HEFEI, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Wang Mengmeng likes carrying a notebook wherever she goes, a practical way to facilitate her work. From questions to suggestions, or even complaints, she writes it all down during her talks with villagers.
"That's my way to get to know the villagers. Whether it's about agricultural production or loan applications, we will respond to their concerns as soon as possible," said Wang, Party chief of Xikong Village of Dingyuan County, east China's Anhui Province.
However, things were totally different when she first came to the village in 2013. Nobody trusted her for obvious reasons. She was just a 25-year-old graduate fresh out of school back then.
Before graduation, Wang met a woman at a construction site in her university, which turned out to be a life-changing moment for her.
The woman was resting near a tree at noon, holding a baby in her arms. She looked even younger than Wang.
"Why are you working here?" Wang asked.
"Because there's no work in my village," the woman replied.
"It not only hurt me to hear that but reminded me that I also had several relatives who had to work away from home because there was not much to do in the countryside," Wang recalled.
Unlike her classmates who pursued dreams in big cities, Wang, against her parents' wishes, returned to her hometown of Dingyuan County and settled down in Xikong Village, intending to vitalize the rural area.
People had been planting rice and wheat for decades in Xikong Village until the arrival of the young graduate. She proposed to upgrade the agricultural industry by introducing more profitable crops such as vegetables, grapes and strawberries.
She invested 100,000 yuan (about 14,000 U.S. dollars) in her strawberry planting experiment in 2013 even though nobody believed she could succeed.
"She looked too weak and thin for farm work back then," said Jin Jiaqun, a 65-year-old resident from the village.
Within less than a month, more than half of the strawberry seedlings died due to a lack of experience. She was so frustrated and burst into tears looking at the dead strawberries in the fields. She had to replant the seedlings after consulting with experts.
"It wasn't very successful in the first year, but I was able to break even and gained plenty of experience," said the new farmer, who won people's trust with her actions.
Seven years on, more than 260 hectares of lands have been utilized in the village to plant cash crops such as strawberries and watermelons, or raise crawfish, earning villagers an average annual income of 15,000 yuan. A total of 135 households have been lifted out of poverty.
Wang was elected as a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, in 2018. She was also the youngest deputy from the Anhui delegation that year.
At this year's "two sessions," she plans to draw people's attention to digital community construction and call for more support for rural regions in this regard, so as to empower China's villagers.
"My task is to represent the masses and look for the right direction for rural development," said Wang.