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'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon': How security guards turned into educators

2017/5/19 8:54:51   source:CGTN

More than 500 security guards working at Peking University were admitted to graduate schools or became university instructors in the last 20 years, a recent report revealed.

More than 500 security guards working at Peking University were admitted to graduate schools or became university instructors in the last 20 years. [File Photo: CGTN]

More than 500 security guards working at Peking University were admitted to graduate schools or became university instructors in the last 20 years. [File Photo: CGTN]

This figure from one of China's most prestigious post-secondary institutions transforms the stereotype that security guards are under-educated.

Their achievements may not seem as glittery as the number of Chinese obtaining degrees overseas, but with a full-time job and family to take care of they have to exert more effort than many on studying.

Netizens have therefore joked that "Peking University security guards are truly 'crouching tigers and hidden dragons'."

Miao Xiangwei, one of the guards at Peking University, was successfully enrolled into the school after sneaking into lectures and self-studying for years. He wrote a book called 站着上北大 (Go to Peking University, Standing) which touched millions. [File Photo: Xinhua]

Miao Xiangwei, one of the guards at Peking University, was successfully enrolled into the school after sneaking into lectures and self-studying for years. He wrote a book called 站着上北大 (Go to Peking University, Standing) which touched millions. [File Photo: Xinhua]

Stories of the Peking guards

Wang Guiming, leader of Peking University's security team of 500 guards, said that most of the security personnel have graduated from college; a small number have a bachelor's degree, and 12 made it to graduate schools.

Former NBA all-star Kobe Bryant once asked the reporter in an interview "Do you know what Los Angeles looks like at 4 o'clock in the morning?" after being asked to reveal the secret of his success.

"It is still in the dark at 4 a.m., but I had already gotten up by then and was walking in the dark streets," he said. "More than 10 years passed and the darkness in the streets of Los Angeles was still there at 4 a.m., but I had become a basketball player with strong muscles, excellent physical fitness, strength and a high field goal percentage."

And Kobe wasn't the only one chasing success while deprived of sleep: Napoleon only slept three to four hours a day and got up at 3 a.m. for work; Edison only got four to five hours of sleep a day, and he regarded sleep as a waste of time, "a heritage from our cave days."

These icons are geniuses, but still work so hard to strive for success. What can the Peking University guards do, when they lack such exceptional talents?

Zhang Juncheng, who was the first security guard at Peking campus to attend Gaokao, the national higher education entrance examination, is a vivid example of achieving success through diligence.

Back in 1995, Zhang, who had just graduated from a junior middle school in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi Province, tried different jobs before being hired as a security guard at Peking University.

However, Zhang quickly determined that higher education was the only way to gain esteem and change his life.

At Peking University, Zhang embarked on his road of learning by sneaking into lectures, but thanks to help from several professors, he received special permits for some classes, including English, for the importance of knowing a second language.

One professor said he was moved by Zhang's diligence and eagerness for knowledge, and thus encouraged him to read more and "make a plan for his life."

Under the guidance of such teachers, Zhang read hundreds of books with themes varying from literature, philosophy, history and English after getting off work. He also wrote diaries and transcribed stories. When the dormitory's lights went out, he continued to read by torchlight.

His efforts were spotted by Cao Yan, an English professor at the school who gave him permits for English class and encouraged him to sit the exam for continuing studies.

In the autumn of 1995, Zhang attended the exam and was successfully enrolled in the law department of Peking University.

Zhang, now 41, is currently the principal of a local secondary vocational school in his hometown, and his experience has since inspired many other guards who also wish to change their social status.

Zhang said over the past two decades, he has kept doing two things: keeping a diary and getting up early in the morning.

Even after rising to be a school headmaster, Zhang gets up at about 6 a.m. every day to go to the school's playground.

Authentic or fake positive energy?

Like Zhang, many former security guards on Peking campus were successfully enrolled into the university, after years of hard work and persistence.

The stories of the Peking University guards illustrate that a person's position in society is not decided by others, but their own efforts. We may not be born rich or good-looking, but we never know whether we can achieve something if we give up dreaming and trying.

Obeying destiny or being the master of our own lives -- that may be a question that keeps us thinking with the lessons learned from people like Zhang. Overdoses of "chicken soup for the soul" may bring negative effects, but no intake at all could lead to loss of hope and passion for life.

"There is only one form of heroism in the world, and it consists in seeing the world as it is -- and in loving it." So Romain Rolland wrote in the preface of The Life of Michael Angelo. It is way too early to say "I can't do it" before even trying.

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