The Secret of Jimmy Yen
A JURY OF DISTINGUISHED scholars and scientists, including
Albert Einstein and Orville Wright thought enough of Jimmy Yen
to vote him one of the top ten Modern Revolutionaries of the
Twentieth Century. Yet all he did was teach Chinese peasants
What made that so amazing was that for four thousand years
reading and writing in China was only done by the Scholars.
"Everybody" knew, including the peasants themselves, that
peasants were incapable of learning.
That thoroughly ingrained cultural belief was Jimmy Yen's first
"impossible" barrier. The second barrier was the Chinese
language itself, consisting of 40,000 characters, each
character signifying a different word! The third barrier was the
lack of technology and good roads. How could Jimmy Yen
reach the 350 million peasants in China?
Impossible odds, an impossibly huge goal-and yet he had
almost attained it when he was forced (by Communism) to
leave his country.
Did he give up? No. He learned from defeat and expanded his
goal: Teach the rest of the Third World to read. Practical
reading programs, like the ones he invented in China, started
pumping out literate people like a gushing oil well in the
Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya, Columbia,
Guatemala, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ghana, India — people
became literate. For the first time in their entire genetic
history, they had access to the accumulated knowledge of the
For those of us who take literacy for granted, I'd like you to
consider for a moment how narrow your world would be if
you'd never learned how to read and there was no access to
radios or TVs.
180,000 Chinese peasants were hired by the Allied Forces in
WW1 as laborers in the war effort. Most of them had no idea-
not a clue-where England, Germany or France was, they didn't
know what they were being hired to do, and didn't
even know what a war was!
Jimmy Yen was a savior to them.
What was the secret of Jimmy Yen's success? He found a real
need, and found in himself a strong desire to answer that
need. And he took some action: He tried to do something
about it even though it seemed impossible. He worked
long hours. And he started with what he had in front of him
and gradually took on more and more, a little upon a little.
The English author Thomas Carlyle said, "Our main business is
not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies
clearly at hand." And that's what Jimmy Yen did. He started
out teaching a few peasants to read, with no desks, no pens,
no money, no overhead projectors. He started from where he
found himself and did what was clearly at hand.
And that's all you need to do. Start now. Start here. And do
what lies clearly at hand.
[ Author Unknown -- from 'Aiken Drum' (Aiken@AikensLaughs.com) ]
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