Books take centre stage

NEW Zealander Gary Guernier, board chairman of Zhuhai Zhongfu Enterprise Co.,Ltd, joined his senior management and faculty and students of Wanzai Middle School to inaugurate the school library on Friday.
He expressed appreciation for the deep-rooted company-school association and encouraged students to read books and open their minds to possibilities of success.

Founded in 1964 and covering 48,000sqm, it is the only middle school in Wanzai. It has 92 faculty and more than 1,300 students. It has established a relationship with Zhongfu, which once was situated opposite the school, more than a decade ago, and the company donates about 70,000 yuan ($10,830) annually.

An auction party last January resulted in over 80,000 yuan ($12,400) collected. The donation was supplemented up to 100,000 yuan ($15,500) by the company and then used to refurbish and expand the library.

"Our company didn't donate the money, rather the management team did. We had an auction. We all had to bring something and we had lots of baijiu (liquor) and pijiu (beer). We had to sell or buy what others had brought. I bought my pet, but I didn't bring it back, so it was paid twice," Gary smiled.

"We designed the building, put in air conditioners and put books on the shelves rather than just giving the money. We gave energy, time and also made it happen," he continued.

They equipped the library with ten new bookshelves, more than 2,000 books, three cabinet air conditioners and two computers, according to Lu Xiaoning, assistant principal.

The rows of bookshelves line the right side of the long library room. Long-squared tables laden with fruits and beverages lined the spacious left. Bright-coloured balloons were attached to the bookshelves. Dozens of grade- one students in uniforms looked for favourite books and read at the tables.

Two student representatives made Chinese and English speeches, expressing thanks towards Zhongfu's management for long-lasting support and selfless donation.

"The reconstruction of our library provides us with a place to swim in the sea of books and gives us a spiritual home, and all of this comes from you. We're grateful, and we keep it in mind. Believe us, your love today will be fruitful tomorrow," it was said.

Wanzai Middle School Principal Liu Zuoping delivered a speech: "Education is of fundamental importance to the fulfilment of our great long-range programme. Any support of the development of our school shows concern for our children's future. Zhongfu's donation today shows not only care for the children but also support of the work of our school. In response, we'll work hard to make the school an educational success."

Xie Jiansan, director of the Xiangzhou Education Bureau, spoke highly of Zhongfu's continuing financial support to the community. Located in a relatively remote area, Wanzai Middle School is in need of all kinds of educational facilities and equipment, and it welcomes support from local government and enterprises, he noted.

Gary thanked Jorene Liu and Linda Dai, employees who have contributed to making the donations happen.

The opening ceremony ended with local educational officials, Zhongfu management and school leaders unveiling the plaque at the library entrance. Gary and colleagues then talked with students and teachers.
Raised in a small county where people must care each other, Gary revealed that he used to get involved in the community and helped to provide opportunities.

"These are our future employees or our future leaders. The more-educated they are, the better changes they can bring about," he said.

Gary and his colleagues are exploring ways to help the school; for example, by encouraging walking or running races to the factory or headquarters and so to get the community involved and donating.

"Zhuhai is a small city and we can do so much, not as the government, but as citizens of Zhuhai. That doesn't mean to be a business like Zhongfu, as long as these people are caring," he expressed.