As you may have figured out, I am home, my trip to Asia concluded. I mentioned in an earlier post when we were traveling in Vietnam, we happened upon an awards ceremony at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. The Temple is situated in the midst of beautiful gardens in central Hanoi.

Several hundred young children were sitting in the outdoor audience, getting a pep talk about the importance of the tests. Nothing is more important than doing well on the tests. Beyond the outdoor space was an interior room dedicated to Confucius, the patron of academic excellence. The stones on the side of the outdoor space had graven names of the nation’s best test takers.

The children with the highest scores were called forward, and their teachers tied a red scarf with a yellow star around their necks (a small version of the Comminist flag). Their classmates applauded.

One of my tour mates, a professional cellist, told me he saw a sign that said that three types of people were not allowed to take the tests:




He understood the singers and criminals, but why musicians? Spoken as a musician.