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You Are the One
you are the one
You Are the One
By Chao Anli
Translated by George Wang
In December of 2001, I visited Yunnan for the first time. How time flies in the past fifteen years. With two pieces of luggage in hand, I stepped out of the airport building. ?Five dollars to Kunming Hotel,? said a street vendor. I climbed into a mid-sized bus, which already had passengers seated. When we arrived at Sakura Hotel, the driver let me off. ?Kunming Hotel is just across the bridge,? he said and pointed at the overpass. Glancing at my heavy suitcases and the distant overpass, I paused. Well, well. I steeled myself, picked up the suitcases, and boldly set off to climb the bridge. This was my greeting gift from Kunming.
I met Ruth and Xiong Chunmei at the hotel. Chunmei was helping us at the time; Chunmei?s sister Sonia has been working in Peach Foundation office for over thirteen years since 2003. With government required forms all filled out, we headed to the Education Bureaus of Yangbi and Eryuan to found Peach Foundation. Since 2001, I have been to Yunnan more than forty times. The students that we have financed have grown to over eight thousand from Tina Hong of ID 02001, the first Peach student in 2002, to Jiajia Sha of ID 161129 of this year.
Looking back over the past fifteen years, I would like to express my gratitude to many people. Volunteers are our partners. Without your trust, recognition, support and generosity, Peach Foundation would not have been what it is today. Daniel Hsu attended thirteen summer camps since 2003. Past students often came to see him, carrying with them their babies and gift baskets. ?I exercised vigorously so that I can be at the summer camp,? he said. Brother Jin is another regular. In our student home visitation trip, he was usually leading the group, dressed only in light clothing. I, wrapped in a heavy sweatshirt, would be out of breath and tried to keep up with him. Even though he is older, he is greeted as Brother Jin, and I as Aunt Chao. Jack Peng is another indispensable member. He referred many of his business friends to Peach. He is a photographer and a connoisseur of cuisines. We always have great meals when he is around.
I would like to show my appreciation to the government officials. Your support enables Peach to accomplish its mission and activities. My gratitude also goes to school principals and teachers. You have been on the front line in knowing and protecting the students. You relayed issues and student needs to us, visited them at home, and accompanied them to the summer camp on your own time.
I give thanks to the Peach staff. All of you are Peach graduates with the exception of Sonia. You are all well acquainted with the hardship of the students. You were once just like those kids and now it?s your turn to help. When students are on the verge of quitting for various reasons, it is you who help them walk that extra mile, invest the extra effort, and persist on.
Years ago, as students, you were shy and timid; and now, as staff, you are confident and self-assured. From clueless interns, you have transformed yourselves into veteran leaders. Among the six of you, four have married, own houses, and have relocated parents to Kunming with you. Su has become a father. The journey was not an easy one. ?I want to overcome life hurdles, walk on this mountain on my own, make my parents proud, and be liberated from poverty,? said your biographies. You have made it.
My deepest gratitude goes to the eight thousand students. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
I admire your persistence and courage against overwhelming odds in the pursuit of your studies. I adore the spirit of your family members. They sacrifice everything and are dedicated to supporting your education.
Over the last fifteen years, through your biographies, I find myself immersed in the mountains you live, meeting your parents and grandparents in your house, saying hello to the farm animals, running in the yard and dawdling in the den, watching you rush home, all covered in mud, from the field.
I know the crops in your field and see the steam rising from the stove with the pig feed boiling. I linger in your room amazed at the certificates of excellence covering the wall.
You yearn for school and I understand your dream perfectly.
You are the one who takes care of your grandpa with house chores and work on homework by the bedside after he sleeps.
You are the one, along with your sister, who are haunted by the sight of your grandma rolling on the floor in pain but cannot afford medical care.
You are the one who is tormented over your parents having to work in a faraway place to support you.
You are the one who sees off the last family pig or cow being dragged away to pay for your tuition.
You are the very worthy one who we have been seeking all this time. You are the one.
Over two thousand Peach students have graduated from colleges. They work in various occupations, enjoy financial well-being, and are supporting their parents. Many have married, raised children, and built homes for themselves and for family members. They take vacation trips and are having a great time with their lives. Peach has given you love, caring, encouragement, and a meager subsidy to lift you through the darkest valley. Your determination and hard work are the drivers that took you to where you are today. I am so proud of you, my children. I am grateful that you have been a big part of my life. You are the one that gives meaning to my life.
You are the one, my children, that propels us to continue the mission of helping poor yearning students. May all children have the same opportunity like you had in fulfilling their dreams.