Armless student teaches lesson in fortitude on way to law school

GMT 20:55 2015 Wednesday ,22 July

Arab Today, arab today Armless student teaches lesson in fortitude on way to law school

Peng Chao
Beijing - XINHUA

It was already standing room only on a Saturday afternoon in a meeting room designed for 100 people on the sixth floor of a teaching building at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, Sichuan province. But more people kept coming.

Students and parents crowded the room to hear Peng Chao, an armless 20-year-old who uses his feet to write. He scored a respectable 603 points in the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, in June.

"We hope the armless brother's story can motivate our children to study hard," said Huang Jiayue, a middle-aged man who attended the July 4 meeting with his 14-year-old daughter.

Born in a mountainous village in Miyi county in Sichuan, Peng touched a live electrical transformer at age 6 when he was playing near his home. His body was damaged by the shock. His arms had to be amputated.

"My son had to undergo eight operations to have the wounds treated within half a year," said Peng's 44-year-old mother, Wen Tianhui.

"Before he was discharged from the hospital, we taught him how to pick small rocks from a bowl and place them in another with his foot. Later, his father helped him learn how to use his foot to write with a pencil," she said.

Peng found it difficult to hold a pencil with his toes and wanted to give up.

His father, Peng Changfu, 50, tried to encourage him.

"With tears in my eyes, I told him he would be useless if he could not attend a school and earn a living himself," the elder Peng said.

Eventually, the boy managed to master writing with his feet. But the principal of a primary school did not want to enroll him, even after his parents kneeled humbly to ask for their son's admittance.

A sympathetic teacher asked the principal to allow Peng to attend his class for one week. "If he cannot adapt, he will quit," he said.

Peng achieved high scores in the weekly exams. The headmaster admitted him.

"He has been a student with high scores in his class ever since," his mother said.

Peng took the gaokao last year and scored 543 points, or three points higher than Sichuan's minimum score for applicants to top universities. He applied to Sichuan University, a top institution in his province. The university did not enroll him because other applicants had much higher scores.

Peng could have entered a less prestigious university, and relatives and friends urged him to do so. But he decided to study for another year and retake the gaokao.

"Without arms, I have to enter a good university if I am to get a job," said Peng, who is 182 centimeters tall and has a visible scar on his neck from the electric shock 14 years ago.

When he took the gaokao last year, he was unable to complete the work because writing with a foot was slow. He dedicated himself to practice starting last summer.

In May, the education authorities decided to grant him an additional 45 minutes in each phase of the gaokao.

Peng scored 603 this year, 75 points higher than Sichuan's minimum score for top universities, and was admitted to the School of Law at Sichuan University on Thursday.

Because his feet must double as hands, Peng wears slippers year round. Still, his feet have calluses and sores. When he writes, the weight of his body rests on his hip, which also shows many sores.

"Despite his handicap and sufferings, he is optimistic and kindhearted and always has a smile," said Zhang Tao, 19, a schoolmate who lived in the same dormitory with Peng for seven years before this year's gaokao.

After the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Peng donated his Spring Festival lucky money totaling 3,600 yuan (590 U.S. dollars) to the Miyi county bureau of civil affairs.

"He accumulated the money over several years. He wanted to help people who lost limbs in the quake," Zhang said.

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