Around 4700 freshmen at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology are perplexed and bored by their new assignment from the Youth League Committee: send a hand-written letter home to their parents every month.
Xinhua Net reports that Li Wei, the university's Youth League committee director, initiated the program in October after he was astonished by a phone call from a worried parent. The parent's child had not contacted home for almost two months, since registration.
Most students openly express their dislike for the program, saying "I don't know what to say to my parents", or "making phone calls or sending mobile phone messages is enough".
In direct contrast to their children, quite a few of the parents treasure the letters from their children. The parents of a girl called Li keep her letter by their pillows. It's the first letter they have received from their daughter and they read it every night.
Another student called Yuan was deeply touched to discover his parents still keep a letter he sent them 8 years ago.
Sociology professor Zhou Yunqing said the students' indifference to penning letters to their parents stems from a lack of gratitude. China's one child policy has created many spoilt only children who take their parents' love and care for granted.
Letters written on paper are fast becoming antiquated as more efficient electronic means of communicating, like telephones and emails, become popular. Despite the low-technology involved, letters can never be completely replaced by "cold" electronic forms of communication. They provide parents with the joy and warmth of receiving familiar handwriting.
Two hundred and thirty out of the 240 new students at the university's school of chemistry completed the assignment and wrote a letter home in October. But around 90% feel frustrated by the lack of an immediate response from their parents and show little interest in writing more.
(CRI November 29, 2006)