Small but mighty: Girl conquers the world of steels and concrete
Writer: Liu Yangyang | Editor: Zhang Chanwen | From: Shenzhen Daily | Updated: 2023-09-19
When reading descriptions involving tightening screws, securing steel bars and hoisting concrete walls weighing over 350 kilograms, most people might initially imagine a muscular construction worker doing the job. However, a 16-year-old girl from Shenzhen has defied the stereotype and proven herself master to the challenging tasks, winning a national award for her exceptional skills.
Zhang Huiwen, a student from Shenzhen No. 3 Vocational School of Technology, made a remarkable impact in the prefabricated building component installation category in the final of the National Vocational College Skills Competition held in August. Zhang, who enrolled in the school in 2022, stood out as the sole female competitor in the final and helped her team earn a second prize in the category.
Zhang Huiwen, a student from Shenzhen No. 3 Vocational School of Technology, competes with her teammate in the final of the National Vocational College Skills Competition in August. SD-Agencies
Worn-out pink gloves
Unlike other competitors, Zhang uses a pair of pink gloves instead of the standard white. This is not because it is cute, but because the white gloves are too large for her small hands. The standard gloves impede Zhang’s ability to bind steel bars quickly and efficiently, and the gloves also tend to get stuck in the bars and hurt her fingers.
“I searched for smaller gloves online and found the pink gloves, which make me more efficient,” Zhang said.
“Many pairs of pink gloves have been worn out by training, bearing the sweat of my hard work. During training and competitions, there is no air-conditioning and the fans are turned off to prevent dust from getting into our eyes. After hours of training or competitions, we are drenched in sweat,” Zhang recalled.
“I started from scratch while learning binding steel bars. I followed my instructor step by step and practiced a lot to improve my speed,” Zhang said.
While others are surprised at seeing a girl compete, Zhang had already competently handled her tasks.
She believes that the competition is not just about winning, but about continuous learning and growth in the process. “Participating in this contest has given me a lot of experience in the construction industry, and it has strengthened myself and my abilities,” Zhang added.
In the eyes of Zhuang Xifa, the teacher who led the team, Zhang has proven through her actions that “girls can also make significant contributions in the construction industry.”
Seizing every opportunity
Zhang’s competition journey was full of ups and downs. She had won first place in the Python Language and Building Information Modeling (BIM) category in the Shenzhen Skills Competition. However, due to the limited quota, she narrowly missed the chance to compete at the national contest.
Zhang was initially disappointed, but quickly adjusted her mindset. Fortunately, at that time, the school was selecting participants for the Installation of Prefabricated Building Components competition.
“I have loved architecture and modeling-related things since I was a child, and in my spare time, I enjoy playing with building blocks and constructing model houses,” Zhang said. When she learned about the architecture-related competition, she was very excited. “I told myself that I must seize this opportunity.”
Finally, with her solid professional foundation and relentless efforts, she stood out among many contestants, entered the national team training camp, and finally stood on the stage of the national competition.
“I was very happy to be able to enter the final. I am also determined to spare no effort to finish the contest,” Zhang recalled.
This year’s competition adopted a new method that required teachers and students to participate together. They would usually start training at 7 a.m. and not stop until 11 p.m.
Understanding her own weaknesses, Zhang always thought about increasing her physical strength and pondering how to use competition tools in an energy-saving and efficient way. She devoted more time to training herself, day and night.
Support from family
Zhou Wenqin, Zhang’s mother, expressed her concern while witnessing her daughter working among steel and concrete for the first time.
Zhou said that sometimes her daughter would tell her that her hands were broken or her legs were bleeding. Zhou didn’t say anything to her daughter, but deep down, she was worried.
When it comes to choosing a vocational school for her child, Zhou said that there are countless career paths in life, and vocational schools actually offer even more opportunities. “Vocational education can not only secure employment, but also help further studies,” Zhou said.
According to Zhang, she previously had a biased view of vocational schools. But now, she realizes that it’s completely different from what she imagined.
“Our school has a strong academic atmosphere and dedicated teachers. Moreover, the campus, cafeteria and dormitories are also excellent, and the students get along very well.”
“All roads lead to Rome. Vocational education is also a way to Rome,” Zhang said.