Across China: Over a decade of volunteer drivers providing free trips for gaokao students-Xinhua

Across China: Over a decade of volunteer drivers providing free trips for gaokao students

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-09 15:52:45

YINCHUAN, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Tian Yong, 35, has for many years voluntarily aligned his schedule with the gaokao, which is China's national college entrance examination, to provide "one-on-one" free transportation for examinees.

This year's gaokao kicked off on Friday. It is a pivotal gateway for millions of Chinese students to potentially enter university and pursue higher education. To ensure his availability during this period, Tian often goes to great lengths. "I either request time off, shift my schedule around, or dip into my annual leave," he said.

Tian, who is from northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, has participated in the Green Ribbon volunteer service for the 10th time this year. As in previous years, Tian has been reaching out to students and parents who have signed up for this service. Tian makes sure he is well-acquainted with their home addresses and exam locations in advance of their gaokao commitments.

"I usually arrive at a student's home half an hour early, with water and milk on hand. I also chat along the way with them to help ease their nerves," Tian said.

To help students reach their exam locations safely and on time, volunteer drivers like Tian have become increasingly common in China while local police, transportation, health, power and other departments across China have also guarded the students during gaokao over the years.

The Green Ribbon volunteer service in the city of Yinchuan, Ningxia, has gathered 2,500 vehicles this year, including taxis, ride-hailing cars, and private cars, according to service organizer Xie Shuangyi. Students can ride for free in these volunteer cars, which display green ribbons, by showing drivers their exam admission tickets.

Shao Mengqi, a 47-year-old taxi driver and member of the Green Ribbon team, also dedicates herself to transporting students during gaokao each year. She takes a complete break from her regular business to focus solely on this mission.

Over the 11 years since this service began, members of the team have provided free rides to around 118,000 students, according to Xie. His phone number has remained the same for more than 10 years, and is available online for those in need. "These days are extremely busy," he said. "I get over 100 calls a day -- all from students seeking rides."

Li Tiao, 17, a student at Ningxia Art Vocational College, has successfully secured this "one-on-one" exam transport service. With her home located far from the exam venue, she must remain at school until the exams conclude. Still, it takes her half an hour to travel from school to the exam venue by bike. She was pleasantly surprised that a single phone call was able to assist her.

"My parents are tied up with work, so they can't be there for me during the exams. Having volunteer drivers to shuttle me around makes me feel both warm and blessed. I shared this with my parents, and it eased their minds, too," she said.

Over the years, Tian Yong has ferried many students like Li Tiao, who attend exams alone. To ensure their timely return for meals and rest, he often acts as a "guardian," waiting outside the exam venue alongside parents.

"I grew up in a less privileged family, and many people ended up supporting me during my schooling. I always want to pay it forward whenever possible," Tian said. "Accompanying these students during gaokao feels very meaningful. Many even send me gratitude letters after receiving their results."

In the summer of 2020, Tian transported a high school girl whose parents were unwell, and whose brother suffered from a congenital disease. When she secured admission to Shanghai Maritime University through her efforts, Tian and his wife decided to assist her financially, offering her 2,000 yuan (about 281.27 U.S. dollars) annually until she graduates.

"We stay in touch regularly. She's graduating this year, and I've encouraged her to pursue further education," Tian said. "She calls me 'brother' and now I have another sister."