The New York Times has an interesting piece this week about efforts by Catholic schools to recruit well-heeled Chinese students, children of diplomats and executives. At one point, it describes the journey of a young woman named Di Wang, an atheist:
When they arrived at DePaul two years ago, Ms. Wang and 26 other students from China underwent a three-week orientation before classes began.
Bethany Duane-Dacles, a history teacher and director of the school’s summer programs, says the seminars included videos, PowerPoint presentations and props like rosary beads. Students were taught the basics: the Ten Commandments, the hierarchy of the church, how to read the Bible and make the sign of the cross.
“If you don’t know who Jesus is, it’s really difficult,” she said.
Theology teachers tend to pass fleetingly through sticky terrain. The church’s position on abortion, which directly opposes that of the Chinese government, is one such area.
Ms. Wang, who plans to attend college in the United States, says she has enjoyed learning about church doctrine, which she sums up like this: “Do good, avoid evil.”
Sitting in the school library on a recent morning, donning one of DePaul’s black fleeces, she said her interest did not extend further. She intends to remain an atheist. Still, now, she does sometimes pray. “Thank God,” she whispers to herself, “for this beautiful day.”