A schoolteacher who offered his home as a safe haven to a wayward student from a broken home, went on to foster her and provide the stable platform she needed to be accepted to a university this fall.
Shih Shih-chang (石世章) and his wife, Chen Wan-ling (陳婉玲), are teachers at Jhanghe Junior High School in New Taipei City (新北市). Married for some time, the couple have no children nor any plans to adopt.
However, they have a history of providing care and support to kids from underprivileged backgrounds.
Five years ago, Shih started teaching a class for students who had fallen behind in school, which is when Yang Hui-yang-tzu (楊惠洋子) came under his charge.
Yang is from a single-parent family and her mother has mental health issues, so she was mostly raised by her grandparents. Due to their straitened economic circumstances, she was later placed in foster care and lived with a family for several years.
After getting to know her in class, Shih and Chen decided to open their home to Yang while she attended junior high school.
“I wanted to help her as I thought she could become a good student,” Shih said.
He said that in the past, Yang would hang out with delinquent kids, so he had to scold her and persuade her to change her ways.
When she started to live with Shih and Chen, Yang said at first she felt ill at ease and wanted to move out. However, due to the selfless love and kindness the couple gave her, Yang came to feel she was one of the family, and started to call them “father” and “mother.”
Shih said at first he was worried that his extended family would not accept this “new daughter,” because she is not a blood relation and it took three years before he took Yang to meet his parents.
“It surprised me that my extended family all welcomed her with open arms,” he said.
Once, when a friend asked him: “You are not that old, so how come you already have a grown-up daughter?” Shih replied in jest: “Well, when I was young, maybe I played around too much.”
Now, 18-year-old Yang is a young adult and has just graduated from senior high school. She is to leave her foster home for the first time next month and go to live on the island of Kinmen, where she is to attend university.
For Father’s Day on Thursday last week, Yang sent a card, thanking “Father Shih” for his selfless support over the past five years, providing her with accommodation, and paying all her living expenses and tuition fees.
“Maybe the house will be quieter without my boisterous behavior, but I will telephone home every day,” she said.