Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism

Changshan teacher renowned for kindness and boiled eggs

The career of Zhang Liming, a 60-year-old math teacher at Zigang High School in Changshan county, Zhejiang province, has long been a testament to the ancient Chinese maxim, "Don't cease to do good things no matter how seemingly insignificant they are".

On a recent morning, Zhang got up out of bed at 4 am and arrived at school at 5.20 am. Then he started using an electric cooker to boil eggs in the office, before walking into a quiet classroom packed with students at 6 am, carrying a basin-full of boiled eggs.

"Come on kids, have some eggs," he said to the students, who bursted into cheers. Each student gladly received eggs from Zhang's hands, enjoyed the breakfast, and then started with the first lesson of the school day.

Cooking eggs for students' breakfasts was not an impulsive act by the teacher who is set to retire in a few months from his beloved teaching post after a 40-year career. Rather, Zhang has been following the same routine every workday morning for 10 years.

Throughout that time, Zhang has handed out around 50,000 boiled eggs in the early morning. To ensure the best taste of the eggs, Zhang always follows these exact procedures: boil the eggs for 20 minutes, turn off the cooker, leave the eggs in the cooker for three minutes, empty water from the cooker, and dry the eggs for another 20 minutes before handing them out to students.

Ten years ago, Zhang was such an early-riser that the school canteen had not yet opened when he arrived at school. Hence, he brought an electric cooker to the office so he can make his own breakfast, including boiled eggs. After discovering this, several extroverted students started to request that he boil eggs for them as well. As more and more students made requests, Zhang turned his corner of the office into a small "kitchen".

Every Sunday night, the class in Zhang's turtorship sends to Zhang's office a large stock of eggs, which have been voluntarily bought and marked by separate students, initiating Zhang's weeklong routine.

Most of the high school's students were born and raised in rural villages, with more than half having parents doing manual work in distant cities most of the year. Touched by Zhang's consistent kindness, many students view him as a father figure and mentor.

Among Zhang's list of 1,200 friends on the mobile messaging app WeChat, more than 700 are his former students, many of whom regularly keep in touch with him even a decade after their graduation.

One of them is Cui Juying, who graduated from the high school in 2012 and now runs a consultancy in the provincial capital of Hangzhou. He praised Zhang's excellence in teaching math, as well as the delicious boiled eggs.

"He is such a warmhearted person who always cares about us students. A couple of days before the national college entrance exam, he was on a sick leave for severe gout, but still asked another teacher to cook eggs for us in his stead," Cui recalled.

"To everyone's surprise, Mr Zhang finally showed up in the classroom to cheer us up on the eve of the math exam," Cui said. "Actually, he could not even walk and was carried to the classroom on another teacher's back. He insisted on giving us a pep talk in person at our critical juncture in life."

"We could not possibly fail such a wonderful teacher," Cui added, proudly revealing that most of his classmates then delivered exceptionally good exam results.

Source: http://www.ezhejiang.gov.cn/2021-06/11/c_632225.htm