Teachers in charity school serve as beacons of hope

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 10, 2019
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Shi Taozi, a volunteer teacher, teaches math to students at the Light and Love Primary School on Sept. 9, 2019, a day before China's annual Day for Teachers. [Photo by Wu Jin / China.org.cn]

Slim, tanned and somewhat introverted, Lu, a teacher and superintendent working at the Light and Love Primary School said that teaching with a giving heart may be tough, but is nonetheless a form of duty. The school was founded in 2004 by the legendary headmaster Shi Qinghua who is known for his endeavors to house and educate abandoned children.

"I have witnessed many colleagues come and go each semester because full-time teachers usually have to work under grueling schedules and meager wages," Lu said, only wanting to reveal his surname.

Like many other teachers, Lu resigned as a teacher in 2010 due to health concerns. Six years later, he found himself unable to continue to refuse the headmaster's repeated invitations and resumed his career as a pedagogist to children who were living in poverty facing numerous adversities.

"My wife, a good-hearted woman, who has been caring for elderly folk at a nursing house near the school, persuaded me to accept the job. She said we need do something out of love," Lu said.

His meeting with Shi in a hospital in 2016 led him to finally return.

"He looked so exhausted in the hospital, I think it was high time for me to lend a helping hand," he recalled.

The school is tucked away in a quiet road end at Dajiangwa Village, Shunyi district, in Beijing's northeastern suburbs. Upon arriving at the familiar schoolyard, Lu says the first time he arrived there was the moment he knew his task in life was to help underprivileged children.

"Our faculty is dealing with pupils who come from complicated backgrounds and whose families differ from the mainstream. With their varied personalities, what we can strive for is to bring them hope," he explained.

There was one very successful case.

Several years ago, when Lu worked in the school, there was a girl named Zheng Dandan who studied in grade three. According to Lu, she was a very diligent and ambitious student, who excelled in every subject and would burst into tears if she was not the top scorer in class.

She went to junior school in Tongzhou, a southeastern suburb in Beijing, and was later admitted to an international school. She finished her high-school education and entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a scholarship.

"She had a desperate childhood but after that her life completely changed," Lu said.

Even though not every child can be as outstanding as Zheng, they face a future in which independence and strenuousness are key to their happiness in life.

"Whether they can qualify for higher education or not and no matter what skills or craftsmanship they have, as long as they can be independent and earn their keep, we will be proud of them," he added.

The school has also received assistance from volunteers who took on jobs as part-time teachers.

"I hope they can really study hard and try their best not to fall short of our expectations," said Elinor Wong, a Hong Kong native, who has taught English in the school for several years.

As their children were living abroad, Wong and her husband stayed in Beijing for several years. She decided to teach at the school once she knew its story and has been a loving, yet strict, teacher.

"I have been stringent with their pronunciation and I will always correct them to speak with an accurate accent," she said.

Shi Taozi, a high-school graduate, who volunteered to teach math after she was admitted to the University of the Arts in London said it had always been her dream to teach underprivileged children. After this experience, she said she would also like to teach in China's mountainous and remote regions such as Sichuan province or the Tibet Autonomous Region.

In 1997, Shi Qinghua was severely injured by an accidental explosion, and as a result, his family spent all their savings on surgery and medical treatments. It was during those desperate times when several homeless children befriended them.

Several years later, after Shi and his family received social assistance he resolved to help the homeless children in the hope that they can find a better life.

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