A: I had no idea other than to study hard and leave the village. I had no knowledge about the outside world, but knew that life in the village was very hard, and that I wanted to change my life, and not follow in my father’s footsteps. I didn’t want to be hungry all my life.
Q: After a difficult beginning in grade school with the teacher burning your books, how did you progress with your education?
A: Because I attended middle school and high school during Cultural Revolution, most of my teachers were former university professors that the government had sent to the countryside. They actually became my teachers, which really changed my life, since I was then able to learn from some of the best Math and Physics teachers in China.
Q: So, in effect, you were still attending the village schools, but learning at a university level?
A: Yes. In fact, if it were not for the Cultural Revolution, I would have never received such high-level instruction. My teachers gave me very challenging textbooks, so by the time that I graduated from high school, I had already completed university-level studies.
Q: No doubt your teachers observed that you were a highly disciplined student, but did they discern that you were gifted?
A: Yes. My Math teacher saw promise in me. He told my father that I needed to stop working in the fields, so I could focus on my studies and improve my Math skills. In high school my Physics teacher called me Doctor, since I was so good in Physics, and really learning at a university level. He was kidding, and said it in fun, but it helped encourage me to continue to pursue higher education.