A Tale of Two Schools

Sarabeth Berman reviews Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu

For millions of children in China today, the experience of school is much like a scene I encountered one afternoon in the fall of 2010, in a village in southwest China. Working for a Chinese non-profit education organization, I boarded a plane in Beijing one morning, flew three-and-half hours to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, then took another short flight to Lincang, a city near the Burmese border. From there, we rode six hours through lush but impoverished mountains, famous for their tea plantations, to the village of Shao Jie (population 3,000). Finally we reached our destination, the local school, just as its students were breaking for dinner. It stood at the top of a hill, nestled in Yunnan’s famous clouds.