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Experiential learning

China Daily Updated:2022-06-15

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Zhang Shengwei, assistant to the Party secretary in Zhuqiao village in Pudong New Area, Shanghai, carries food rations to the village. CHINA DAILY

Graduates master valuable skills and gain real-world wisdom by working at the grassroots level during the fight against the ongoing pandemic, Cao Chen reports in Shanghai.

The latest COVID-19 resurgence in Shanghai has been a stress test for community management and services, as well as a learning experience for many young social workers who are new to the field.

Among these young social workers are alumni from Fudan University in Shanghai who chose to work as assistants to the Party secretaries of local villages for two years after graduating in 2021.

During the latest fight against the virus, these individuals were involved in a variety of tasks, including community management, organizing nucleic acid tests, distributing medication to residents and designing solutions to meet the needs of the community.

The work of these social workers was recorded in a video published online on May 4 by Zhang Shengwei, assistant to the Party secretary in Zhuqiao village in Pudong New Area. Zhang graduated from Fudan's life sciences school last year.

The song used in the video was adapted from the popular 2021 single Gu Yong Zhe (Lonely Warrior), sung by Hong Kong singer Eason Chan, but the lyrics were rewritten to pay tribute to the persistence and contributions of those working in neighborhood committees. In the video, the song is sung by 18 assistants to the Party secretaries of 16 villages in Shanghai, seven of whom are Fudan alumni.

"This 4.5-minute video took me nearly a month to complete, as I was busy during the day and could only work on it at night. All the effort is worth it, however, as this video will lift people's spirits," says Zhang. He came up with the idea for the music video when the first video he produced, showcasing the efforts of committee members in managing the lockdown of the village, was well-received by the residents.

"We were living in our offices, so that we could quickly respond to the demands of the 5,000 residents. Every day for nearly a month, the village committee members answered over 80 calls, changed their protective clothing eight times a day, distributed rations and patrolled the village," says the 25-year-old. "I just thought that these experiences should be recorded."

Zhang notes that his time in the village has been a memorable one, filled with many learning experiences. A native of Hunan province, Zhang could barely understand the Shanghai dialect when he first started serving in the village. Today, he can converse with the villagers fluently and has even developed a local accent.

"I'm delighted to see that life in the village has gradually returned to normal. This experience has allowed me to grow and learn more about social management. Working in communities allows me to better understand the needs of the people, compared to just reading theories in a textbook," he says.

One person featured in Zhang's video is another Fudan alumnus, Xu Yonghui, a computer science graduate who currently works as the assistant to the Party secretary of Weiji village in Shanghai's Fengxian district.

Xu says the knowledge he gained from his time at Fudan has proved to be most useful, as it has been used to improve work efficiency in village. For example, he got to design seven mini-programs, one of which digitizes repetitive work that was previously done manually. Another program takes the form of an online shopping platform that features commodities from local markets.

Working in the village has also taught Xu new skills, such as performing nucleic acid testing. He notes that learning and using this skill was especially fulfilling as, despite wanting to volunteer at the time, he was unable to go and help in the fight against the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan.

In Jianxin village, which is located in Zhujiajiao town in Shanghai's Qingpu district, Sun Tianpei has been putting the business management knowledge he picked up at Fudan to good use.

For example, after learning that residents living near the flood control areas in the village are often severely affected when there is extreme weather, the 30-year-old went about forging a cooperation deal between the local government and insurance companies to offer the residents compensation when necessary.

He has also been promoting the development of an economy based on forest by-products in the village. "My ultimate aim here is to further the village's economic development and increase the incomes of the villagers," he says.

However, during the recent lockdown, Sun's key role was coordinating with local enterprises and farms to procure laundry detergent, hand sanitizers and pork for the residents of his village.

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