Yanni is an only child who, as she admits herself, is a little shy. Luckily, this has not prevented her from pursuing a career as a teacher. She has had a strong sense of ‘paying it forward’, volunteering remote areas in Guizhou to run summer schools for village children, many of whom trekked for an hour each way, some carrying their younger siblings, to attend classes. This has left a lasting impression on her, especially because these children were still optimistic and eager to learn as ever. While at Beijing Normal University, she also participated in Yanxing’s Inspirational Speech trips to high schools and volunteered to care the ‘empty nester’ elderly in the community, while working part-time to support herself financially. However, her career goal was always “to be a caring and liked teacher”.
She reports back that she likes teaching more and more and has a strong bond with her students: “You give them one smile and are returned with a hundred smiles. While walking on the streets, there is always a kid calling out to you “Hello, Teacher”, and that’s very heart-warming. Some of the kids really trust me and come to talk to me about school and life.” Yanni herself also likes learning, of course, and continues to work on improving her fluency in English. During the summer of 2015, she also returned to Beijing Normal University to take some more classes to further her own education.
“I was lucky in having many wonderful teachers during my school years. They taught me not only knowledge but also the way to treat people and things. They also helped me through the most difficult times of my family. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to finish high school and be admitted to a university. During university, I tried to participate in activities where I could help others, for instance joining a team of volunteer teachers at an elementary school of an underprivileged area in Guizhou province. Those children were from families even poorer than mine. But they studied very hard and they are genuinely cheerful. During my interview with Yin Yin in Beijing, we talked a lot about the teachers who helped me over the years and the activities I participated during university vacations. I feel that the most important thing for a student to be considered for this scholarship is that she be authentic, kind, positive and self-motivated.”