.

Fan Ming, head of Yangzhou University, said the lesson for the only-child generation is how to shoulder tough tasks when they enter society. Only by knowing the difficulties of labor can they remain diligent.

 Source : xinhua  Editor: WuLin
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