I have a good mother. But she is not only my mother; she is also a classmate. Due to my low educational level, I was repeatedly turned down by employers, and felt helpless and hopeless about my future. Then my mother heard of the "One College Student per Village" programme offered by the OUC, which aims to cultivate technical and management personnel who are "willing to stay and be helpful with the work" of rural areas. I thought this programme would suit me well as a “probationary village official". My mother, with little education herself, encouraged me to go to the OUC for further studies, and was also eager to be admitted to it to improve herself.

Liu Ziling, female, 24 years old, majoring in Administration at the Hunan Branch of the Open University of China (OUC)

She inspired both of us with the following words: "To move forward, one needs only one reason; there are countless reasons for stepping backwards. Give yourself a reason. Go ahead! " Her words made me both happy and surprised; happy because I could make up for not having studied carefully before, and surprised that she, a woman in her forties, still harboured her old aspiration of pursuing further studies. So we signed up for the "One College Student per Village" programme together.

I was proud to be able tell my classmates about my mother, and going to school with her was the happiest time of my life. We worked more diligently and actively than anyone else. Due to her age, my mother has poor eyesight, so for every class we would arrive early, take seats in the first row, carefully listen to the teacher, and take notes. When my mother found herself unable to understand something, she would underline the point in red and consult with the teacher or other classmates right after class. I was especially impressed by the way she handled the computer class – a difficult one for her. Once, the teacher assigned us to type a paragraph and correct mistakes on our own. My mother was very anxious, and I had to patiently teach her how to type the phonetic alphabet, or Pinyin. She speaks Putonghua with a strong Changsha dialect, often with humorous results, and wondered why the two characters “湖南” failed to appear when she typed “Fu Lan” in Pinyin. I had to smile and say: "My dear Goddess, the correct pronunciation is Hu Nan, not Fu Lan. Fu Lan is our Hunan pronunciation". After that, I wrote down the phonetic spelling of all the characters in the book. She typed out the alphabet, and sacrificed her time to practice typing every day. In the end she could not only type quickly, but also print invoices with the computer. She has always said that difficulties can be overcome as long as we do not give up; that we should not look down on ourselves, and that our hard work will pay off. The story of the mother and daughter attending school together was on everyone’s lips in Changsha County at that time. During my studies, I not only obtained a scholarship to the OUC and the Hunan Radio and Television University (Hunan RTVU), but also passed a variety of examinations, which prepared me to apply for a Bachelor degree. In addition, after I had finished studying Administrative Management at the OUC, and passed the examinations, my position was upgraded from clerk to member of the community neighborhood committee, and chair of the community Women's Federation.

No matter how far we go, we must never forget how we got there. No matter how glorious our future will be, we must never forget why we started. In a report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary Xi Jinping said: "Don't forget your original purpose, remember your mission, and always maintain the striving spirit of the CPC". In the same spirit, I believe that by keeping to our original aspiration, and being unremitting in our pursuit of knowledge, we can achieve our ideals and realise our best selves. I am very fortunate that I chose the OUC, recognised by an ICDE Award for Outstanding Institutions, as the way to fulfill my dream of learning.

Thank-you to the OUC for offering me a learning opportunity, and giving me a platform on which to gain strength and realise myself. Do not forget your original aspiration! Knowing that this has never left you is a source of perpetual happiness. Far from leaping a thousand miles every day, I just want to take one small step forward. I believe that the wings you weave today will determine how high you can soar tomorrow. "As heaven maintains vigor through movement, a gentleman should constantly strive for self-perfection! As earth's condition is receptive devotion, a gentleman should be open to the world, and broad-minded." (This speech won third prize in the OUC “My Learning Story” speech contest.)