Wednesday, February 21, 2007

'Most beautiful teacher' in the mountain

Undated photo shows Mei Xiang teaches at Shimen Primary School in Henan Province.

Deep in Mount Taihang there is a primary school with only two pupils and a teacher, who has recently caught the attention of the cyber-world.

The teacher, Mei Xiang, has been dubbed the most beautiful teacher on the mountain by netizens according to a Southern Metropolitan News report on Wednesday.

Mei has been working for the school in a remote mountain village in central China's Henan province for six years. She started at 16, when Shimen Primary School was on the verge of closing due to a lack of teachers.

The school was built because the closest major school was considerably far away from the village. Many students have left for a variety of reasons, and now there are only two. Mei is still determined to help the villagers become literate and fashioned her home into a classroom after the actual school building collapsed.

According to a previous report by the Henan Business News, this single young woman, determined to stay in the school as long as there is even one child to teach, has disappointed a number of admirers by announcing that her boyfriend is staying with her in the poor mountain village.

Mei Xiang's story was spread on the Internet by a plasterer in Henan, "Cloud in Hometown" as he calls himself on the Internet. He went to Mount Taihang after reading the report to find the teacher who loved her job so much.

Mei was surprised to have a guest in the village, and her living conditions moved "Cloud in Hometown" who then brought a group of seven netizens to visit her. With Mei's permission, they posted several of her photos on a forum, and several online communities spotted her pictures.

"Cloud in Hometown" never thought his behavior would disrupt Mei's life, but as more netizens went to see her they began to blame the local authority for failing to fund the school.

Most villagers are leaving Mount Taihang as exploitation of the land continues and new roads connect them to cities. Mei recently married but doesn't live with her husband because it's too far from the school. She feels guilty, but says she'll stay until there is someone to replace her, as "helping children who live in the mountains learn is too important" for her to stop, she said.

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