Project helps Wa ethnic woman lead fulfilling life
With support from the Spring Bud Project, Ye Heilong has become the first individual from the Wa ethnic group in Ximeng Wa autonomous county, in Pu'er, a city in Southwest China's Yunnan province, to receive a doctorate. She is now a lecturer at Yunnan University, in Kunming, capital of the province.
Ye says she overcame many difficulties, due in large part to the assistance she had received from many people over the years. Her experience in the pursuit of education reflects the historical transformation of local education in recent decades.
Ye Heilong works in her office. (CCTF)
Ye was born in Daigela village, in Ximeng. When she was a child, the residents made a living by growing crops, and most had a difficult time making ends meet, as yields were generally low. Ye's family was no exception. To save money, she and her classmates in Ximeng Ethnic Primary School often walked several hours to return home on weekends rather than take the bus.
Ye recalls how she was prepared to drop out of school, after she completed middle school, in the summer of 2002.
One day, in July 2002, she received a call from Ximeng Women's Federation, during which she learned, given her outstanding performance on the high school entrance exams, her head teacher had recommended her to study in a Spring Bud class in Kunming. The tuition fees would be covered by the project.
Nevertheless, it was still a burden for Ye's family to cover the more than 200-yuan (US $29) bus fare from Ximeng to Kunming. Luckily, Ye and her father met a relative in Pu'er, and that relative offered to help Ye.
Ye Heilong (middle) conducts an inspection tour in Yongren county of Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture, in Yunnan province. (CCTF)
"I am lucky. Without the Spring Bud Project, I would not have had the chance to go to a high school," Ye says.
In addition to waiving the tuition and accommodation fees, the Spring Bud class also offered her, and other eligible students, food subsidies.
To ease the economic burden on her family, Ye took housekeeping jobs on weekends, and during her summer and winter vacations.
Ye made up her mind to study hard, and to attend a university, after her teacher took her class to visit Yunnan University.
Ye scored more than 580 on the national college-entrance exam in 2005, and as a result she was admitted to Minzu University of China, in Beijing. Ye received her undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral degrees from that university.
While attending the university, Ye spent most of extracurricular time participating in work-study activities, physical exercises and events to promote the cultures of various ethnic minorities.
As she was a beneficiary of the Spring Bud Project, and given her outstanding academic performance, Ye was awarded subsidies and a tuition exemption from another national education-aid project.
Ye was invited to attend the grand celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at Tian'anmen Square, in Beijing, on October 1, 2009, as a representative of ethnic minorities. She was also one of the 56 students or teachers from Minzu University of China to march through Tian'anmen Square during the grand parade.
Ye Heilong conducts an inspection tour in Longchuan county of Dehong Dai-Jingpo autonomous prefecture, in Yunnan province.(CCTF)
Ye says she is lucky to live in a good era, and she is grateful for the Spring Bud Project, for its assistance in helping her lead a totally different life.
Ye has become a living example of the remarkable development of education in the autonomous county over the past three decades. She often says local schools now have better hardware, and more competent teachers.
As a lecturer and a researcher of the Wa ethnic culture at a research center of Yunnan University, Ye is committed to collecting and studying the linguistic resources of the Wa people, and to promoting social and cultural studies involving the Wa people.
Ye has done her best to live to the fullest as she has born the expectations of the locals, the Spring Bud Project and those who extended a helping hand to her in the past. She has grown into a role model in the eyes of locals, and she has demonstrated that knowledge can make a difference in people's lives.