In Search of the Footprints:
Finding the Memory of the
Achievements of Zhou Enlai
Ms. Zhou Xiaofang remembers
during a visit to Changning Middle School
Chenyi Lei Lin
Tonghua Changning Middle School
translated from the original school newsletter
On the afternoon of April 28, 2016, Changning Middle School welcomed two special guests — Zhou Xiaofang, the grand niece of the great Premier Zhou Enlai, and her husband, Michael North.
Ms. Zhou now lives in America, but she and her husband set up the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute in Beijing — committed to reaching out from China about China’s great peacemaker.
The purpose is to educate the world about Zhou Enlai and his “Five Principles,” at home and internationally — to make children aware that “peace” is hard to come by — yet the whole world wants peace.
Xiaofang and her colleagues were accompanied by the First Secretary of the Party, Tanga Ming, on a tour of the classrooms at Changning Middle School. They admired the school’s simple, aesthetic beauty.
Primary school teachers Do Renwang, Ying Wu Xinyu and English teacher Michael Funnell talked about the school’s history, and the nature of the development process. The visitors appreciated the school’s educational philosophy, which centers on the arts, and enjoyed the achievements of the students on display in galleries throughout the school.
The students welcomed the guests with warm applause. Zhou Xiaofang and her husband spoke from the main auditorium stage.
Mr. North first asked the students: “Why is Zhou Enlai so important today?” Initially, the students did not know how to answer, so no one dared to speak.
Zhou Xiaofang explained that to understand a nation, we must first understand the people who the people respect most. So she showed the students the short film, “In the Footsteps of Zhou Enlai.” It describes the 49-day journey Ms. Zhou undertook last year. She traveled north and south all around China, to visit the former residences of Zhou Enlai and to interview relatives, secretaries and friends. The film presents a deep understanding of the true spirit of peace of Zhou Enlai, which attracted notice in China, and worldwide.
Now the students were moved by a new understanding of Premier Zhou. Xiaofang asked them, “What is the purpose of your studies?”
A seventh-grade student raised his hand, and answered confidently, “I want to be an engineer.” A sixth-grade student answered, “I want to be a basketball player.” And other students answered, with their ambitions.
Ms. Zhou said that these responses show the endless potential of today’s young people. She told them that Zhou Enlai’s aspiration for youth was always “the rise of the New China.” She explained that today, we enjoy happiness and many great opportunities — but in the past, great leaders struggled to overcome tremendous challenges, for our sake. So we must not forget them, and we should cherish each moment.
Finally, the students learned about the principle of peaceful coexistence, written by Zhou Enlai, to provide them a deeper understanding of the practical nature of peace. The students enjoyed the talks, and all their interactions with Xiaofang and Michael.
A seventh-grade student wrote her thoughts afterward: “What impressed me most is that Premier Zhou said he was part of our family. He lived for the Chinese people, and served for the benefit of future generations. His selfless spirit moved us all.”
Ms. Zhou Xiaofang, with her talk to to the Changning School teachers and students, demonstrated her respect for the great man’s character — and shared a rare and wonderful educational event.