In Memory of Zhang Hong’en, My Former Primary School Headmaster

Zhang Hong’en
Zhang Hong’en
By Lin MuliJuly 8th, 2021

One evening, Mr. Zeng, one of my good friends from Xiamen, asked for a photo of Mr. Tianci, my former primary school headmaster, in a call. 

Mr. Tianci, also known as Zhang Hong’en, was the principal of PingHe Yuying Primary School founded by Christians in 1904.

His father, Zhang Hanshao, was a devout Christian. After Christianity was introduced into Pinghe, he often went to the first evangelical village in Pinghe, Dahu Village in Yanban. After the Guanxi church was built, regardless of the opposition from his parents, he insisted on his faith and was later appointed as an elder by the church.

Zhang Hong’en, the eldest son of Zhang Hanshao, was born in 1884. He graduated in 1904 from Xunyuan Middle School, founded by the Xiamen Christian Church, and successively served as a primary school teacher in Nan 'an and other places. In 1920, he returned to his hometown and was employed by Yuying Primary School as the third headmaster.

Zhang was an honest, rigorous, and diligent Christian, and he took the school motto of "Honesty, Prudence, Diligence, and Courage" as his motto too, especially "Diligence". He often said, "If one doesn't teach often, he won't be benevolent; if one doesn't study hard, he won't be wise." Under his advocacy, being diligent in teaching and studying became a common practice on campus.

In the 1930s, he dared to challenge the old school system, adding English, letter-writing, and practical writing to the classes above the fourth grade, and personally taught practical writing. With his love for the teaching career, he regarded teaching and cultivating talents as his duty. As the head of the school, he got up early and went to bed late every day, regularly patrolling the campus, cleaning and repairing desks and chairs by himself.

"Love others as self" - In addition to teaching, being keen on learning medicine and studying herbs, he personally developed a herb garden, cultivated and made experiments, and was a well-known herbalist. When some people sought medical treatment, he never got paid. He wrote a book called "Folk Herbage Collection" (commonly known as the “Heaven-given prescription”), which is widely used among the people.

Zhang loved religion as well as teaching. He dedicated much to the Pingping Church. He was a well-known elder of Guanxi Christian Church, and wrote the "Brief History of Guanxi Church", leaving a precious page for future generations to study the history of the church.

In 1952, Yuying Primary School was merged with Xiao National Central Primary School and renamed XiaoXi Primary School. Zhang Hong’en served as the vice-principal. In 1953, he died at the age of 69.

- Translated by Sophia Chen

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