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Hou Jingjing: A PhD in a Wheelchair
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The result of China's Ten Most Outstanding Women of 2006 was unveiled recently and Hou Jingjing, a teacher at the School of Education and Science, Nanjing Normal University, was honored as one of the "Top Ten". As a handicapped person with paralysis of the legs, Hou persisted in teaching herself to become China's first "Doctorate in a Wheelchair".


Ideals and Struggle Illuminate Her Life


Hou's hometown is Ma'anshan, Anhui Province. In 1986, misfortune fell on her when she was 11. Due to a misdiagnosis, her legs were paralyzed and she endured much pain.



Hou's parents' dedicated care gradually calmed her down. When the pain lessened, Hou said to her parents: "Bring my bag please. I want to read!" Leaving the hospital, Hou began studying the courses taught in middle school and high school. Neighbors secretly advised her parents: "Let her learn handicraft making. Then she can earn some money. What can she do with reading?" Hou's parents replied: "We will let her read so long as she likes it. Knowledge is also important for her."


Hou finished her college education as an English major and then taught herself other courses. Her purpose became clear little by little: "I cannot be a burden to others while I am alive! I cannot do physical labor, so I will take on mental labor." In 1998, Hou passed the entrance examination for the Master's program in Translation Studies at Nanjing Normal University. Three years later, Hou was recruited by Nanjing Normal University as a Doctorate student with the highest score in Education. "I just want to go further within my ability and serve society more," Hou said.


In 2004, Hou finished her PhD Degree and was retained at Nanjing Normal University to teach. Reflecting on her career choice, she said: "People like me that have a history of special education have more passion for education and love it more than others. I have a strong sense that education has a tremendous influence on people: it can rescue and evoke a life-force!"


Fortitude and Will Become Stronger As Time Passes


People around Hou all say that she has an "Iron Will"!


While she was studying, legs spasm frequently occurred due to the lack of blood in her legs and her back was also unbearably sore. In order to overcome this, with the help of her family, she exercised. She would exercise her legs for one hour and then pick up her books again completely focused.


In the winter of 1997, Hou attended the National examination for graduate's studies. Outside the examination room, it was snowing heavily; inside the room, she was pouring sweat. On finishing one subject, the chair she sat in was all wet. Taking five examinations in three successive days, she persisted to the end and received the highest overall score on the exam.


In her six years as a graduate student, Hou did not miss a single class. Her student Ge Jianping recalled: "Once in a class, we saw her become much taller, and then we realized that her legs spasm was very severe and she had to support her body with her hands to relax. But she always smiles in class!"


Self-empowerment and Care Light the Way


From a paralyzed girl to a PhD, Hou embodies "Self-empowerment".


While she was a child, when she wanted to take one thing, she would shift little by little with two wooden stools, and her mother would quietly watch from her side. "Jingjing, why not let your mother carry you to get it or just let your mother get it for you?" Her buddies asked her. "I can do it by myself." Hou's answer was so quiet.


Hou jingjing's husband, Xiang Huali, her classmate when they were graduate students will always remember this scene. After wrapping phlegm in a tissue, her classmates wanted to throw it away for her, but she said no with a smile, and pushed her wheelchair to the trash can by herself. "I was stricken by her self-empowerment and self-respect."


Hou spends an average of eight hours everyday teaching or doing research. She has published four essays in professional publications and translated over 300,000 characters. When talking about her growth, Hou says: "What I am today is mainly because of the care and help of my parents, my relatives and friends, especially Nanjing Normal University. I cannot be what I am today without them. Talking about her future plans, she slightly smiles and says: "Try to do more under the current conditions and stay mentally and physically healthy."


( February 26, 2007)

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