Xiong’s Back Story
Xiong’s family is a poor farming family. Xiong’s father came to the city as a migrant worker and brought Xiong along to study and network, and work when it’s available. Because he doesn’t have the necessary paperwork/certificate and is too poor to bribe anyone to get those necessary paperwork/certificate to enroll Xiong in school, Xiong is not allowed to go to school where he’s at.
Children in China are enrolled in a foreign language rather early to go to college in another country* and/or to do business with foreign companies. Being from a poor farming family, most can understand the limited financial resources in these communities. Even though the Chinese government is in the lives of so many people, some things they don’t always have a complete grasp of because of what they prioritize.
In China, education is the way to go (read on the education system/meritocracy in the final paragraph and from the link). Xiong is 15-years-old – a high school student – so he should be preparing for college entrance exams. Compared to taking an exam for future success to becoming a star is a long-shot, which is why his father wasn’t happy at the thought of Xiong doing an internship at a music studio.
Where do they live? Xiong and his father live with other migrant workers in a company/factory dorm close enough to Beijing for Xiong to travel to the capital, and create networks and study. Because of his networking, Xiong was able to find someone living in Happiness St. and work with to build a livable place and rents it out to someone or people to stay temporarily, again, renters are found through networking. The money is obviously split.
Happiness St. is a slum behind downtown Beijing. Everyone on Happiness St. is a squatter – although it doesn’t belong to anybody, nobody has a permit to live there.
If you’re wondering about Xiong’s mother, she’s taking care of the farm and her in-laws in rural China.
*College/university is much harder in China than it is in the U.S. (I can’t compare other countries’ college/university experience/life because I didn’t have one of these, but I do have it in the U.S.). However, college in China compared to K-12 in China has some relaxation to it, since they’re not constantly preparing for an entrance exam for the next level. If you’re looking for a government job, then you’re going to have to take at least another test. More info. on the testing system/meritocracy here.