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“13-year challenge”: not a glow up, but a grow up

By Xian Jiangnan (People's Daily Online)    08:41, January 26, 2021

An Lei’s side by side photo of himself with a 13-year period of time apart takes over Chinese media.

Just as the “10-year-challenge” internet fad silently fades away, a side by side photo of a man’s back with a 13-year period of time apart took over Chinese media recently.

An Lei, 38, is a member of the Law Enforcement Team from the Department of Traffic and Transportation in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province. The photo on the left was taken in 2008 when An, wearing a jacket printed with an “earthquake relief” slogan, assisted in disaster-relief efforts in Wenchuan, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, contrasting it with a picture of him in 2021 when he, wearing a protective suit with the slogan “Go, Jinpu!,” volunteered after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the Jinpu New District of Dalian.

Unlike most of others’ 10-year challenge, An’s one is not a glow up, but a grow up, because what remains unchanged is his spirit of contribution in times of crisis.

In 2008, after a magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck the Wenchuan area, 25-year-old An rushed to the frontline to join the disaster recovery and relief work. A photo of him carrying the insulation boards of emergency shelters was taken by someone.

Over a decade later in December, 2020, An was on the frontline again, serving as a volunteer in charge of transporting close contacts of COVID-19 cases in his hometown Dalian after new coronavirus clusters emerged there.

When An posted a throwback photo of himself from 2008 next to a snap from 2021 on his WeChat social media account, the then-and-now photos began to take off on Chinese media.

Winning nationwide applause for his dedicated service, An considers what he has done as nothing special. “During the epidemic, I’m just one of tens of thousands of volunteers here,” he said, adding that as a member of the Communist Party of China, he felt proud to help others in the best way he could.

Having been working around the clock, An has been away from home for many days. His 9-year-old son called An after seeing his father on media, saying, “I want to be someone just like you when I grow up, dad.” 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Liang Jun)

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