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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

How Internet links the global village (2)

By Xu Lin and Huang Feifei (China Daily)

08:37, April 20, 2012

The Internet promotion has led volunteers from the county, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s, to help with such tasks as harvesting wheat.

In December, Guo set up an online supermarket, so cunguan can help farmers promote and sell their products online.

"It's easy to sell online, because news spreads so fast," Guo says.

"We've received many calls, including some from other provinces."

In April 2009, Guo built an online memorial platform, which he claims is the first of its kind at the village level in the country. It received nearly 600 messages before the end of the year.

Netizens can offer virtual sacrifices, leave messages and even grow virtual trees for their late loved ones.

This April, the government officially promoted the platform for county-wide use.

"This enables people who can't visit their relatives' graves during Tomb Sweeping Festival to offer sacrifices," Guo says.

In August, he established a blind dating website for the village. More than 200 young residents posted profiles, and two couples who met on the site got married.

"It's hard for rural youth, many of whom migrate to work in big cities, to find a spouse," Guo says.

"It is even harder for men, because many women are unwilling to marry guys from the countryside with little money. I hope society can become more aware about young rural singles."

The village newspaper Guo founded in 2009 has published nine issues. The 3,000 copies are distributed to the villagers for free. It also has an online edition. Production costs range from 600 ($95) to 999 yuan, which Guo paid out of his own pocket until the county government recently started picking up some of the tab.

"I don't want to burden the villagers," he says.

Villagers enjoy the paper because its coverage is close to their lives. It includes local happenings, farming tips and poems written by locals.

"People initially were skeptical of my novel ideas, so I had to do it all on my own," Guo says.

"But they eventually understood, and now several volunteers help maintain the websites."

But these weren't the only challenges Guo faced.

"I was lonely and bored when I first arrived as I had no Web access or TV," he recalls. "But the biggest barrier was language. That's a common problem for cunguan."

He spent his first few months visiting residents with the village head. He was able to understand the local dialect after three months and could speak it another three months later.

Guo decided to stay in the village when his term was over in 2011. "I feel attached to the village and would hate to leave it," he says.

"The village has become famous for its Internet use, but it will take time for the villagers to profit from it."

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