Updated: 2013-07-31 13:57
By Li Yang (China Daily)
Zhao Xianyan teaches her two nieces with her textbook at home. Mo Jinmei / For China Daily
Orphan Zhao Xianyan had the odds of getting an education stacked against her, but her foster family's commitment to her schooling saw the young woman become the first person in her village of 200 people graduate high school, Li Yang reports in Shangsi, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
While hundreds of thousands of high school graduates in China celebrated the end of the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, at various parties on the night of June 10, Zhao Xianyan, 21, was trudging her way home in darkness on the muddy mountain path alone from her exam school in Shangsi county of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
She needed to reach home as early as possible to help her foster mother do farm work and take care of the family.
It took her nearly four hours to reach home. She trudged back home every Friday evening like this after school, and then returned to the campus on Sunday night, carrying enough sweet potatoes and rice as her provisions for the next five days.
"Although it is already totally dark when I get home, I feel very happy because I can do two days of work for the family," she says.
Zhao, a Yao ethnic orphan raised by her uncle and aunt in Qukun village of Nanping Yao ethnic town of Shangsi, has every reason to take pride in her good school records starting from elementary school. She is the first high school graduate in the history of her village of 200 people.
Her foster parents raised her together with two sons and one daughter by planting one small field of banana trees they cultivated themselves in the mountains.
Zhao's three siblings work as migrant workers far from home after dropping out of elementary school.
Her uncle suffered a brain stroke several years ago in his 50s and lost consciousness. Her aunt's left eye was badly injured by a tree branch when she worked in the woods. The two accidents exhausted every penny of the utterly destitute family.
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