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Zhao Zengzeng: I hope I can work here forever!

Special Olympic Ambassador Zhao Zengzeng has now graduated, but where is she now?Eager to answer this question, our reporters knocked on her door and were welcomed in by a smiling Zhao Zengzeng, who made us feel at home by offering us tea and fruitand asking us whether we had had a tiring trip. Zhao Zengzeng's mother told our reporters,"Zengzeng is lucky that her coworkers have given her so much love over the last few years. It's helped her to grow up in a very healthy way."”

The love of coworkers nourishes her growth

After graduating from special school, Zhao Zengzeng, who suffers from Down syndrome, did not go on to work in a special factory placement like most mentally handicapped people.

Instead, she became a regular employee at a Papa John's restaurant, where she works from 10am to 7pm and is treated like all the other employees.When she first started working as a host at the restaurant, it was a headache for Zengzeng just to remember the phrase "These are our new meals, a waiter will take your order in a moment", but her manager, Mr Dong, patiently taught her, and she also practiced the phrases over and over by herself.When she went home, she even had her mother help her by role playing as customer.Two weeks later, customers and coworkers were both praising her fluency, and Zhao Zengzeng began to build up her self-confidence from that point on.

Zhao Zengzeng's physical condition means that she is not suited to standing for long periods of time, so the restaurant has arranged a workstation for her,where she wraps cutlery and does other tasks. Once she finishes her own duties, Zhao Zengzeng even goes to help the lady in the kitchen wash the dishes and sweep the floor, which her coworkers find very kind.
Mr Dong, a manager who has worked with Zhao Zengzeng for almost two years, says that to him, Zhao Zengzeng comes across as very innocent, and that she has got better and better at doing her job and understanding the world around her over the years.

The challenges of working have helped her achieve even more

Zengzeng's mother, Mrs Zhao, has witnessed the obvious change in her daughter.She told our reporter that Zengzeng used to be introverted and spoke little and poorly when other people were around.The challenges of working have made her personality more open and she has grown to like communicating with people.Our reporter noticed that Zengzeng smiled and listened attentively as her mother talked to us, as well as answering any questions in a very concise and fluent manner.
During the freezing cold at the beginning of the year, Zhao Zengzeng took a bus home by herself instead of waiting for her mother to pick her up. When the bus went past her stop, she got off, called a taxi and told the driver her address.When the taxi pulled up outside her house, her anxious mother was relieved to see her daughter home safe – she had never thought that Zengzeng would be able to find her own way home.
Zhao Zengzeng gives her mother all her pay for safekeeping.Seeing Zengzeng return home tired at the end of a shift, Mrs Zhao holds her hand with concern and tells her,"If it's too much, then don't do it any more."”。Zengzeng shakes her head and replies,"You're too tired mum, I want to earn money to take care of you."This simple answer touched Mrs Zhao very deeply.
"I hope that more children like Zengzeng can take their place in society alongside everyone else. I also hope that businesses with a sense of social responsibility will open their hearts and embrace them,"Mrs Zhao sighs with obvious emotion. Zhao Zengzeng has already taken her place in the Papa Johns family. Today, other mentally handicapped coworkers have been given positions such as cashiers and cooks.The restaurant provides them with exactly the same pay and conditions as ordinary employees, giving them a special appreciation for these hard to come by jobs. Zhao Zengzeng speaks for all her coworkers when she says: "I hope I can work here forever!"