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Cast from the furnace – SUSTech Students' Life in the Army

Jul 31, 2017 Latest

Students turned soldiers line up for a photo: Li Bohan, Fu Jiaqi and Zhao Jianshen

On July 30 2017, the Chinese People's Liberation Army put on display a major ceremonial parade to mark the 90th Anniversary of its existence. It was the first time since the founding of modern China that the military held such a large-scale parade. The soldiers lined up and adopted battle positions as the Party leaders and the people watched, the Chinese flag rose up and the national anthem was played in the background.

To defend their country and their homes without hesitation is what drives these energetic youths and makes every young heart beat in China. Students from SUSTech are no exception.

Last July, the three young men – 2013 graduate Zhao Jianyan, 2014 student Fu Jiaqi and 2016 freshman Li Bohan were selected after a tough screening process to join the Beijing Armed Police Corps and the national PLA.

Now, just a year after their enlistment, they have transformed into real soldiers thanks to their military training. SUSTech Student News agency dispatched a reporter to interview Zhao Jianshen and Li Bohan, Fu Jiaqi being unavailable as he is on duty.


Zhao Jianshen - persistence in solitude is the secret of growth

         "In Beijing the autumn is very short, sometimes lasting just 10 days. One day the floor is golden with fallen leaves, the next day it is blanketed with snow fallen overnight. The morning is often hazy, among which one can vaguely perceive a lonely motionless figure. In this haze shrouding the city, it is sometimes so lonely, we are accompanied only by a surveillance camera. Guards remain motionless like this for an hour or two, before being replaced, and so continues the following guard." Zhao writes in his diary.

         "After graduating from high school, suddenly the college entrance examination was over and that left me feeling a little confused. I thought carefully about the things I really cared about," Zhao explains. As soon as he arrived at the barracks he underwent training. But the high-intensity training and strict lifestyle requirements quickly made Zhao feel overwhelmed.

       However with time, Zhao gradually adjusted to his new environment and finally found in the military what he had been looking for.

         Months of physical and psychological training made Zhao mature, although he himself didn't really realise it "until I was given a break and joined my family. When they saw me the said that it was striking how my sense of community and maturity had improved, that I had really grown up". Closed military life gave Zhao the opportunity to face himself and look deep into his heart.

         "It is fairly common for college students to be a bit confused, there are so many wonderful and exciting opportunities around us that distract us from what we really care about."

Amidst the loneliness of the barracks one can truly find himself, according to Zhao, and that is the secret to growing up.

         "I came with the hope and the idea that the army will fulfill my needs." Li Bohan

         Li Bohan had just entered the university, full of curiosity. He enjoyed the warm coconut water, the birds and insects, the light laughter that he found on the campus. However this beauty didn't quite respond to what he was craving for, and his young heart was determined: He wanted to learn about National Defense, improve his communications knowledge, and that is why he decided to join the army for two years before returning to university!

         The first few months passed, and young recruit Li Bohan encountered some doubts about his choice. "Can you imagine having to do 500 push-ups? I couldn't finish it" he recalls, saying that his strength and mind were tested to their limits. But the military's rule is to follow the orders and so one afternoon, with trembling arms and tenacious perseverance, Li completed his task.

         Now that he has adapted to the barracks life, he says he has changed a lot. "The first days of training are bitter, but that is what built my character into something I have never been before - the strength, the army, its my life and I don't regret the choice!”.

         "When I will be back to SUSTech to study, I will be full of expectations!" Li Bohan finally said.

         They left the SUSTech campus as young boys, experienced the baptism of wind and rain, and learned and face themselves. Thanks to this guidance, they have found their meaning of life, and grown up.

Text: student news agency Zhang Shiting

Photo: Wang Kaiqiang

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