Harbin student juggles college life, caring for mother

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-09-09 20:57
Liu Ximeng gives her mother a Chinese medical massage at their apartment in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, on Sept 5. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Earlier this month, Liu Ximeng began a new chapter in her life at Harbin Normal University in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. On the surface, she might appear to be a regular student; attending classes, taking notes, listening intently to lectures.

But what makes this 19-year-old freshman Korean Language major different from her classmates is she will continue to take care of her mother while in college.

The girl has had a tough life. Her mother suffered severe rheumatism and became paralyzed, confining her to bed when Liu was only 3.

At that time, her father left their home in Zhaoyuan county, Daqing in Heilongjiang and never came back.

Since then, the little girl began to take on housework and care for her mother.

She began to learn how to do chores, from cleaning house to cooking simple dishes.

"She learned to cook at about 5 years old," Liu's mother Wang Yanchun told a local media outlet. "She was too short to reach the cooker, so she had to stand on a small stool."

"I can't remember how many times she was scalded by spilled boiling water and hot oil," she said. "I felt quite guilty I couldn't take good care of her."

Liu also learned how to give her mother traditional Chinese medical massage at the age of 10, which has become a daily task.

Although Liu has to bear a far greater burden than her peers, she still turned in an excellent academic performance.

"In the past, I received lots of help from others, including my classmates and teachers, so I applied to Harbin Normal University," Liu said. "I hope to be a teacher in the future to help more people and pass on the love."

After she was accepted by the university, she decided to take her mother with her.

"I have always been grateful to my mother who brought me to this world," she said. "I will never leave her alone, wherever I go."

Liu rents a small apartment about one kilometer from the university.

During summer vacation after the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, Liu worked as an assistant in a company and earned 3,400 yuan ($477) per month.

"The income can support my mother and me for only 3 months, so I need part-time jobs in extracurricular time," she said. "Fortunately, the university has provided me a solution soon after registration."

"We have helped her get a student loan and provided her a subsidy of 2,000 yuan and some daily necessities," said Wang Yanqing, head of the university's student affair department. "When some teachers learned she wanted a bicycle to help her save time on her way home, they donated a new one immediately."

"Furthermore, we have found a part-time job at the university canteen for her," he said. "She is very hard-working and we believe she will do well in this job."

"I feel I am not alone facing difficulties with help from others," Liu said. "I will try my best to study hard, which may help me give my mother better care in the future."

"I believe everything will be better."

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