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Freshmen’s class in fresh fields
Author:Jiang Junzhe  Date:2022-11-24  Clicks:

At 1:00 PM on October 11, 2022, under the leadership of Professors Yang, Hu, and Li, freshmen from the Economics and Management School of Wuhan University (EMSWHU) set out to the Youtian Practical Education Base at Optics Valley, located at the westernmost part of Wuhan, for a special class in the fresh fields to harvest rice, aimed at helping students understand the class theory better and learn more about the rural economic situation.

The gate of the Youtian Practical Education Base, Optics Valley

Learning theoretical knowledge is the first step for them to get closer to the field. “Unlike our generation, who grew up in the countryside and was familiar with all kinds of farm work, most of today’s students grow up in cities and lack agricultural experience. However, it’s great that they are highly motivated,” said Yang Yanlin, professor of political economy at EMSWHU. After arriving at the base, the greenhorns first went to the ‘Makita School’ to meet their special guide. The guiding staff showed them around and explained the difference between southern and northern varieties of rice, various planting cycles, and the comprehensive utilization of different parts of rice. The staff introduced students to the tools and operation methods needed to harvest rice.

Students were divided into three rice harvesting groups and started laboring at about 2:30 PM. However, lacking the necessary experience, harvesting rice proved much more complicated than theory. They rushed into the field without dividing their tasks. During harvesting, they only thought about cutting off the useful upper ear but neglected to cut off the root with it, causing the uncut rice in the field to block everyones way. Seeing this, the leading professor went to the field to divide students into groups and assign work. After that, the harvest speed was significantly improved.

Students harvesting rice

Encouraged by the instructors, members of each team tried to use different farming tools to cooperate with each other in order to gather, screen, filter and remove the residue of the scattered grain on the ground. Instead of burying themselves in toil, students proposed approaches to improve the collection efficiency and speed up the purification process. This determined the amount of grain to be collected by different groups.

In the end, some members bound the harvested rice into bundles, and a few transferred them to the designated place. The work of removing the grain was left to a future date. Students collected more grain than expected, and the third group won first place with a total of more than 90 kilograms of rice collected. “We are the smallest group, with only 25 people. I think the key to our success is a proper division of labor. After realizing the significance of cooperation at the threshing stage, we immediately decided to let some people remove all kinds of useless impurities in rice while others do the loading work, which greatly improves the efficiency, a group member said happily and proudly after the game.


Students trying to shake the grain out

When reflecting on this activity, students expressed their different feelings:

A student who is in charge of collection said, “I used to think that labor work is simple, but now I realize that I underestimated it. Above all, one must be strong enough to shake the grain out, and one’s strength should be used wisely too, or the grain will be all scattered, making it more difficult to collect.

“I am extremely worn out after only a few hours. It’s beyond my imagination how the farmers work day in and day out. The efforts of Chinese farmers are immeasurable. That is why Chinas rural economy is tough but of tenacious vitality, said a freshman majoring in business administration.

Another student said, “I now better understand knowledge about the political economy of the value of labor through the field study of labor, which means that only labor can produce value in society. The more pain, the more gain. Moreover, I find that our country is attaching more importance to rural economic development and farmers. After all, farmers deserve more rewards and a better life.


Staff, professors and students

The golden fields stretched out beyond sight, and the rice floated like sea waves in the breeze. Students and professors turned their faces to the loess and their back to the sky, just like thousands of farmers in China, pouring sweat and harvesting happiness.

Photo by Wu Lin & Jiang Junzhe

Edited by Fu Wantong, Chen Jiaqi, Li Jing, Wang Yihan, Sylvia, Xi Bingqing


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