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Looking for Myself, I Had Gone Astray

时间:2010-11-04 13:56:51  来源:Stories of GLV   作者:Zhang Chennong

A university senior came to GLV to learn English and she met someone whose kindness, warm-heartedness, mild temper and devotion to work really impressed her. She could hardly believe herself that she had met someone so nice. She made up her mind to stay in GLV. Later, she became a volunteer in GLV after graduation and shortly after that the girl became staff member and met a lot of happy and kind GLV people who had their own life stories. That girl is the writer of this article and her name is Yang Jie and the man she admires is Zhang Chennong whose English name is Arthur.



* Looking for Myself, I Had Gone Astray *


I was born on a rainy morning and my parents named me Chengyu which literally means morning rains. When I went to school, my name was changed to Chengnong. My father ran a company in Yuzhong, Gansu province, and rarely came back due to his packed schedule. I spent my happy childhood with my mother and grandmother in the countryside. I went to town to study when I was in the fourth grade.


*Do You Want to Study in Our School with Such Lousy Academic Results?*

My father had great expectations for me and tried to put me into the best primary school there through pulling strings behind the scene. One day my father and I went to see the dean. She told me to show her the results of my final examinations, which I didn’t hesitate at all in handing over after I found it in my schoolbag. My score was barely over 60 and the handwriting was nothing but scribbles. She frowned at it and said ironically: “Do you want to study in our school with such lousy academic results?” Seemingly asking me, she was actually more interested in my father’s response.

My father turned towards me and his accusing eyes made me feel uncomfortable and anxious. Suddenly I realized that I had embarrassed my father who was renowned for successfully running the companies in our town. I was told to take the fourth grade classes again. I felt ill at ease and secretly vowed that I would study hard and never again put my father in such an awkward place.

Although I was young and naive, my resolution was indeed solid and firm. After that incident, I began to devote myself wholly to my lessons and my scores shot straight up. Soon I had the highest scores in class, which never changed until middle school.

I was afraid of composition classes, but I still tried hard and my first composition was published in the newspaper. What’s more, I was praised as a “person who keeps thinking about the motherland and others.” I went to Lanzhou and came back with a medal for the composition. Both my medal and I were recorded in Yuzhong County’s history, which really pleased my family a lot. For a fairly long time, I was considered to be a role model for other children.

I was a class representative in middle school and brought a lot of honors to my class. I used to attend Hua Luogeng National Maths Invitational Tournament and won a prize. Right after we learned The Emperor’s New Suit, the leader of the grade decided to host a performance competition. I was appointed as the director and racked my brains to search for innovative ideas.

Probably inspired by the TV programs, I asked every actor to give a brief introduction about the role they would play and I even brought my medal into our performance. We finally won the first prize due to these two ideas. I kept up with my seriousness and meticulousness and successfully got into an important high school as my parents, friends and I had expected.


* Infatuated with Motorcycles *

At the beginning of my high school life, our teacher told us, “Students, you have to get yourselves prepared for the three-year high school life, because it will directly decide whether you go to university or not. You have to study hard, and sometimes you have to go all out even if that will put your life at risk.” He said a lot of inspiring words and many students felt so passionate that they couldn’t wait to put their own life on the line. However, at that moment I suddenly felt terribly sick, thinking of all the  endless classes to come. I would have no more chances to play. With all the academic burdens on my shoulders, I couldn’t take it any longer.

My parents were too busy with their work to notice how I had changed. I had a fairly good family background and therefore I had some pocket money. I tried hard to make myself different and unique. I followed the trend in clothes and wore grotesque clothes. I also started riding motorcycles and really enjoyed the thrilling feelings when I whizzed through the streets. I often rented a motorcycle and went out for a ride, which I thought was an happy, unrestrained, life.

I was a headache to my teacher at school. It wasn’t that I had not given any thought about my future or my dreams, but I really had gone way too far and it was difficult to catch up. Although I seemed to be very happy in other people’s eyes when I played around, I did get despondent sometimes. Many students came from the countryside and studied really hard. It bothered me when I saw that they studied with such great effort while I was fooling around. I sincerely wanted to stop the gap between them and me from getting increasingly wider, but my abilities fell short of my wishes.

Finally my teacher talked to my father. After hearing all the accusations from my teacher, my father couldn’t have been more shocked. He had been thinking that I was still a model for others and was still the child who would spend two weeks watching a snail, just for a composition.

Back home, he was furious and snarled at me, “On your knees!” I knew it was my fault but I would not kneel down because, as a rebellious adolescent I considered that to be too humiliating. Trembling with wild rage, my father fetched a toilet-plunger from the washroom and beat me mercilessly. That was thethird time I had been beaten and it really impressed me. The college entrance examination was approaching and everyone knew that I would never make it to the university.


* I Held the Pillows High and Smashed Them Down Hard *

My father was very forward-looking and sent me to a private foreign language school in Xi’an. I majored in English, but I was only interested in computers because of my interest in computer games. I had been clear what I wanted to do and what I should do, never pushing myself to do something that I didn’t like. I made up my mind to buy a computer and money became my first priority.

Obviously I wouldn’t be able to get it from my father. I kept thinking about ways to make a fortune. One day, I was walking on the street and saw some people selling water-filled pillows. In the blistering heat of Xi’an, there were neither air conditioners nor electric fans and it was extremely hot and stifling so I bought myself one and put it on the bed. It did become nice and cool, which gave me a good idea.

I made a big purchase of the pillows and started to sell them with one of my roommates. I used every way I could think of to demonstrate that my pillows were of good quality and the water would not leak onto their bed. We targeted all the universities and colleges in Xi’an, except our own school, because we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of the people we knew.

In order to attract the attention of passers-by, I jumped on the pillows and picked them up high before I banged them hard on the ground. It really aroused their interest and we made our first pot of gold.

Of course, we should’ve been on high alert and ready to retreat once any security man or school police was spotted. Unfortunately we were caught one time and not only our pillows were confiscated, but we were fined for 50 RMB.

Like any vendor on the street, we also went outside and stood near the overpass. To demonstrate the quality of our product my roommate and I climbed to the overpass and dropped the pillows down to the street below and we successfully rounded up a crowd of people. We sure were as bold as brass back then.

Due to the high intensity and excitement in the blistering sun for days on end, I suffered heat stroke and fainted where we made our sales. My lanky roommate had no choice but to carry me on his back all the way to the hospital and put me on a drip. However, all of this was worthwhile. With 1000 RMB earned from the pillows and another 1000 RMB from the tuition fees given by my parents, I bought a fairly new, second-hand, computer from my friend who had just started a net bar which was on the verge of bankruptcy.

With the computer, I suddenly had a goal to live for. My classmates and I began to go to training schools to learn more about creating web pages and many other things related to computer technology. Of course none of this was related to my major back in school.

I was already a junior and it was time for us to look for jobs. Nevertheless, I didn’t plan to find a job requiring English, all I wanted was one which would have me working with computers. For example, I maintained and assembled computers in the computer market. Sometimes I even went through the streets and alleys on my bike to post leaflets or to deliver gifts for network companies. With all those ordinary and underpaid jobs, I lead a simple life and the future was the last thing I was thinking about.


* I Became Almost Crazy in a Small Room *

At the beginning of 2001, a company from Zhuhai went to Xi’an to employ some computer programmers and one webpage designer. Given the fact that I had never been to the south, I was extremely curious and looked forward to going there. I created a resume and sent it out, but I didn’t dare to mention my English major. From then on, I would say I had learned computer technology whenever other people asked me about my major. Nobody doubted my answer, for they thought it was unnecessary to lie about this.

On March 6th, 2001, I went to Zhuhai with another boy who had also been employed there. That was the beginning of our friendship and every annual anniversary after that, we would call each other and go out for a dinner to commemorate our brave decision to come all the way from the north to the south. We wanted to share with each other that we were still struggling and hanging there in Zhuhai.

My hometown is a summer resort in the north. I had never seen a mosquito before I went to Zhuhai where I was bitten by the mosquitoes every day and it was unbearably itchy. In order to get rid of the itchiness, I even pricked my skin with a needle before I spread some salt on it. I had a very poor life both materialistically and spiritually. In the company, I hardly made any friends except those I went out with to play football sometimes. Most of them would just go their own way after work, absent-minded and indifferent to me.

Nevertheless, I was lucky to have some friends who lived with me in the company’s dormitory. In the summer when it was hot and the mosquitoes dogged us incessantly, we would go to the balcony and lie down on a mat. We would look up at the sky and we chatted about everything that came to our mind, full-spirited but obviously short of realizing our dreams. The sky in Zhuhai was really low with clusters of cloud flying by, which was really a splendid view. In this way, we led a carefree life and went through all the sadness and happiness of an ordinary life.

The company became ever worse due to poor management. One day, I was summoned to talk with the leader who recognized my work and praised me before he suddenly changed his subject and told me casually that I was fired.

I was totally numb and aimless. For the first time, I felt so free, but I found that I could not enjoy that freedom. I had always complained about not being able to get enough time to sleep when I had a job, but now that I had more than enough time to sleep but I became restless and couldn’t sleep soundly. One week later, I could not stand living in that small room any more. I decided to find a new job before I became insane.

I searched for jobs online and found that GLV was looking for a webpage designer. I sent them my resume, but I had no confidence that I would be employed. Thus, I got myself packed and was ready to begin my adventure in Shenzhen which had been said to be a place full of opportunities.

However, that one and only resume I sent out kept me in Zhuhai and I started my life at GLV.


* I Bought a Big Cake for the Female Colleagues on Women’s Day *

When I came to GLV for the interview I felt that GLV was totally different from the office building of the software company I had worked for. It happened to be a break time for the students when I was waiting for Gina from the GLV HR Department. All the students were talking in English and that deeply impressed me. I looked at those pictures of the teachers and found Ping’s in which he looked fairly young, like in his twenties or thirties. I thought to myself that Ping must be in possession of great abilities to manage the school well. Later, Ping had a conversation with me and I was quickly accepted the job atGLV.

After all these years of work, I have come to understand a large multitude of things and learned that life is not as harsh or easy as we think it is. The key point is to learn to be self-controlled and to keep myself far away from all kinds of temptations before I lose myself. In high school, I pursued freedom which I actually had no idea about; I sought after happiness, but when I recall the past now I realize that my life then was not really related to happiness. It was in the primary school and middle school that I had a taste of the satisfaction and happiness I had been looking for. For example, I felt satisfied when I went home with the first prize. I became genuinely happy when I led my classmates to practice and perform on the stage and won a round of applause from the audience. Furthermore, I am no longer as scatterbrained as before. We all have a whole lot of dreams, but instead of daydreaming, we’d better finish the most trivial, but necessary, tasks at hand first.

The strongest feeling I felt after entering GLV was that I was kept busy all day long. Not only did I have to design web pages and maintain the computers, but I had to fix the printers and recruit students online. Apart from that, I had a full list of other things to do. GLV was pretty small then and we had to move our offices and dormitories often. Therefore, every now and then I would be called away from my work on my computer to help to carry the chairs and desks due to a lack of male staff in the Support Service Department. After a long busy day, it seemed that I had done everything, but nothing was actually achieved and I felt depressed and unsatisfied.

As GLV developed, a series of reforms were carried out and the work was divided more clearly and in order. We could do our job much more smoothly, but we still helped each other often beyond the call of our duty, which led to a strong and close bond among us. On one Women’s Day, I secretly bought my female colleagues a big cake. I was extremely pleased when I saw them happily eating the cake.




* They Said That My “Baby” Was Beautiful *

GLV’s website was overshadowed by other big websites and the layout really needed to be changed. I told Ping about my idea, which he declined at first. I insisted on changing it and wrote the longest email I had ever written to Ping, elaborating on the importance of the website, for example, an exquisite website could greatly improve a school’s image among the public.

After reading my email, Ping agreed with me and I started my project. Given the full schedule of my daily work, I had to do it after work. Ping was deeply concerned about the face-lift of GLV’s website and often asked me about the progress of it. I couldn’t let Ping rush me all the time, so I kept pushing myself as fast as possible and hopefully I could tell him, “It’s done” when he asked me next time.

During that period of time, I did work day and night. Usually I would continue to stay in the office after work and get one or two hours of sleep before I got up at night to resume my project until two or three in the morning. The most unbearable thing was that was that I was so committed that I didn’t have time to pay attention to the mosquitoes, telling myself that they would surely stop biting me once they were full.

The website was finally finished and it was time to give it a trial run. My supervisor was a woman who has since left GLV. She was responsible for it and she told me when she came back, “The clients praised the website. It is very beautiful. Arthur, this is your baby!”

My “baby” was very beautiful. I was very satisfied and self-fulfilled with this compliment which reminded me of my feelings when I was praised by my teacher for my well-written composition. I regained the dedication and concentration that I had earlier when I wanted to perform all tasks to perfection.

Ever since then, I began to win over trust from others and started to take over more important responsibilities. We do need to be down to earth and firstly finish our work well even though is the most basic and trivial chore.

During the period of SARS, we had a student who got a fever, which was really disturbing. The student hid himself in the alley behind GLV and my colleague and I had to find him and bring him to the hospital because of the possibility of contamination. My colleague was actually the principal’s elder sister who was of the similar age to my mother. She told me, “Arthur, you can’t go there, because you are still young.” However, I couldn’t set my mind at ease, so I insisted on going with her, for a lot of work needed to be carried out once that student was confirmed to be infected with SARS. Therefore, we two brought that student to the hospital and the doctor ruled out that possibility of SARS. When we took the student back to GLV dormitory, it was already in the middle night and he was obviously touched that we had been so concerned and had cared for him.


* I Stood on the Top of the Mountain and Looked Out to the Sea *

Many people thought that I had graduated from the Computer Science Department of Lanzhou University, for I had been telling them that whenever they asked me about that. But now I’d realized that we should assess others according to their character and abilities rather than the school or the major. I had been an English major for three years, during which time I was not committed to my studies. Either due to my vanity or the surrounding environment, I hadn’t been able to face this fact. From high school to university, I wasted six of the most precious years of my youth recklessly. I knew that I needed to make it up, reading and studying as much as possible, turning to my friends and fellow-workers for help whenever I came across a question.

There were always many people losing things in the computer room when I was in the university, so I often searched around after I logged off the computer. Lucky for me, I found a wallet with a dining card inside. I treated one of my classmates in the school canteen for a few times with that card before that classmate lost his own wallet and I found that my leather shoes disappeared a few days later. Both my classmate and I said that it was karma and we deserved it. Although these two things were absolutely unrelated, one thing was for sure, we were afraid of being caught and felt insecure and disturbed that we had done something wrong. We might hide this from other people, but we couldn’t hide it from our conscience.

 Principal Ping said that we should focus on learning before thirty rather than going after unnecessary things. I am about to be thirty soon and there are still a lot of things for me to learn. I think I can make quick progress as long as I realize my shortcomings and weaknesses. Only by knowing myself can I go beyond myself; only by facing my past calmly can I welcome the future confidently.

In the Lunar New Year when I was young, we would climb the mountains to pray for blessings according to the customs in my hometown. I would always follow the adults to take a long hike before we finally reached the top which was wreathed spectacularly by mist. I climb the mountain in Zhuhai now. Standing at the top, faced with that misty and wavy sea, I often feel overwhelmed.

I have been looking for myself, who used to be lost, and now I have found myself at last. Ever since I was a child, I have been instructed to be kind and honest and to become a real man who would never have regrets. Now that little boy trudging in the snow has become a man perched at the top of the mountain. I feel that I have, finally, found myself.


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