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Let the Flame of Youth Glow in Grassroots

 Campus

At 25, Sun Menghong, has had more experiences than most of her peers. She has volunteered in the western regions and worked as an international Chinese teacher. After graduating from Tianjin University (TJU), she chose to go to work with the grassroots of Tibet to realize her value of youth.

Lu Shouqing, who graduated in the same year as Sun Menghong, gave up her entrepreneurial dreams and went to the grassroots of Heilongjiang Province to experience rural life.

One of their classmates, Luo Yincheng, went to Yunnan Province, where he wants to contribute his youth to the farmhouses scattered deep in the rolling mountains.

Nowadays, more and more young people like Sun Menghong who crowd into the ivory towers of academia from every corner of China to study are no longer just staring at the glamorous high-paying jobs in such first-tier cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but choose to make their life more meaningful in a remote area.

In the past seven years, 462 students from TJU have been selected to work at the grassroots level. 206 students who graduated from TJU in 2018 chose to take root in remote areas of China, an increase of 133% over 2017. In order to help students understand and select work in grassroots organizations, TJU has offered a special course named the “Green Seedling Project” since 2017, which has benefited more than 1,000 students.

When devoting themselves to the remote and barren land of their motherland, these youngbloods, who have just come out of school without any experience working or living in the countryside, will find that those remote places are not the same as the idyllic poetry of their imagination.

The words that came to Sun Menghong’s mind when speaking of Tibet were “beautiful and attractive”. The girl, who grew up in a bustling metropolis, is now a staff member with the daily work of sending, receiving and writing materials in Chagyab County, Qamdo City in Tibet. But she soon found herself also in charge of the registration and management of disaster systems, rescue systems, veterans and other information and programs.

Each piece of data needs to be verified repeatedly, and a piece of material is often revised several times. In her trivial daily work, she understands that “serving people is not just empty talk. Only by steadfast work can we better solve the specific problems for people”.

Luo Yincheng has been working in villages for poverty alleviation since the end of February this year. He is not accustomed to the food, accommodations, language and local concepts. All of these have brought him profound experience in the heavy work of grassroots poverty alleviation as well as the fatigue of dealing with all kinds of practices.

He works until two or three o’clock in the morning almost every day and gets up early in the morning to cross the mountains to investigate people’s living situation. In the two months of grassroots poverty alleviation work, Luo surveyed 596 households. “Compared with staying up all night in the laboratory to work on tasks in graduate school, this is not as intense as the research I did, but much more tiring,” Luo said frankly.

Huangbanping Village, where Luo Yincheng works, is located in Daxing Town, Ninglang Yi Autonomous County, Lijiang City, Yunnan Province. The cottages are scattered in the mountains, half of which are not accessible. Among 753 households, 397 households are issued a poor relief registration, with the incidence rate of poverty exceeding 50%. Therefore, Luo has begun to keep his own “poverty alleviation diary”. Sometimes it is a poverty alleviation survey form with red markers all over the form and sometimes it is just a few words like “too sleepy” and a series of ellipsis.

This experience also makes him understand that poverty alleviation workers must be stationed in villages and households to understand the actual situation, “Otherwise, it will only be a work on numbers and forms.” He reflected.

Solving a difficult problem in poverty alleviation is no less challenging than solving a difficult problem in scientific research. Zhao Bingzhen, a doctor of structural engineering, has started e-commerce poverty alleviation in Fufeng County, Shaanxi Province. He helped a man from a poor household who was disabled due to illness become “Uncle Quan” on the Internet, and lifted him out of poverty in just over a year. Since 2018, 137 poor households in the county have been directly involved in online sales, making their way out of poverty.

Gaoshanzhai Village of Jianzhong Town is located in the most south of Santai County, Mianyang City, Sichuan Province. Zhu Junrong, who is engaged in poverty alleviation work in this village, shares the same feeling with Zhao Bingzhen: don’t preach to the villagers; instead, talk to them in a way they can understand the reality of each household.

For Yang Miao, who is doing poverty alleviation work in Ciyantang Town, Longshan County, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Hunan Province, the conversation with villagers may be a series of blank text messages on her mobile phone.

When she woke up one morning, she found that she had received dozens of blank text messages during the night, all from Granny Zhang in the village. Granny does not know how to use a mobile phone. Therefore, she used to send Yang Miao a blank text message if there was an emergency. Yang Miao immediately rushed to Granny’s house, and Granny held her tightly with tears in her eyes. Granny Zhang is always in poor health and her children are working outside the village. She regards Yang Miao, who always comes to her home to chat with her, as her family. When she misses her, she will keep sending texts late at night.

This makes Yang Miao feel warm. “I didn’t expect that I could help so many people in need. They also care and worry about me,” she said. She feels that her experience of working at the grassroots level is more like a journey of polishing herself. “I will continue to hone my will and let the flame of my youth glow.”


By: Deng Xiaoxuan

Editors: Keith Harrington, Sun Xiaofang