An aerial photo shows Helan Mountain, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, after rainfall on May 9, 2019. (SU YONG / CHINA DAILY)

YINCHUAN — Tong Chun-wai, 35, from Hong Kong, has found a new career in a village at the foot of the Helan Mountains in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

"After working at the grassroots level for a year, I have truly participated in the national campaign of rural vitalization and learned a precious lesson in the countryside," says Tong.

Tong graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and started his own business in his home city before pursuing a master's degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

What amazed his friends and families was his decision to work in Yinchuan, Ningxia's capital city, as a grassroots cadre.

"I just wanted to have a deeper understanding of the mainland and do something meaningful," he says.

Tong's new post was in Xingsheng village, where he works as an assistant to the village head.

The work at the grassroots level is sharply different from what he did in his own business. He needs to undertake all kinds of detailed and time-consuming tasks, from writing job briefings to helping villagers apply for social insurance.

"Initially, I was a bit frustrated, as the work here needs more patience, attention and time than I imagined. However, I've constantly been adapting myself to the new post, as I know I need to be with the villagers to understand their real needs," he says.

Tong makes full use of his talents to help local residents create a better life for themselves.

After finding that the vegetables and fruit grown in the village's greenhouses were varieties with a low added value, Tong contacted strawberry growers from East China's Jiangsu province and rented out the greenhouses to them at much higher prices.

"It's more convincing to show them the result than just talking about it. Many of the residents are still sitting on the fence, but we've made it very clear that we will offer unconditional technological support as long as they're willing to grow strawberries. We also take charge of the sales of the fruit," he says.

Education is another sector Tong pays a lot of attention to. This summer, an extracurricular class which he had planned for a long time opened smoothly, providing free teaching of math, English, and Chinese culture to about 80 pupils.

For Tong, by moving to the northwestern region, he was following his inner voice.

"Money has never been my only goal in life," says Tong. "I will stick to the path I've chosen and fully participate in the rural vitalization drive."