Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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The theme of my collage is childhood. Though I came to America when I was 11 years old, I still have fresh memories of my childhood in China. What I remember the most was the old culture of China that helped to shape the person I am today, especially my elementary school. Separated from my parents, I lived in the city alone for the four years before I came to America.

In my collage, I chose to include the old Chinese reading textbook used for elementary school students. Though the textbooks today have become more standardized, the textbooks I used were artistic and more descriptive of the learning topics. The old textbooks also served as communist propaganda because most of the topics in them were memoirs of soldiers who sacrificed their life during the Chinese revolution. The old textbooks also included a fabricated role model “Lei Fun” who was used to promote philanthropy. I also had a multi-functional pencil box that had a pencil sharpener, erase, mini calculator, and ruler. I remembered that I purchased one of those on the collage for one yuan.

Pledging to be loyal to the party and reciting the little handbook, I was among many of my classmates who were granted the right to wear the red neck scarf. The red scarf symbolized the first time I was labeled as a communist. I hated the red neck scarf because I would always lose it. I bought a hundred of them over the course of three years in elementary school. We also had a bureaucracy in school, where everyone was in the same class until graduation. For every month, a group of ten students were required to present a theme on the blackboard, placed in the back of the classroom. I was assigned to write all the Chinese characters on the blackboard, though later on I was criticized for my rusty penmanship. Though I was timid in class, I would be punished by my teachers and told to write a sentence 100 times after school.

In leisure time, I would play marbles with my classmates. While the students today are more occupied with their electronic devices, my classmates and I never were more involved in physical activities such as badminton. The cotton candy in the collage was worth approximately 5o fen  It was inexpensive and the seller never needed extra customers because it was popular around school.

All these memories from elementary school in China are permanent reminders to me that I lived a life which many people today in America have never experienced.


1 Yuriy Minchuk { 12.27.08 at 9:23 pm }

Jack I thought your collage was very creative. Much like the rest of your class presentations, it had a lot of money and you chose to represent your culture. I thought I could relate to this because of the red scarfs that my parents also had to wear in the Soviet Union. Very cool that you brought your report card. I learned a lot from this presentation.

2 Jeff { 12.27.08 at 9:56 pm }

I liked the way you put together images of your past, even though you’re looking to the future. The best part was definitely your report card from elementary school – it felt like the culmination of your entire collage. All the emotion and symbolism in the images were embodied in that report card.

3 Keyana { 12.29.08 at 3:25 am }

Jack I loved that you included your report card. It was very interesting to see the Chinese grading system. I agree with Jeff, the images on your collage really reflect your experiences. I enjoyed hearing about your childhood in China.