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Finding strength through adversity

By Huang Zhiling in Shehong, Sichuan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-17 08:08

Jiang Tianjian jots down notes with his toes at the Meifeng Experimental School in Shehong county, Sichuan province.[Photo by Huang Zhiling/China Daily]

After a tough start, boy born without any arms has learned to compensate by using his feet

It was 9:10 am on a Sunday and 8-year-old Jiang Tianjian was eating his regular breakfast of rice noodles with his mother.

There's nothing unusual about that, you may think, except for the way the boy was holding his chopsticks-in between his toes.

Jiang, a first grader at the Meifeng Experimental School in Shehong county, Sichuan province, was born on Nov 18, 2009 without any arms.

He hasn't let that hold him back, however, and can now write Chinese characters, solve math problems, draw pictures, play on his cellphone and even do jigsaw puzzles using just his feet.

Chen Xiuhua, who teaches Jiang and his 49 classmates, said he is "top of his class".

The 52-year-old, who has been teaching for 30 years, said she had never seen a more severely handicapped student and admitted that she was concerned when she learned that Jian would be joining her class.

But the boy distinguished himself from the moment the two met, bowing and greeting Chen with a confident "hello, teacher".

He excelled academically, scoring full marks in Chinese and math in the midterm exams-the only student in his class to do so.

"In the final examination, he got a score of 97 for Chinese and a full score for math. His total scores for both subjects ranked second in the class," Chen said.

Despite this, Jiang was still sometimes bullied because of his disability, according to Wang Shihan, the class monitor.

But she said most of his classmates are more compassionate, playing with him and helping him go to the toilet.

Although Jiang has been successful in school, he did not have an easy start in life.

When his hairdresser mother, Li Hongmei, was pregnant, she had five prenatal ultrasounds-none of which showed that anything was wrong.

"Each time I was told that the fetus was well," the 39-year-old said.

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