Feeling Safe in Guangzhou, China

Clad in blue fatigues, they have been a common sight since my arrival at GDCP (Guangdong Communication Polytechnic). Inquires as to who they are (they’re students, but that was not what I was asking) have been met with answers like, “Practicing Pride in Country” to more ominous replies such as, “Good Moral Watchers”.

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Each morning, students seem to assemble on the track and field, their numbers in the hundreds. All in their blues. Each day it seems to be a different group. I would have thought them the same each morning, but I happened to notice one of my students among them the week before. In hindsight, however, that does not mean much considering their numbers. I may have merely missed him on my previous outings.

The track and field is far enough from my apartment that I am not waken by this morning rite, one that culminates with the raising of the flag. Militaristic, the students (in their hundreds) perform short dashes, laps around the field, and other displays of athleticism, all while chorusing chants led by (who I assume to be) their seniors.

I was actually quite intimidated by the order and intricacies of the morning activities, so much so that I refrained from taking a picture, worrying that I would appear to be some kind of spy. A foolish worry, but I am foolish man.

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I have had little encounter with the students while they are uniformed, though earlier a pair knocked on the door to my apartment. Their English was poor, but I understood that they had an inquiry regarding water. Remembering it had been turned off the week before, I assumed they were wondering if my water was working.

I step inside my apartment to check one of the faucets whereupon the two swoop inside. I watched them, momentarily frustrated at their rudeness, before I was struck with another thought.

“My apartment is being raided!”

You will remember, I am a foolish man. In the few moments in which the two uniformed students looked around my apartment, my mind was blazing with worry over whether I had some kind of contraband lying about. Of course, I didn’t. Aside from a waste bucket, I had not made a single addition to the apartment (excluding the clothes I filled the provided wardrobes with).

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As it would turn out, the two were delivering water. I had made a request with the school for a twenty liter container (you will remember I drink roughly three liters a day), and the man who normally made the deliveries (rickshaw and all) “was not in.”

While I am still not entirely sure what the uniforms signify (I have also been told charity), I do not think they are George Orwell’s Thought Police. I feel rather embarrassed for my previous China phobia.


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