Monday, June 27, 2005

Strong

At the women's university I work at on Mondays and Wednesdays, most of my classes are small this year, which is a good thing. I am able to spend more time with each student and get to know them in a way I don't usually know my students.

In one of these classes today there is a young woman I like very much. She told me that last summer she spent her vacation in Thailand, doing volunteer work in a village there. Her volunteer group was helping to build a school. Her goal, after she graduates, is to do more of this sort of work. She wants to work in India, she says.

If almost any of my students told me something like that I'd worry about them. Most of my students are pampered, spoilt, and if they live away from home live on convenience food because they can't cook. They live in one-room apartments and complain that the housework is too much for them.

But although this girl lives at home I have no worries about her being a volunteer. She told me her mother is a terrible cook, and she does most of the cooking and housework herself. (When they learned the word siesta today, she laughed and said, "My mother always has a siesta - all day!") Also, of course, she has done volunteer work once already, and knows what kind of conditions she'd be living in. Six weeks of it only gave her a taste for more. She is full of indignation at the injustices she has seen, and wants to do what she can to make the world a better place.

Today she had written something about her educational experiences. She wrote that she attended the high school that is also owned by the university. This high school is a girls' high school. This means that since she was about fifteen she has been entirely in all-female institutions. She is a third year university student now.

"This is why I am ribald," she wrote. "Men like a woman who is neat and weak. I want to be a strong woman. So I am sure I will never get married, because men will not like me."

I queried ribald, and we talked over what she meant, consulting a dictionary. We decided unladylike was a better word.

When one of the others asked her it worried her that men wouldn't like her, she laughed and laughed and laughed. The others stared, smiling uncertainly, until she stopped.

"No," she answered. "I want to be strong. I want to go to India." She lit up at the thought. Her eyes shone.

Personally, I think she is in for a big surprise. I have no doubt there are any number of men out there who will be extremely interested in this strong, beautiful, passionate, thoughtful and intelligent woman.




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6 comments:

The Editter said...

and at least the men who will be interested in her are men she will also be interested in...

Cheryl said...

Completely agreed!

Quite apart from her tiny Eastern frame being seen as exotic to many, it does seem that Japanese blogs in particular are horrendously old fashioned about women being demure and submissive - its not like that anywhere else, I feel, outside of the far East and middle East.

If she could fancy a six foot tall white man who expects to work for her affection, I'm sure she'll have them lining up at the door, whatever country she goes to.

She is in for a lovely surprise, just for following her heart :-)

betty said...

Hi, I've recently discovered your blog, and am enjoying reading your posts.

This student of yours sounds like an incredibly special person with strong convictions who will go far in this world with many accomplishments!

Megan said...

This post was beautiful and brought a smile to my face. I love hearing about women like this; it helps to show me that I'm not alone. Sure, I come from a very different background than she, but I think most women deal with issues similar to this at some point in our lives. She is truly stronger than she knows.

tinyhands said...

How unfortunate that she's the exception.

Myles said...

All this girl needs is a strong passionate and loving heart. Even that is powerful enough to bring a legion of brusque domineering men to their knees.