China: Ling Zhao

I shall not stand aloof from the peasants and the transient migrant workers and give instructions about what is to be done. I shall be one with them.

— Ling Zhao

Zhao Ling was born in 1980 and is now president of the Peasants' Children – China Rural Development and Promotion Association in Beijing Normal University. For many years she has been concerned about the education of migrant workers' children. She organizes educational activities for these children, and conducts surveys of college students aimed at supporting peasants. Her actions inspire many college students to be concerned about agriculture, rural areas and peasants, as well as the conditions of migrant workers from the countryside. Such activities have now spread throughout the country.

Like many children born in the 1980s, Zhao Ling spent her childhood and adolescence with few worries about things like food or clothes, and knowing nothing about crops. She was an only child, and spent her time learning and studying. Zhao’s life began to change after she joined college. She participated in the "inquiry on the oral history of the changes in rural society of southern Jiangsu Privince" project in Nanquan County, Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province. When peasants, poverty, and suffering entered her worldview, her innocence came to an end. Ever since then she has looked for every chance to participate in activities that relate to realities on the ground. In 2001, as an exchange student, she went to Beijing Normal University, where she got to know a students' society called Peasants' Children - China Rural Development and Promotion Association, and to take part in their activities. This made her "experience the genuine homecoming of her own life." In the countryside she started to love the smell of the soil, as well as the unpretentious feelings of the peasants. She found rural life much more humane and natural than city life. While studying she used her spare time to act as a voluntary teacher in the self-funded school for children of transient migrant workers, and participated in surveys conducted by her college that focused on the situation of peasants in the country. Zhao and her comrades are clear that their lives will be close to the earth, and that their attention will always be turned to disadvantaged groups.

Peasants' Children – China Rural Development and Promotion Association, Beijing Normal University