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Inspirational young graduate overcomes odds of living with cerebral palsy to fulfill academic dream




Inspirational young graduate overcomes odds of living with cerebral palsy to fulfill academic dream

2024-06-21 23:03 Last Updated At:23:37

An inspirational young man diagnosed with cerebral palsy since infancy has defied the odds to graduate with a bachelor's degree and secure acceptance onto a master's program at a prestigious Chinese university with the support of his family, teachers and peers, with his remarkable journey of perseverance showing that anything is possible.

The story of 23-year-old Yao Junpeng from Wuhu City in east China's Anhui Province is one of demonstrating great resilience to overcome adversity. Despite his cerebral palsy, which severely impairs his mobility and speech, the young student has battled through intense challenges to make his academic dream become a reality thanks to his sheer determination and tireless effort.

Back in 2020, Yao posted an impressive score on the national college entrance exam, comfortably surpassing Anhui's first-tier science cut-off to gain admission to China Pharmaceutical University in Nanjing, the capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province.

After four difficult years, Yao's hard work paid off as he donned his hard-earned graduation gown at a ceremony on Tuesday, beaming with pride as he sat among his fellow graduates at China Pharmaceutical University's commencement ceremony for the 2024 graduates. When his father, Yao Ming, took to the stage to deliver a speech on behalf of the graduates' families, the younger Yao enthusiastically clapped and smiled, overcome with joy and pride.

Initially, Yao considered majoring in pharmacy but opted for the English program in the medical field due to his physical limitations. His entrance exam score placed him in the top 5 percent of his cohort, astonishing his teachers.

"We developed a personalized training plan for him. The college assigned six professional teachers to provide individual guidance and support for his various courses," said Jin Nengming, Party Secretary of China Pharmaceutical University.

Yao's university journey began with numerous hurdles. Even the seemingly simple task of taking notes in class proved an arduous endeavor for him. Due to his limited dexterity, he would often pierce through multiple pages while attempting to write a single character or word. Yet, through constant practice, he eventually caught up with his peers by the time he reached his sophomore year.

"Writing is difficult for me, so sometimes I needed to refer to my classmates' notes. But now, I can keep up with the pace of the lectures," said Yao.

Confined to a wheelchair, Yao faces numerous inconveniences in daily life and his studies, and was sadly lacking in self-confidence. Fortunately, Yao's university life gradually improved with the help of his caring classmates, who formed the "Fuling (meaning "support and lead") Squad" to offer assistance. Yao's peers rallied around him and their valuable help in everything from basic everyday matters to complex academic endeavors ensured Yao could focus fully on his studies.

Yang Xiong, Yao's good friend and the team leader, noted that the squad grew from just around 10 to more than 30 members over the space of four years, all dedicated to helping Yao focus on his studies.

Yao had once written a poem during his middle school years, which included the line, "I finally clumsily fly, with new loneliness clinging to me." But at China Pharmaceutical University, and with the support of the Fuling Squad around him, Yao found warm friendships and no longer felt alone.

Yang explained that due to Yao's everyday struggles living in a regular dormitory, their college made arrangements by providing a special room for students with disabilities, and the members of the Fuling Squad, mostly male students, were assigned to nearby dorms to assist him with basic tasks like laundry, taking out the trash, and getting meals.

During the university sports meet, since there were no suitable events for Yao, his classmates and tutors designed a wheelchair race, which continued for four years, becoming a favorite annual fixture and a cherished memory of his college life.

With the unwavering support of his teachers and peers, Yao overcame both physical and psychological barriers, gradually becoming self-reliant in his daily life.

Later, Yao himself paid back the faith shown to him by members of the "Fuling Squad" that had been formed to support him, sharing his study materials with his classmates and using his strong computer skills to help them with programming and software-related issues.

Recognizing that many English majors struggled with chemistry and pharmacy courses, he compiled and wrote out his own review document during the summer to help his other classmates.

Yao's dedication to his studies was remarkable. He would rise at 06:00 every morning to start his day and continue studying until 23:00, often immersing himself in subjects far beyond his English major.

"I've always seen him working very hard. He gets to the classroom earlier than us and stays later. Outside of our social activities, when I visit his dorm to help him, he is usually quietly studying at his desk. I see him exploring a wide range of subjects, from politics to science and literature," said Yang.

All the hard work paid off as Yao received numerous honors and awards during his undergraduate years, including one dubbed the "Self-Reliant Star of Chinese College Students" and the National Inspirational Scholarship.

Driven by his spirit of independence and perseverance, Yao achieved scores above 90 percent in ten courses during his four years of study. His overall ranking placed him 12th out of the 101 students in his class, earning him a recommendation for exemption from the postgraduate entrance exam.

He has now been admitted to a political science master's program of Suzhou University, fulfilling his long-held dream of pursuing postgraduate studies.

"University life requires a lot of self-discipline. Compared to others, I might need to spend more time and effort, and I also need to find study methods that work for me. Honestly, I think achieving good grades isn't particularly difficult as long as you have clear goals," said Yao.

Looking ahead, the remarkable Yao hopes to continue taking his academic journey to new heights, aspiring to earn a doctoral degree and even setting his sights on making contributions to his country's development through research work in the social sciences field.

Inspirational young graduate overcomes odds of living with cerebral palsy to fulfill academic dream

Inspirational young graduate overcomes odds of living with cerebral palsy to fulfill academic dream

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Sewing workshop struggles in ruins to mend clothes for displaced Gaza residents

2024-07-19 22:05 Last Updated At:22:57

A sewing workshop has been operating in ruins to mend worn-out clothes for displaced Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip, as Israel's continuous destruction of the enclave has made new clothes a luxury almost impossible to come by or afford.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Gaza said in early July that a total of 1.9 million people, around 80 percent of the region's population, were displaced.

However, in a room behind demolished walls in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, a sewing workshop has quietly been set up, with some workers using sewing machines recovered from a bombed-out tailoring workshop to provide mending services.

"I opened the workshop after I was able to recover the sewing machines and some fabric from the old factory. I work to serve all the displaced people of the Gaza Strip, such as people from the al-Mawasi area in Khan Younis and the Nuseirat [refugee camp]," said Abu Samer Shaat, the workshop owner.

The prolonged and intense Israel-Hamas conflict has forced a great number of Gazan families to flee from one place to another. Due to the continuous destruction of their homes and shelters, all they left were the clothes they wear.

Shops, markets and factories were turned into rubble as a result of the Israeli bombing, and the surviving trading sites in Gaza also suffer a shortage of clothes and fabrics due to Israel's ban on entry of goods and materials.

"Our clothes became loose. We had to take them to tailors to mend them as they had become worn out. There are no new clothes in the market. If there are a few, the prices will be very high, and we will not be able to buy them because we do not have any source of income. Our entire lives have come to a halt," said Hoda Al-Maghari, a displaced Palestinian.

Sewing workshop struggles in ruins to mend clothes for displaced Gaza residents

Sewing workshop struggles in ruins to mend clothes for displaced Gaza residents

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