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Yu Minhong
    2008-01-08 17:05:24     CRIENGLISH.com

Yu Minhong[photo source:ynet.com]

If you are, or have ever been a college student in China during the past 10 years, this is one name you'll definitely know.

He's the founder and CEO of New Oriental Education & Technology Group, he's labeled as the "richest teacher in China", or "Godfather of English Training".

His name is Yu Minhong, a man of miracles.

Our reporter Xiaoyu has more.

Yu Minhong was born in a poor rural family in eastern China's Jiangsu Province. Although most of his childhood was spent helping his father in the field his mother always encourageded him to go to school.

"My mother's only hope and desire was to see me become a teacher. She knew first hand how hard the life of a peasant was so she kept urging me to go to school. I still remember her words, 'be a teacher, be a teacher, you must be a teacher'."

When Yu Minhong entered the last year of high school, it was time to choose his future: whether to go back home and work as a farmer, or to take the college entrance exam. For most of Yu Minhong's classmates who came from rural families, going to university seemed like a dream. So he turned to his teacher for an answer.

"At that time, I had a wonderful English teacher. He strongly recommended every one of us to take the college entrance exam. He said to us, 'I hope you grasp this opportunity for higher education. Once you try you will never regret it.'"

Persuaded by his teacher, Yu Minhong took the exam. Unsurprisingly, it ended in a terrible failure. The following year, he tried and failed once more.

"I was extremely upset. Most rural students would give up after failing the college entrance exam twice. I also decided to quit, although I still imagined myself going to university. "

But for his mother, giving up was not an option. On the one hand, she encouraged her son to stick to his dream. On the other, she implored the local tutorial class to accept her son. Inspired by her persistence, Yu Minhong devoted all his time to prepare for the exam. His 18 hour a day studying finally paid off when he was admitted to the prestigious Peking University. For Yu Minhong, this was only the first of his miracles.

After he graduated from the Peking University, Yu Minhong became a member of the teaching staff for his Alma Mater for 7 years.

But on a fateful day in 1993, Yu Minhong was shocked when his Alma Mater accused him of "giving unauthorized lectures off campus". Considering the punishment he was given from the university to harsh he resigned soon after. He then started his own career by founding The New Oriental School. At first, the so-called school was merely an English training class with no more than 30 students.

Soon after though, Yu Minhong became popular among Beijing college students. His lecture style fascinated thousands of Chinese college students. Zhao Kun is a student at the Communication University of China in Beijing.

"Mr. Yu Minhong came to my university last semester and gave a lecture to... about 1,500 students in the auditorium. I think every student present was captivated by his speaking style, especially his humor and his passion. The laughter never stopped throughout the entire lecture. I think one of the most improtant features of his speaking style is that he always makes fun of himself. So in a way, he became one of the... you know, like an old friend. I think that it is why he became a hero among the grass-root population."

As the enrollment at New Oriental School grew larger, Yu Minhong could no longer handle the business by himself. He visited the United States and tried to persuade his former classmates to work with him. One of them,Wang Qiang is a master`s degree graduate from the State University of New York and is also known as a "master in oral English training".

"I took Yu Minhong to Prinston University to show him around the campus. To my surprise, almost every Chinese student recognized him. They would call him 'Teacher Yu'. I was amazed to see how famous he was."

With the support and talents of his overseas friends who returned to China, Yu Minhong reconstructured the New Oriental School into the New Oriental Education and Technology Group. It is now the largest private educational enterprise in China. It has a presence in 31 cities, with total enrollment of approximately 4 million student up to the end of 2006. Considering his initial business started with a tutor class of 30 students, Yu created his second miracle.

Last September, the New Oriental Education and Technology Group was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, making it to be the first ever private education company to achieve this feat. Yu Minhong was then labeled as China's richest teacher with 800 million U.S. dollars in assets. He says that the secret to his success is hard work.

"To reach such an achievement, you will have to be willing to work a little harder than the next person. Within the first year or 2 your efforts may be hard to see. But after 5 to 10 years, you will be in a position to reap the rewards of your success. To maintain your leading position though, you have to keep doing 'a little more' than your competition."

Some media are giving him the moniker of "the most successful teacher ever". But Yu says he is "still far from being successful".

"We are not successful, at least not until now. We have to be cautious, because folly often hides behind achievement. We have to keep moving forward to create more wealth and more miracles."

Yu Minhong's final objective doesn't simply lie in New Oriental. He has a greater ambition rather than to be merely wealthy and famous.

"My biggest dream is to found a private university, and for it to be one of China's top educational institutions after 40-50 years of development. When applying for higher education, my dream is for the best high school graduates to take my university into consideration, along with the likes of Tsinghua and Peking University."

Hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope and you can make your life a splendid one. This is not only the credo of the New Oriental School, but also Yu's personal thinking. Sticking to the motto, nothing is impossible for Yu Minhong, the man of miracles.



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