Never Take Your Education For Granted: Why You Should Teach for China

This Thanksgiving, I would like to tell you a very special story from 2005 about an amazing teacher in China. As of now, I cannot find an English version of this story, but it was been widely reported in China and the Chinese blogosphere.

Mr. Nianyou Liu taught primary school in a rural village in Chongqing for over 28 years. Throughout those years, he has sponsored many of his own students financially. Many decades ago, he paid for many of his students with a part of his 6.5 yuan (<$1) monthly salary, and his wife also prepared lunch for many of the students who had to travel far. Mr. Liu also lives in a spare classroom right next to the one he teaches, which serves as his bedroom, office, and kitchen.

For about three years, he told his closest friends, family, and colleagues that he was regularly going away on long weekend trips to “play cards”. It was quite a mystery as to what he was really up to. However, people knew he often returned covered in soot, and many were wondering why.

After repeated questioning, people eventually found out that he was working in one of the most dangerous industries in the world. He spent his weekends coal mining, forgoing any rest and risking his own life, to make some extra money, so that his own students wouldn’t have to drop out of school. This is in addition to the children he had to support at home.

His students say that Mr. Liu’s lunch is almost always worse than theirs. It consists regularly of just rice and a pickle. More importantly, Mr. Liu owes over 15,000 yuan that he is working to repay. This is debt that he took on for his own students.

When the story broke out, Mr. Liu’s daughter came back in tears, finally understanding why his father lived like that for so many years.

So don’t take your education for granted. Don’t be proud that you “don’t know any math” or that you aren’t “good at art”. Thank the people who make your education possible. Keep learning, and don’t stop. And help those people who can really benefit from your support.


Posted on November 25, 2011, in Humanism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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