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Left-behind girl with dreams of becoming archeologist receives gifts from museums across China

By Chi Zao (People's Daily Online)    15:48, August 03, 2020

18-year-old Zhong Fangrong decides to study archeology in Peking University, leading to heated online debate.

A left-behind girl in Leiyang, central China’s Hunan Province, has received books and souvenirs from about 10 renowned museums across China, after her decision to study archeology, one of the “less popular majors” in Peking University, was mocked by netizens, who claimed that the girl was “doomed for not choosing a lucrative profession.”

Born into a poor family, 18-year-old Zhong Fangrong has been taken care of mostly by her grandparents and separated from her parents since she was a toddler, as they have to work far from home to make a living. Despite not receiving care from her parents, as well as having less educational resources, the country girl came fourth out of 194,000 students who sat this year’s national colleague entrance exams in Hunan, and then decided to study archeology at Peking University.

Zhong’s decision was soon brought into question by some netizens, who noted that choosing such an unpopular major may make her already poverty-stricken life even harder, adding that the girl is “wasting her only chance to drastically change her future.”

“Living in a remote village, the girl’s decision may have been influenced by her narrow horizons. She may not know that archaeologists cannot earn much, and wasted her golden ticket to a rich and comfortable future,” said a netizen on Sina Weibo.

In response to the netizens’ concerns, Zhong noted that her decision was influenced by Fan Jinshi, a female Chinese archaeologist who has been hailed as the “daughter of Dunhuang” for her over 50 years of dedication to studying and preserving the Dunhuang Grottoes, adding that she would not regret her decision.

“I never expected that my choice would cause such a controversy online. I have had great interest in history and cultural relics since I was a little girl, and Fan Jinshi’s story has inspired me to continue pursuing my dream,” said Zhong on her Sina Weibo.

Zhong’s story soon went viral online, with about 10 renowned Chinese museums and archeological institutes sending gifts and best wishes to the girl, encouraging her to pursue her dream of studying archaeology. As of press time, the hashtag “ZhongSpoiledByChineseMuseums” had garnered over 50 million views on Sina Weibo, with most netizens wishing the girl a bright future. The Hunan Institute of Archeology gave Zhong books about her hometown’s history, as well as clothes embroidered with patterns of famous Hunan cultural relics, while the Henan Institute of Archeology sent her a book about archeology in Henan province and a set of archeological tools.

Zhong’s idol, 82-year-old Fan Jinshi, also sent her a copy of her biography and a letter encouraging her to cherish her dream and study hard, while Peking University has also sent congratulations to the girl, expressing the wish that she follow in Fan’s footsteps.

Peking University also replied to Zhong’s Weibo on Sunday, giving her a warm welcome and hoping that she finds her life’s passion at the university.

“For most people, the only purpose in life is to get rich and become important, but this girl has chosen a different path. It may be hard, it may be less lucrative, but she is being true to herself, and her devotion to archeology will surely help China’s future research in history,” said one netizen. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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