In my Chinese class a few days ago (taught by the wonderful 赵老师), we read a lesson about new words that have arisen in recent years due to technological and societal developments. We then chose a new word from a list and had to report the next day about what the word means. I selected “蚁族” because I recognized “蚁” from the word “蚂蚁”, or ant. It turns out that “蚁族” is translated “Ant Tribe” and describes a recent, unfortunate phenomenon in China.
“Ant Tribes” are groups of college graduates that live in large communities of poor living spaces, unable to find unemployment due to poor job prospects. They share the namesake of the most fascinating organism on this planet because they are intelligent, resourceful, and weak individually. However, like ants, they could create quite a stir by banding together with a common goal (I am reminded of a certain Chinese saying). The New York Times reported on this difficult situation, stating that there are “at least 100,000 in Beijing alone.” I never thought I’d say it, but I hope that these ants will be able to transform into something better!