Volunteer teacher in his nineties devotes retirement years to providing rural students with gift of music
People's Daily Online

Yan Mingyou, a 93-year-old man who has been volunteering time to teach music to students in rural primary schools after his retirement in 1990, is still serving in the post of music teacher in east China’s Anhui Province.

Photo shows Yan Mingyou and his students. (Photos: People's Daily Online)

Born in Dingyuan county of Anhui in 1929, Yan was discharged from military service in 1952 and had a good job in another county in the province. However, Yan decided to return to his hometown, Zhuwan town in Dingyuan county, and chose instead to become a rural teacher.

Yan retired in 1990 after nearly 40 years of work as an educator. Taking into account the lack of music teachers in local rural schools, Yan, who otherwise would have gone on to enjoy his retirement years, instead volunteered to provide music lessons to students based at different schools. He continued in this role for more than 30 years thereafter.

“I usually have six music lessons at a primary school and five lessons at another primary school every week,” the man said.

To enrich the teaching content, Yan attended piano training classes at his own expense in 2006 when he was 77 years old. After several months of practice, he was finally able to play the piano.

At the age of 80, Yan felt that he was too old to teach music. But the children wanted him to stay and continue to serve as their music teacher. “Students wanted me to teach music. So I decided to continue to teach them music,” the nonagenarian said.

File photo shows Yan Mingyou reading a book.

Leading a simple and frugal life, Yan even donated some of his personal savings to rural schools after purchasing music equipment for their students. When some children would accompany Yan to learn music with him during summer and winter vacations, he not only taught them how to play the piano and sing, but also cooked meals for them.

Yan has also donated most of his pension and provided financial assistance to poverty-stricken students. Liu Dandan, who went on to graduate from college, is one of the beneficiaries of Yan’s selfless efforts. About a dozen years ago, Liu, then a student in fifth grade, might have quit schooling because her family was experiencing financial difficulties at the time. After learning about her situation, Yan immediately withdrew 400 yuan ($62.8) and brought the money along to lend it out to Liu. Yan supported her by covering some of her tuition and living expenses during her middle school, high school and college days. “I do all I can to help children in need,” the old man said.

“Teaching music is the happiest thing in my life,” Yan remarked. For children in rural schools, music is a way to inspire their dreams to come true.