Across China: English-speaking delivery man trades takeout for textbooks

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-29 19:00:24|Editor: Xiang Bo
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CHONGQING, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese delivery man who became an online celebrity for sending his customers messages in English will soon have more opportunities to use the foreign language.

Mao Zhaomu was a delivery man in southwest China's Chongqing municipality. On Sunday, he returned to Sichuan International Studies University (SISU), where he used to deliver food to students, but this time with a different purpose: to register as a new student. He plans to major in English.

Mao, 18, was in his first year of high school when he dropped out of school in March 2016.

"I like English, but my scores in other subjects were not good," he said. "I thought it was unlikely that I would enter college. So I decided to work and help my family."

He changed jobs several times in 2016, from hairdresser to bartender to home decorator.

"I didn't like these jobs," he said. "But I didn't receive much education, which prevented me from getting a better job."

In those days of confusion, Mao made up his mind about one thing: to continue his studies and go to college.

"My English teacher in middle school entered university through an entrance exam for self-taught adults," he said. "He encouraged me to do the same."

Most Chinese students enter universities through gaokao, the national college entrance exam. However, for those who have not finished secondary school, a self-taught higher education exam was introduced in 1981 as a way to gain access to higher education.

Mao began delivering food at the beginning of this year. He worked near the SISU.

Mao studied English while doing his delivery job.

"While I was waiting for the customer to pick up the meal, I could memorize several English words," Mao said.

To seize every chance to practice English, he began sending English text messages in March.

"Hello, your phone was power off when I called you. Your meal have been put by me on the vending machine," he would write.

There were grammatical mistakes, but that didn't prevent him from trying.

"I thought that students at the university must be good at English, so I wanted to practice," Mao said.

On China's Sina Weibo, social media users praised Mao's efforts. "This is so inspirational," said one user nicknamed Kanchairen. "Whoever has a dream and dares to pursue it is the loveliest person."

Some students, like Huang Lanhong, a first-year student at the SISU, ordered takeout food from the restaurant where Mao worked just so they could have a chance to meet him.

"I think we should learn from him," Huang said.

Teachers and students gave him books. Mao recalled that once a postgraduate student gave him an English dictionary, which he put into the take-away box.

"When I arrived home, I found the book was stained with grease. I felt so sorry for the student who gave it to me," he said.

A teacher from Shanghai, known only as Kevin, contacted Mao and taught him online. He also sent him BBC audio clips for him to translate.

The efforts paid off.

Earlier this month, Mao received a letter of admission from the College of Continuing Education at SISU.

Mao has quit his job as a delivery man.

"Next time, I will enter the university as a student," he said.

He plans to get a master's degree and become an interpreter.

According to a report by China Newsweek, as of the end of last year, more than 500 security guards from the prestigious Peking University had studied at a university, including 12 who later earned master's degrees. Some of them have become teachers and even opened new schools.

"If people from everywhere in China could have a way of changing their situations by working hard, if different groups could exchange and help each other as equals, the inner desire for improvement could be awakened in more people," said an editorial by the Beijing Youth Daily.