Qin Yuefei, a Yale Graduate Working as a Village Official
Wh en i ntroducing himself, Qin Yuefei is always mentioning two important things in his life— that is, in 2010, he completed his undergraduate courses in Yale University, and in the next year, he worked as a village official in the rural area of Hunan Province. It may occur to some people that there was once a news story on a “Yale-graduate village official” who was a role model of Chinese youth. Now, he is 30.
Five or six years ago, among his group of Chinese graduates from Yale University, several of them had settled down in Beijing and found a job either in an investment organization or a consulting firm. Qin Yuefei didn’t want to take up a nine-to-five job and live for nothing as a white-collar worker. Instead, he wanted to make a contribution to changing people’s life. Majoring in political science and economics, he believed that he could definitely find his role in the field of public service in China.
Initially, Qin Yuefei launched a non- profit organization called Sunshine Book House with some friends that had graduated from Harvard University, so as to develop the rural education in Gansu Province. Meanwhile, he heard of an organizational program— that is, working as a village official in response to the country’s “Collegegraduate Village Official” policy. Qin Yuefei considered it an ideal opportunity to fulfil his ambition, which could provide him with an optimistic outlook. Although many people just saw the poor rural conditions and low salary of the job, in Qin Yuefei’s eyes, compared with his great vision, those negative aspects were negligible. Thus, he signed up for it.
Qin Yuefei’s mother attached great importance to his education, and Qin Yuefei began to learn English when he was only two. According to the plot of a traditional success story, after he was granted a full scholarship from Yale University and got a job offer at Wall Street after graduation, the story should have come to a good end. Yet, in Qin Yuefei’s mind, coming back to one’s birthplace and helping a local community were the real exciting choice.
In 2011, he was selected as the assistant director to work at Hejiashan Village of Hejia County in Hengshan, Hunan Province, with a term of three years and the monthly pay of RMB 1450 yuan, but the post was not included in the staffing quotas of the national civil servants and without any social insurance.
On the next morning he took office, Qin Yuefei got up and took a bath as usual, which puzzled his colleagues in the township government—how come this guy took a bath in the morning? Qin Yuefei had no idea of the usual practice of a villager, neither did
he understand the local Hengshan dialect. Later, he changed his habit of taking a bath in the morning, and he started to wear his letter-printed T-shirt inside out and changed his short boots out for a pair of rubbersoled “liberation shoes.”
Qin Yuefei could often be found in the village carrying a basket or fixing a water heater for the villagers. Most of the time, you would see him lending out a helping hand.
After working in Hejiashan Village for two months, Qin Yuefei told Chen Xijun, the deputy secretary of the township party committee, that he could help raise funds from some enterprises for any construction work in the village. After thinking for a while, Chen Xijun said that a ditch needed to be built in the fields.
Qin Yuefei made several trips to Beijing, and with the aid of other overseas returnees in his friends, circle, he successfully found a sponsorship from some enterprises and individuals. He came back to the village with a total amount of RMB 150,000 yuan, and after a collective vote by the villagers, the proposal to build a ditch was approved.
However, one member in the second group surnamed Liu didn’t show up in the voting, and he told his group not to take action, guaranteeing them that they would profit by following his suggestion, while the team members in other groups had either done a whip-round to pay for the labourers or contributed their own efforts in the job execution. After the digging and cement curing, the ditch was nearly completed, except for one section, still covered by mud and weeds, which was supposed to be done by the second group.
Qin Yuefei had never encountered an unspoken rule before. Although having heard about it from the news, he never believed it. A village cadre told him explicitly that Liu was just after money.
When the sun rises, a civilized person knows that the earth is rotating, but in the eyes of a primitive man, it is nothing but a fireball coming out of the ground, as he lacks the knowledge of celestial bodies. This was an analogy that Qin Yuefei came up with. The people that he served didn’t understand what public service was, and according to their past life experience, the ditch incident was due to someone’s desire in making achievements and fulfilling a task assigned by his or her superiors; therefore, they thought that they could take it as their bargaining chip.
Over the subsequent week, Qin Yuefei went to Liu’s home time and again, trying to build good relations with him. Qin Yuefei addressed him as Uncle Liu immediately after entering his home, and he also sent him several packs of cigarettes as a gift, and after which, he began to talk about the ditch in a polite manner. After several twists and turns, the ditch was finally completed the next January.
Tang Feilong, a young civil servant in the township government, thought that if Qin Yuefei wasn’t a Yale graduate, it would have been impossible for him to promote any project at all. Although a village
By Yang Mei
Qin Yuefei was honored one of the ten China 's inspirational role models in 2016秦玥飞获得2016 年度感动中国人物奖