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High-profile archaeology grad plans to work in Dunhuang

By Zhao Yimeng | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-08 09:51

Peking University archaeology graduate Zhong Fangrong, who surprised many netizens four years ago when she chose the major after acing the national college entrance exam, plans to work in Dunhuang, in Northwest China's Gansu province.

Zhong, from a rural part of Hunan province, has said she plans to continue pursuing her dream and dedicate herself to research on historical and cultural relics as an archaeologist, a field stereotypically viewed as having dim career prospects.

In a speech at the university's graduation ceremony this month, Zhong recalled her growth during her undergraduate studies and related fieldwork.

"We gained professional knowledge through six courses in archaeology and followed our professors to archaeological sites for field investigations," Zhong said.

The excitement of new discoveries during the daily excavation work and of cataloging late into the night at a heritage site in Linzi, Shandong province, was unforgettable, she added.

"Each excavation and discovery during the field investigation gave us a deeper understanding of archaeology, history and the world," she said.

Zhong has applied for a position as a rock cave archaeologist at the Dunhuang Academy and is working through the admission process.

In 2020, the daughter of migrant workers said she aimed to study archaeology at Peking University because she had been touched by the story of Chinese archaeologist Fan Jinshi, who devoted herself to protecting Dunhuang's cultural heritage.

The story of Fan, also a distinguished alumna of Peking University, inspired Zhong to dream of conducting research in Dunhuang, a city renowned for its crucial role on the ancient Silk Road and home to the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Netizens had expressed doubts about her decision to study archaeology, claiming that given her family background, the niche major was not expected to result in a lucrative career.

Zhong responded at the time that she did not place too much value on a job's salary.

"I don't think I need a lot of money," she told ThePaper.cn news website. "My parents have jobs and don't need me to support them financially."

After she opted to study archaeology, nine museums and archaeological institutions across the country sent gift packages with a combined weight of nearly 50 kilograms to support her decision, including archaeological reports, books about relics and related tools.

Many netizens described her as "a girl spoiled by the archaeological circle".

Zhong was selected as a representative of graduates of the university's School of Archaeology and Museology to deliver a speech at the graduation ceremony this month.

"After absorbing knowledge and developing ourselves, we have obtained a deeper understanding of the major we initially chose, either blindly or firmly," she said at the ceremony.

This year, a new tuition-free enrollment plan for "general archaeology" undergraduates was announced in provinces including Shandong, Shanxi and Shaanxi.

Shandong plans to enroll 60 students in the first batch. The students will sign targeted training agreements and will not need to pay tuition or accommodation fees. After graduation, they will work for at least five years in related public institutions in the province.

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