When Moselaqie first met his college tutor, he was wearing clothes that dated him back several decades and carrying a big woven bag, while speaking broken Mandarin.
Mo, who belongs to the Yi ethnic minority, had just enrolled into the Southwest University for Nationalities (SWUN) after his second attempt at passing the gaokao, the national college entrance exam.
Nowadays, Mo is preparing for the Masters entrance exam. He aspires to translate and preserve classics of the Yi tribe so that more people can learn about his tribe's cultural traditions.
His teachers know him for his perfect attendance record. Mo always arrives an hour early for class and sits in the middle of the first row.
But most of his peers did not know that the earnest student has come a long way since his days of slogging on construction sites, one of which is that of his current campus.
Sichuan Online and West China City Daily spoke to the 27-year-old who has never once given in to difficulties in life.
Moselaqie, from the Kedi Village in Puxiong Town of Liangshan Prefecture's Yuexi County, lost his father to illness when he was two years old. That was in 1986, when his elder brothers were six and four and his sister, a 20-day-old infant.
In the village on a narrow valley surrounded by mountains, his family depended on a small piece of land for survival. Mo started catching eels in rice fields with his second brother at the age of seven. When they were lucky, they could catch more than 1 kilogram, fetching around seven yuan in the town's marketplace. Since Primary Five, Mo would join his brothers to carry ore on their backs at Ganluo County's ore hill mines during school holidays, for 30 yuan a day.
Although he does well in class usually, he did not pass gaokao at first sitting.
In July 2007, he left home alone and took the train to Chengdu, with only 68 yuan in possession. Eventually he found a job, paying 40 yuan daily, at the construction site for the SWUN's new Shuangliu Air Base campus.
Whenever Mo heard the sounds of the Yi tribal dance from the campus at night, his resolve to enter university was strengthened.
After a month of work, Mo went home to prepare for the exams with 800 yuan. Realising the sum was barely sufficient to pay for tuition classes, Mo followed his relative to construction sites and earned 5,000 yuan for four months of work.
In January 2008, he returned to school for supplementary classes, gearing up for that year's gaokao. In that period, he woke up at six every morning and only turned in at midnight, studying all the time besides stopping for meals.
He made it into the SWUN. His school fees were then accounted for by the education loan. On weekends, Mo worked at construction sites for his daily expenses.
Receiving a national scholarship
The situation lasted for two years, before Mo received a national scholarship. It allowed him to work less and have more time to prepare for the Masters entrance exam.
"I was not that worried about his financial situation, as we can help him," said Feng, who is most concerned about Mo's academic results. What surprised her was that Mo pulled up his grades in a year and managed to clinch the the national motivational scholarship by the end of his freshman year.
Currently, Mo gets by with the scholarship, school's assistance and what he earns for helping teachers with translation.
Most netizens admire Mo for his determination although a handful think that improving the standard of living by furthering education is a myth for the poor. Some netizens, however, noted that students from rural backgrounds are much more determined to succeed than urban-born students who tend to grow up in cushy environments. Perhaps the same can be said for older students who find their way back into the classroom after experiencing work life, like in Mo's case.