xi's moments
Home | Education

Zhuhai teacher goes extra mile for Xizang students

'Father Chen' is a constant companion for his charges, who are far from home

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-09 08:15

Chen Geng (middle) stands with some of his Tibetan students at Zhuhai No 4 Middle School in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. CHINA DAILY

Chen Geng is always very busy during festivals and holidays.

As the director of the Xizang department of Zhuhai No 4 Middle School in Guangdong province, Chen spends every New Year's Day, Spring Festival, National Day, Dragon Boat Festival and other major holidays with his students from the Xizang autonomous region in his school.

"The children left their parents in Xizang and came to study in Zhuhai, and it was inevitable they would not adapt quickly to the new environment and climate," Chen said. "Therefore, our love and care for them has become particularly important."

Coastal Zhuhai in South China and Xizang, in the snowy plateau region in western China, are more than 3,000 kilometers apart.

Over the past 10 years, Chen has been focused on building a home for the Tibetan children studying in Zhuhai, situated at the mouth of the Pearl River in Guangdong.

Due to the long journey, the Xizang students only return home to see their parents during summer vacation. When they do, Chen always personally accompanies them back to Xizang.

Though the journey is far, Chen adheres to the habit of making home visits to understand more about the students' living conditions and family backgrounds.

He has made such visits throughout Xizang, including the cities and prefectures of Lhasa, Nagqu, Nyingchi, Shigatse and Ngari. "The longer I get along with them, the more I regard the Tibetan students as my own children," Chen said.

As their long-term companion, Chen has become familiar with the students' dietary habits, lifestyles, interests and hobbies, and has formed deep teacher-student relationships with them.

Instead of sir, they refer to him as "Father Chen".

This year, Zhuhai No 4 Middle School is celebrating its 10th anniversary of the establishment of its classes for Xizang students. The school now has 258 students from Xizang in seven classes, and more than 70 percent of them come from herding families.

Chen usually arrives at the school at 6:30 each morning to lead his students in exercises. Breakfast begins at 7 am, followed by reading lessons at 7:15.

In addition to teaching classes, Chen checks the students' dormitory to ensure hygiene and is responsible for their food, clothing, housing and transportation — like a "butler", he said.

"I don't have any weekends at all now," Chen said as he smiled helplessly.

"The children cannot return home, nor can the teachers," he said, adding that the teachers in his department are usually on standby 365 days a year for any issues that may arise. "We are both teachers and parents."

When the students feel homesick, Chen often sacrifices his personal time to comfort them, talking and doing exercises with them. He also often invites them to his home as guests.

And when a student falls ill and is hospitalized, he usually visits them in hospital every day they are there. On some occasions, he stays at the hospital indefinitely, until the student has fully recovered.

Xizang student Drolma Yangzom said she feels that Chen can read their minds when they are not happy. "We might feel homesick, as we come from Xizang. Unlike other teachers in the school, Chen is not very strict with us," she said. "In addition to encouraging us to study hard, he is always very concerned about us in daily life."

Drolma Latso, a third year junior high school student, said Chen is a very caring teacher. "He often brings us food and often asks us if we are satisfied with the cafeteria food," Drolma Latso said.

Every month, Chen also takes the students to visit local museums, educational institutes and well-known enterprises in Zhuhai to learn and conduct research.

"For these Tibetan children, the school is not just an educational venue, but also their home," he said.

It is precisely this kind of companionship and dedication that has gradually opened up the hearts of Tibetan children, making Zhuhai become their "second hometown".

In May, Chen was awarded the title of "Good Samaritan of Zhuhai" due to the great love he has shown his students.

Along the corridors of the teaching wing of the department, pictures of outstanding graduates from Xizang adorn the walls. "This is where I am most worthy of 'showing off'," Chen said as he gazed at the photos, beaming with pride.

More than 60 Xizang students have been admitted to top universities in China since 2018. Over the past three years, over 60 percent of them have been enrolled in such institutions.

"More than 90 percent of the Tibetan students have passed the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, to study at universities and colleges after they graduated in Zhuhai," he said.

Some of them have gone on to establish careers for themselves, including as teachers, doctors and police officers, according to Chen.

"Seeing students achieve success and gain something is my greatest happiness," Chen said, adding that he believes every teacher has the same feeling.

He said 90 percent of the Tibetan students at the school return to Xizang.

"They have attachments to their hometowns and are willing to go back and develop them," he said.

Li Jiajia contributed to this story.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349