Veteran devotes herself to education in mountain area

China Military Online
Lin Congyi
2023-12-07 17:51:10

The pictures show veteran Xie Binrong prior to decommission and after 10-year voluntary teaching.

Xie Binrong was born in 1971 in Chongqing City. She joined the army in 1993 and retired from active service in 2013.

In 2014, Xie went alone to a private Yi ethnic school in Xichang City, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, to work as a volunteer teacher. At first, Xie only intended to teach for one semester, but after being shocked by the educational gaps and backwardness by the end of the semester, Xie decided to stay.

Not only did her stay, she chose to work in the most underprivileged area. In 2015, she continued her teaching career at a remote primary school in Zhaganluo Village, Meigu County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.

At that time, the school was a mud brick house, and she was the only teacher. She also lived in a mud brick house, which served as a dormitory, office, and kitchen at the same time. Occasionally, she could find poisonous snakes and mice in the house. In the beginning, she dared not sleep even with the lights on all night. The village head was worried that she couldn't bear it and might leave. However, Xie did not flinch.

Due to disadvantageous economic conditions in mountainous areas, many children dropped out of school. There were only about ten children attending school every day. Xie taught during the day and made home visits in the evening, persuading local families to send their children back to class. She managed to bring children who were herding sheep and feeding pigs back to school. One of the most challenging cases was a girl named Jike Aguo. Jike often skipped classes for sheep herding in the mountains. On one rainy day, Xie went deep into the mountain to bring Jike back to school. She fell several times due to the slippery road. When Jike was found, Xie was already a mud woman. "I repeatedly talked to her parents, urging them to let her resume school. She was so smart. It would be a pity to keep her out of school," said Xie. In the end, Jike returned to the classroom and is now a college student.

Children born and raised in the mountains shoulder the burden of life from an early age and lack access to proper education. However, Xie firmly believed that these children should not be hindered by such an environment, so she encouraged them to change their destiny through pursing knowledge. She started with the basics and helped them make gradual changes. Xie believes that as long as she can help children learn more and change their future with knowledge, any amount of effort and sacrifice is worthwhile.

During her volunteer teaching, Xie had no salary. And that's not all, she spent money from her pocket to buy stationery, books, daily necessities and holiday gifts for the children. In addition, she urged the children to brush their teeth, wash their faces, and do laundry every day, so as to help them adapt to healthy living habits and civilized behaviors.

Under her careful guidance, her students, who were studying in the most remote primary school, achieved top scores in both individual subjects and overall results in the county. Over the past decade, Xie has lived harmoniously with the villagers. She has brought one child after another back to school and empowered them to pursue higher education outside the mountains. She has also influenced the villagers' mindset and lifestyle subtly. Local people have become increasingly supportive of children going to school.

What makes Xie even more relieved is the tremendous change in the county thanks to national policies such as poverty alleviation and rural revitalization. "The roads in the village have improved, and the residents of the old mud brick houses have all moved to the centralized Yi new village with access to water and electricity. It is very convenient," she said, feeling proud of this because she is not only a witness to these changes, but also a participant on the front lines.

In September 2023, Zhaganluo Village school was closed, and students were transferred to the newly built central school. Having completed her teaching task, Xie temporarily bid farewell to Liangshan and returned to Chongqing. In the future, Xie plans to continue the care for the children from the mountains. She invites the children who came to Chongqing for further education to her home on weekends and holidays, where she cooks for them and helps them with their studies, just like what she did in Zhaganluo Village.

In places where some deciduous trees cannot grow at high altitudes in mountainous Liangshan, only azaleas can withstand the severe cold of winter. The Yi people call azaleas Suoma flower. In the eyes of the Yi folks in Zhaganluo, Xie is the Suoma flower blooming proudly in the frost. Even with gray hair, she is still the most beautiful Suoma flower.

Xie Binrong (first from left) treats her students with food bought at her cost.

After the winter vacation of 2021, Xie Binrong who still suffers from foot injury returns to the classroom from her home in Chongqing to teach the children.

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