De­spite hav­ing cere­bral palsy, 28-year-old has over­come phys­i­cal chal­lenges and proven out­stand­ing English-lan­guage abil­ity

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By TAN YINGZI in Chongqing tany­ingzi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Dressed in a green T-shirt and wear­ing a big smile, Liguan Yan­ping looks like a teenager. He likes to talk, both in Chi­nese and English, at a slow speed.

He spends most of his time in front of a com­puter trans­lat­ing or writ­ing songs. Last year, he trans­lated two books about Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy and paint­ing into English.

When Liguan was born pre­ma­turely, in South­west China’s Chongqing in 1989, he weighed just 1.4 kilo­grams and was later di­ag­nosed with se­vere cere­bral palsy.

Cere­bral palsy is caused by ab­nor­mal devel­op­ment or dam­age to the parts of the brain that con­trol move­ment, balance and pos­ture, lead­ing to poor co­or­di­na­tion, tre­mors and weak or stiff mus­cles. Peo­ple with cere­bral palsy may also have im­paired senses of touch, sight and hear­ing as well as dif­fi­culty swal­low­ing and speak­ing.

There are about 6 mil­lion peo­ple with cere­bral palsy in China, ac­cord­ing to the China Dis­abled Per­sons’ Fed­er­a­tion.

“A doc­tor told us that surgery may help alle­vi­ate his mus­cle spasms, but that he would have dif­fi­culty sit­ting or walk­ing in the fu­ture,” said Guan Ping, Liguan’s mother. “I had no idea what I was fac­ing at that time.”

De­spite ob­jec­tions from fam­ily mem­bers, Guan de­cided not to have a se­cond child, so she could fo­cus on look­ing af­ter Liguan.

In 1990, she quit her job as a fac­tory worker and started look­ing af­ter her son full time.

“I will do my best to help my son live a nor­mal life,” Guan said.

Guan has spent 20 years tak­ing her son to see spe­cial­ists across the coun­try to help him im­prove body move­ment. Ev­ery day, she spends two hours mas­sag­ing Liguan to help ease his mus­cle spasms, and su­per­vis­ing his phys­i­cal train­ing.

When Liguan was young, Guan was so strict with his train­ing that no mat­ter how much he cried, she would not al­low him to give up. It led to peo­ple call­ing Guan “Tiger Mom”, and some neigh­bors even told lo­cal au­thor­i­ties that they sus­pected Guan was abus­ing Liguan.

Un­der great pres­sure, Guan at­tempted to com­mit sui­cide twice. “Most peo­ple, in­clud­ing my hus­band, could not re­late to me and crit­i­cized my ac­tions,” she said. “I be­lieve that the only way for my son to achieve his dreams is through rig­or­ous train­ing.”

Guan’s hard work paid off. By age 16, Liguan was able to walk by him­self. Now, he can con­duct ba­sic daily tasks, such as go­ing to the toilet, wash­ing his face, dress­ing him­self and cook­ing sim­ple meals.

“My mother and I have a very close re­la­tion­ship,” Liguan said. “She is my best friend, teacher and coach.”

Due to his phys­i­cal con­di­tion, Liguan did not at­tend school. In­stead, his mother, a high school grad­u­ate, edu- cated him at home.

When Liguan was 12, he fell in love with learn­ing English. Guan bought him a lot of study ma­te­ri­als, and took him to lo­cal lan­guage train­ing cen­ters and English cor­ners in the city.

Liguan has shown a great tal­ent for learn­ing English. He has passed China’s Pub­lic English Test 4, demon­strat­ing English lan­guage abil­ity equiv­a­lent to that of a non­na­tive English ma­jor stu­dent.

How­ever, his phys­i­cal hand­i­cap pre­vents him from tak­ing fur­ther tests, as he writes too slowly to com­plete ex­am­i­na­tions in time.

Last year, a Chi­nese friend at Ox­ford Univer­sity rec­om­mended Liguan for a trans­la­tion job for a pic­ture book of Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy and paint­ing.

His work gained recog­ni­tion from the au­thor who then asked him to trans­late the se­cond vol­ume of the book.

Guan is cur­rently work­ing on his third trans­la­tion project: a book on the ori­gins of Chi­nese char­ac­ters.

He also likes writ­ing po­ems and songs. A poem he wrote in English, A Fruit That Was Loved By A Worm, reads:

I have no grace­ful ap­pear­ance, But a fine, pure spirit. My dumb­ness il­lus­trates in­tel­li­gence.

My blem­ish makes you seem more com­plete.

The world be­cause of you,

And more re­al­is­tic be­cause of me.

“My dream is to be­come a pro­fes­sional English trans­la­tor and song com­poser,” Liguan said. is beau­ti­ful

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PHOTOS BY TAN YINGZI / CHINA DAILY

Liguan Yan­ping reads China Daily for a break from his trans­la­tion work at his home in Chongqing.

Guan Ping lifts Liguan onto an ex­er­cise ma­chine in their home.

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