Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard | The Summit Express

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Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard


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Zou Hongyan, a Chinese mother, devoted her life in helping her son overcome trials and make the most of his abilities. Despite advice from doctors to give up her son, Zou worked hard to give him a good life and even managed to nurture him to become a Harvard University student.

Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard

In 1988, Zou gave birth to a boy named Ding Ding who suffered from a birth complication. Apparently, Ding almost died of suffocation during birth and as a result, suffered from cerebral palsy. Doctors in Hubei province believed Ding would never be able to recover and that it would be pointless to try to rescue him as he would either grow up disabled or with low intelligence.

Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard
PHOTO CREDIT: Xinhua
Even Zou’s husband agreed with the doctors and told Zou that raising Ding would be a burden for the whole family.

The persistent mom refused to listen to their advice and decided to overcome the challenges of raising a child with disability single-handedly. Zou divorced her husband and took up several jobs like a full-time position at a college in Wuhan and part time jobs as an insurance policy seller and protocol trainer.

Regardless of the weather, Zou regularly took Ding for rehabilitation sessions, where she learned how to massage his stiff muscles. During her free time, she tirelessly played intelligence boosting games and puzzles with her son.

Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard
PHOTO CREDIT: Xinhua
Zou also found a way to make Ding learn how to use chopsticks, a task the child found difficult to do since he had problems coordinating his hand movements.

“I didn’t want him to feel ashamed about these physical problems,” Zoue explained.

“Because he had inferior abilities in many areas, I was quite strict on him to work hard to catch up where he had difficulties,” she added.

Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard
PHOTO CREDIT: Xinhua
All of Zou’s hard work paid off after Ding managed to get a bachelor’s degree from the Environmental Science and Engineering College in Peking University in 2011. Soon after graduation, Ding enrolled for a master’s degree program at the university’s International Law School.

Chinese single mother raises disabled son to get into Harvard
PHOTO CREDIT: Xinhua
Two years after he started working, Ding decided to pursue higher studies by enrolling in US Ivy League Harvard University in 2016 through his mom’s encouragement.

“I’ve never dared to apply for Harvard University, but my mom always encouraged me to give a try. Whenever I am hesitant, she is always there guiding me,” Ding said.

Indeed, Ding’s mind-blowing progress from a child with special needs to an independent adult is a proof that a mother’s love can conquer all.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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