Han Jing is a 19 year old junior at Gan Quan County Senior High School. She ranks #5 out of 60 students assigned to the senior high school's top junior class. Her favorite university is Northwest University of Politics and Law, in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.
|Han's mother, uncle and brother inside the family' living quarters (left).|
In 2005, Han Jing and her family suffered a great tragedy. She and five other people riding in a car together were in a serious accident. Three of the passengers, including her father, were killed. Of the other three, Jing suffered the greatest injuries, including breaking half of her ribs and one of her hips, and collapsing one of her lungs. Jing now suffers from a too-rapid heart beat.
The shock of the accident was one that had immediate economic consequences for Han's family. To survive economically, her mother pulled her two younger siblings out of junior high school to reduce costs and so they could help the family generate income. The family's strategy would become one of her mother and two siblings working and struggling to make ends meet, while supporting Han in her quest to achieve a college education. Her younger sister found work as a waitress in a small restaurant and earns 300Y a month ($38) plus food. Her mother is a vegetable farmer. They live in a borrowed, one-room cave, literally carved out of a dirt hillside. Thus, Han, a good student and further along in overcoming the challenges to achieving a complete education (through university) would remain in senior high school and become the "family's hope".
Han's younger sister at the restaurant where she works, seated with their brother.
Nevertheless, during her month of recovery in the hospital, Han decided to drop out of school to try to help her family make ends meet. She felt guilty that her high school costs and the costs associated with the extra study required to prepare for the national exam was such a burden to her family. Han's class captain finally convinced her to continue, telling her that qualifying for and attaining a university education was the only way to help her family to move out of poverty. Her family's poverty level qualified her for aid of 1000Y, roughly $128, which helped defray some of the costs of high school. Han still feels very guilty about both the costs required for food and other materials that must be provided to her from her family. She also feels bad that the hours of study required to perform successfully on the college entrance exam preclude her from undertaking any economic activity to help them out.
Despite the injuries and trauma Han has suffered, and the pressure of representing all of the family's hopes for improving their economic livelihood, Han is back at high school. She is ranked #5 out of the 60 students in the top class. She lights up as she describes her favorite classes, politics and English. In fact, she answers half of the interview questions in English! She would like to be a lawyer in the future. If she can qualify AND if she can find the resources to pay the high costs of attending a university in China today, Han's top university choice would be Northwest Politics and Law University, followed by Xi'an International Studies University.
Han's eyes well up with tears as she reflects on the troubles her family is going through and the sacrifices they have had to make for her. She says, "We have nobody to help us, nobody, not even our relatives." Her mother tells her, "one step at a time ", but she relates, "according to my life condition, we cannot afford an expensive university."
Han's dream: to enter the main gate of the Northwest University of Politics and Law as a university student.