Granny QQ dishes the advice online
Updated: 2011-09-13 07:57
By Liu Xiangrui (China Daily)
ZHENGZHOU - "Opening my computer is like entering the door of my classroom," said Zhang Xiuli, a 76-year-old retired teacher from Zhengzhou, Henan province.
Zhang Xiuli, a 76-year-old retired teacher from Zhengzhou, Henan province, attends to problems of adolescents and their parents through her 18 different QQ accounts. [Photo / China Daily]
Through her 18 accounts on Tencent QQ, a popular Internet chatting tool in China, Zhang has an astonishing 130,000 net pals, mostly adolescents and their parents seeking her advice.
Every night she spends at least two hours online dealing with problems such as "puppy love", a parent's marriage crisis and difficulties with campus life.
Years of such efforts have earned her the nickname "Granny QQ".
"I can't really respond to all the questions. There are simply too many," said Zhang, who received training in psychology and was certified as a senior psychological counselor at 72.
She volunteers as a counselor at a local community service office during the day, while at night she can be found online.
She first learned to use QQ in 2004 when she was running a small training class at home. She found many of her students would play computer games in nearby Net bars instead of returning home after class.
Having no idea about the Internet, she decided to learn more to better communicate with the children and "teach them the way they liked". She spent 10 days and 100 yuan ($16) in a print shop learning how to type and use QQ.
"I could only type one or two words in a minute," Zhang recalled and laughed.
"She is always interested in new things," said Feng Yanxia, Zhang's daughter. She bought Zhang a computer in 2005 to kill time, but instead it became a useful tool for Zhang to help others.
She would ask Feng, also a teacher, to answer questions she wasn't sure about.
"Some parents would even take their children to Zhengzhou to talk with her face to face," Feng said.
Trust and patience are important for communication between her and the children. A mother once sought her help and said her daughter in middle school "fell in love" with her teacher and even disturbed his family.
Zhang read through the girl's 126 blogs about her feelings for the teacher and made careful comments on each. She chatted with the girl on QQ and advised her mother how to deal with the problem.
"She was just too young and didn't know how to cope with such problems," Zhang said. Finally her efforts paid off and the girl, whose life returned to normal, was later admitted to a university.
Another time, Zhang mailed 1,000 yuan to an "impoverished good student" she had never met in real life as his scholarship.
For 12-year-old Li Pengfei, Zhang seemed more like a mother.
"She is very strict, but doesn't give me any pressure before examinations," said Li, who was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after an accident in 2007.
Zhang helped Li catch up with his lessons and advised his parents how to comfort and communicate with him after he was refused by several schools - and he was later accepted by a prominent middle school this summer after he completed five years of lessons in three years.
According to Zhang, the thorniest problems are those about a parent's marriage crisis.
"There's really little I can do except comfort them," she said.
According to Ma Huiqin, head of Zhang's community service office, many local residents, including Ma, who has a 19-year-old son, go to Zhang for suggestions on children's problems.
"She's doing something meaningful," said Ma, who was moved by Zhang's decision to dedicate her time and energy for troubled children or parents.
Zhang just smiled, waving an old fan.
"I enjoy it. I just don't like idling about," she said.