I. No longer able to keep up with the times?

I am an ordinary driver who works for a construction company.

My routine every morning begins at 6 a.m., when I arrive early at the parking lot, carefully inspecting and cleaning the vehicles. I set out from the yard at 7 a.m. to shuttle employees to the company headquarters for breakfast. At 8 a.m., I drive them to the construction site to begin the day's work. I repeat this process at noon and in the evening. At 7 p.m. I call it a day. I am open-minded and easy-going, and I like to chat with my colleagues. Over time, the more we talked, the more I felt that, though a lot of my colleagues were young, their views were more innovative and mature than mine, and they had richer professional knowledge than I. Could it be that I am not keeping up with the times? This thought depressed me. I racked my brains over this issue for a long time, finally realizing my low level of education must be the cause. I had paid little attention to self-development, which led to a narrow world-view for a middle-aged man like myself! So I made up my mind to change my old lifestyle and make some improvements! After some consultation, I chose the open education model. I enrolled myself in an architectural construction and management junior college programme at the Zhangzhou Radio and Television University (Zhangzhou RTVU). My purpose was not only to earn a higher diploma, but also to increase my knowledge and improve myself so that I shall not render obsolete.

For this reason, even though I have been working for many years, I began a new path pursuing my studies through Zhangzhou RTVU’s open education platform.

II. The hardships and joys of learning

I had previously thought learning was an easy thing, but it is not simple when you take it seriously - the process is even difficult. For example, in a Fundamental Graphics course, I found the three-dimensional graphics to be rather abstract. Sometimes it would take me a long time to grasp a basic concept. Therefore, I obliged myself to attend every class, carefully take notes, and complete all homework after each class. In order to draw the isometric projection well, I often used real things as models, trying to figure out the rules of shading by changing the angles to imagine it and delineate it stroke by stroke. After drawing my first graphic, I was very happy, and after much practice, I finally got the hang of drawing graphics.
When learning the Basics of Computer Science, since I previously had very little contact with the computer, my typing speed was very slow. Sometimes I even had difficulty in Pinyin. For this reason, I often had both computer and dictionary by my side. During my free time, I would practice constantly and consult people on subjects I did not understand. I remember I was once stuck on some computer homework. Even though I tried several times, the results remained incorrect. I then went to consult my younger colleagues, and we discussed and studied the assignment together. Through unremitting efforts, the results finally came back correct and we happily clapped our hands in self-congratulation. In order to fully grasp the knowledge, I obliged myself to never miss a single session of the practical operations class. Whenever there was something I did not understand, I would take note. If the teacher was available, I would promptly go and consult him. If he was very busy with work, I would use the time after work to go to my colleagues’ home, with my computer, and politely ask them for help. They found me to be very hardworking, and thus were willing to help me. No matter how busy they were, they would share their time to solve my questions, for which I was very grateful. This motivated me to learn and make more effort. My hard work paid off: after studying hard, I passed the final computer examination. Once again I overcame difficulties and successfully completed the computer courses.

After studying both Fundamental Graphics and Basics of Computer Science, I gained some practical experience that I applied to other courses. While studying Architectural Structures, in order to better understand structures, I used my weekends off to strap on a safety hat and lace up work boots, and went to a construction site to learn about construction procedures. I would consult the construction workers when there was something I didn’t understand and kept a record of it in my notebook. Learning from practical experiences quickly deepened my understanding of the textbook knowledge. In order to master the course material, I once again devoted my diligent work ethic.

During the course of studying, I found that there are best study practices for learning each subject. As long as you seize an effective means of study, and find out ways and methods that suit you, your learning efficiency will increase while laying a solid foundation for learning other disciplines.

III. Re-examination of myself

It had been 30 years since I had left school. Stepping back onto the campus again made me re-evaluate the meaning of life and its significance. Studying once more steadily formed a good habit of focusing on the present. I learnt self-restraint and to try my best in everything. Despite a busy work schedule and chores at home, I still cherished every second of my life. In my free time, I focused on my studies. After a year, I had unknowingly discarded all of my unhealthy habits. Instead, I always kept an enterprising spirit and persevered, which I would then apply to my work. Slowly, my colleagues found that I had changed into another person, and it became even more smooth for me to communicate with others.
Thanks to open education at the RTVU, the door to knowledge was reopened to me. There is a wise saying that, “to be a man who seeks knowledge, authenticates and explores the world around him, enriches one’s inner world, and brings unique and insightful viewpoints. Your heart will feel joyful. Your life will be happy and more meaningful.” During the time I studied at the RTVU, I met students from various industries, as well as wise teachers with a wide range of knowledge. Being with them improved my way of thinking and helped me grow day by day. The Open University has given me a second life and a good opportunity to reexamine and reposition myself. I appreciate this stage and the positive power brought to my life which compels me to move forward through difficulties and continue along the right track. I now devote myself to work and study with fresh vigor each day, feeling grateful and working hard to realize a courageous and strong life.

(This article won third prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” essay competition.)

By Lin Yujie, Junior College Class of Architectural Construction and Management in the Autumn of 2014, Zhangzhou Branch of Fujian RTVU