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The "Xinya Hardworking Spirit Education" activity is a new form of labor education explored by Xinya College since 2018, and it is also a compulsory course for students at the college. In the summer semester each year, teams of students from the college go to the countryside or factories, participating in field work during the day and reading and exchanging ideas at night.As one of the "Xinya Hardworking Spirit Education" teams for the summer semester in 2023, a team of 23 teachers and students from Xinya College came to Jinjisha Village, Dongkeng Town, Jingbian County, Shaanxi Province on August 28. Led by teacher Yan Di, counselor Zhou Feifan, and counselor Wang Haoyu, the team carried out a 14-day "Xinya Hardworking Spirit Education" activity in the base and surrounding villages and towns.

On August 28, 2023, the team members arrived at the Desertification Control Education Base in Jingbian County. During the two-week farming and study practice, they went to the front line of agricultural production and personally participated in the harvesting and processing of crops. They also visited the assembly lines and exhibition rooms to learn about the handling process of agricultural commodities and the development of the village collective economy. Carrying shovels and planting saplings, they retraced the arduous road of desertification control of the older generation, making their own contributionsto the protection forests on the mountains.

Agriculture is the development focus of Jingbian County and also the source of income for local farmers. Local vegetables have been sold in markets beyond northern Shaanxi and even in foreign countries. Under the coordination and arrangement of teachers from the base and the college, the students went into the fields to help local farmers with farming activities such as harvesting potatoes, radishes and peppers. The team members deeply experienced the hardships and difficulties faced by farmers and understood the modernity and complexity of the agricultural industry. They also had more thoughts on the integration of green environmental protection and modern agriculture.

Desertification control, as a century-old cause of Jingbian County, is also the core of the education at the Desertification Control Education Base. In history, places such as Yulin City and Jingbian County were once fertile pastures of northern ethnic minorities such as the Xiongnu. However, by the beginning of the last century, the desert had invaded the south of the Great Wall, forcing the city of Yulin to move southward three times. It was not until the founding of the People's Republic of China that desertification there was gradually controlled after several generations of efforts. The people of Jingbian defended their homeland with their hands. The model worker Niu Yuqin, the protagonist of the exhibition hall, is an outstanding representative of them. As an ordinary farmer in Jinjisha Village, Niu Yuqin was troubled by sandstorms. In 1985, she contracted ten thousand mu of sandy land in response to the national policy and spearheaded an effort with her family to plant trees and grass. In 1988, her husband Zhang Jiawang unfortunately died. The event was followed by numerous difficulties, such as a low tree survival rate, long-term family debts and doubts from villagers. However, Niu Yuqin never gave up the cause of desertification control as she was motivated by her years of aspiration and her husband's unfulfilled wish. In 1993, she received the "Doctor Rao Prize" from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in recognition of her outstanding contribution to ecological environment transformation. Under her leadership, the local villagers have devoted themselves to afforestation and pushed back the sandstorm for more than ten kilometers.

Niu Yuqin, who is over 70 years old, remains committed to the cause of desertification control. The desertification control initiative spearheaded by Niu and her family is now in the fourth phase. Spanning Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia, the project will last until 2065. Earning some money from tree planting, she is always concerned about her fellow villagers. She has invested in and donated money to the construction of schools and roads all over the neighboring villages and towns.

Outside the Desertification Control Education Base is a forest farm for which Niu Yuqin has worked for half of her life. The desert that once encircled the village is now far away, leaving only a path of yellow sand in the forest. It bears testament to the unwavering efforts of generations of desertification control workers.

On a cloudless night, teachers of the base guided the team members on a walk around the base, retracing the road of desertification control. Although their trek spanned a mere six kilometers, a distance far less than the travels of generations of desertification control workers, they could still sense the hardships they endured. Nowadays, the roads in the desert have been leveled, eliminating the hardships and difficulties faced by the older generations of desertification control workers when crossing the sand dunes and getting trapped in the desert.

On the last day of the "Xinya Hardworking Spirit Education" activity, teachers from the base and members of the team gathered to share their experiences over the two-week period. Team leaders Feng Kun and Jing Yi led the members to review their labor and study experiences in the first and second weeks respectively. Then, the members shared the most impressive things for them during the activity. Some of them also mentioned their own insights and thoughts. Many students reported that participating in this activity significantly broadened their understanding of labor. For example, they used to think that mechanization had been widely applied, but in reality, farm work such as harvesting potatoes, peppers, radishes and Chinese cabbages still requires a large amount of manual labor. Some students said that the farm work they participated in was actually far less intense and mentally challenging than that of farmers. Nevertheless, they did get exercise and gain enlightenment from labor.

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