Diana (Ding Yanbin) was one of my favorite students at Luzhou Vocational and Technical College.
To begin with, she was the first student I met with her parent in tow. I was hanging out at the English Department’s welcome table for new students when she arrived that first week. Her sun-weathered, dark-skinned father, in his 60s, was with her. She greeted me shyly by saying "Hello" and I was quick to praise her language ability, talking to her father in Chinese about her excellent pronunciation. His face beamed and the two of them excitedly went off to find her dorm room.
A Blind Baby Adopted
It wasn’t until later I learned Diana had been abandoned at birth due to her blind left eye. It’s noticably foggy and I’m sure for parents from the rural countryside, this was a frightening experience. To have a girl child not in perfect health, maybe very well completely blind, was too much of a financial and emotional burden for them to take one. She was placed on the street where a 50-year-old unmarried farmer found her. His kind heart went out to this little baby. Despite being extremely poor, he adopted her and raised her as his own. His own family (parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles) had died, leaving him alone in the world, except for this gift from God.
And a true gift it was. Ding Yanbin, or Diana as she chose for her English name, proved to be quite the intelligent one. She worked hard in school and managed to be matriculated into our Luzhou college as an English education major. Her father saved and borrowed enough money for just one semester, about $350, which left somewhat of a dilemma as to how she’d pay for the rest of her schooling.
A Benefactor Appears
Fortunately, someone in their smalltown area heard of her plight and sponsored her to continue her schooling. The gentleman owned a business that sold cars and was hoping that Diana would come to work for him for a few years after her college education. The problem was that he insisted she study accounting. He needed accountants, not English majors.
Diana had already completed a semester of English courses and had her heart set on being a teacher. When she learned that she would have to switch majors to accounting (something she isn’t really very good at), she was disappointed and disheartened. Yet with someone else paying for her education, she was obligated to study what her benefactor suggested.
Her determination to continue with her English studies, however, paid off. She managed to convince the man helping her that she could do a double major, English and accounting, and still do well in both subjects. He agreed and thus she graduated last May as an English language teacher and an accountant.
At present, Diana is at her benefactor’s car dealership. She works on the second floor. above the showroom, as one of the many sales girls who is in charge of the accounting department. Diana’s job includes taking large sums of cash to the bank (car buyers pay in cash in China, not by check) preparing all documentation of car sales for both the buyer and seller, and applying for/completing certifications of car ownership needed for government and license approval.
Car Dealerships in China
When Diana visited me for the afternoon on Saturday, I learned a lot from her about the car selling industry. Her boss’ dealership sells only one brand, a Chinese car called Beijing Xian Dai. This is a medium-priced vehicle in China, ranging from U.S. $11,000 to $21,000. I assumed car buying would be down in China as it was in the States but according to Diana, the business is booming. On average, their small dealership, located in a small town, is selling on average 100 cars a month. Gracious! I’m not even sure car dealorships in America did that well during a booming economy. Most are filing for bankruptcy.
Enjoying Chengdu Time Together
Diana and I had a lovely afternoon together at the Bookworm, the foreigner’s hang-out, where we talked, enjoyed iced coffee and giggled over possible boyfriends. We even managed to walk Little Flower around Sichuan University before she departed on the last bus to her small town, 1 hour away from Chengdu. It had been a wonderful visit together and one I hope we can do again in the future, on my next journey back to Chengdu.
Tomorrow, it’s time to visit yet another student another, Ji Ke (Jason). I’ll be traveling to his small village where a National Day of good food and family unity will be enjoyed.
I’m often asked by the Chinese why I like teaching here so much. Why don’t I go back to America, my home country? Don’t I miss my family and friends?
There are a number of reasons I prefer being in this country but the biggest has to do with people such as Diana, Jason, Jalin and her family, Dean Cathy: They are my friends and family. I don’t have to return to America for that. I have it all right here!
And on that final note, I’ll just say Ping An once again, peace, to all of you on this first day of October.