Chinese teen says her family’s struggles pushed her to hit the books and ‘change my fate’

Dai Shuangyu made up her mind to study hard after her father died

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 11:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 11:02am

After getting top marks in the university entrance exams, a teenager from a poor family in central China has revealed how her family’s struggles motivated her to study hard.

Dai Shuangyu, 18, was one of the highest achievers at her middle school in Zhangjiajie, Hunan, and has just been accepted by prestigious Lanzhou University, the Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported on Sunday.

But her studies were the least of her worries when her father was seriously injured in an accident six years ago that left him in hospital.

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Dai told the newspaper that during that time she decided to do what she could to help the family save money so they could afford her father’s treatment.

At the school canteen, breakfast cost from 1 yuan to 4 yuan (15 to 60 US cents), but even the cheapest option was too expensive for Dai – so she ate only the free seaweed soup every morning.

The report did not specify how the man was injured, but he died four months later, when the family could no longer pay his hospital bills and began caring for him at home. That left her mother – who herself is in poor health and earns very little – to raise Dai and her two siblings.

“My father passed away and my mother is the only breadwinner of my family,” Dai said. “I made up my mind back then that I should study as hard as I could to change my fate and my family’s fate.”

Dai said in recent years she had often studied until late at night, splashing her face with cold water to stay awake if she started to feel sleepy.

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Over the summer holidays, Dai has been working at a toy factory, earning 2,000 yuan a month, but soon she will head off to northwest Gansu province to begin studying chemistry at university.

Money will be tight – she has to pay her own tuition fees of 5,000 yuan a semester – but Dai hopes to keep doing well in her studies. “Hopefully I’ll get a chance to join an exchange programme abroad, so I can broaden my horizons,” she said.