Li Ling

by Lucy from Newmarket

Li Ling with her students. (
Li Ling with her students. (

In people’s minds, a hero often means someone who is famous and powerful and who has the right or ability to do a lot to profit the entire human race, like a leader of a generation. It is, however, even harder to be a normal person who gives up all she has to help others, without recognition or help. Li Ling is a hero in my mind because she had a chance to leave her life of poverty and, instead, she chose to teach poor children and become an example for many with her determination and unselfish attitude.

Li Ling  riding a bicycle to buy books. (
Li Ling riding a bicycle to buy books. (

Even though Li Ling was poor, she did all that she could to reach her goals. She was born in an impoverished mountain area in China. Both of her parents were sincere and guileless farmers who worked hard on their farmland day-to-day for barely enough to eat. Li Ling knew how hard life was since she was a young girl, but she never felt shame about her family situation. While she knew that poverty was just an excuse to give up and be hopeless, she never let it become an obstacle to her on the road to reaching her goal. She studied hard in school to get good marks and acquired knowledge like a sponge absorbs water. She knew it was the only thing she could do to not lose the opportunity to continue school. In her spare time, she fed all the poultry and helped with housework to take responsibility from her parents.

While other kids still hid in their parents’ safe harbour, enjoyed the protection of their family, and complained how hard it was to go to school, Li Ling had already grown up. She had already accepted her responsibility as a student and as a family member, and relied on her own efforts. It was hopeless for her to wait for others to bring her a wonderful life which would be rhythmic and comfortable. It was useless for her to complain how hard her life was and why she was born into a poor family. The only thing she could do was to seize the day, to clutch it with both her hands and not let go. She never gave herself any excuse to give up, or to stop because of the hard work. The way she chose was running faster and faster to reach for her future. She is a hero because she had the courage to face her life and never give up her on her goals.

During her university studies, she withstood many temptations and chose a different path for her life which set an example for others. According to one philosophic theory, God helps those who help themselves; Li Ling kept studying hard and became the first one in her family to go to a university. After being accepted by university, she didn’t become inattentive. Unlike other university students who chose to be self-indulgent, cut classes, spend all their time playing computer games, or finding a new boyfriend or a girlfriend, she stayed in her reality. She never pretended she didn’t care about marks, or tried to be cool. Instead, she chose to treasure the opportunity she had to do something more effective. She challenged herself to climb to the top of the learning mountain to improve her learning ability. Besides studying, she was enthusiastic about doing some volunteer work in teaching, especially for poor children. Moved by the plight of poor kids and this great opportunity, she was further encouraged to pursue her dream to help educate poor children. She wished that no matter how poor a family was, their children could have a chance to go to school. She set an example, telling everybody, especially university graduates, that life is not all about beer and Skittles. She told them not to forget their core values. Rich and comfortable are not what life is all about. She chose a different path of life for herself, which was harder, but it was the right one for her life. Sometimes, even though it is hard, we should find our personal values, enhance them and use them in a proper way. Li Ling is a hero because she kept her ideals and, even in the face of so many temptations, she still maintained her values.

Li Ling talking with the children<ve> (
Li Ling talking with the children (

Li Ling brought education to disadvantaged children, gave them her unselfish love and changed their lives. After graduating from university, instead of applying for a high-paying job, she chose to teach poor children in a mountain area, a place that was too poor to run a school. During the school year, she was not only a teacher for those students, but also a mom. She took care of everyone and tried her best to make them feel they were a family instead of just a class. The kids who went to that school did not need to pay anything. Therefore, as a principal, Li Ling borrowed a lot of money from her relatives, and accumulated a big debt. But those things never made her give up, because she couldn’t say no when she saw those poor kids’ eyes, which showed that they were anxious to study, and that they considered it as their biggest dream and only hope. During her teaching career she set her a goal to build a library for the kids to give them a good place to read and to explore an unknown world. In order to make this goal come true, she didn’t have a summer holiday for almost ten years. She spent her summers riding her bicycle to buy old books from kids in the big cities.

Children are the hope for the world, like flowers in a garden. They are beautiful, but weak and need a lot of help to grow up. Li Ling is a special gardener who gives her love to those flowers that need water. She doesn’t care about whether or not she gets paid. The only thing she wants is to give her love and use it as a bridge to help kids have a chance to learn and compete on an equal footing with their wealthier peers. She is a hero, because she uses her love to light the lamp of hope for thousands of disadvantaged children.

Li Ling is a hero in my mind. "Actions speak louder than words" is a simple truth, but actually not many people do this. Many people talk about charity all day and don’t do anything about it, but Li Ling used her actions to prove that love makes the world go round. For example, it is easy to donate money to kids in mountain areas. It’s not a big deal for rich people, and they don’t need to change anything in their lives. What Li Ling did was about something more. She gave her love, her time, her knowledge, and information from the outside world. Goods are not the thing that kids need most. Rather they really need knowledge, information, and someone from the outside world to care about them. Li Ling did this, casting caution to the wind. She really inspires me. Most times, I only think about things from my perspective about what people need and what I can do for them that will be effective. I never even try to think about others’ problems from their perspective or to consider how what I am doing will affect them. In fact, it is even harder for Li Ling to go back to this mountain area than anyone else. She has suffered from poverty; she knows how hard it is and how wonderful it is to leave a life of poverty. Yet, she still chooses to return, to abandon a new way of life that would be extremely easy for her to attain. In addition, what makes me admire her is her firm attitude. It won’t change anything if she doesn’t carry on, but if she keeps plugging away, she will make a revolutionary improvement to countryside education. Above all, the territory she chose was great. It takes three generations to makes a gentleman; education is the foundation of a country, and one of the most important parts is a good start. Because of limited resources, she cannot give these children a lot, but she gives them a chance to fight for their future.

As a student, I know how important it is to have a good teacher, a person who can lead me on the right road. Li Ling gives students in China hope and helps to inspire more and more people to focus on education. When others left, she chose to stay; while others harvest, she still cultivates. She carries many big dreams of children, and sows the seeds of hope by teaching them all that she can. She is my hero, a normal person who has taught me a lot, to let me know what kind of attitude I should have in life, and which path to go on to create a different future. Li Ling is a real hero, a person who deserves respect and admiration.

Page created on 10/24/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/6/2017 9:05:58 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

China Radio International - "Li Ling, the Most Beautiful Countryside Schoolmaster" by Liu Yan