GUIYANG, July 18 (Xinhua) — You Jiajing, a 29-year-old village official, has never regretted his decision of giving up a city job and returning to his hometown which used to be plagued by abject poverty.
“Upending changes have happened in my hometown and everything I did is worthwhile,” said You, who is now the deputy chief of Yinchuan Village in Bijie, southwest China’s Guizhou Province.
As China announced victory over poverty earlier this year, rural areas, particularly those newly rising above poverty, have marched on a new journey toward vitalization. More and more young Chinese born in the 1990s, like You, have returned to their hometowns to work as village officials, leading fellow villagers in building a more prosperous, beautiful, and livable countryside.
“Village officials were usually elected from venerable people,” said Li Hui, Party chief of Yinchuan Village. “Young people yearning for the world outside of the mountains would not consider working as a village official.”
You’s hometown, deep in the mountains, used to be defined by poverty and backwardness. “Going to Guiyang [the capital city], I had to first ride a motorcycle on the narrow rural pathway to the main road where automobiles passed. Then I hitched a ride to the downtown area where there would be buses to the destination,” You recalled.
The ambitious young man worked in a restaurant in Guiyang for four years after graduating from a vocational school. He received a job offer from village officials when he visited his parents at home in 2016.
“I was surprised as I never thought about working in the village where there was not even a computer, and the monthly salary was merely 1,000 yuan (around 155 U.S. dollars),” You said. After learning village officials were planning kiwi fruit and chili pepper cooperatives, he decided to stay.
“We need young people like him. They are well-educated, open-minded, and have gained experience from working in urban areas. They could bring new perspectives and vitalities to rural development,” Li Hui said.
You started as an assistant to the village chief and learned how to manage village affairs. In March 2017, he ran for village elections and was elected deputy village chief. During the fight against poverty, his job was to ensure impoverished households’ access to safe housing. After the village escaped abject poverty, he turned his focus to fostering agricultural businesses and building beautiful countryside.
He is now on the management team for the village cooperative of chili pepper growing and has a tight daily schedule. Apart from matching villagers with jobs in the cooperative, he helps explore sales channels, arrange shipments, and organize training sessions on farming skills, among other tasks.
Years into working in the village, You gradually learned the secrets of dealing with fellow villagers. “You need to be patient, pragmatic, and see things from their side,” he said.
You said he also learned a lot from officials stationed in the village to fight poverty. “Thanks to them, young village officials like me have many effective ways and practices to follow in handling village affairs, even when they leave,” You said.
Yinchuan Village has taken on a new look. Residents now live in new, spacious and well-furnished houses and have job opportunities on their doorstep.
“It’s a life I never imagined,” said You. “Every day of my life is fulfilling. With all these unimaginable changes having already happened, I’m dreaming even bigger.”