Back in 2005, Jiang Yinfeng served as President of the Student Union and also achieved the distinction of Outstanding Graduate of the School of Foreign Language Studies. Jiang’s plan after graduation was to enter a graduate studies program at a university in Australia. However, she decided instead to participate in the National Plan for Graduates Volunteering in the West. Her valuable contributions to the Wenchuan earthquake relief effort in May 2008 resulted in an audience with high-level government leaders.
To pursue her dream of serving as a volunteer teacher in the western part of China, Jiang convinced her parents to allow her to travel to Sichuan province. In recognition of her excellent performance during the initial teaching period, she was chosen to serve as a ‘volunteer leader’ by the Sichuan Association of Youth Volunteers.
When she walked through the streets of Qionglai (a town located south of Chengdu), wearing her volunteer hat and badge, she would proudly tell curious bystanders that she was a graduate volunteer. Respected and admired by the locals, she brimmed with joy – not only because of the positive attention she received, but also because she appreciated the interesting Sichuan dialect, the genial local people, and the picturesque landscape.
It is said that when one is happy, suffering is never far away. Living alone in a strange place, Jiang missed her parents, friends, and teachers. But whenever she felt frustrated or encountered difficulties, she would remind herself of her dream – and this kept her moving forward.
On May 12, 2008, a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan, causing thousands of deaths and severe damage to Wenchuan. Jiang was immediately assigned to assist in the earthquake relief work. Collaborating with her comrades, she efficiently organized and dispatched over one-hundred volunteers throughout the area to assist the local people in their recovery efforts. For months, they worked tirelessly almost every day with very little sleep, and often in perilous conditions.
Jiang Yinfeng recollected, “As a volunteer, I simply had to do everything I could for the victims of the earthquake. So many people were in great need. I have never regretted my decision to volunteer in the West. For the rest of my life, I will remember the people of Sichuan with great fondness and will always consider volunteering to be my lifelong career.”