Wang Guilan, who was born in 1949, has been inspired by the grand idea of serving the poorest. Over the past 30 years she has taught rural children how to read and write, and also how to be independent and responsible citizens. For Wang, rural education is the “cultural revolution” she wants to bring about. She is currently running a state kindergarten in Huangling County, Yan’an City.
Wang Guilan graduated in 1968 at the age of 19 from Beijing Normal College. Inspired by the idea of serving the poorest of the poor, Wang voluntarily went to the remote yellow-earth region of Shaanxi Province, along with 28,000 passionate educated youths. Thirty years later, when most had chosen to return to the city after the Cultural Revolution was over, she found herself still there. Wang feels a justifiable sense of achievement: “the villagers trust me a lot, and let me completely fulfill myself in the lecture room. In this village school, I teach language, mathematics, music and physical education. I teach the children everything I have learned. This makes me fulfill the values of life.” In 1974 Wang married a local mathematics teacher and they had two sons. Later she had several opportunities to go back to Beijing to teach, but she renounced them all, though not without some struggle with herself. However, she does not regret her decision because the yellow earth brings her true love and a community spirit of give-and-take: “In the process of developing my career, I have met sincere rural people who treat me like family. I cannot forget that whenever I do home visits or arrange parents’ meetings, I am completely impressed by their generosity and hospitality.” Her contribution to rural literacy has won her the respect of her local community. In 1992 she was appointed schoolmistress of a local primary school. She is currently the general secretary of a local kindergarten.
Kindergarten of Huangling County, Yan’an City, Shaanxi Province