NANJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Yu Xiaolan, a woman teacher from Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, has taught for over a decade, but her students never talk to her.
"When I went for an interview at the school in 2002, I saw a group of students hanging out in the playground, making no noise at all," said Yu, 39. "It touched me deep inside when I was later told they had hearing impairments but were just as happy as their classmates."
The then-college graduate student was determined to start her career at the school for hearing-impaired students.
Yu has taught for 17 years at the Nanjing City Hearing Impaired School. Founded in 1927, the school now has nearly 400 students and over 130 faculty members, including both junior and senior high schools.
Yu said her emotional bond with the students has propelled her to make it a lifelong career.
Yu now teaches Chinese at a high school class of 13 students with hearing loss. Yu said they treat each other like family members.
Their mutual trust and self-confidence, however, were not built in one day. The success is largely due to Yu's years of efforts in encouraging the students to make friends and share their opinions.
At the end of each semester, students from Yu's class usually expect feedback from their beloved Chinese teacher Yu as they are eager to let her see their progress.
"Some of the students from my class come from other provinces and cities, away from their parents, so I always try to be creative when I give them tailored, positive comments after each semester, such as drawing cartoons and using inspirational quotes and poems," Yu said.
Days before the International Women's Day, Yu received a number of DIY gifts from her students, such as a piece of Chinese calligraphy from Tao Wanting.
Wearing a shy smile, the bashful 16-year-old girl also used sign language to express her gratitude. "I wish you a happy Women's Day!" Tao gestured while handing over her work that reads "beautiful, intelligent and pure as a lily" to describe how she felt about Teacher Yu.
Yu replied with proficient sign language to express her appreciation, a skill she has spent three years learning.
"From words to sentences, I practiced a lot at home after work, facing the mirror to practice for hours," said Yu. "I often teach my six-year-old son to learn some simple sign language, and he likes to hang out with my students."
"It took some time for my students to open their hearts, but once they accept you, they will trust you," said Yu, who used to be honored as the most outstanding teacher of Nanjing City.