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[The Beijing News] Academicians’ Memoir of College Entrance Examination|Chen Xiaohong: Attend “Test of Life” After Reform and Opening up

2021-06-08 11:16:08

The Beijing News (Reported by Qi Wang)-”Mom and Dad, I passed the exam!” In the summer of 1979, Chen Xiaohong, who was 16 years old, received the letter of admission of the Central South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (currently known as Central South University).

 

The college entrance examination of every generation is engraved with the mark of that era. Che Xiaohong, as one of the students attending the third college entrance examination since the resumption of college entrance examination and one of the first batch of students attending college entrance examination after reform and opening-up, participated in the important “test of life”.

 

After the examination, Chen Xiaohong was admitted to the electronic teacher class of Central South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, becoming one of the first batch of computer professionals in China. She conducted experiments on Intel 286/386, and studied English under the street lamp……Studying computer was not as attractive as it is now, and educational resources were far less than they are today. However, Chen Xiaohong and her classmates especially cherished the hard won learning opportunities.

 

“Reform and opening up have changed the destiny of our generation. Without reform and opening up, how can we get a chance to go to college? How can we exercise our abilities in an era of rapid development?”said Chen Xiaohong. 42 years ago, our country was still poor, said Chen, but everyone was very happy. Everyone displayed a will to work way up and pursue dream.

 


“On the day when I received the letter of admission, every neighbor was aware of the news”

 

The Beijing News: You attended the college entrance examination in 1979. As one of the first batch of students attending college entrance examination, would you like to talk about the examination experience?

 

Chen Xiaohong: We were very lucky, because we became the students attending the third college entrance examination since the resumption of the examination in 1977, and the first batch of students attending the college entrance examination after reform and opening up. I remember that we attended the examinations of Chinese, mathematics, physics, chemistry, politics, and English.

 

The scoring method was interesting. I asked a lot of students who attended that year’s examination. They told me that the total score was 500, and whoever passed 320 was admitted to college. When a student’s total score exceeds 320, his or her English score will be counted; if his or her score does not exceed 320, his or her English score will not be counted. My score was more than 40 above the admission line, so my English score was counted.

 

I studied at the First High School of Changsha, a school with a history of more than 100 years. The education system back then required that student study two years of junior high school and two years of senior high school. The college entrance examination in 1979 was different than that of the previous two years. In 1977 and 1978, a lot of past students attended the college entrance examination. In 1979, the students were similar in age. The majority of students attending that year’s examination were 16 years old.

 

Although I was born in a family of scholars, I thought I worked really hard. My academic record was not bad. There were 20 classes, including two advanced classes. I was lucky to be a member of one of the advanced classes. Almost all the students from these two advanced classes were admitted to good universities.

 

The teachers were conscientious and responsible. I clearly remember that on the first night of college entrance examination, they asked us to return to the school. They proposed some questions that, in their opinion, might appear in the next day’s exam, and asked us to solve them. I don't remember whether those questions appeared on the next day’s examination. All I remember is that they were really nice people. I'm very grateful.

 

The Beijing News: How did you feel when you were informed of your score?

 

Chen Xiaohong: The total score was 500. My score was over 360, a figure that was very high and more than 40 above the admission line. My score was higher than that of students in the relative’s courtyard.

 

My letter of admission was delivered to the reception room of the hospital. The doctor, who was on duty and unaware whose letter of admission it was, unpacked the envelope. She was very excited when she saw that my name was on it. She shouted “Xiaohong made it! Xiaohong made it!” while running all the way to my house. When she sent the letter to me, the whole hospital knew it. The congratulations made me prouder. I was also determined to study hard, live up to their expectations, and serve the country and the people.

 

“Parents didn’t worry much about our study”

 

The Beijing News: Did your parents support you in preparing for the college entrance examination?

 

Chen Xiaohong: My father was a professor of the Central-South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and my mother was a medical professional at Xiangya Hospital. They required my young sister and I to study hard and join the college entrance examination. But the enrollment rate was very low, less than 4% on average. Therefore, we studied really hard.

 

Unlike today’s parents, my parents didn’t worry much about our study. My father only came home once a week. My mother was so busy that she had no time to supervise our study. At present, parents spend all their time and efforts on accompanying their children to the examination at every turn. We didn't receive special treatment at that time. I remember that on the day of examination, I got up early and strolled to the venue of examination. I felt that I could take care of myself.

 


The Beijing News: What was the learning environment like in high school?

 

Chen Xiaohong: I worked very hard at that time. My family, that is my parents, my sister and I, lived in a house with a large single room and a small half room. All the residents in the building shared one kitchen, which was located behind our bedroom. The kitchen was oily and noisy. At that time, I developed the habit of "concentrating on study while not bothering about what’s happening in the outside world".

 

At the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I studied later than 12 o'clock every night and got up early in the morning. Since my parents were very busy, I became the pillar of my family, and was responsible for cooking, washing dishes, and doing housework. The traffic at that time was no better than it is now. I walked home for lunch every day. It was about half an hour’s walk. Walking on the road, I thought that if I could walk faster, I will have more time for study.

 

Chose computer science, became one of the first batch of people to “eat crabs”

 

The Beijing News: How did you choose the school and major?

 

Chen Xiaohong: My parents, out of love for their respective work, had arguments over which major I should choose. My father wanted me to apply to the Central-South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, while my mother wanted me to study medicine.

 

Finally, I followed my father’s instructions, and applied to the Central-South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. My first choice was electronic teacher class, and my second choice was geology. As a matter of fact, I was very interested in geology, but I was enrolled by the electronic teacher class.

 

Actually, students in that major received training in computer science. My classmates and I were lucky to become the first batch of computer professionals in China. It can be said that we were among the first to “eat crabs”. Facts have proved that my father’s recommendation was far-sighed.

 

The Beijing News: Why did you change your postgraduate study from engineering to management?

 

Chen Xiaohong: After graduation, I chose to study in management science engineering. It belonged to a new department established by the management school. The head of the department was an old professor who returned from Britain. He told me that we had a huge demand for management professionals. He said that the fusion of computer and management can give great boost to the development of enterprise. He pointed out that traditional manual management can be replaced by enterprise management information system. At present, many well-recognized management concepts and models are based on the fact that that generation strove to spread advanced management concepts and knowledge.

 

Unlike today’s researchers, we needed to spend a lot of time in dealing with enterprise and developing decision making, financial management, warehouse management and human resource systems, a work that was done from scratch. When writing my master’s dissertation, I conducted the work of system development rather than carry out my idea irrespective of external circumstances. I based my dissertation on the completed system. The purpose of my design was to transform the university’s financial system from manual bookkeeping to computerized bookkeeping. Through research and implementation, the design soon became a reality.

 

I pursued my doctor’s degree at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. At that time, Japan was more advanced than us in many aspects, including infrastructure and management concepts. In particular, Japan boasted such novel stuff as 24h convenience store and the Shinkansen. I thought it would be nice to bring these management concepts and technologies back to China. Therefore, after graduation, I resolutely chose to return home to work for my motherland.

 

The Beijing News: Was there anything unforgettable in the university?

 

Chen Xiaohong: All I can remember is that people loved to study. At that time, computer science was far from as popular as it is today. There were few computers in the campus. All we had was Intel 286/386, very old models. Despite this difficulty, we completed a large amount of computation and experiment on these machines.

 

I also remember that people studied English books under street lamp. At that time, students, from urban and rural backgrounds, were not proficient in oral English. Therefore, we listened to radio programs in English while repeating and reading aloud.

 

At present, there is a variety of learning resources. Due to a lack of learning resources, we cherished the hard-won learning opportunity. Sometimes, we studied for thirteen or fourteen hours. It seemed that we had no idea of what exhaustion is. Sometimes I came back to the dorm late at night and I didn’t feel afraid at all. All I can remember is that everyone was full of positive energy, revolutionary passion and learning power. This state of mind has a profound impact on me, and I still feel this passion and motivation surging in my heart.

 

Everyone, irrespective of gender, should strike a balance between career and family

 

The Beijing News: What are the advantages of women in scientific research?

 

Chen Xiaohong: Network thinking, accurate and delicate perception and judgment, and unique tenacity and persistence made women more competitive in scientific research. In the era of knowledge economy, physical strength is not the dominant factor in ensuring the output of scientific research. There are outstanding women from all walks of life. Therefore, women should break through the inherent concept of society, and avoid self-denial. They should refrain from thinking that they should get married, have children, and focus on family. On the contrary, women should also work hard and dare to make contributions to the country's science and technology.

 

When I studied at the Central-South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, our class consisted of 1100 students, including only 100 female students. The ratio of men to women was up to 10:1. Girls were protected as “big panda” in the campus. The school also built a wall around women’s dormitory to protect the girls. However, it is coincidence that our class produced two academicians, Huang Xiaowei and I, two women.

 

Now, I'm happy to see more and more women devote themselves to scientific research. Many women researchers, who were born after 1970, 1980 and 1980, not only are good at study, but also have high EQ. In my opinion, women are in a better position to discard mental blocks, aim high, set an example for others, and become leaders.

 

I was in the middle of developing a system for the futures exchange in Shenzhen ten days before my daughter was born. I was still conducting experiment one day before she was born. I attended a meeting seven days after giving birth to my daughter. A month later, I began to do business travel again.

 

I am a highly effective person, and try to make the most of my precious time to do more. I think if you can do two days’ work a day, it's equivalent to living an extra life. Perhaps, I am an exception. But all I want to say is that women can be self-reliant and practice self-respect in scientific research and other works. Of course, I don't mean to encourage women to give up family for work. We should set different targets at different stages of life. Everyone, irrespective of gender, should strike a balance between career and family.

 

The Beijing News: This year’s college entrance examination is just around the corner. What do you want to say to this year's candidates?

 

Chen Xiaohong: Now, there is a variety of learning resources, which in some cases will hinder students’ thinking and make it easy for them to get lost. Back then, our goal was to study for the rise of Chinese nation. I hope that today’s students will work hard to transform China into a major country of science and technology and achieve self-reliance in high-level science and technology. I also hope that all students will develop a deep bond with the nation, be benevolent, avoid wasting youth, pursue dreams, and embrace the positive energy of youth.

 

[Curriculum vitae]

 

Chen Xiaohong, born in Changsha, Hunan in 1963, whose native place is Yongxin, Jiangxi. She is a famous expert in management science and engineering management, CAE Academician, Party Secretary of HUTB, Honorary President of Business School of Central South University, and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. She has long dedicated herself to research in the fields of big data analysis, SME financing, two-oriented society and ecological civilization, and made important contributions to scientific development of national management and decision making, efficient and green development of resources, and precise environmental management.


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