I’m awoken at 6 am.m by the sound of marching feet and screaming soldiers. “One, two, three, four,” the officers shout. “One, two, three, four” the soldiers shout back in unison. What’s going on? Are we being attacked? Is there a national crisis? Has the sleeping dragon woke? Nope, it’s just the yearly military training.

In every college across the country right now the freshman students are learning to stand at attention, march in time, and even practice a few kung fu moves. It’s a mix of orientation, community building and instilling patriotism into the students.

They march around before breakfast, yell slogans and practice punches and kicks in the afternoon, and watch patriotic movies about victorious battles at night. For 10 days they don’t change out of their camouflage military uniform and the school hotel is filled with officers. Everywhere you turn, there is a uniform.

There are about 20,000 students at my school, which means about 5,000 of them are freshman and are taking part in military training (freshman in high school and middle school also have military training.) They don’t shoot guns (that happens at only the top universities) but seeing the soldiers march all around campus, in perfect synchronized lines can be a bit daunting. In fact, if you have any anti-Chinese bias, even hidden deep in your subconscious, the sight of thousands of soldiers marching can be a tad frightening. What kind of propaganda is this? What exactly are the officers saying about western countries? Are these students really so indoctrinated that if called to war they would blindly follow?

But after living here for awhile I realize all that worry is for naught. After all, I knew these kids and secret ninja killers they are not. While they might have gone through military training and marched in time with the rest, this is what they are like normally.

I think we’re all safe for now.

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2 Comments

Ryan · September 26, 2011 at 6:45 am

They also play silly games and have sing-a-longs and giggle and generally look non-threatening when you watch the training for more than ten minutes. Only when you catch a casual view does it look scary. I remember the first year we were here though, it definitely freaked us out a little bit.

Confused Laowai · September 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

I remember seeing this for the first time too. And as Ryan said, it goes from… woah to, hey that might actually be great team building. I’m not a big fan of these kind of forced team building exercises, but I can see how it will benefit some people.

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