Parents and peer pressure are two reasons why some college graduates refuse to go home

“The Long Goodbye” is part of our cover story, Home Bound, which explores Chinese society’s ever-evolving views of home and homecoming in an urbanizing age

The top scorers in China’s National Higher Education Entrance Examination (gaokao) make the news every year, assured that a place in the country’s most prestigious universities means a glorious future.

But sometimes these academic high-fliers hit the headlines again for failing to deliver on these promises, as in the case of Lu Buxuan, the Peking University graduate who was discovered running a butcher shop in Xi’an in 2003.

Though Lu then manipulated the media’s attention to expand his business, other young strivers find the shame and dishonor too much to bear—and simply disappear.

“Son, wherever you are,” Sichuan farmer Yang Chongsheng begged his son, Rongren, in the Yangtze Evening News in August, “whether you’re poor or rich, I hope you see this news and come back.” Yang’s wife, dying from cancer, was desperate to see the son who had “disappeared” nine years before.

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The Long Goodbye is a story from our issue, “Home Bound.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Tan Yunfei (谭云飞)

Tan Yunfei is the editorial director of The World of Chinese. She reports on Chinese language, food, traditions, and society. Having grown up in a rural community and mainly lived in the cities since college, she tries to explore and better understand China's evolving rural and urban life with all readers.

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