A photo shows Su Zhengmin teaching a class at a middle school in his hometown, Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Su Zhengmin, a postgraduate volunteer teacher from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, Hubei province, now works at a middle school in his hometown, Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province.
On Aug 29, when Su first met his students at No 2 Middle School in Yuexi county, he recalled his old life. He told his story and encouraged the students to work hard for a better future.
"For children who live in the mountains, reading is the best way to change fate," Su said. "I want to plant a seed in their hearts, broaden their horizons and let them see the value of hard work so they can explore the bigger world."
Su was born in 1998 in neighboring Xide county. When he was 13, his father died of an illness, leaving the family poor and hundreds of thousands of yuan in debt.
Both Su and his elder sister dropped out of school, leaving that opportunity solely to a younger sister. Fortunately for him, with the help of the local government and caring people, Su was able to resume his education.
In June, Su graduated from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, majoring in civil and commercial law. In the thank-you section at the end of his graduation thesis, he recalled his "bumpy" but "bright and hopeful" study path and thanked those who helped him along the way. The 6,000-word thank-you section moved many netizens.
"Su is a role model for students. He can help and influence more students with his experience, knowledge and insight," said Yang Jiazi, principal of the middle school where Su is now working.
After finishing a year as a volunteer teacher, Su will return to the university to earn a master's degree.
"I will go back to my hometown after graduation. If we are not willing to build our hometowns, then who will?" he said.