Learn­ing les­sons for to­day and to­mor­row

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By YANG WANLI

Walk­ing around the cam­pus of Pek­ing Univer­sity in Bei­jing, it was no­tice­able that Song Xi had darker skin than many of the other women on the cam­pus. That wasn’t sur­pris­ing, given that for the past year, while the rest of her class­mates have been busy work­ing on their grad­u­ate the­ses, the 22-year-old “stu­dent sol­dier” has been train­ing with the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy. Last year, she sus­pended her stud­ies and en­listed for two years.

“All the peo­ple who join the army vol­un­tar­ily have al­ways dreamed of be­com­ing sol­diers — the idea has al­ways been firmly rooted in their minds,” she said, ex­plain­ing that she en­listed be­cause she wanted to fol­low in the foot­steps of her fa­ther, a ca­reer sol­dier.

Army life has changed Song, who al­ways seemed to have a spring in her step. “I have be­come more tol­er­ant of peo­ple’s dif­fer­ences and am more con­sid­er­ate to oth­ers,” she said. “All the changes are the re­sult of the tough train­ing I have un­der­gone and the iso­lated en­vi­ron­ment that helps peo­ple to un­der­stand each other bet­ter and teaches them about shar­ing and re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

As a mem­ber of the Naval Spe­cial War­fare Force, the two train­ing ex­er­cises that im­pressed her most were a swim­ming and div­ing course, and a wilder­ness sur­vival chal­lenge.

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