What does your “ideal life” look like?
Is it to have a good degree, find a job with a good salary in a big city, and then buy a car and a house to achieve financial freedom? It is undeniable that in this highly competitive society, everyone wants to find a good way out for themselves, to achieve a stable life with a promotion and salary increase, a car and a house. However, Cao Fengze, who graduated from Tsinghua University with a Ph.D. in 2021, found a unique path and chose a path less traveled without hesitation.
In 2012, the results of the college entrance examination in Heilongjiang Province were released, and Cao Fengze’s name was on the list of the top ten in the province.
When filling out the application form, he chose “civil engineering” with confidence, and soon after, he received the admission letter from Tsinghua University.
At that time, he must have imagined that ten years later when he opened Zhihu and searched for “civil engineering”, what would appear: nothing more than “civil engineering persuasion” and “civil engineering change career”… But it is in this place where most people Among the majors that are not optimistic, Cao Fengze persisted for a full nine years and achieved good results.
During his undergraduate studies, he first minored in a double major in economics. In the year of graduation, he won the Tsinghua University Future Scholar Scholarship, and was recommended to continue studying for a doctoral degree in civil engineering at Tsinghua University with the first place in the department. After graduating with a Ph.D., he became a candidate for the 2021 Tsinghua University Person of the Year. In 2020, as he approached his Ph.D. graduation, the employment problem was in front of Cao Fengze.
Now that civil engineering has become a “tiankeng” major, civil engineering graduates are no longer willing to live a life of sleeping on the construction site every day, but swarming to take the public examination.
Selection, provincial party committee, housing and construction department, and even changing careers to start from scratch in the financial industry… In the eyes of many people, none of them look more “decent” than the humiliating project site. But Cao Fengze doesn’t think so, because he has already planted a bigger wish in his heart – overseas projects. In 2018, he participated in the “Belt and Road” project of GO Practice (overseas practice of Tsinghua doctoral students), and saw “Crack Control of Roller Compacted Concrete Dam” at a glance among many research topics. The practice site was the Lower Kaifu Gorge Hydropower Station in Zambia.
During the 45 days of field research in Zambia, he was not only not intimidated by the difficult conditions in a foreign country, but was deeply moved by the simple dedication and perseverance of the project site personnel. So before graduation, Cao Fengze quickly signed an employment agreement with China Water Resources and Electric Power Group.
He is not sitting in an office, nor is he engaged in scientific research. It is clearly stated in the agreement that he will be dispatched to the Tanzania Project Department of the African Branch as the chief engineer of a certain project.
However, when he stood in front of the hydropower dam in Tanzania under construction, he really realized that many things cannot be solved by rhetoric.
How bad is Tanzania’s electricity shortage? In the words of Cao Fengze, we Chinese people turn on the air conditioner for a few days, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of a Tanzanian for a year. Even the engineering site camp where they are located will experience power outages from time to time, during meetings, meals, and after get off work. The most embarrassing moment was when he was in the middle of taking a shower, covered in foam, and suddenly no water came out from the faucet. Without even thinking about it, he knew that there must be a power outage, and even the water pumps that supply domestic water went on strike together. “. In addition to the harsh living conditions, Cao Fengze also had to face countless trivial matters that were never taught in textbooks but overwhelming in the project. How to arrange for someone to clean the plastic skin? How to clear a clogged drain? Should the cracks in the corridor be repaired? Two trains pulling materials arrive at the same time, which one should be unloaded first? He also can’t escape the “pig teammate” who often appears: the truck driver on the night shift drank alcohol, what should he do?
After dealing with the problems at the construction site, Cao Fengze will be responsible for the progress of the entire project. There are endless prevarications on the negotiating table waiting for him to deal with, countless financial accounts waiting for him to check, and numerous system designs waiting for him to decide on management.
Since he chose to come to Tanzania, Cao Fengze must persevere. Because he knows that once the hydropower project he is in charge of is completed, it will become the largest hydropower station in sub-Saharan Africa and change Tanzania’s history of “poverty due to lack of electricity”. At that time, no one will face the embarrassing situation of suddenly stopping the water while being covered in foam.
In Cao Fengze’s view, this is the “romantic career” worth fighting for: things that are a little romantic are often happy. And special romance often means special hardships. But it is also this special hardship that makes a special romance.
I don’t know when it started, but when it comes to “graduates from Qingbei”, people will automatically think of the evaluation of “exquisite egoists”. Therefore, many people believe that Cao Fengze, who is keen to express his views on hot issues, must also take the “selection student” examination and become some “exquisite egoists” who are on the road to promotion and fortune. But Cao Fengze told everyone with practical actions that he is an “idealist”.
Those people couldn’t explain why he, who had a “three clean” academic background, had to live a hard life covered in foam and waiting for water to come.
Cao Fengze’s engineering project team is 7 hours away from the city on a dirt road, and workers cannot enter the city twice a year. Once the pouring is started, it will start for more than a month and cannot be stopped for 24 hours. Both the local workers and the technicians sent by China work in two shifts. They must always be full of energy. Any negligence may cause a big loophole that affects the entire project. Perhaps Cao Fengze, who watched the dam being built bit by bit at the construction site in Tanzania, would think of his hometown, Heilongjiang, for a moment.
Decades ago, it was precisely because of countless young people full of idealism that the vast black land changed from the “Great Northern Wilderness” to the “Northern Dacang”, and from the “Linhaixueyuan” to the “Republic of China” in industrialization. eldest son”.
Cao Fengze, who grew up there, understands that industrialization is a difficult process, and in this process, people who are like steel are needed most.
The “post-90s” did not catch up with the era when the industrialization of the motherland was in full swing, but opportunities always exist-the “Belt and Road” initiative is bringing industrialization to more corners of the world, and sending more steel-like people to the world .
Cao Fengze said: “I hope these people include me.”
Growing up in high latitudes, his memory is always full of snow. But the summer in Tanzania is really too long. But no matter what, he has to persevere in this long summer, because he wants to use his own experience to prove that there is not only one path of egoism in the world, but the path of idealism is feasible.
I would like to end with the evaluation of Cao Fengze, a Ph.D. in materials science from Zhejiang University and a Zhihu user @ZJULA: Maybe many years later, the identity of Tsinghua Ph. Those speeches and disputes of opinions have disappeared in the long river of time. However, the standing hydropower station in Tanzania will continue to operate day after day and year after year. The waves that jump from the heights will be driven by the motor to enter the power grid and sent to every household in Africa. Tanzania, which has used clean hydropower for generations People will remember a young man from Wudaokou who came to a foreign country to build a hydropower station.
Egoism is not the only way to go in the world
What does your “ideal life” look like?