Ling Zhao – China

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “I shall not stand aloof from the peasants and the transient migrant workers and give instructions about what is to be done. I shall be one with them”.

Ling Zhao - China redim 50p.jpg
Ling Zhao – China

She works for the Peasants’ Children – China Rural Development and Promotion Association, Beijing Normal University.

Zhao Ling was born in 1980 and is now president of the Peasants’ Children – China Rural Development and Promotion Association in Beijing Normal University. For many years she has been concerned about the education of migrant workers’ children. She organizes educational activities for these children, and conducts surveys of college students aimed at supporting peasants. Her actions inspire many college students to be concerned about agriculture, rural areas and peasants, as well as the conditions of migrant workers from the countryside. Such activities have now spread throughout the country. Zhao Ling is an only child whose family belongs to Chongqing City in Sichuan Province. Before she entered college, Zhao Ling led a fairly sheltered life under her parents’ protection, and her attitude to life reflected the privileged existence she had led. She knew nothing, for example, about how crops were grown or harvested, she couldn’t tell the difference between two types of grain, and had probably never noticed the scent of flowers and the singing of birds. She was allowed to do nothing but study. Thus her childhood and teenage years were, as she described it, as dim and depressed as the rainy weather in Chongqing city.

Studying in the East China Normal University then brought her great changes, turning the monotony and dullness of her life into colours. She was able to be reasonably independent but also, having to face Shanghai residents who had an even greater sense of superiority than she did, she suddenly realized how she had set herself apart. It was also during this time that she came into contact with migrant workers and was very struck by the hard conditions of their lives.

In the summer vacation of 2001, having an urge to develop a life outside the campus, Zhao, who was then a student in the history department of East China Normal University, participated in a project called “Inquiry on the oral history of the changes of the rural society of southern Jiangsu Province” in Nanquan County, Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, organized by her teachers. This marked the turning point in her life: everything she saw and heard was like a flash of lightning in her mind and completely changed her views, doing away with indifference.

In that same autumn, Zhao went to Beijing Normal University as an exchange student, when she came to know a students’ society named Peasants’ Children – China Rural Development and Promotion Association. Most of its members were college students with a rural background. She met many people of her age who were concerned about the country’s destiny and about the plight of peasants, who were sympathetic to the disadvantaged groups roaming in the cities. She felt a deep sense of social and historical responsibility.

Together with the members of Peasants’ Children, she worked as a voluntary teacher in the self-funded schools of children of migrant workers, conducted surveys in the countryside, and trained migrant workers from the countryside. In her eyes, even though she now sees so much suffering and roughness in life, the feeling of not standing firmly on the ground has gone for good.

In the autumn of 2002, Zhao went back to the East China Normal University to further her education as an undergraduate student. But she still kept contact with Peasants’ Children. At the end of the year, she was invited to take part in the peasant-supporting survey training to be held in Beijing Normal University in the coming winter vacation. It was during this time that she came to know Wen Tiejun, Li Changping, Liu Laoshi, and a group of dedicated students.

They went to the countryside in non-air conditioned buses with hard seats, lived and ate with the local peasants, organized performances, brought stationery and books for the children, gave tuitions, told them stories and helped people to solve their living problems, while at the same time trying to deal with conflicts between cadres and the masses. During her first Spring Festival in the countryside, hearing the sound of fireworks which she could never hear in cities, seeing the simple hopes and wishes written on the red spring festival scrolls, and feeling the affection of the people, she “experienced the genuine homecoming of her life.”

In the autumn of 2003, Zhao enrolled as a graduate student in Beijing Normal University and formally joined the Peasants’ Children. She went with other members to the Peasants’ schools in the countryside and helped teaching there. She also participated in activities such as surveys in the rural areas and training workshops for the peasants. In July 2004, Zhao and some other college students who participated in the peasant-supporting surveys wrote a letter to Premier Wen Jiabao. In this letter, they wrote:

“Every generation have their mission, and every generation of college students have their way of participating in history and writing history. Today, how do college students devote themselves to the great creation of history in a healthy, active and reasoned manner? We have voluntarily chosen to support the peasants. We are the creators of history, and the three rural dimensions regarding agriculture, countryside and peasants are the subject of historical depth, breadth and intensity. We shall devote ourselves to this without hesitation. This is our sincere commitment, as well as our appeal to all college students. It is the peasants’ ideal to ‘reform ourselves, be the master of our home village, be united, and build a new countryside.’ It is also our unchanging oath to be concerned about the peasants, remake ourselves, and build a new countryside”.

On New Year’s Day in 2005, Zhao married Sun Heng, a singer and composer who comes from the countryside and organizes migrant workers in Beijing. It was the college students and migrant workers who came to congratulate them, and a minibus driven by a friend from a migrant workers’ school that took the bride to the wedding. She wore normal clothes and simple candies were prepared for the guests. But all the people present were deeply moved, because this beautiful wedding seemed too ideal to be real.

Sometimes, when she confronts the plight of the children of migrant workers or of workers whose wages are a pittancel, Zhao Ling feels that her contribution is minimal. But she and her comrades continue to support and encourage each other in this work. Now it is clear for her that her life will be close to the earth, close to the peasants, and part of the disadvantaged people. (Read all on 1000peacewomen).

Sorry, I can not find any other information in english about Ling Zhao, being certified it would be the wanted person. Also is it not possible for me to distinguish her children’s work between all the thousands of associations on China’s Rural Development.

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