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To cherish and to memorize, to Chef Li

Peking University, Oct.31, 2011: The recent death of Chef Li Jianhua , a hospitable chef in Nongyuan Dining Hall, a man loved by all, has created a voluntary donation from Peking University (PKU) students throughout Oct. 26-28.

 

 

 Photo by PKU News

 

Chef Li was born in 1977 in Siping Jilin. In 2006, he was nominated to be chef of Canteen Stall 4 in Nongyuan Dining Hall at PKU. Starting from zero, he learned quickly about how to get raw materials prepared and cook for the daily meals. Every morning he began work at 7 a.m., cooking more than 600 dishes and only going back home at 7p.m. However, on 2011 during his fifth year at PKU, he died from a sudden cerebral hemorrhage during the National Holiday. On the morning of Sep.30, while getting ready for work he had a sudden cerebral hemorrhage. Five days later he passed away, leaving behind a devastated family with no means of supplying themselves. After his death, many of his colleagues generously held a funeral for him during the holiday. However, according to the policy and regulation, they contacted the social security department and trade union for money arrangements from his family.

 

About ten days later, students realized that the hospitable Chef Li never appeared after the holidays and out of curiosity they asked of the Chef Li ’s absence. From there, the news of Li’s death rapidly spread throughout the campus. The students enjoyed Li’s service and all appreciated his warm and welcoming smile. Out of gratitude, the student’s union of graduate student appealed for a donation for Chef Li’s family on Beida Weiming BBS (Bulletin Board System), which evoked strong response.

 

To help take care of Chef Li’s family, PKU students started to organize a donation on campus. Started on Oct. 26, till Oct. 28, the donation had raised 62520.41 RMB and 100 HKD. Everyone who donated money would be given a thank-you letter designed by organizers. Also, moved by the story, many retired PKU professors came to raise money. “I decided to come on hearing the news. I really hope that more people can response to others’ kindness and lend a helpful hand,” said a retired PKU professor on the spot. Reporters were also informed that PKU president had made a donation as well.

 

 

Photo by PKU News 

 

One thing is noteworthy that there was an autograph album put right beside the donation box. “Thank you for your service, I did appreciate it.” “May you rest in peace, hope your family will move on soon.” “I will always remember your smile, thank you and may you rest in peace.”… PKU students wrote down their words on that album. Despite a few words, the album witnessed students’ feelings towards Chef Li. After the donation, all the money would be sent to Chef Li’s family, so would the album.

 

 

Photo by PKU News 

 

This story has also gained much attention from public outside the university. Xin Hua News, People News, SOHU news, Beijing Morning Post and several other domestic media, including major news sites, have reported this story. In contrast to the recent negative news discussion on people’s indifferent behavior, students appearing in this piece of news had set a comforting example.

 

The students mourn Chef Li spontaneously through the Internet. “Maybe his life is so insignificant and its disappearance is so commonplace under the impact of such great number of Gaddafis and Xiaoyueyues. However, compared with Gaddafi and Xiaoyueyue and this distant and complicated world, what Chef Li gave me is the true warmth and appreciation of life.” a quote given by one of the students close to Chef Li. Students also mentioned that the album was going to be given to Li’s family. “We hope that when his child grows up, he can understand how great his father was, and how he impacted our daily lives for the better”.

 

Chef Li, as well as the other thousands of restaurant service personnel at PKU, devoted themselves to serving the teachers and students on campus. Being a chef is not an easy job. During the summer, they have to withstand temperatures above 50 degree for long periods of time. While during winter, they have to wash the vegetables in icy water. Each season they have to suffer from both the cold and heat. However, the problem is not the burden on their bodies but instead, the burden on their spirits which gives them more pressure to deal with.

 

 

 Photo by People's News

 

Nevertheless their lives are still full of sunshine as they learn to take in the positive side of situations. “It seems like their child is very funny and has no worries to deal with yet” said the old manager of Nongyuan Dining Hall. But the reality is still an issue they have to face every day, as both his parents are in poor states of health. While Li’s mother is suffering from asthma, his father is paralyzed. Together Li and his wife moved to Beijing in hope of earning more money to support their family, while their 9-year old child stayed behind in their hometown to continue schooling. In the eyes of Li’s close friendships and colleagues, he is a filial son and always sends money home. He exemplifies true determination, because though his life is difficult, there is always a smile on his face. We remember him by a quote he uses to get by each day: “It is my promise to serve each and every teacher and student to the best of my ability.”

 

Although he served a common life and left behind no major achievements, no students will forget the daily impact he made on their happy spirits. “With so many students at PKU it’s hard to build a strong bond with everyone, and even by graduation we still might not know each individual but it’s important to remember each smile makes a difference.” a lesson that Chef Li  left behind with all of us.

 

Although Chef Li passed away, thousands of other PKU stuffs are still working. The presence of Chef Li will stay throughout the PKU community in the hearts of those he touched, passing through smiles that they return among others.

 

Julia MacMeekin contributed to report.

Reported by: XuYang  Bai Bing  Qian Xin

Edited by: Qian Xin