In class today the students had to read the following recruitment ad for a turn-of-the-century north pole expedition and guess the destination:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
I had one student read it to the others, and it went something like this:
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold…”
“Sounds like Shanxi.”
“…long months of complete darkness, constant danger…”
“Haha, definitely Shanxi.”
“…safe return doubtful.”
“It must be Shanxi!”
Shanxi (山西) is in the heart of China’s coal mining region. That means it’s super-polluted, mine bosses are super rich (“Shanxi coal mining boss” is a cliché), and coal miners are underpaid, under-protected, and killed on a regular basis in mine accidents that occasionally make the news because there are too many to cover up all of them. North Pole or a Shanxi coal mine — not sure which is the more hazardous expedition.