Yuan Wenqian, female, 26 years old, majoring in Law at the Guizhou Branch of the Open University of China (OUC)
My name is Yuan Wenqian. I come from Xiuwen County, Guizhou Province, where the Yang-Ming Mind Theories originated.
I am a retired soldier, and a sophomore studying Law at the OUC’s Guizhou Branch. When I look back on my years in the army, I feel delighted to see how quickly I grew up there. My army life changed me from an innocent young girl to a warrior with an unbreakable heart. However, as it came time for me to leave, I began to panic. Even though I was rich in experience, with a strong will and ability to work, I was still lacking the “standard equipment” of a young job seeker: a college degree. Despite the fact that one’s educational background does not offer a full picture of one’s abilities, as everyone says, it is difficult to find a job without one. How could I consider myself competitive? But I told myself that I could not let this stop me from pursuing happiness, and that I must go to college. As President Xi said, we should not let anything make us abandon our ideals. Also, as Mr. Wang Yangming said, nothing is accomplished without someone setting his mind to it. That is why I enrolled at the OUC.
I began my studies with a strong and a single purpose: to get a diploma. But then something happened to alter my intention. In an activity organized by the university, there was a game that involved guessing idioms. Many of the students participating could not do so due to their lack of knowledge. What’s more, because of their poor vocabulary, they could not find the exact words to express themselves. I was deeply struck by this. What was wrong with them? They made the game dull, like a conversation between a chicken and a duck, with neither understanding the other. Our land is where Mr. Wang Yangming gained enlightenment, and I was reminded of his famous saying: There is neither good nor evil in the foundations of the heart. The will and action are what lead to good or bad, and we are given the ability to see the difference. In order to understand the nature of things, one should do good and refrain from evil. At the same time it struck me that it is OK for a country to have no long history or far-reaching culture, but not for it to do without good education.
Most of us are ordinary workers, who cannot do great deeds, become models of uprightness, or put forward our own ideas the way the old saints did. But our thinking and culture should never become paralysed. What we need is not only material civilization, but also spiritual. I have now found the real purpose of learning, have adjusted my learning method, and begun to study even harder.
Teachers use learning to water our hearts bit by bit, like a fine rain. As I have studied day by day, I have found that my teachers possess equal degrees of learning, integrity and competence, which has given me the kind of esteem for them that I had for my teachers as a child. Therefore I am not only yearning for a college diploma, but also to bathe in a sea of books and walk in the palace of learning; not only to enhance my abilities but also to make my mind and soul more sublime.
Over time, I have found myself changing. Gradually talent and learning have been added to the soldierly spirit I gained while in the army. Learning broadens one’s horizons, gives one a more nuanced view of the world, enables one to find solutions to problems, and gives one confidence and power.
Learning has helped me grow, and shown me the truth that it exists “to develop people's ability to think, establish a right path for them, carry on the studies followed by the old saints, and make peace for all time”. (This speech won third prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)
Li Bai, female, 34 years old, Administration Major, Jiangxi Branch of the Open University of China
I come from Shangli County, Pingxiang, at the border of Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces, and am a self-employed entrepreneur. Even though Shangli County is located in a remote mountainous area, a strong respect for culture and education exists there.
"The roc will be able to rise with a wind one day, skyrocketing up to 90 thousand miles away." These two classic lines were written by Li Bai, the famous Tang Dynasty poet whose name I share. With this name, my parents intended to inspire me to become a cultural ambassador, and indeed my dream was to become a college student, to struggle for my ideals, and to burn my youth in the halls of learning.
In order to realise this dream, I worked constantly; however, I did not achieve a great deal. After graduating from junior high school, I was admitted to vocational school, and had to give up my dream of going to college. After graduating, I launched a small wedding company in my hometown, which soon stood out from among its peers there. However, as my customers grew more demanding, I felt my desires begin to exceed my abilities, and the old aspiration began to rise once again in my heart. I could not help shouting to myself: "I want to go to college! I want to go to college!" But with my family to take care of and business to run, where would I find the time to study? Was I doomed to never realise my dream?
Then, by chance, I heard about a new type of university: the Open University of China (OUC), which is based on independent learning, integrates face-to-face tutoring with remote services, breaks the constraints of time and space that traditional studies entail, and allows for studying, living and working to be balanced. Delighted and excited, I immediately submitted an application to the OUC workstation in our county.
On 1 March, 2017, a day I will never forget, I attended the opening ceremony for open-education students at the Shangli Study Centre of the OUC’s Pingxiang School, and became an Administration major. From that day on, I began to live my dream of being at university.
The rich curriculum, wonderful instructors, and flexible learning available at the OUC made me devote myself to my studies avidly and happily. By taking Information Management Concepts, Public Relations and other courses, I gained a new understanding of business development and corporate management; what’s more, my self-esteem rose enormously. In 2017, my business increased by 50% over the previous year, and my work became much more efficient. This year, I made a bold attempt to expand my business by setting up a big hotel and a talent agency. My company is now growing steadily thanks to what I learned at the OUC.
I am honoured and proud to be a college student, and confident and happy because of my access to learning. The OUC has allowed me to realise my dream of becoming an innovator and entrepreneur. Dear friends, if you have the same dream, and the same desire for learning, please do not hesitate to throw yourself into the embrace of the OUC; it is a place that will allow your dreams to rise with the wind! (This speech won third prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)
Chen Xing, female, 24, Preschool Education major, Sichuan branch, Open University of China (OUC)
Time slips away whether we like it or not, and upon looking back we find that the past is partly hidden in memory and partly visible. City skyscrapers are rising high into the sky and the streets are growing wider and flatter, with pedestrians walking fast. The clang and rhythm of the streets are accompanied by the unease that comes with change. With the pressures that we face, how can we find a tranquil corner for a rest?
I remember leaving the Kindergarten Teachers School in Jiangyou full of vigour and hope, and a feeling that everything was beautiful. Every moment I spent with children made me happy, and I wanted to teach them what I knew. One time, however, during a disagreement with some parents, they presented me with well-researched thinking on the subject of early-childhood education, and I felt embarrassed at my lack of knowledge. This made me determined to resume my studies.
However, my work made it difficult for me to find time to study, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether I should just give it up and move on. A number of my colleagues were working hard to upgrade their skills, and there seemed to be more and more competition for jobs. I felt that I could not afford to delay, and with the encouragement of my manager I enrolled as an undergraduate in the Preschool Education programme at the Pengshan branch of the OUC in 2016.
At the same time, I was able to integrate what I was learning at the OUC with my kindergarten work. In 2017, my thesis What Can Children Learn from Outdoor Activities in Kindergarten? was noted by managers, colleagues and parents, and came third in the Meishan Institute of Educational Science competition. My efforts led me to realise the importance of continual improvement, and I became more flexible in all aspects of my work.
At the OUC, I gained a thorough grounding in both theory and practice. In 2016, I participated in a classical-Chinese reading competition held by the university, and the process of selecting and reciting the materials gave me great insight into traditional Chinese culture in general and the culture of Pengshan in particular, especially in relation to the traditions of loyalty and filial piety that have been so important to it for so long. In 2017, the Sichuan Radio and Television University (Sichuan RTVU) held its first singing competition, and I enthusiastically took part, displaying my singing talent and helping to promote a positive energy on campus. In the end I won the People’s Choice award for having gained the most votes from the audience and judges.
Without hard work, one will not taste the joy of forging ahead and of realizing one’s dream. Work, life and studies need to be balanced. I always felt fulfilled, proud and rewarded during my time at the OUC, since I was struggling for my dream without wasting my time. Learning is popular nowadays, and the OUC is a “handy” university. I still have much to learn, but want to take this chance to thank the OUC and its teachers. I hope to live a wonderful life with the help of the OUC, and am sure my days there will be my most precious memory.(This speech won third prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)
Jiang Xuhuai, 62 years old, student in the law major at the Wuhan branch of the Open University of China (OUC).
More than 1,200 years ago, the great Tang dynasty poet Liu Yuxi, wrote in his "Autumn Poem": "Since ancient times, autumn has always been a season of sadness and loneliness. However, for me, autumn days are much better than spring. You see, in the clear sky, a crane is flying up to the clouds, which brings a sense of poetry to the blue sky."
This poem expresses my exact emotions at this moment. In other people's eyes, I am an elderly man who has already lived a long 62 years. But inside I feel that I am 26, not 62 and that is because since I was admitted to the OUC, every day of my life has been very fulfilling. It seems like my life has ushered in another “spring.”
I had had a college dream before. When I graduated from junior high school to senior high education, although my grades were among the top of the class, I was deprived of the opportunity for further study because my parents were classified as rightists.
Over the years, I have done business, opened a shop, helped people to write legal documents, and represented legal cases. However, my relationship with the OUC can be traced back to just three years ago.
In autumn 2015, I occasionally passed by an admission site at the OUC’s Wuhan branch. I had wanted to visit to ask about admission for my son but in the process I found out that there was no age limit for registration. Not only that, there was a legal specialty that really caught my eye. I immediately registered for the programme. I never expected that I would realise my college dream; I felt like I had won the lottery. From the day I signed up to the present day, I have never lost my excitement about joining the OUC. The OUC has indeed made me feel young again.
I am usually very busy but no matter how busy I am, I haven't missed a class in more than two years. I remember that when I first came to the university, some of the courses had many students and some had hardly any at all. At the beginning, I was really worried that the courses with fewer attendees would be cancelled by the university but of course this didn’t happen. I was particularly touched by the fact that no matter how many attendees, no matter what the weather was like, the teachers would appear in class on time and give the lessons with great passion. Even if there was only one student, they would still take their teaching very seriously. I often commented to my younger classmates, “We should be thankful that the university has such amazing teaching and facilities!" I think it would be worse to miss a lesson than lose my wallet, because the value of each lesson is beyond money.
Every time I learned something new, I felt excited. I have been writing legal documents and agency cases for years, and I believed that writing and legal practice are my strengths. However, after taking the Practical Writing course of taught by Ms. Zou Li and the Administrative Law course taught by Mr. Huang Hong, I felt ashamed of myself for being shallow and self-righteous, as these courses have such rich content. What I used to know is just a drop in the bucket. From then on, I realised that learning and results are inseparable from “modesty."
With my help, both my wife and son also registered at the OUC. My home has become learning group. Especially during the cold winter, the three of us sit inside around the table and study under the lamp. Despite the cold outside, there is warmth inside that feels like the first breath of spring.
Finally, I want to say that learning is something that we can engage in every day of our lives, not just something we do when we are young. Learning helps maintain our spiritual soul, which will make our life shine with wisdom and love.
Let us study and experience the springtime of our life together! (This speech won second prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest)
Xiang Jizhong, 50 years old, student of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary major at the Zhejiang branch of the Open University of China (OUC)
In 1992, I was transferred from the army to work at the Municipal Cultural Bureau in Huzhou. After that, I quit my job and decided to work for myself. I made money by driving rickshaws. I drove taxis. I also ran a factory and a company. In the summer of 2007, I sold my two companies and returned to my hometown that I had left 20 years before, and started farming lake sheep, a kind of sheep raised in Zhejiang Province.
Over the past ten years, I have expanded from one farm to three farms and from 58 sheep to 5,800 sheep, experiencing both joy and sadness along the way. Having chosen agriculture and sheep breeding as my career, I needed more than just motivation and enthusiasm to be successful. Large-scale, specialised lake sheep breeding requires a lot of professional knowledge and expertise, so in 2012, I enrolled to at the OUC to study Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine. As General Secretary Xi Jinping said, "The key to the development of rural economy and society lies with the people."
In spring 2013, a large number of local bamboo shoots went on the market. Fresh bamboo shoot leaves are a high-quality food source for lake sheep. One day, we got a lot of bamboo shoot leaves, more than the sheep could eat. We packed the remaining leaves in a woven bag and stacked them on the ground. The next morning, we fed the sheep the leftover leaves. At around 10 a.m., a worker called me: “One of the sheep is vomiting and having a fit." I didn't pay much attention at first and said, "There are so many sheep on the farm, it is normal for one or two to get sick. No need to panic. " Half an hour later, the worker called me again: "I found two more sheep with the same symptoms." It was then that I started to panic and I drove to the farm in a hurry. On the way, I kept thinking, what should I do? It’s too late to call an expert. However, I then remembered that during the Lake Sheep Breeding Technology course we saw a case involving the symptoms of poisoning in lake sheep. When stored leafy foodstuffs start to ferment, the nitrates they contain are reduced to nitrite, which is poisonous. The sheep with more vigorous vital signs and quicker metabolism showed more obvious symptoms. I immediately called the worker and said "Remove all the remaining bamboo shoot leaves and give each of the sheep that are showing symptoms injections of dexamethasone and atropine." Half an hour later, except for the first three sheep that showed symptoms, ten other sheep were starting to stand up and recover. After an hour, all of them had recovered and started drinking water. At the time, I finally understood the meaning of the saying "Not until one is faced with a practical problem to be solved does he realise how little knowledge he has learned." Knowledge must be accumulated constantly day by day. It is rightly said that "Without small steps, one cannot reach a distance of one thousand miles. Without small creeks, there can be no rivers or oceans."
During my three years of study, my professional knowledge and practical skills have greatly improved. The university’s broad platform has also made great contributions to my career. The certificates and honours displayed on my shelves represent recognition of and praise for f my work. In 2017, I was awarded the title of "Senior Livestock Specialist", a recognition of my ability by the government. Zhejiang province has a reformed title evaluation system, which enabled me, a shepherd, to be fortunate enough to become one of the first group of new professional farmers rated as " Senior Livestock Specialist" in China. A leader of the Department of Agriculture in Zhejiang province said at a public meeting that: "Xiang Jizhong is a new type of professional farmer who writes his papers on the earth." Hearing these words, my eyes shone with tears. All of the bitterness and hardships I have endured turned to happy tears in that moment. As far as I am concerned, the secret to success is learning and perseverance.
As China promotes a strategy of rural revitalisation, I believe that my journey in agriculture will run smoother and that rural areas in general will become more beautiful, China’s agriculture will become stronger, and farmers will become richer. Thanks to the tens of thousands people like me, our rural revitalisation strategy will be realised. (This speech won second prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)
Liang Dongfang, female, 38, Chinese Language and Literature major, Anhui branch, Open University of China (OUC)
Ou Yangxiu, a literary giant of China’s Song Dynasty, once said: "The first step toward establishing oneself in society is getting educated, and the foundation of this is reading." Meanwhile Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German writer, said: "Reading all kinds of good books is like talking to many noble people." As a mother who was out of school for decades, I have often been asked why I chose to return. I think the maxims of those two sages are the perfect answer for me; external beauty fades, but the elegance and calm of those who have kept reading will never disappear.
I remember how, in the first class of my literature course, the teacher mentioned several literary works and their authors, and I realised that the familiar names had drifted from my mind and left only a shadowy memory. I could not answer the questions the teacher asked, and felt ashamed. The teacher went on to give vivid introductions to several literary works, and uer his influence I began using my lunch breaks to regain what I had forgotten. I had never thought that I would be unable to put a book down once I had picked it up. How long it had been since I had read one! In Yu Hua's Alive, the life of the hero, Fugui, is full of ups and downs, and it made me feel that what was happening was deeply relevant to me; I felt like groaning even though I was not in any real pain. In Thunderstorm, the hero's inner contradictions and psychological changes turned out to be different from what I had understood from reading the book many years earlier. It was an enlightenment to read it again. I immediately recommended the works to my niece, a student in junior high school, and after she had finished we spent a whole night talking about them. I had never thought that we would have so many feelings in common. I learned to really appreciate the classic works, the books recommended by my OUC teachers, and the learning environment provided by the OUC.
In order to study well, I added the teacher's WeChat and QQ accounts to my friends list, requested more recommendations from time to time, and asked questions about any things I didn’t understand. I found that I was spending less time surfing the internet and going shopping, reading more and more books, and gaining a peaceful frame of mind.
I am a grassroots literary and artistic worker. After taking the course Regional Culture, I wrote a paper, Biography of Chuzhou Crysanthemum, based on thorough research and understanding. I also created a small musical piece with the same name, which became part of a touring show, and thereby helped to popularize the culture of Chuzhou.
These days, when my young daughter does her homework, she no longer complains about studying alone, but works quietly at my side. She said once: "Mom, you are an adult,but you insist on learning. I have to study harder, too. Mom, you write so fast!" I replied, "How do you know I write fast?" "I hear your pen. I must make the best use of my time and do my homework well, too. Shush, no more talking!" Before each final exam, she pats my shoulder and says to me, "Mom, both you and I should keep up the good work! Hooray! Let's see who makes more progress." This warm scene came about thanks to the continuing education at Chuzhou Radio and Television University, to which I feel so grateful.
Studying at the OUC has broadened my horizons and lighted my life. I will continue to work hard and continue to learn, to perform, and to create a more wonderful path for my life! (This speech won third prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)
Deng Xin, female, 38, majoring in Law at the Fujian branch of the Open University of China (OUC).
My name is Deng Xin. I am a hostess at the Shaxian County Radio and Television Station, and a graduate of the Shaxian county workstation at the Fujian branch of the OUC.
Twenty years ago, I graduated from a secondary specialised school and became a hostess. I loved my job, and worked hard to learn the correct forms of pronunciation and expression through imitation. In this mindless way, a hostess can achieve a certain level of external accomplishment, but a genuine understanding of politics and culture cannot be imitated. I was lucky enough to meet the “north star” of my education, Mr. Hong Huagao, at the Shaxian Radio and Television University (Shaxian RTVU). Over the course of six years of studying law at both the junior college and undergraduate levels, Mr. Hong was my guide, helping me gain an understanding of this field and put to use what I was learning in a flexible manner. I also advanced from being a mere passive hostess who only spoke words others had written to someone with the ability to collect, edit and broadcast news.
Besides broadcasting local news, I also have my own special show called "Political and Legal Issues". When I produce a show, I often think of what Mr. Hong taught me about the legalities the stories cover. I choose a case for every show, and analyse it.
One episode of the show was especially memorable for me. It was the day before the Spring Festival, and as my colleagues and I were discussing the topic of the show, a shivering young man covered in gauze appeared before us. His name was Chen Shengguo, and he was a 20-year-old migrant workerfrom Guizhou who had been working in construction in Shaxian County. Two months earlier, he had suffered a serious head injury at work, and was taken to hospital by his employer, who paid the emergency fee and left him there. Chen spent several thousand yuan, his entire savings, but couldn’t afford the follow-up treatment, leaving him at risk of going blind.
As we all know, before the Spring Festival, the issue of peasant workers claiming their wages and gaining injury compensation had become a hot topic. I decided not only to help Chen, but also to use his story on the show to teach workers how to protect themselves. I invited Mr. Hong Huagao to be a consultant on the show and carefully reviewed the relevant laws and regulations, such as labor law, to understand the procedures for claiming workplace-injury compensation. Mr. Hong volunteered to go to the project site with me to collect evidence, and at the financial office there I found the records of Chen’s salary, proof that he had worked there even though no contract had been signed. After that, I went to the hospital for a statement of Chen's injury, collected all the medical documentation, sought help from the labour supervision department[This is a government department? yes], strove to verify his level of disability, and asked for legal advice from well-known law firms. In the end the court awarded Chen Shengguo fifty thousand yuan in medical expenses and injury compensation from his employer.
As a law student, I saw the power of the law, and knowledge of it, not only to compensate Chen, but to change the lives of thousands of workers. As a television personality, I have also seen the power of education, which is not only the foundation of individual careers, but of a harmonious society.
A random meeting brought me a lifelong teacher. I am very grateful that I was able to become acquainted with Mr. Hong at the Shaxian RTVU, and am convinced that the best teacher is like a boat with knowledge as its sails. A time will come when I ride the wind and the waves, and steer my boat across the vast ocean with its sails hoisted high. (This speech won second prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)
Zhu Jiele, male, 28 years old, Administration major at the Shanghai branch of the Open University of China (OUC)
Many experiences fade from memory over time. There are always characters and moments, however, that linger in our minds.
Today I want to share two unforgettable stories from my time studying at the OUC.
Because of personal matters I had had to deal with, I arrived at my first Environmental Protection class after it had already ended. When I walked into the classroom, I thought it was the wrong place, since no one was there except the teacher, Mr. Wang, arranging his materials. He had finished class and was ready to leave. I knocked on the door gently and said: "Sorry, Sir, I'm late." Mr. Wang raised his head and said, "Just arrived?" I scratched my head, embarrassed. "I’m late because I had family issues." He smiled and said, "Come in then. I’ve just finished class." Since nobody else was in the classroom, I demurred. "Oh, no, Mr. Wang. You`ve already finished. I’ll go back home." "It's okay. Have a seat. I'll give you a brief lecture." "But it feels so inappropriate for you to give me a lesson alone!" "It’s OK. You deserve it." With that Mr. Wang began his second lesson of the afternoon. His lecture was lively, interesting and rich. He lectured on the environment and on how to live in an environmentally-friendly way. Seeing how interested I was, he continued for two hours, and his professional dedication deeply impressed me. Subsequent contact showed me that he is a very witty and warm person who likes to talk about life and study with his students. Under his influence, I gained a new understanding of my studies and life. I was proud of having a teacher like him.
At the OUC, I not only had teachers who deeply touched me, but also classmates I shall never forget.
I don't like the winter cold, and I remember once, when it was snowing heavily, that I rushed to class without having had breakfast. In the classroom I felt colder and colder, and complained to the class WeChat group: "What terrible weather. I really can't stand this. I'm freezing and starving!" A few minutes later, someone replied. "What do you want to eat? I'll bring you something. I`m going to class right now. Do you want some soya-bean milk?" We were classmates, but with more than 200 people in the class, I didn`t know many of them. I thought this person was just being polite, and would not really buy breakfast for me at all. During the break, however, a male student whom I didn't even know walked into the classroom with a plastic bag and asked: "Who said that he or she had no breakfast just now?" I was astonished, and warm with gratitude. "You were serious! I don’t even know your name, but you bought breakfast for me. I really appreciate your kindness. Thank you very much!" "You're welcome. My name is Zhang Yong. Now that we know each other now we can help each other more in the future." What I felt at that moment was like the warmth of the winter sun. Later we became good friends, and our friendship made the winter no longer seem so cold.
At the OUC, teachers feel genuine affection for their students, and students help each other. My two and a half years of studies flew by, but the things that happened are still fresh in my memory. My ties of friendship with teachers and classmates will always stay in my mind!
(This speech won second prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)