World of Weibo

Gu goes, gracefully

A teacher’s resignation letter sparks internet frenzy

It is not often that a resignation letter is praised as poetry. But in the case of Gu Shaoping, a high school teacher from China’s central Henan province, that’s exactly what happened.

On April 13 Gu informed her employers of her desire to quit by simply scribbling the following on some notepaper: “The world is so big, I want to go and see it.”

A photo of the letter– posted to social media by Gu’s friend – has now been shared and commented on more than a million times. In most cases people seem inspired and somewhat in awe of the thirty-something psychology graduate.

“This letter is like a Haiku. It touched me deeply,” wrote one weibo user. Another applauded “such serenity and such bravery”.

Taking a sabbatical to travel is still very rare in China. And state-sector jobs like Gu’s are sought-after for the stability they offer.

Therefore, for some Chinese, her decision was incomprehensible, and even irresponsible. “Typical eighties child” wrote one weibo user, channelling the popular belief that those born since the introduction of market reforms are too self-indulgent.

Even the People’s Daily pitched into this lifestyle debate. It wrote: “To resign with such a reason seems spoiled.”

One regional newspaper even felt the need warn people against being influenced by Gu’s example. “Although to resign or not is a personal choice, we recommend professionals to be more rational and careful. You should not to be seduced into imitating others. The danger is you will do something that you regret and be embarrassed about in the future,” the Changjiang News counselled.

Many said they wanted to follow Gu’s example, however. “She is such an inspiration, I wish I had the strength to do what she is doing,” wrote another weibo fan.

Ironically, because of the attention that her letter has attracted, Gu has been unable to set off on her travels quite as she planned. An early foray to Chengdu was cut short when she was hounded by reporters. As of last week she was still holed up in her home province of Henan.

So far Gu has refused interview requests, but also denied that her letter was to an attempt to get financial sponsorship. “My decision to resign was a personal one. I long for a simple life. I hope people won’t ask me or mention the letter anymore. That’s it,” she said in the last post on her WeChat account.

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