An Elementary School In The Clouds

The single road carved into the side of a mountain leading into and out of a remote poor Yi minority village in China.

From Sina:

Gulu Village, an Yi minority mountain village that few outsiders know about, located in a national geopark with canyons and sheer precipices and overhanging rocks, belonging to the Yi Minority Administrative Jurisdiction of Hanyuan County of Ya’an in Sichuan Province. Gulu Village primary school is hidden in the middle of the clouds. For 26 years, it has been guarded by a teacher called Shen Qijun. In the middle of October, this reporter followed a Hubei volunteer group, through almost 5 hours of climbing risking life and limb, to arrive at the elementary school within the clouds…

Shen Qijun has been a teacher for this village for 26 years.

Shen Qijun came to the Gulu Village primary school when he was 18-years-old. At that time, the classroom was made of dirt, the roof leaked, the wind came in through the walls, the school did not have a toilet, and when a student ran elsewhere to use the toilet, they tumbled and got hurt. He grit his teeth, convened the villagers, used folk/old/crude methods to renovate the school, and give it a simple toilet. Teacher Shen has labored every day over the past 26 years, deeply earning the the local villagers’ respect.

If it was not for occasionally finding pack mules walking along the precipice, it is impossible to imagine that an almost 90 degree rock face would have a twisty Z-shaped “Luoma Road” [literally, “mule/horse road”]. This mountain path has many turns and bends, with the narrowest part only 40cm wide. Walking on this kind of high altitude winding corridor makes one dizzy. Only after the “Luoma Road” was made in 2003 did mules and horses become a transportation tool for going in and out of the village.

A line of smiling Chinese children wearing red uniforms in rural, mountainous China.

Wearing school uniforms donated by volunteers, the children smiling faces seem especially happy. School materials/resources are too deficient, and it is very difficult for the children learning under this kind of environment. For example, 12-year-old Li Huan is most proud of having visited Ouse Town and seen a real car. This little girl has taken driving a car as her own dream.

Group picture of Yi minority elementary school students in China.
Gulu Village Primary School group photo, Teacher Shen sits sleeveless, smiling in the center.

Poor minority Chinese children reading and learning in a remote mountain village school.
Reading books, and the hope for Yi children to become successful.

Comments on NetEase:

Support! May the central government support them, I do not have the ability.

It is really dangerous, you must be careful!

So dangerous!!
Would it not have been better to just build the school at the bottom of the mountain instead of using so much strength to build that road?

What a scary road.
I am afraid to even look.
I salute the teacher and children.

Learning is of course important, but safety first.

This kind of teacher and students are worthy of respect.

You guys are the flowers of the motherland, the country’s future…
No matter how difficult, we must go on, but remember: never drink Sanlu

Frightening, the money those big greedy corrupt officials stole was long ago enough to build these poor kids schools and hire some teachers!

Happiness first.
This kind of life is also not bad.

Only the smiling faces of the children gave me a shred of comfort.

You see? The children of “the people’s public servants” [government officials] all go study abroad.
They are also human [like these kids], but how come the difference is [in education/opportunity] so big?

Sigh, the difference is everywhere, bright classrooms, cozy environments, and still all day I think of cutting class. I am worse than [these] little children. I must reflect.

Poor long-suffering children! Study hard, get out of the mountain!

I used to think our childhoods were tough.
Now I suddenly discover there are also them [the above children and their childhood situation].

Comments on PCPop:

Our country is not yet prosperous, the government has a government’s difficulties. Whatever little financial income needs to be given to the public servants [government] to build luxurious office buildings, buy luxurious cars, so we must show understanding to the government. Children being a little poor or suffering a little is no big deal, because true happiness is the public servant’s happiness.

They do not even have a book…
Give an address, I want to donate books and clothes.

I am speechless after seeing this. Forget the teachers today who do not do an honest day’s work, what will eventually happen to this kind of good teacher who has worked so hard consistently every day over the past 26 years? I truly rejoice for those children, that they have such a good teacher.

Touches China’s people.

If there was “city management,” there would definitely set up a toll booth in the middle of the road.

Comparing these photos to all of the ZF‘s office buildings…TM makes me angry.

Good people. Touching. When I think of my childhood teachers hitting me or punishing me, it does not mean much compared to what these kids must go through.

Our current society is:
“Good people are uncommon, corrupt officials are many.”

This road, one look and I shake in fear…I fear heights!

This is our motherland’s future!~
Every time I see it, my heart feels sad~~

If all the teachers were like him, today’s children would not be like they are now.

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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