Zhang Jing is a teacher at the Qingdao Economy Vocational School. In the 24 years of her teaching career, the year of 2015 is the most special: 20 Tibetan children at the age of 17 travelled thousands of miles away from their hometowns and came to study in her class.
Up till today, Zhang has written eight volumes of journals about teaching these Tibetan students. She said: “By writing about this experience, I hope to capture the moments and milestones of their growth. When I read the journals again after they have graduated, I’ll know that I did the right thing during those three years.”
Her journals contain many heartwarming stories about how these students grew and matured: Dandren, who started out as the naughtiest boy in class, scored the highest in a mid-term math exam and ranked second in a final exam; Mima, who used to refuse to answer any questions in exams in protest against having been sent to Qingdao, later became a self-motivated student who volunteered to help organize the school’s art festival and scored the highest in the National Proficiency Test for Mandarin Chinese.
Norbu Tashi once wanted to pack up and go back to Tibet, after being admonished by Ms. Zhang for making a mistake. Zhang then asked him to read her journals before taking any decision. Her journals evoked in him many warm memories of his days in school. He apologized and decided to stay in Qingdao to continue his studies. “That was when I realized that keeping those journals had been worthwhile!” Zhang said.
According to Zhang, these Tibetan students had been the most pure hearted children of all her teaching experience. That summer, Zhang traveled to Tibet with her family. On hearing the news that the teacher was coming to Lhasa, one of the students Mima, who had since returned home, went to great lengths to make the journey by bus to meet Ms. Zhang. He left his hometown three days in advance, just to deliver a gift from his family—55 carefully packaged home produced eggs. Zhang wrote in her journal: “I was so touched to see how someone could go to such lengths to express their good will and gratitude! It is difficult to imagine being worthy of such a gesture.”
Zhang would spend a lot of time chatting with her students, and got to know each of their dreams of the future. For example, Rencuo wanted to become a doctor while Mima was aiming to become a singer. Zhang always encouraged her students to pursue their ambitions. She would tell them: “You are each like hidden treasures in the Himalayas of Tibet. So long as you keep trying, some day you will be discovered and shine.”