Taking a big step into the unknown

Updated: 2013-03-15 07:17

By Ye Yu (China Daily)

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 Taking a big step into the unknown

Ye Yu at the ongoing National People's Congress. Zhu Zhe / China Daily

Editor's note: Ye Yu, Party chief of Tumen village in Danfeng county, Shangluo city in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, was speaking to Zhu Zhe.

At 27, I'm the youngest deputy in the Shaanxi delegation to the National People's Congress. But I know I don't look 27 and people usually think I'm older than 30.

More than two years of down-to-earth work experience in villages have tanned my face, honed my abilities and helped me to become more mature in thought. I think that's why I look older than my peers.

At the end of 2010, about a year after I graduated from Xi'an Fanyi University, where I majored in international trade, I took the exam to become a village cadre in Shaanxi.

To be honest, I took the exam not because I was looking forward to working in villages, but because my family had put so much pressure on me to find a job.

I grew up in Danfeng county and I'm a member of the Communist Party of China, so I was appointed assistant to the Party chief of Gaoyu village, which comes under the jurisdiction of Danfeng.

It was really hard at the beginning. I remember one night in September 2011 when I was really scared. I'd gone to the village from the township to send some documents to the Party chief and it had started to rain heavily on the way. By the time I'd arrived at the village and talked with the Party chief, it was about 10 pm, so I started my journey home to the township on my little motorbike.

The village was in the mountains, so the unlit road was particularly dark at night. During my journey, the rain intensified and became a storm. At that point, the headlight on my motorbike suddenly stopped working. Things went from bad to worse when I discovered that the only bridge across a small river had collapsed. I was forced to wheel my motorbike down through the river, which thankfully was not very deep initially, and up the opposite bank. It was pretty scary because the waters were rising fast. I got through, but it shook me up a little.

While working in villages, you encounter problems you could never imagine in cities. For example, arranging a meeting can be really difficult because most villagers don't have a strong sense of discipline. After arriving at the village, the cadres may need to call the families one by one to ask them to gather for the meeting. That process can take hours.

However, most of the villagers have welcomed me. They think I'm young, with a good education and better knowledge of the world. Although my major international trade doesn't directly help me in my work, the things I learned in school, such as the ability to read extensively, to write clearly and to surf the Internet, have helped me gain the support and trust of many villagers.

At the end of 2011, I was asked if I would like to take part in the election for the post of Party chief in nearby Tumen village. I was a little hesitant because the term of a village Party chief lasts three years, which meant that if I succeeded, I would have to be there for another three years. In addition, I had never even worked in that village. Why would they choose an outsider to be their head?

But my family supported me because they recognized that a year of working in the village had made me much more mature. My colleagues also urged me to have a go. So I studied the village carefully and prepared a speech, in which I clearly stated my plan for its future development. Some of the villagers challenged me when I finished my speech. They asked how I could realize all these plans, and so I gave them a detailed explanation. Maybe my plan and self-confidence made them trust me. Anyway, I won the election and became Party chief for 2,455 people.

In the past year, I've realized some of my plans. A village road is being constructed and I'm applying to build a new bridge, too. I've also organized a dance team for the women. You know those village women; if you don't find something for them to do, they will find things for you to do!

Generally speaking, work in the villages is hard. We don't have all the modern facilities you find in cities. You don't find Western-style toilets in the rural areas, just a pit. When I was pregnant (my child is three-months-old now), I could hardly squat down.

But working in the villages has really helped me to mature quickly. I've learnt to listen and understand what people think, and I've learned many skills, such as how to plant vegetables or raise a cow.

But I also have to think about my future. How long will I stay here? What kind of life should I strive for? I know there are about 210,000 village cadres like me across the country, so I've just made a proposal to the NPC that more favorable policies should be implemented to help them, especially those who have performed well. The general principle should be this: If you make a contribution to the country, the country should reward you accordingly.

However, the salary for village cadres in Shaanxi - 1,750 yuan ($281) a month - hasn't changed for about five years. Maybe the first step would be to raise it a little.

(China Daily 03/15/2013 page7)