Generation Z Exploring diverse paths of ambition

Modern youth joining workforce, showcasing diligence to become backbone of society in the new era

By Gui Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-04 07:54
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Liu Tong, 23, a graduate student from Tsinghua University. [Photo provided to]

A life in slashes

Liu Tong, from Xianyang, Shaanxi province, is someone who never seems to slow down. Starting his day a little past 6 in the morning and not resting until after 11 at night, his schedule is packed due to his many commitments.

At 23 years old, he is currently a second-year graduate student at Tsinghua University's School of Vehicle and Mobility. Beyond that, he also holds national patents, excels as a competitive Rubik's Cube solver, volunteers in sign language, and owns a photography studio. All these roles lead to his busy schedule and form the basis of his self-identity as a "slasher".

Liu believes that being a slasher is all about "embracing multiple roles and leading a diverse life", where individuals use slashes to showcase the various labels they identify with. Behind each of these labels lies a spirit of curiosity and dedication.

"I was initially motivated by my love for exploring the wonderful things in the world," he said. "But then I realized that once I engage with something, I approach it professionally, with clear goals, striving to achieve results. The positive feedback I continuously receive fuels my self-recognition and acceptance."

Liu's first hobby to earn professional recognition was solving Rubik's Cubes. He participated in a world-level competition at the age of 15 and has since achieved rankings of 7th in China, 9th in Asia, and 33rd in the world.

His journey into learning sign language began five years ago after witnessing a hearing-impaired girl being treated coldly by a waiter in a restaurant because it was hard to take her orders. Within three months, Liu taught himself sign language, and after passing an assessment by the China Disabled Persons' Federation, he organized volunteers to create videos of sign language song performances to promote sign language culture.

Since taking up photography in 2022, Liu has become a contributor to several image agencies such as Visual China Group and Tuchong. Together with some alumni, he established a photography studio, taking on photography projects for school events and commercial shoots. He also became a lecturer at the Tsinghua University photography workshops.

Despite his many pursuits, Liu prioritizes his roles, with academics and research being his primary focus.

As a student, Liu has secured nearly 40 national patent authorizations. Currently, he is dedicated to researching autonomous driving, aiming to contribute to the national development scheme within his field of expertise. One of his patents involves an algorithm for reinforcement learning, which utilizes neural network technology to simulate the human brain, enhancing the precision and response time of vehicle control.

"I hope to excel in my main profession while also managing my side interests. After all, every additional pursuit comes after your core identity," Liu said.

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