Yale Graduate Qin Yuefei: Why I Decided to Become a Village Official

微信公众号“新华视点”

中文 English

Editor’s note

This is CDB’s translation of an article which originally appeared on the 新华视点 Wechat account. The article recounts the story of Qin Yuefei, an exceptional young man who, after graduating from Yale, decided to return to his homeland and become a village official in Hunan province. During his six years as an official in a remote mountain village, Qin Yuefei has started a non-profit called “Serve for China”, and become a representative to the local people’s congress in Hunan province. His grassroots approach to tackling the problems of rural China has inspired many across the country.

 

He is a Yale graduate but also a village official in a mountain village in Xiangxi, China.

When recalling the moment he became a village official six years ago, Qin Yuefei still feels like it was a surreal dream. This important change in his life was achieved on the back of a drastic change in place. One summer night in 2011, a motorcycle carrying a young man who had just come back from the United States arrived at the entrance of Hejia village, Hengshan county, Hengyang municipality, Hunan province, after a two hour ride in the mud.

Qin Yuefei jumped off the motorbike’s back seat, and examined the village in the guise of a village official for the first time. The owner of the motorcycle, surnamed Chen, is also the town’s party secretary, and was observing Qin Yuefei at the same time. Chen silently took out a pair of Jiefang shoes (解放鞋) from the back of the motorcycle, handed them over to Qin and said, “you will need these here”.

— Ten days previously, Qin Yuefei had flown back to Beijing from New York’s JFK airport. A few days from his departure, he was wearing a red and blue striped tie and Ray Ban sunglasses, taking group pictures with his Yale friends and saying goodbye to America.

— More than 100 days previously, he had earned the Yale University Bachelor of Arts degree. He double majored in economics and political science.

— More than 1000 days previously, when he still had long hair and wore a flat hat, he had created a rock band with his Yale classmates. He was wondering whether to be the drummer or bassist. An African-American friend of his joked: “buddy, the drummer is the most popular among girls”.

He once wrote a song for his band, called A Lonely Heart Will Not Break. Later on, he often recalled this song.

1

Before his departure for China, taking a picture on campus while wearing a bachelor’s gown 

But the chapter of his life in America’s East Coast had finally came to an end.

While the vast numbers of graduates and students returning from overseas generally crowd into the so-called “Beishangguangshen” (taken from the initial syllable of China’s four metropolises: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen), Qin Yuefei took the traditional green train to a mountain village in central-southern China, holding a Hunan Province College Student Village Official Recruit Registration Form and an acceptance letter.

The unbroken mountains and green paddy fields extending in front of him on arrival made him think of a painting.

(1)

Hejiashan village used to be entirely dependent on nature for its survival. It is very different from New Haven, Connecticut. If you want to drink at Starbucks, you need to borrow a motorcycle and drive nearly 100 kilometers to get to one. It is also entirely different from his birthplace, the modernized city of Chongqing. This is a village which only has 800 elderly and young people left behind, and is 35 km from the closest town. Walking around the village you see mostly young children, in addition to white-haired elderly. It is not easy to find a strong thirty or forty-year old man.

“That’s where you’ll live” said Party Secretary Chen, pointing to a low and old red-bricked house not far away. Later Qin Yuefei learned that this was the Hejia government building, built in 1950. Once you open the door to this eight or nine square metre room, you can see an old wooden cabinet and a bed, and on the opposite side two public urinals placed in front of the mottled yellow wall. Just after the rain, there are no tiles on the roof but only a couple of layers of nylon polyester bags. Raindrops fall along the edge of the shed.

2

In his room built in the 1950s, dealing with the villagers’ requests 

Qin Yuefei’s youth was thus nailed to this place. With no extra benefits, no “five insurances and one fund” (as the typical welfare provision for employees in China is known), Qin only received a 1,050 yuan monthly salary ($154). The new official with a university degree did not especially catch the attention of the villagers, who all hang the portraits of the nation’s founding father on the walls of their homes.

Lao Kang, a butcher in the village, recalls that there used to be a village official who was a local girl with a university degree, and she would occasionally follow the village officials when they walked around the village, but later he did not see her anymore. “She did not interact with us so I don’t even know her name”.

Qin thus became the assistant of the village director of Hejia mountain village. There was no ceremony to mark the occasion. No one knew his name, or that he had graduated from Yale. However he quickly became well known.

The second morning after he had settled in the village, Qin grabbed his toiletries and went to the bath after waking up all sweaty. Taking morning and evening showers — Qin’s year-long habit seemed odd to villagers. The news about his two showers a day immediately spread around the village.

“Taking two showers in one day? What a waste of water”. “Does he think our village is too dirty?”

This was the first impression Qin Yuefei made on the village.

(2)

Qin Yuefei realized that what was even worse than his habits being misunderstood was that the villagers viewed him as an outsider. If things went on like this, and he continued being unaccepted, he could get nothing done. From that moment, he decided to integrate into the village in every single aspect.

Since then, Yuefei has never taken a shower in the morning. He took off his ECCO shoes bought in the United States and changed them for some Jiefang shoes. He also wore his T-shirts with writing on them inside out. He learned to pull his trousers up to his knees and wear a worn-out pair of Jiefang shoes. During the winter, he asked for a military coat (军大衣) from the villagers and tried to only wear black so that “it would be easier for the villagers to recognize me”.

When he had time he would walk around the village. Although he did not understand much of the Hengshan dialect, he would laugh with people when engaged in conversations. When villagers handed over a cigarette, he learned to accept it and then place it behind the ear. Later on, whenever Qin Yuefei saw that villagers were about to pull out a cigarette, he would immediately take the lighter from his pocket and light a fire for them, “faster than a western cowboy pulling out a gun”.

3

Qin talking with villagers in their home

Several months later, someone knocked on Yuefei’s door for the first time, saying “the water heater in my house is broken. Can you fix it?” Qin Yuefei smiled — he felt a form of acceptance.

From then on, the door had been opened.

Villagers came with all kinds of problems: Little Qin (小秦, a common way for an elder to address a young person), my roof is leaking. Can you fix it? Little Qin, can you help my son who is 30 years old find a girlfriend? Little Qin, my granddaughter doesn’t know how to solve this exercise. Can you help her? Qin described this feeing as similar to “getting married into the village”.

Gradually, Qin came to know very well whose family had just slaughtered a pig, whose knee was hurting, whose hen had gone missing, whose daughter had just taken the Gao Kao (college entrance exam) this year, and whose family was still worried about their kid’s tuition.

There were many issues that Qin Yuefei could not solve, but he tried. He wrote down each of the villagers’ needs in his notebook and crossed one out whenever he had solved it.

(3)

Qin always thought about doing more construction for the village. He asked the Party Secretary Chen if there is anything they needed to build, and said they could worry about the money later.

After having a thought, Chen said that they could build an irrigation drain, but the village was unable to provide the money.

“What about fundraising in the village?”

“Seven out of every ten people have left the village to work. Who could provide the money?”

Qin Yuefei decided to try the dull way. He took off his Jiefang shoes, changed back into his ECCO shoes and put on the suit and tie which he had not touched ever since he came to Hejia mountain village. He then went to the city to raise money.

“It would be more suitable to call it ‘asking for alms'”. He succeed once or twice in a hundred times. Sometimes, he was treated as a liar. Finally, with the help of his old friends from Beijing, after running here and there dozens of times, repeating his story about going down to the countryside and filling out commitment forms multiple times, Qin brought 100,000 yuan back to the village.

After returning to the village, Qin realized that spending the money was harder than raising it. The building of the drain needed to be approved via voting. Building an irrigation drain involves issues related to both personal relationships and regulations. “Be careful, because you might get caught up in it”, people warned him.

The academic habits Qin had grown in Yale paid off here: he drafted proceedings and decision-making procedures — how to construct the entire project; when to start, who should carry it out — and let the villagers bring up whatever comments they had. “The plan was passed with forty or fifty votes”. The whole thing went quite smoothly.

However Old Liu, who was absent at the voting, suddenly quit. He went around telling villagers not to agree with the construction, and assured them that they would benefit that way.

Due to Old Liu’s exhortations, the villagers who had originally agreed no longer dared to say anything. Village officials suggested to Qin that Old Liu was really after money. Technically, according to the procedures, absence at voting is viewed as a waiver, and people could start the construction right away. However, the villagers highly value community and friendship. With a sigh, Qin began to visit Old Liu on a daily basis and persuade him to give his approval, until after a week Old Liu finally relented.

In order to build the drain, Qin Yuefei wore his T-shirt inside out and worked along with the villagers in the fields.

4

Qin working together with the villagers while wearing his T-shirt inside out

After the completion of the irrigation drain, all the villagers who fish, farm, and use water were overjoyed. Using the same strategy, Qin Yuefei carried forward other programs, including the construction of a centre for the elderly, street lights and even the digitalization of education.

“You cannot solve the village’s affairs by relying solely on voting or solely on relationships. The rules and the reality, neither can be ignored.” Yuefei said that his friendship with the villagers and local officials grew as they rubbed shoulders together. He understands and respects them.

“Yale graduate Little Qin is very capable”, said a villager named Chen Yunzhi. “Despite the fact that Qin is around the same age of my grandson, my grandson does not have Qin’s skills”.

Chen Yunzhi’s neighbour told her that Yale University is excellent, and several American presidents graduated from there. So how could you expect any less of Little Qin?

(4)

If not out for business trips, Qin will stay up until at least 2 or 3 AM mulling over the villagers’ problems in his little home, classified as a “1950 third-level dangerous construction”. Local people who are in the know say that while little Qin is trying to solve the village’s issues, he is piling up more trouble for himself.

One time when a TV station came to interview him, some villagers started quarrelling in front of the camera. Qin Yuefei remained quite composed and said: “this is the villagers’ way to express their ideas and emotions. They are not hostile or targeting anyone. Instead, they also want to solve the problem”.

Rural life reshaped his looks, talking and manners. Some people saw him washing his hair while squatting on the ground with his head thrust forward, using a tea cup to scoop water from a large red plastic washbasin at his side and pour it over his head, with another grey washbasin on the ground to collect the dirty water.

“Qin Yuefei ruined a hand of good cards”, his Yale classmate say of him in regret. To many people, Qin’s life before turning 26 closely followed the script for becoming one of “life’s winners”. To continue down this path would not have been difficult. Like the rest of his classmates, Qin Yuefei just needed to choose one between Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, BCG… step by step, just following the flow.

One by one, his classmates are getting married, buying houses at prime locations in the first-tier cities, upgrading their cars and enjoying a happy family. Qin has attended hundreds of friends’ weddings. As he says, “I admire the fact they can fulfil their duties of filial piety”.

One fact won’t stop following him: after graduating from Yale seven years ago, Qin Yuefei is now 32 years old now, living in the countryside and unmarried.

Last year, when Qin Yuefei visited his parents over the Chinese New Year, he brought a few bags of white rice and some seed oil which was produced by the cooperatives that he created with a few villagers. “The villagers knew I was going back to Chongqing for the New Year so they insisted on giving me rice”. Qin thanked the villagers for their kindness and paid them back according to the market price for rice and oil.

On October 24th 2012, Qin Yuefei was elected as a representative of the National People’s Congress (NPC) for Hengshan county via direct election. “This is my first time participating in an election”. Yuefei received 3027 votes out of 3547 people, and engraved these numbers on his heart. “My victory was cast vote by vote”. Yuefei says he was happier than when he got his acceptance letter from Yale.

The title of county representative at the NPC provided a “golden pass” for Qin Yuefei to win over construction projects for the village. Beneficial programs have landed on the village one by one. During his first three years in the village, travelling around via green train, Qin Yuefei successfully raised 800,000 yuan and built the irrigation drain, street lights and a centre for the elderly. He then renewed his three-year term in Hengshan county.

Old Kang the butcher’s monthly salary has increased from 2,000 yuan to more than 3,000, and teacher Mo’s salary went straight up to 4,000.

(5)

“As a graduate from Yale, why would Little Qin come to our village?”, many villagers started quietly asking each other. Some suggested that he might be the son of some big governmental official, coming to the village with a changed name in order to practice his skills. Party secretary Chen was “assigned” to visit Qin’s hometown, Chongqing, to find out about Qin’s family background. Chen’s finding, that Qin’s parents are both just ordinary workers, was surprising to everyone.

Qin’s former classmate Zhou Wei said that, while Qin was in Yale, he participated in a year long exchange program in Moscow, where several close buddies of his paid for the tuition. In the view of others, his is a “Don Quixote” sort of behavior, but Qin is unperturbed: “I am not a visionary, I believe in action. Rural areas of China are a ‘blue sea’. Someone should come here and help farmers to create wealth”.

Public statistics show that in just over ten years, China’s urbanization rate has increased by 18%, and more than a quarter of the rural population is employed in the urban areas. They earn money in the cities and spend most of their time in the cities. Correspondingly, many villages are left with only white-haired elders and the very young.

“Why can’t we use industrial support so that the villagers can make money and attract migrant workers to return home?” After his arrival in Baiyun village, Qin Yuefei started a professional cooperative with the local villagers, replacing the food crops in the field with xianglian (香莲), tea seed and other cash crops. He has also brought some college students in to assist the villagers’ entrepreneurship, and plans to raise the income per capita within the 15 local impoverished villages by 3140 yuan.

Qin Yuefei has been invited to participate in the “Fortune” Global Forum, the Yabuli Entrepreneurs Forum and has also been a guest at the Bo’ao Forum for Asia and the APEC Youth Entrepreneurs Summit. He has sought every opportunity to speak about and raise money for new rural construction. Jack Ma and Zhang Yaqin have become his Wechat friends. Many public celebrities and entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about philanthropy follow him on Weibo.

5

Qin attending a Forum, talking to professors 

One Yale alumni wrote on Zhihu (a Chinese question-and-answer website) that starting as a village official at the grassroots level is, after all, a classic path to achieve your value.

Party members from the local Organization Department came to Qin Yuefei and expressed their hope that he could thoroughly consider a transfer or a promotion. Qin Yuefei kindly rejected them and said: “the countryside and the fields are what fits me. My values stay at the grassroots level”.

Qin has a deep understanding of the fact that 29.485 million rural families live below the poverty line in China. China has about 4000 villages without electricity, tens of millions of families without clean water and some people who can only eat meat three times a year. Poverty alleviation and development effectiveness have, for the first time in the records, been included in the assessment of Party leaders. Government departments at all levels set out poverty alleviation “military pledges” (军令状, an ancient form of pledge according to which one is willing to accept a severe punishment if they cannot complete their mission) and dedicate themselves to helping people out of poverty.

Qin Yuefei, after running this way and that, finally registered a charity named 黑土麦田, meaning “black earth and wheat fields” (its English name is “Serve for China”), under the ministry of Civil Affairs. This charitable organization plans to take advantage of villages’ own resources, create special rural professional cooperatives and help farmers make more money. Qin has also tried to recruit graduates from Harvard, Oxford, Tsinghua and other famous universities who are willing to come to the countryside and work on rural public services.

He spent his 1450 yuan monthly salary on making international calls. He says “young people should have the countryside in their lives. The issues of the countryside and farmers are the concern of the whole nation”.

(6)

In the summer of 2016, a plan for bringing people to the countryside was quietly started up. More than 30 “rural innovators” departed from Harvard University, the Australian National University, Tsinghua University, Fudan University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and went to the countryside. They settled in more than 10 poor counties in Hunan, Jiangxi, Shandong, Guangdong.

A year later, batches of “sour baogu” (苞谷酸, a type of local condiment) homemade by rural households were being sold in cities for a good price, allowing the villagers to make a profit. Traditional Miao embroidery, combined with big brand design, not only gave local folk elements new popularity, but also realized the slogan “a bag leads ten people out of poverty” .

The country’s first bike rental rural professional cooperative was also established. From then on visitors have been able to shuttle back and forth freely along the six kilometre road between the two villages.

Entrepreneurs have become an interface between the mountain villages and the real world, as well as the internet. The most advanced market concepts have entered the villages, while the villagers’ response has enriched these young people’s lives.

A good friend named Xu Jiru asked Qin Yuefei where he planned to go, now that the second of his three-year terms is about to come to an end. His reply was: “I’ll remain in the countryside”. Qin Yuefei loves from the bottom of his heart the feeling of “growing up” out of the mud, and says that the past six years have felt especially meaningful to him.

6

Qin loves hanging out with kids and is able to name them all

A lot of people ask Qin Yuefei “what motivated you to spend six years in the villages?” He gives a simple reply: “everyone has the desire to pursue a better life. I hope that our villagers can achieve it”. The ground is full of “six pence”, but Qin Yuefei looked up and saw the “moon”, and treasured it.

Qin Yuefei’s words and actions have quietly influenced many people. Thousands of people leave comments under videos of Qin’s speeches on Weibo, saying things like “a practical idealist, that’s him”.

There are two books under Qin’s pillow. One of them, which is pretty much worn out, is the English version of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Open a page, and you find a phrase like this: “we have been confused by the sky for too long, and we seem to have forgotten that the earth is where we live, and where we will eventually return to. In fact, the heavier the load we carry, the closer our life is to the earth, and the more vivid its meaning”.

耶鲁哥”秦玥飞:我为什么愿意做中国“村官”?

微信公众号“新华视点”

2017-06-30 10:51

 

他是美国耶鲁大学毕业生,也是中国湘西山村里的一名大学生“村官”。有人说他“打坏了一手人生赢家的好牌”,也有人说,他才是随心而动、让人生更自由的典范。他叫秦玥飞。

秦玥飞回想起6年前成为“村官”的一幕,觉得是一场“超现实主义”梦境——在巨大的时空反差中,他完成了人生的重要转折。

2011年的一个夏夜,一辆土摩托驮着刚从美国回来的年轻人,在泥泞中颠簸了两个钟头,终于停在湖南省衡阳市衡山县贺家山村村口。

坐在后座的秦玥飞跳下车,第一次以“村官”的眼光打量这个村子。土摩托的主人、乡党委陈书记也在一旁打量秦玥飞。他默默地从摩托车屁股里掏出一双解放鞋,塞进秦玥飞手里,“在这用得着”。

——10余天前,秦玥飞从纽约肯尼迪机场飞回北京。临回国那天,他打着红蓝条纹领带,戴着雷朋太阳镜,在一块广阔的草坪与耶鲁合影,向美国告别。

——100多天以前,他拿下了耶鲁大学文学士学位,读的是经济学和政治学双专业。

——1000多天以前,还是长发的他,戴着鸭舌帽和耶鲁同学组建了一支摇滚乐队。他在做鼓手和贝斯手之间犹豫。一位黑人哥们儿笑着给他“建议”:“兄弟,鼓手可是一个乐队里最受女孩子欢迎的家伙!”

他为乐队写过歌,歌名叫做《寂寞的心不会破碎》。在后来的日子里,他常常回想起这支歌。

秦玥飞回国前,在美国校园里身着学士服与耶鲁合影。

不过,美国东海岸一页终究掀篇儿了。

当浩浩荡荡的千万毕业生与归国大军拧成一股洪流涌入“北上广深”,揣着一张《湖南省2011年选聘大学生村官报名登记表》、一纸录用通知,坐着绿皮火车,秦玥飞却奔赴中国中南部的一个小山村。

眼前,群山连绵,绿油油的水田如诗如画。

(一)

曾经的贺家山村,完全是靠天吃饭。

这里不同于康涅狄格州纽黑文,想喝一口星巴克,需要借个土摩托行驶近百公里;这里与他的出生地——现代化都市重庆,也完全不同。

这个只有800老幼留守的村子,距县城35公里。水田相连,远处是薄雾缭绕的青山。在村里走走,除了白发老者多是幼童,想找出个三四十岁的壮年不是件容易的事。

“你住那儿。”陈书记指向不远处一栋低矮、破旧老红砖房,后来秦玥飞知道那是1950年建成的贺家乡政府楼。

推开门,八九平米大的房里,一口老木柜、一张行军床,正对面的墙斑驳泛黄,守着两口公用的尿桶。刚刚下过雨,屋顶没有瓦,只有几层蛇皮袋,雨水沿着边缘流下。

秦玥飞在1950年建成的八九平米的房间里,处理村民提出的诉求。

秦玥飞的青春要钉在这了。没有编制,没有五险一金,月工资1050元。

对于家家墙上挂着开国领袖画像的村民来说,新来的大学生“村官”并没有引起他们特别的关注。

村里的杀猪手老康记得,以前来过一个家在本地的女大学生“村官”,偶尔跟着村干部在街上晃晃,然后就没影了。“她没跟我们打过交道,我叫不上她的名字”。

秦玥飞成了贺家山村的村主任助理。没有任何仪式,没人知道他叫什么,也没人知道耶鲁大学。

不过,他很快就出名了。

进村的第二天一早,一觉醒来汗流浃背的秦玥飞,抓起洗漱用品跑到澡堂。早晚冲凉,秦玥飞多年养成的习惯在村民看来有些“不自然”,消息立刻在全村传开了。

“一天洗两次澡?多浪费水。”“嫌咱村里脏?”

这是秦玥飞在村里的第一次亮相。

(二)

秦玥飞意识到,比生活习惯造成的误解更糟的是,他是村民眼中的“外人”。如果一直这样下去,不被接受,那什么都做不了。从那一刻起,他下决心“无死角”地融入贺家山村。

秦玥飞再也没有早晨洗过澡。他脱下从美国带回来的名牌鞋ECCO,换上解放鞋,把带字母的T恤反着穿。他学着把裤脚挽到膝盖,脚上蹬一双“磨秃了皮”的解放鞋。过冬的时候,他跟村民要了件军大衣。他尽可能只穿黑色,“便于大爷大妈认出我。”

他一有空就在村里晃,听不太懂衡山话,就扎进村民堆里跟着笑。村民递上烟,他学着接下,把烟夹在耳朵上。后来,但凡村民有摸烟的动作,秦玥飞会立马从裤兜里掏出打火机,给人家点上火,“速度比西部牛仔出枪的速度都快”。

秦玥飞在村民家聊天,村民递上来的烟被他熟稔地夹在耳朵上。

几个月后,头一回有人敲秦玥飞的房门,“我家热水器坏了,你给修修不?”秦玥飞笑了,他感到了一种接纳。

从此往后,像是开了阀。

村民提的要求什么样的都有:小秦,我家屋顶漏雨,你给解决一下不?小秦,我儿子今年30了,还没对象,帮着找一个不?小秦,孙女这道题不会,你会不?“那种感觉,像是‘嫁’到了这个村。”

久而久之,谁家杀猪了,谁的膝盖疼,谁家鸡丢了,谁家闺女今年高考,谁家学费还没着落,他心知肚明。

许多事秦玥飞处理不了,但他去做。随身带的本子里记下了村民的每一条需求,搞定一个就划掉一个。

秦玥飞在为村子安装网线。

(三)

总是该给村里做点建设。秦玥飞问陈书记,需要建点啥,缺钱可以想办法。

陈书记想了想说,修条水渠吧。“不过村里拿不出钱。”

“村里集资呢?”

“10个有7个在外打工,谁出这个钱?”

秦玥飞打算试试笨办法。他脱下解放鞋,换上ECCO,穿上回乡后再也没动过的西装,打上领带进城筹钱。

“说‘化缘’更合适。”上门100次成功一两次,有时还被当成骗子。终于,北京的老同学牵线,秦玥飞一连跑了几十趟,“下乡”的故事反复讲,表格承诺书反复填,终于圈了10万块回来。

绿皮火车是秦玥飞进城化缘常乘坐的交通工具。

回村后,秦玥飞却发现,花钱比筹钱难。修不修缮,得投票通过才算。修水渠是人情和规则混杂的事。“里面道道不少”“小心被缠上”,有人暗示他。

耶鲁的学术浸淫在这时派上用场,秦玥飞草拟了议事与决策程序,工程怎么整,谁来做,何时施工,让村民尽情提意见。“方案四五十票当场通过。”事情相当顺利。

可缺席投票的老刘家突然就不干了。他到处跟村民说,别同意修,保证你们不吃亏。

老刘这么一喊,原本同意的村民也不敢吭声了。村干部悄悄指点秦玥飞,“老刘这是要钱”。

没来投票,按程序视为弃权,可直接施工。可村里讲交情人情,秦玥飞叹了口气,天天登门上刘家。一口一个“伯伯”,磨了一个礼拜,老刘终于松了口。

为了给村里建成水渠,秦玥飞把花T恤反穿,跟村民一起下地干活。

为了给村里建成水渠,秦玥飞把花T恤反穿,跟村民一起下地干活。

水渠完工后,养鱼的、种田的、用水的,都高兴坏了。秦玥飞如法炮制,推广到养老院建设、路灯设置甚至信息化教学等项目中。

“只靠投票或只靠人情,解决不了村里的事。规则和现实,放弃哪个都不行。”

秦玥飞说,他和好多村民、村干部的感情是在“打磨”中培养起来的。他理解并尊重他们。

“那亚乐(耶鲁)大学出来的小秦,本事蛮大的!”村民陈云芝说,“别看跟我孙子差不多大,我孙子哪有他这本事啦。”

陈云芝的邻居告诉她,亚乐大学不得了,出了好几任总统。小秦怎会差?

(四)

不外出的时候,每天至少到凌晨两三点,秦玥飞还在他的“1950年的三级危房”里,思量着一个村的家长里短。村里的明白人说,小秦解决的是村里的事,添的是自己的“堵”。

一次电视台来采访,有的村民在镜头前吵得不可开交。秦玥飞很平静,“这是村民们表达心中想法和情绪的一种方式。他们没有恶意,没有针对性,也想解决问题。”

乡村生活重塑了他的形象、言谈与举止。有人看到,他洗头时蹲在地上,头往前伸,拿茶缸从旁边一只大红塑料脸盆里舀温水往头上倒,另一只灰脸盆放在头底下接脏水。

“秦玥飞把一手好牌烂在手里了。”耶鲁同窗为他惋惜。在不少人看来,秦玥飞26岁以前的人生是照着“人生赢家”严谨编写的。这一条路并不难,只需像其他同学一样,选择摩根士丹利、高盛、BCG……按部就班,保持节奏。

同学们一个个成家立业,在一线城市好地段买了房,换了车,家庭和乐。秦玥飞参加了数不清的朋友的婚礼。他说,“羡慕他们能尽孝。”

一个现实紧跟着他:耶鲁毕业第7年,秦玥飞今年32岁,住在村里,没有成家。

去年,他过年看望爸妈的年货是几袋米,还有一些与村民们一起搞合作社出产的茶籽油。“村民知道我过年回重庆,执意送米到我家。”秦玥飞感激村民的好意,按市场价把米钱、油钱塞给村民。

秦玥飞常去宾大爷(中)家吃饭,常给小宾(右)讲数学题,还送他一套《三体》。

2012年10月24日,秦玥飞通过直选当上了衡山县人大代表。“这是我第一次参加选举。”3547人,3027票,秦玥飞把这些数字刻在心里。“都是一票一票投出来的。”秦玥飞说,比拿到耶鲁录取通知书都高兴。

县人大代表的身份成为秦玥飞为村里争取建设的“金牌令箭”。一项项“摸得着”的实惠在村里落成——来村里头3年,他坐着绿皮车“化缘”筹到的80万元,修了水渠,安了路灯,建起了养老院。又续了在衡山县白云村的三年任期。

杀猪手老康的月收入从2000元到了3000多元,学校莫老师的工资也直奔4000块。

(五)

“你说小秦一个亚乐(耶鲁)生,干嘛跑到咱村里来?”好多村民悄悄议论。有人说他是大领导家的孩子,改名换姓到下面“锻炼”。

陈书记曾被“指派”到秦玥飞的老家重庆,看那个不一样的“村官”家里是什么来头。“爹妈都是普通工人”,陈书记拿回的结果有些出乎意料。

昔日同窗邹韦说,秦玥飞在耶鲁读书期间,曾抽一年赴莫斯科做交换项目,去那儿的学费还是几个特别铁的哥们凑出来的。

在旁人看来是“堂吉诃德式”的行为,秦玥飞很淡定:“我是行动者,不是空想家。中国农村是“蓝海”,该有人到这里,为农民创富。”

秦玥飞与村民在苗寨里聊天。

公开数据显示,短短十几年,我国城镇化率提高了18个百分点,超过1/4的农村人口在城市就业,从城市获得收入,大部分时间在城市度过。相应的,许多乡村只剩下白发老者和垂髫少年。

“为什么不通过产业扶持,让村民有钱赚,吸引外出者返乡?”到白云村以后,秦玥飞带着村民搞专业合作社,把麦田里的粮食作物换成“香莲”“茶籽”等经济作物。他还找来一些大学生协助村民创业,计划实现15个贫困村人均增收3140元。

秦玥飞陆续受邀参加了《财富》全球论坛、亚布力企业家论坛,也成了博鳌亚洲论坛、APEC青年创业家峰会的座上客。他与主办方争取发言的机会,逮住一切可以为新农村建设筹款的机会。马云、张亚勤成了他的微信好友,他的微博好友也增加了很多热心公益的明星和企业家。

秦玥飞出席论坛,与高校教师交流。

有耶鲁校友在“知乎”上表示,在基层从“村官”做起,不失为一条实现价值跃迁的经典路径。

从地方组织部来的同志找到秦玥飞,希望他认真考虑调动或提拔。秦玥飞婉拒:“乡村和土地是我适合的地方,我的价值在基层”。

秦玥飞的乡村建设札记。

秦玥飞深知,中国有2948.5万农村家庭生活在贫困线以下。中国还有约4000个村庄没有通电,数千万家庭喝不上干净水,一些人一年只能吃三次肉。“扶贫开发成效”前所未有被纳入领导干部的考核范围。中国各级政府立下脱贫“军令状”,竭力帮助他们走出贫困陷阱。

秦玥飞东奔西走,去民政部注册了一个叫“黑土麦田”的公益组织。这个公益计划努力的方向,是挖掘利用村庄自有资源,把有特色的农村专业合作社搞起来,帮农民致富。他试图召集从哈佛、牛津、清华等名校毕业、愿意致力于农村公共服务的学子,来中国乡村进行建设。

他用1450块的月工资,打了几百分钟的越洋电话,“年轻人的生命里应该有乡土。田野里的事、农民的事关乎家国。”

秦玥飞与小伙伴们为黑土麦田公益组织录制宣传片,号召更多年轻学子加入乡村建设。

(六)

2016年夏,一场“到麦田去”的计划悄然兴起。30多名“乡村创客”从美国哈佛大学、澳大利亚国立大学、清华、复旦、中国社科院出发,分赴麦田。他们把“家”安在了湖南、江西、山东、广东的10余个贫困县。

一年后,农家自制的“苞谷酸”,运到城里卖出好价钱,可以给村民分红。大品牌设计相结合的传统苗绣,不仅让民俗元素走出去,还实现了“一个包包带领十人脱贫”。

全国第一个自行车租赁农民专业合作社也成立了。从此在两个村落之间的一条六公里长的公路上,游客与写生者可以诗意地穿梭。

创客们成了山村与现实世界、山村和互联网世界的一个接口。先进的市场化理念进入村子,乡土民情回馈给这些年轻人生命的丰盈。

昔日好友许吉如问秦玥飞,“村官”第二个三年任期满了要去哪里?“留在黑土麦田。”秦玥飞发自内心喜欢泥土里“长出”的生活,“感觉这6年过得特别实在。”

秦玥飞喜欢村民,喜欢村里的孩子,他能叫出孩子们的名字。

很多人问秦玥飞,“是什么驱动你在村里呆6年?”他说很简单,“每人都有追求美好生活的愿望,我希望我们村村民能够实现。”

对理想主义者来说,地上满是“六便士”,他却抬头看到了“月亮”,并以此为珍贵。

秦玥飞的言行悄然影响了很多人。每天,数以千计的网友通过微博在秦玥飞的演讲视频下面留言。“实践理想主义者,说的就是他吧。”

秦玥飞在冰雪天搭乘大巴进城,小狗到村口送他上路。

秦玥飞的枕头底下压着两本书,其中一本翻到破旧,那是英文版《不能承受的生命之轻》。

翻开一页,有这样一段:“我们被天空迷惑了太久,似乎已经忘了大地才是我们身处其中,并终将回归的地方。事实上,负荷越重,我们的生命越贴近大地,它才拥有越真切的实在。”

(原题为《“耶鲁哥”秦玥飞:我为什么愿意做中国“村官”?》)

责任编辑:蒋子文

Translated by Qiqi Mei

No related content found.

Share: