Transferring from trains to buses to motorcycles, this teacher has been commuting this way to classes for a decade.

From Metropolis to Countryside

"It was raining that day, and the road from the village entrance to the school gate was not only winding but also muddy. It took me over half an hour to travel the one-kilometer distance. The school had an old-fashioned classroom with only a blackboard and old desks and chairs. The classroom didn't even have any windows." Liu Zongyan vividly describes her first day of teaching at the school.

iu Zongyan graduated as a TME student in 2010. In a time when young people migrated in masses to the cities, Liu chose to become a teacher in a rural area. She left Chengdu to teach at Shizhu Primary School in the remote Fude town in Peng'an county. Shizhu Primary School is the most remote rural primary school in Peng'an county, over 60 kilometers away from the county seat. Liu has dreamed of becoming a teacher since she was a child. Although she thought she was prepared, she still felt a little anxious on her way to the school. Even though it was already 2010, but the teachers' dormitory did not have access to tap water. Liu had to get water from the well beside the playground and bring it to her dormitory on the third floor.

"To be honest, I was a little disappointed because life here was not very convenient. For a moment, I even wondered why I came here… But when the children ran to me together and asked 'Miss Liu, will you be teaching us? We have a young and beautiful teacher', it warmed me by heart. What moved me most is a first-grade student timidly calling me "mom" from a corner of the room."

High Ideals Face Harsh Realities

Located remotely, Shizhu Primary School has always been lacking teachers and almost every teacher at the school has to teach more than two subjects. Young teachers are even fewer and many leave after a short time because of the harsh conditions. During her ten years at the school, Liu also considered leaving, but decided to stay when she thought of her students.

High ideals will face the harsh reality. To Liu's surprise, the biggest challenge at the primary school was teaching. It was harder to teach the students than she imagined because 80 to 90 percent of the students were left-behind children whose parents worked far away from the village. In addition, the student's grandparents did not pay much attention to their education. This often demotivated the students at times. It was not easy for Liu to teach them, guide their development, and ensure that they were happy.

Liu teaches both Chinese and English. Teaching with only chalk and oral lectures often bored the students. The children had little exposure to the world outside of textbooks. When learning about the Palace Museum, it was difficult for the student to imagine the "dragon drain spouts, golden glazed tiles, and the carvings of dragon, phoenix, and cloud". So Liu found documents with pictures of the Palace Museum, cut the pictures out, and showed them to the students. Every time she left the village, she tried to bring back more extracurricular books and English tapes to the school.

Changes Increased Her Confidence

Children in the village are eager to learn about the outside world, and it seems that young teachers like us can bring new energy to the school. Our ways of speaking and teaching are new and appealing to the students, which bring us closer to them but also put more responsibilities on our shoulders.

The limited teaching conditions often made her feel unable to bear those responsibilities and wonder if her hard work was worthwhile. However, a change encouraged her to persevere. Three years ago, Huawei helped Peng'an Bureau of Education,Science, and Sports to implement a new round of education digitization. The program covered over 80 schools around the county with an all-optical campus network bringing "gigabit to schools and megabit to classrooms". With every classroom networked, devices such as electronic whiteboards were installed and multimedia teaching became available. "The network enabled the children to learn more about the world outside of textbooks. The online panoramic videos help me teach them about topics such as 'The Palace Museum', like a tourist guide showing them around the museum itself. For the children, it is a very efficient way of learning," said Liu. Seeing these improvements in teaching conditions, Liu finally saw hope after many years of hard work.

ICT not only improves teaching quality but also opens a window for the children to see the vast world outside. I hope that with the help of network technology, more children can grow up with high-quality education and pursue their own dreams.

A Decade of Dedication

Transferring from a high-speed train to a bus and to a motorcycle to get to the village, Liu spends three to four hours at the shortest to commute from her home in Chengdu to the school. Liu commutes every week because she wants to spend more time with her two-year-old child. "I feel that it is unfair to my child because I leave my own child at home while come here to be a mother to other children." Talking about her child, Liu could not hold back her tears. Although she feels sorry for her child, she knows that the children in the mountains also need her. She is both their teacher and mother.

"I love seeing the smiling faces of the students in my class, and feel valued because I can bring them knowledge and hope. I came here not to suffer but to educate." Nighttime in the countryside is especially quiet and Liu often feels lonely. There used to be a teacher very close to her in the dormitory but the teacher was transferred to a school closer to her home several years ago. Liu said that it was a setback for her. Most people left but Liu understands that people all have their own dreams and can pursue the life they want. A decade has passed and Liu is still teaching at the school. During this period, she also had chances to transfer and she envied others occasionally, but she did not want to leave the children.

If I am in a big city, I might be just one of the millions. But here I mean a lot to the children and it makes me feel needed. This feeling makes me feel fulfilled, which is a feeling beyond material satisfaction.

Liu said that being a teacher in a rural area may not be the best for her but there have been many changes throughout the decade. Gradually, she gained from the children what many adults do not get, such as sincerity, goodness, and kindness. Now, the conditions of the village have been improved a lot and the gap between rural and urban education is narrowing noticeably. It is Liu's deepest wish to help the children in the mountains learn so that they can go further in their life. Even children in remote rural areas have opportunities to pursue their dreams.。

In China, there are 29 million teachers like Miss Liu Zongyan in rural areas. They have been working on the frontline of grassroots education Thanks go to every teacher devoted rural education! Huawei all-optical network will support you all the way and keep promoting the digitization and modernization of rural education. Thank you, our educators.