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Jia Shangmei

时间:2010-11-04 13:52:52  来源:Stories of GLV  作者:Jia Shangmei

People are born to perform some tasks, but we need to learn to be before we learn to do. There have always been many truths about how to behave which are seemingly complicated but are actually simple. We could find them all around us if we keep our eyes open. Devoted meditation itself is a way of growing.



* Jia Shangmei *


My mother was my first teacher. Apart from the precious life granted by her, she also passed down a good many simple truths about life to me. My mother left us a long time ago but the shaping of my character, my attitude toward life and ways of behavior were totally affected by her instructions and influences during my childhood.


* I Called Him Ergouzi(an offensive word) When I Was Five Years Old *

The family of my grandmother, on my mother’s side, had a landlord background so all their possessions were confiscated after liberation. My mother only studied in the primary school for two years. After the confiscation, she had nothing left. She married into my father’s family which was a typical one in the countryside. My father would always go out to labor while my mother would do the housework and take care of three children as well as do some farm work. Although she led a simple and poverty-stricken life, she never complained but instructed us all the time that, “Though we are poor, we should still have lofty aspirations.”

During the slack seasons, it was very common to see women do embroidery and weaving work. My mother could weave well and was famous for her deft hands. The neighbors came to my house to learn from her and she would instruct them carefully.  After a while she was invited to teach others. She went from door to door and sometimes she was so busy that meals had to be skipped. Nevertheless, she never grumbled about it and said, “Why should I remember that? I will lie if I say I am not tired. But you won’t feel tired any more when you find that the people you’ve helped know how to do it.” I asked her how many houses she visited and if she was tired. I was confused then. Would it really make ourselves feel so happy if we help others?

When I was in grade two in the primary school, I had a fight with another student, which enraged my mother. I found out later that the family planning policy had been issued when I was born and they were fined three hundred RMB for I already had two elder sisters in the family. It was the father of that student whom I fought with that lent us the money to solve the problem. I started the fight and my mother felt so sorry that she apologized to them. The most memorable things are my mother’s sincere words, “We should be grateful to all the people who have helped us, especially those who have offered their generous assistance in the most difficult periods. Actually we need to pay a visit to them on festivals, like the Spring Festival.”

My mother had a mild temper, but sometimes she could get irritated. As far as I can remember, she became wrathful twice because of me. I always played on the street when I was five, for I was underage to go to school. One day, I played at the mouth of the alley with a balloon in hand. A neighbor passed by and saw me playing happily. He snatched the balloon from my hand and held it high up over his head, asking me to answer some questions correctly before I could get back my balloon. I was not in a mood to answer questions and circled around him for a while with my hands held up, but in vain. Suddenly, it occurred to me that people of my grandfather’s generation all called him Ergouzi which was an offensive word. I said that nickname out loud instead of crying.

I got into great trouble for doing that. I should’ve called him younger grandfather in the clan and it was a taboo to disrespect senior people. My mother pinched my mouth mercilessly and severely condemned me. “Is Ergouzi for you to call? I have told you to respect the senior people. I will tear your mouth apart if you do that again. Nobody will respect you if you don’t respect others.”

After that, I would call them grandpa, grandma, uncle or auntie if I saw people on the street. I did this to avoid a beating at the very beginning, but it became a habit. I could see my mother smile happily whenever someone told her that I was so thoughtful and nice.

Excellence is a habit which becomes natural later. I am now working at GLV 20 years later and Principal Ping put this motto on the first page of GLV’s specially made small notebook. Ping often talked about his mother on different occasions, saying that it was his mother who assisted him in developing his good habits was his best teacher. She was strong, kind and helpful. I would think about the instructions from my mother whenever I saw this motto. I was really touched by all the trouble taken by my mother when I thought about all of her instructions..


* Two Sticks of Sugar-coated Haws in Exchange for Eggs From the Neighbor *

The other thing that irritated my mother was really embarrassing for not only me, but my elder sister was involved. It was very lucky if a child could eat sugar-coated haws in the countryside. One day, I heard a hawker of the sugar-coated haws and I couldn’t wait to have them. However, my parents were outside and only my elder sister was home, looking after me. We didn’t have much money then and all the pocket money was put inside a small box which was unlocked for my mother trusted us much. I had never taken any money from that box, but I couldn’t resisted the temptation this time and sneaked to the neighbor’s chicken coop to steal two eggs in exchange for two sticks of sugar-coated haws.

I got back home and tried to share the haws with my elder sister who didn’t dare to take it a and kept asking where the money came from. I swore to her that I hadn’t stolen the money from our house before she finally stopped questioning me and enjoyed the haws with me; after all she was only an eight or nine years old girl. My mother knew about this the next day. Two eggs had disappeared in our neighbor’s chicken coop and many people had seen me buy the haws with eggs. I could do nothing but admit it.

My elder sister and I were called to the front of my mother. She slapped my elder sister twice in her face due to her failure to take care of me well. My elder sister felt it was unfair, but she didn’t shed any tears. After a period of choking silence, my turn came at last.

“Why did you take the other people’s eggs?” My mother questioned me, trying to suppress her rising anger. Without raising my head I told her that I didn't want to steal our own eggs. She become even more wrathful after hearing my explanation. “Is it OK to steal others’ things? Do you know that it is illegal? Don’t you know about this?” “Yes, I knew it,” I murmured. She asked me which hand I used in stealing eggs and pricked it mercilessly with her knitting needle: “If you are stealing things at such a young age, won’t you later commit homicide and arson? I’m sure this will help you remember it.”

That pricking was not only felt physically but also mentally. I have never dared to steal others’ things for the past 20-odd years. I think that people make a lot of reckless moves in life, the key to it is if there is someone who can extend a helping hand to you at the crucial moment. Lucky for me, for I had my mother to back me up.

My childhood was boring but enlivened with my mother’s inspiring instructions. We have grown up healthy under the simple, but close watch, from my mother. However, she became ill and passed away from overwork when I was 11 years old. For a period of time I couldn’t help crying when the other people mentioned her.

Although my mother left us early, her personal examples and instructions played an important role in the shaping of my character during my childhood. I followed her instructions to live and study well. I found my own life goal at the very beginning, which was, “live gratefully and work perfectly.” What’s more, her attitude towards life had stayed with me all the way through high school, university and the marriage between me and GLV.


* Memories of GLV *

I went to Zhuhai for further development after my graduation from the university in 2002, which later I found out was my first step into GLV. I started out by doing PHP programming in an Internet company. I did nothing but programming and proofreading every day. The IT industry developed fast and new technology kept coming up every day. I had to learn new things, but there were precious few Chinese books of emerging technology available. To read the first-hand English-version materials became indispensable for me. Suddenly I felt so thirsty for knowledge, so I began my English studies again during my free time two years after my graduation.

It occurred to me one night, “Why don’t I improve my English to a high degree since my English now is OK? Should I quit my current job to learn English systematically?” This was just a vague and immature idea until one day a coincidence pushed me to make up my mind to do it. It was on a bus heading for Gongbei Bookstore, where I saw a few ordinary people talk to a foreigner fluently. I felt ashamed for I could not utter a complete sentence after more than ten years of studying English It was crystal clear now that to improve my English would be necessary and the earlier the better.

Therefore, I quit my job before I went back to my old school which was still very familiar but I no longer felt that I belonged there. I rented a cheap house near my former school and went up to the roof to read English at four every morning. During the daytime, I would audit the Foreign Language Department’s classes given by the foreign teachers or the major courses in the Department of Computer Science. In the evening, I went to the library to read the computer-related books that I hadn’t had time to read when I was still in the university. My life then was stressful but enriched.

God favors those who are ready and I was lucky to be one of them. One day I was surfing the Internet and happened to find some recruiting information from GLV which was looking for a PHP programmer. The name GLV flashed past my mind and sounded so familiar to me. I searched my memory, trying hard to find it.

Suddenly it rang a bell. GLV was an English training school in Zhuhai and its web server used to be managed by the company I worked for earlier. What’s more, I once helped it debug its BBS program. I had a tight schedule then and didn't have enough time for a visit. However, I did have a good impression of GLV.

I opened its website immediately and was stunned by that wonderful mini-world. To work in GLV would be my best choice. On one hand, I could do the job I liked, on the other hand, I could improve my English. Based on those simple ideas, I sent my resume to GLV through E-mail. I didn’t ask for much in terms of practical demands for I was really wanting that ideal job. Two days later, I became a member of GLV and began my life with them. When I look back upon the past, I can’t stop thinking of all the coincidences throughout my journey into GLV, maybe that’s what’s meant to be.


* A Peaceful Mind Makes GLV’s Success Possible *

GLV had just moved to a new site, the Zhuhai Xiangzhou Cultural Square when I joined GLV. It was surrounded by a variety of schools with a rich cultural environment. GLV boasted of more than ten foreign teachers and had students from different places, all of which combined to become a small international village where people with different colors of skin lived under the same roof. Although they had distinctive characteristics and cultural background, they shared common values and lived harmoniously. The village was borderless but the only acceptable language was English The teachers worked devotedly. The students were active and happy with smiles on their faces. The staff sincerely helped each other. Everyone who lived, studied and worked so positively looked ordinary but I would often be touched by their behavior.

Principal Ping said, “A good school may not be an enterprise, but a good enterprise must be a good school.” GLV was indeed a school which not only imparted knowledge but educated people. What GLV gave us was always beyond the language itself. As far as I can remember, I didn’t have the courage to speak English at the beginning. GLV arranged the American teacher, Kathleen, to give me half an hour of tutoring help in English every day and it lasted for six months. One day, she was sick and I assumed that she would not give me the tutoring class, so I didn’t show up next day. Later I heard that Kathleen waited there for me for half an hour. Apart from the guilt that I felt, it taught me the importance of tenacity and responsibility.

My oral English had reached GLV level 6 by the time Kathleen went back to America. I was so happy about my own progress and was most grateful for Kathleen as well as other teachers and colleagues who had extended their help unreservedly. Of course, to be grateful was one of things my mother went to great lengths to teach me during my childhood.

Our school received a lot of media attention but it was still considered a bit of a dark horse in the field of education since the the immersion method was unusual and not well understood. It was up to every employee to maintain the English environment. We all needed to be educated, clear about the goals and work hard as a team.

Actually, one’s mind-set is crucial, for one can not think well without a calm mind. One can get annoyed in the absence of a positive thinking and one cannot perform well when annoyed. I am fully convinced that every one in GLV has been touched by its culture and is in possession of a peaceful mind-set. Upon reflection, it is that commonly held mind-set which every GLV member carries, that has made GLV what it is today.

* I Am Happy to Go Beyond Myself *

    It seemed that GLV had become part of my life. I would talk about GLV when I went to buy glasses or to the barbershop. When I found that my best friends and former classmates couldn't speak in English, even though they had good written and reading English, I would feel sorry about that and strongly suggested that they study at GLV. However, they suspected me of doing advertising for GLV. I told them that I would pay for them first and they could pay me back when they were satisfied with the results. It was an impulsive idea, but it was all due to the faith I had in GLV.

    In September, 2004, I came to another turning point: a company offered me a job with a high salary. To be honest, the money was really tempting and I almost went for it given the fact that I needed money badly for the house and the car.

    Luckily, I was, after all, a sensible man even though I could become impulsive sometimes. I was the only one who was programming GLV’s system which was not finished. It would definitely go against my work ethic if I just walked away. What’s more, I didn’t want to exchange money for my close colleagues and the simple and relaxing working environment and all the expectations from my leaders. Probably it would cost me a lot more than I had planned.

    The most challenging hurdle in life is ourselves and I was happy to go beyond myself. I had to treasure some special things when I still had them, for I would never be able to buy them back despite of all the money I could have. I made up my mind resolutely that I would stay at GLV. It turned out to be the correct choice for me.


 * My Career at GLV *

Learn to be before we learn to do. Successes always come out of one person’s good qualities; successes achieved without good qualities are nothing to speak of. After that incident, it made me cherish GLV even more. I used to consider my job at GLV as my work, but now I felt like that it was my career.

I think that one person is capable of doing a lot of jobs well in life, but one successful career shall be enough. Either to start our own business or to cooperate with others, the most important thing is to have a performance stage. When we throw ourselves into a certain career, there will be something for us to think about and that’s what we call “meat and drink” spiritually. GLV presents us with such a good opportunity to develop and it truly becomes our spiritual shelter when we perform our job with the same devotion as we have to a career.

I haven’t written for years, but GLV Stories is to be published and a publishing house representative came here earlier collecting articles, so I promised that I would relate about my story. On the quiet and still night, I looked at the computer and thought about my mother. It is my mother who taught me how to be and all her insightful instructions have proved to be beneficial my whole life. It is her honesty and credibility that have guided me on a path of peace.

Maybe I am not filial enough for I have rarely dreamed about my mother during the past few years. However, recently I vaguely saw her in my dream carrying water on her shoulder and leading me home with her hand holding mine. The pillow was already saturated with my tears when I woke up.

During the Spring Festival of 2005, I am writing this article in memory of my unfortunate mother and in acknowledgement of all the help from GLV and my friends and colleagues in GLV on the 26th year of my life.


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