Feature: Daytime office worker but evening student -- new lifestyle of young Chinese

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 27, 2023
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by Xinhua writers Chen Qingbing, Yu Xiaosu

CHONGQING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Across China, many young white-collar workers are heading to night school. In the past, evening classes were predominantly focused on academic or professional development; Today, however, a diverse array of courses, from acting to paper cutting, has emerged, which are not only fun but also transforming the lifestyles of urbanites.


Ninth Street in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality never sleeps. At night, bars, nightclubs and restaurants light up the busy street and the party continues until dawn.

One reveler, Liu Shuang, a 25-year-old DJ, is a regular on Ninth Street, but instead of heading to the bar, his destination is a cultural center, where he runs DJ classes.

"In the past, a DJ would bring a very heavy box full of vinyl records to the show," Liu explained to his class of more than 20 students. Liu's course is one of many facilitated by the cultural center since it began running evening classes in August.

When it was time to get down to the practical part of the class, Zhou Mozi, 61, quickly raised her hand among the group of mostly young students, and jumped onto the decks.

"It's so fun, and I will come again. I want to connect with young people," Zhou said, explaining that she had seen a poster for the event shared by a community worker of her sub-district in a WeChat group and signed up immediately.

Since launching evening classes, the Cooperation Units, a cultural and creative park in Jiangbei District, has become a hive of activity, with around 900 students attending acting, modeling, calligraphy, coffee brewing, and cocktail-making classes.

Sisi, 35, bought 10 classes for 500 yuan (about 70 U.S. dollars). Most recently, she attended sound healing with singing bowls.

"I was stressed before I came here because I failed to close a deal at work. However, the healing has helped chill me out," said Sisi, adding that she plans to buy another 10 classes.

In the past two months, more than 1,000 people in Chongqing have participated in different types of evening classes.

Aside from Chongqing, Shanghai, Chengdu and other megacities have also launched a variety of evening courses, which are proving to be very popular. According to data from online platforms Meituan and Dianping, instances of the search term "night school" had increased by 980 percent year on year.


In spite of its popularity, there are still those who cannot fathom how attendees find the energy to go to night school after a day's work.

"You won't get tired of doing what you like," said Sun Yuyu, 30, who has been studying calligraphy for three weeks.

Wu Aiping, another night school student, also mentioned that night school could relieve stress. "Here, no one pushes you, and you can feel the pure joy of learning and the joy can relieve the stress of the day."

Teachers, too, are finding meaning in running their courses.

Xiao Yu, Sun's calligraphy teacher, is also an office worker. She teaches two calligraphy classes every Friday evening.

"Before, I could only find calligraphy lovers online, but night school means I can discuss calligraphy face to face. I think it has made my connection with calligraphy more real and tangible," she said.

Lu Ping, a photography tutor, admits that despite working on visual creation for five years, he still feels that he is a novice. For him, night school is also a process of learning and co-production. "Every time I prepare for a class, I will reflect on my creative ideas, and the class is the process of verification and creation."

Beyond the sharing and learning process, some teachers also hope night schools can provide an opportunity to explore niche cultures, such as American acting or the aforementioned sound healing.

An American acting coach, with the Chinese name "A Fen," said that many people think that acting is only for actors, but in fact, everyone can realize the inner exploration and find their true self through performance. She added that real freedom time begins after work, and night school provides a chance and space for this freedom.


Many students, teachers, and organizers also spoke about how night schools can play a bigger role in helping fill the gap in terms of current services and business operation and break prejudices in local communities.

Zhang Yusi, publicity officer of the Guanyinqiao Sub-District Administration in Jiangbei District, said that the night school enhances interactions between young people and the sub-district, increases the quality of public services, and enriches the district's cultural atmosphere.

Zhang mentioned that the night school can be a window to make more people see the local government's daily efforts and change their stereotypes toward government officials.

"I didn't know much about the work of sub-district offices before. Now I see that they really pay attention to the needs of youngsters," said Liu Shuang.

Wang Chao, head of Cooperation Units, said that the Units had been open for more than two years, but before the night school boom, few knew about it. Now, the night school has brought a lot of popularity to the local community and further deepened the neighborhood concept among the residents.

"A lot of the students live in the neighborhood and walk to class after dinner, and many of the night school teachers are the owners of the stores in Cooperation Units. Everyone is more like a resident, friend, and neighbor in a community, and the atmosphere is relaxed," said Wang. Enditem

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