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Li Ling, the Most Beautiful Countryside Schoolmaster
    2010-02-25 17:06:30     CRIENGLISH.com

She is only 27 years old, but she has set up a free school especially for children in remote villages. Despite extreme poverty, she has been endeavoring at all costs to run the school. And in order to build a reading room for her students, she even went to the streets to collect second-hand books. She is Li Ling, an ordinary young woman who inspired the whole country with her extraordinary deeds and is regarded as the most beautiful countryside schoolmaster. 

Liu Yan tells the story of Li Lin, one of the Top Ten People Who Inspired China in 2009, as appraised by China Central Television.

Li Ling [Photo: people.com.cn]

The town of Xuwan in Central China's Henan Province is one of the poorest towns in China. Most of the young villagers there have left home to work in richer places. However, Li Ling chose to stay at home after graduating in 2002. She knew the town was full of children left behind by their migrant worker parents. She decided to set up a school for them, to give them a chance of getting an education. Besides managing the school, she also works as a morality lesson teacher.

Li Ling is teaching her students to wash their hands themselves. As she says to them: "we can wash our hands ourselves as we have grown up."

With her efforts, her school has opened seven classes, including three preschool classes. She has in total more than 300 students, who all see her as a mother and were greatly saddened to hear the news that the school might be closed.

"When I was sick, our schoolmaster Li kept holding me, comforting me. It felt like my mom's hug. "
"When we heard our school would be closed, we all wouldn't go. We went to teacher Li, saying to her: "please don't close the school. We don't want to leave."
"we all said that we didn't want to leave the school and we didn't want to leave you. "

Li Ling once had to close her school because she ran out of money. Her parents, which were not wealthy at all, had spent most of their savings on renting the teaching rooms, paying teachers and paying for daily operation of the school. They already owed a lot of money for the school and they couldn't continue supporting it. But when they decided to close the school, Li Ling wouldn't let that happen. As her mother, Liu Guizhi, said, her determination finally made them change their minds.

"I know she suffered a lot running the school. She never cares for herself, even when she is sick. She is so busy that she often eats after the meal has gone cold."

The school kept running under the support of 20,000 yuan, over 2,000 U.S. dollars, borrowed by Li Ling's father from a friend.

Simple lessons were not enough to educate the kids. Li Ling wanted them also to have a reading room like the students at other schools. So Li Ling went to Zhengzhou, capital city of Henan Province, to collect second-hand books.

During summer vacation, Li Ling rode a ragged bike every day in the burning sunshine, collecting second-hand books street by street, family by family. Moved by her hard work, many parents finally gave books to her for free. Fifteen days later, Li Ling returned to her school with over 5,000 books for her kids.

Li Ling says she was very satisfied to see her kids holding the books.

"All the students were much happier than me when they got the books. They appeared much happier than if they were getting new clothes. At that moment, I felt I was great."

Li Ling's efforts inspired even more people. Now, her school has gotten a donation of over 10,000 books. The local government also allocated more land to her and would help her build up a new campus. Li Ling says she will keep going.

For China Now, I'm Liu Yan.



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