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Returnees discover fulfillment

By Chen Xin (China Daily)

08:45, February 20, 2013

Governments in rural areas are harvesting the experience of overseas returnees to boost grassroots development.

Zhou Ti studied at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in France for more than two years for a master's degree in management.

The 27-year-old returned to China in 2010 and found a job at an investment bank in Beijing paying almost 200,000 yuan ($32,000) a year.

After working for the bank for two years, he decided to go back to his hometown in Hunan province where a county was recruiting overseas returnees for town-level positions.

Zhou signed a three-year contract with Changsha county last year and now works with Kaihui town's environmental protection office, largely dealing with policymaking and trying to reduce its vehicle emissions.

"I need to visit villages every day, see how households are following the rules, such as the ban on livestock excreting into farmland or ponds," he said. "My workmates and I also keep records of each household's waste sorting and we financially reward families that do well."

Although the work pays only 3,000 yuan a month, Zhou said he believes the job offers a good platform through which he can put his own thoughts into practice.

"The job helps me improve my ability to communicate with people," he said. "I want to keep doing the job if I can make some achievements."

Leaders of town and county authorities are enthusiastic about recruiting and retaining overseas returnees like Zhou.

Changsha county hired 10 returnees for grassroots posts last year. The recruitment attracted 112 applicants, labor official Yang Xige said.

All 10 had master's degrees or above and now have different village positions according to their majors, he said.

"We assess their performance twice a year," Yang explained. "If they contribute to economic and social development, we will introduce more overseas returnees."

Deng Ruiqi, also 27, is another recruit of the county's program. He spent four years in France and works as secretary of the Communist Youth League of China for Fulin town.

Deng's main job is to explain government policies to villagers. "Once I visited 70 households in two days. The work has helped me accumulate grassroots work experience that I couldn't have acquired from books," he said.

Deng successfully organized a gala in September, raising about 400,000 yuan from businesses and individuals to address the schooling problems of children from poor families.

Deng hopes the experience can help him get a position in higher-level government bodies.

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