By Xinjiang Daily News , Zheng Zhuo and Sui Yunyan
On August 30th, the Yumiao Kindergarten of Shoal Bagh Township in Hotan City ushered in the new semester registration day. Guljannet, a teacher in the kindergarten, came to the door early to welcome the children.
Having no courses and activities specifically scheduled on that day, the children were dismissed at 11 o’clock. Guljannet and other teachers carefully cleaned up each classroom. “The yard has been under construction these days, so dust is a bit heavy. Children's desks and chairs need to be wiped clean.” Guljannet told reporters that since coming to the kindergarten and spending time with the children, her life has become fulfilled and practical. She has found the happy and confident girl that she used to be in the past.
Fulfilling Work in the Kindergarten
The 23-year-old Guljannet lives in Ayag Aqu Village of Shoal Bagh. Nowadays she loves smiling a lot. She smiles at everyone she meets and becomes very popular in the kindergarten and in the village. On the first day of the new semester, every now and then, kids of five or six years old ran to her and cuddled her close. She would bend down, bow her head and gently kiss them on the forehead. Then she would take their hands and walk them into the door.
Guljannet waits at the kindergarten door at 9 am every morning. “There are 3 teachers in each class. I help in teaching and I’m responsible for the kid’s everyday life.” Guljannet said that there are three meals a day in the kindergarten, two or three kinds of biscuits for breakfast, and large plate of boiled chicken and pilaf for lunch. The children sleep for an hour and a half at noon, play games in the afternoon, and take snacks and fruit at 6 pm.
There are more than 30 children in each class in the kindergarten. Guljannet has to take care of all the details in their daily lives. Some of them clamor to go home, some feel thirsty and ask for water, and some others may want to go to the toilet. All sorts of business keep her busy all day. But Guljanneti feels that such a day is very fulfilling.
“Guljannet is particularly devoted to her work and is very patient with the children. When we were staging an art performance, she took the initiative to buy costumes online.” Wei Juan, Principal of the Yumiao Kindergarten, said that Guljannet is very enthusiastic about all events and everyone likes her very much.
Regret Dropping Out of High School
“If I hadn't dropped out of school at that time, I could have graduated from college now.” After work, Guljannet took the journalist to her house. Sitting under a pergola, they browsed photos from her student years. She told her story, with a tone full of regrets.
Guljannet has been an outstanding student since childhood and has always been the pride of her parents. She entered the Inner Junior Class, and was admitted to the Inner Senior Class in Beijing with the second highest score in the township in 2012.
Her excellent achievements in school filled her father Imiti’s heart with great joy. “When I went to junior middle school, my father bought me an electronic dictionary for more than 1,000 yuan.” Guljannet knew that this was a considerable expense for her family. “My dad's wish is to see me go to college, find a good job in a big city and lead a happy life." Guljannet said.
However, her father’s wishes were shattered after Guljannet got influenced by extreme religious thoughts.
In 2013 when Guljannet went back to the village from school for summer vacation, she found that many of her old friends had got married and were wearing black gowns. Some told her that girls shouldn't be far away from home, let alone going to school. They should get married early and go out less often.
“After I got into the Inner Senior Class, I felt that learning pressure was mounting on me,” said Guljannet. Feeling tired of learning, and under the influence of people around her, she decided to drop out of high school.
Neither teacher’s advice nor family’s opposition could change her mind. “I was like being bewitched. All that I wanted to do was to quit school, go home, and get married." Guljannet told reporters that after dropping out of school, her father did not speak to her for a whole week.
In 2014, Guljannet got married. In 2017, his father died of a heart attack. Guljannet was deeply sorrowed, and began to reflect on her past.
“Dad hopes that I can finish school but I failed him. I want to go back to school and find myself.” Guljannet, accompanied by his family, entered the Hotan City Vocational Skills Education and Training Center.
There Guljannet regained interest in learning. She focused on learning Mandarin, law and professional skills, and made rapid progress.
Enriched school life made Guljannet gradually regain her self-confidence. After her graduation, she came to the Shaol Bagh Township Yumiao Kindergarten on the recommendation of the village committee.
Guljannet remembers the scene when she went to work on the first day. The three-story kindergarten were decorated with a brilliant yellow exterior. Inside it, classrooms were bright and spacious. Desks and chairs were clean and tidy. Children sat at the little desks, learning nursery rhymes. Seeing their smiling faces filled with joy and happiness, Guljannet, who had become a mother then, determined that she’s going to protect these innocent smiles and not let them be covered with dust.
Guljannet's home is only a few hundred meters away from the kindergarten. Her yard is full of various flowers, and vines are climbing on the entrance gallery. The entire courtyard is full of vitality.
Every day, Guljannet and her mother will clean up the small courtyard. “Mom opened a mini supermarket at the door of the house and sold a variety of daily necessities and food and beverages.” Guljannet said that the villagers often take their children with them when they come shopping. She’s always happy to see these children. She’d play games and sing songs with them. And the little courtyard has since become more lively.
Her mother Abby Bai saw her change. “When seeing my daughter ruining her future, her father and I felt so sad. It is different now. My daughter is happy to go to work every day, and when she comes back home she plays with the neighborhood kids. She has become more energetic," Abby said with relief.
Guljannet also has a new plan. She wants to learn accounting. “My husband is a construction contractor and has some small projects in Hotan City. He’s very busy at work. I want to help him manage his finances. The shop at home also needs a clear account.” Guljannet said that she was lost in the past. For a period of time, life was an aimless mess. And it hurts her loved ones. After returning to the classroom, she found the meaning of life. Now, whether in life or work, she is full of confidence, strength and hope.