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Each time that I boarded the second of two public long-distance buses that I took to my research site, I noticed how few seats were left unoccupied. The bus filled quickly with individuals and families carrying and transporting supplies and food from the city back to their villages. Overflowing sacks of clothes, cases of alcohol and other household goods were stowed in the overhead baskets, seats and on people's laps. As the bus meandered along the road, passing small squat buildings and giving way to open land, fellow bus riders asked me where I was going. When I told them that I was going to Shao Xingwen Primary School (SXW), my fellow bus riders would ask if I was a teacher. I would explain that I was not a teacher, but a researcher interested in understanding rural family life and children's schooling. They could not understand my interest in rural life. My fellow bus riders were not the only ones bewildered by my interest in interviewing and studying the life of rural residents; most of my participants, teachers, and county officials often raised the same questions. I usually responded by saying that we know a lot about urban residents, but do not know that much about the lives of rural residents. My answers, however, never seemed to be satisfactory. Rural residents told me that urban families would not only have more to say than rural families, but were more worthy of study. Rural parents found it odd that I choose to live in a rural area when they felt that most rural residents simply wanted to leave rural life for an urban lifestyle. "To Walk Out"

September 1
East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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