Tianjin University (China) TJU’s Support Lights Up Future Of Dazhai Village

Yang Fan, a faculty member from Tianjin University (TJU), has been assigned by the University and committed to the revitalization of Dazhai village, Tanchang County as from the end of April 2021 to provide support and pool resources to energize the local development.

This challenging task has been passed down from his predecessors, Song Peng and Jiang Haomiao, who were delegated to work locally in Tanchang County, Gansu Province in 2013.

Developing Local Industry

“My predecessors considered industrial development as a path to local revitalization. Based on local specialties, they helped the village build its own industry from the ground up, producing and selling dried stick noodles, paving the way for other rural industries in future.” Yang Fan said.

Yang Fan was quite impressed, when first coming here, by “modern plants, well-equipped workshops and standardized assembly lines—the industry had almost refreshed the once left-behind village”. And thanks to jobs added and dividends, all 142 financial difficult families were lifted out of poverty in 2020.

Based on achievements of the first two generations, how to further the cause of reinvigoration required this newcomer to conduct a comprehensive research on the Dazhai Village Cooperative, an organization owned by and operated for the benefit of its members.

After that, Yang concluded that rural industries should be built on natural resources and cultural attributes of local areas. Fortunately, the success of the noodles industry has proven this path suitable forDazhai village.

As the industry upgrades, however, Yang found it necessary to work out where its future lies, identifying the product positioning while enhancing its market competitiveness.

For one thing, increase the added value of dried stick noodles. With focus on the brand positioning of being “organic and healthy”, the Cooperative guided by Yang, for instance, introduced quality olives from Longnan, “China’s olive capital”, into the production of noodles, leading to its effect of lowering blood pressure and blood lipids; drawing on people’s love of slurry noodles in Gansu Province, which are spicy and sour. Non-fried pickled vegetable noodles are developed for a healthy diet.

For another, reform the management system of the Cooperative with reference to that of modern enterprises. Aside from setting up regulations, Yang also introduced professional managers and supervisory councils to manage the Cooperative, adding to the sustainability of the industry underpinned by the targeted supported of TJU.

Besides noodles, Yang expects to bring more local products in the public eye. He once invited students and professors of Industrial Design from the School of Mechanical Engineering of TJU for packaging design of Tanchang’s plum pepper, Geographical Indication Product in China, so as to upgrade the brand image of the specialty. Moreover, an online shopping mall, “Dazhai Selection” has been created for promoting high-quality agricultural products, which, Yang considers, would also be realized by livestreaming soon.

With the industrial support of TJU, the Dazhai Village Cooperative recruited many villagers and offered them shares as incentives. As of October 2022, the sales income exceeded 2.72 million RMB. All people of the Cooperative shared the fruits of development.

Strengthening Education

Aside from boosting the economy of Dazhai village, education is also a key to its promising future, which in Yang’s eye, lies in the young generation. To provide children with better learning conditions, Yang strives to upgrade Dazhai School, equipping it with advanced equipment and education resources.

To this end, Yang applied for rural revitalization fund set by TJU and cooperated with the School of Civil Engineering and the College of Intelligence and Computing on the school’s infrastructure. Thanks to the concerted efforts, Dazhai School is now equipped with bright washrooms and new computer rooms, providing purified and hot water for drinking.

Moreover, an extra 15 million RMB of financial support from TJU was spent on building a culture exhibition hall along with copy rooms, and made showering at the school a reality.

Education resources are another focus of Yang Fan. Attributed to his successful negotiation with TJU, four excellent students are appointed to teach at Dazhai School every year, strengthening children’s knowledge through elaborate lessons. Also, youngsters could open their minds through a wide spectrum of online courses covering science and humanities.

Tianjin University students work as rural teachers to guide students to perform stories in textbooks

All these create an encouraging atmosphere for learning. As a result, “students entering top high schools doubled this year and those who used to go elsewhere for better education began to return,” according to Hou Jinhai, principal of Dazhai School, “It is the education support of TJU that lights up more children’s dreams of attending universities.”

Improving Living Conditions

Yang Fan is not satisfied with these progresses. Instead, great efforts have been made to promote locals’ well-being, developing Dazhai village into beautiful countryside.

Invited by Yang, talents of the School of Architecture of TJU, joining hands with Dazhai villagers, worked locally on building a culture and leisure square. One-year efforts led to a new landmark of this village, “Crabapple Square”, whose name echoes with the Crabapple blossom at TJU, showing a close tie between the two places. Since then, on the square are children playing, elders chatting in the sun and sometimes visitors gazing at monuments which tell the history of Dazhai. Together, they form a peaceful scene.

To facilitate villagers going out at night, Yang initiated the “lighting project”, with solar lights covering all country roads. Every time night falls, these guardians will light villagers’ way home, dispelling darkness and loneliness.

In future, Yang Fan would carry on developing industries, cultivating talents, improving the environment and optimizing governance, with a view to solve villagers’ problems and finally bring them a better Dazhai village.

Yang Fan’s story is a microcosm of TJU’s targeted support for rural areas. Just like the name of a pavilion on “Crabapple Square”—“Chuxin”, which means original aspirations, passionate TJUers would carry forward its responsibility to promote rural revitalization and benefit society.