The People of Tsinghua in Beijing

Mid-march, spring brings along warm weather, up 20 degrees Celsius, or about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Flowers buds are occasionally spotted, sprinkled across naked tree branches. A blanked of grey covers the campus. I try to imagine how these blossoms once looked full, voluminous, full-of-life: the days before the pollution made them anemic.

Amidst the grey there is still life, the people.

The people of Tsinghua are actually hard to find outside in the City. Tsinghua, like most Chinese universities is a gated campus, all 980 acres of it (that’s larger than Madison’s 936 acres). What people don’t say is that inside these gated walls, are little towns. Supermarkets, beauty parlors, libraries, coffee shops, electronic stores, theaters, all can be found within campus. There is no reason for anyone really to leave these walls. Retired scholars and their families live within campus in special districts tucked away from university students.

It’s these people that still have life in them.

They can be found strolling in the University’s many little parks, walkways, and casually biking through campus with baskets filled with fruits and vegetables and more often then not, a young toddler sitting in the back. Rarely will you find them alone. They come in groups, for an outing to play cards and music or in pairs with their grandchildren.