The distance between Zhongguancun and Yuquanlu campuses are 14 kilometers, but Mr. Li Pei travelled between these two places every day in a time when bicycle was a luxury. The public transportation was not as convenient as present, however, Mr.Li Pei shuffled between them for decades. Our alumnus Yan Jiyi commented on her contributions to UCAS,“When people are talking about UCAS, the first they are aware of is the outstanding English teacher, Li Pei. And when people speak of Li Pei, they will find out thespecial contribution she made to UCAS.”
At the age of nearly 60, Li Pei led in the foundation of Department of Foreign Languages in UCAS, which once enjoyed a reputation as “The Third Foreign Language School”. Many people attended the unveil of Li Pei’s statue yesterday, who were her students back days; while some are in old ages with grey hair, some are younger but still at their 50s.
Professor Guo Jian spoke on behalf of all teachers and students from Department of Foreign Languages. From her story, we pictured a vivid image of Li Pei. She could be happy for a new bus routine directly from Zhongguancun campus to Yuquanlu campus of UCAS. Also, she would rather take bus than an assigned car which UCAS proposed for her. This spirit was in her blood. At her 80s, she established“Zhongguancun Lecture Hall”, where she invited famous scholars to address to university students. And she would come to class early to wait for teachers and arranged everything orderly day by day. She took the responsibility to educate at her first priority in regardless of any accidents, and donated all of her savings to UCAS and Institute of mechanics of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Students, we don’t know how many, benefit from Mr. Li Pei’s spirit and her language skills, and how much they understood and learnt from Mr. Li Pei’s life. So many extraordinary people are benefit from her education, generation by generation.
As Li Pei’s last student, Mrs. Yang is classy and confident all the time. It is unbelievable to know that she suffers eye disease. Atthe age of 24, , she worked in the university after graduation and became the youngest teacher in Chinese Academy of Sciences. But at 29, due to illness, she lost the ability to see the world. But hardship did notoverthrow her, she finally overcame multiple difficulties, devoted everything for her back to school, as an instructor of PhD students, and she also organizednew research programs at the same time. She became the first blind foreign student who got MPA inthe history of Harvard. Ten years ago, she was elected as the vice president of United Nations Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD). She said, it is Mr. Li Pei who encouraged her walked out of shadows of sadness and illness, therefore Li Pei is her most respect person.
Alumnus Zhou Zeqi was also encouraged by the spirits of Li Pei, who graduated from UCAS in 1982. Mr. Zhou started his business in 60s, just like Mr. Li Pei founded Department of Foreign Languages in her 60s. His story reminds us an old saying of ancient China: “The aged people have their own strong energies and reserve them in order to achieve the great goal in the future.”
Academician Bai Chunli, the President of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Secretary of Communist Party Committee and the honourable president of UCAS, recalled Mr. Li Pei as a very kind person. “The sofa in her house was very old, but she does not want to replace it. I always visited her when it comes to holidays. Mr. Li Pei contributed all her devotion into the development of UCAS and Chinese Academy of Sciences. As I am reminded of t today, I’m very inspired by her and miss her very much.”
The day of October 14, 2018 has witnessed the unveil of Mr. Li Pei’s statue in Yanqihu campus of UCAS. Integrated with “truth, kindness and beauty”, holding arms and looking at all the faculties and students with the look of kindness, her statue will accompany us forever. Since then, faculties and students in UCAS, all the people who love Mr. Li Pei will have this place to interact with her. We believe that all the faculties and students in UCAS will pass her spirit from generations to generations, and become outstanding teachers and scientists in the future.
Written by BAO Wanqian & LI Wenyang