Yan Qiong, producer of We Are the Hero, on China Central Television (CCTV), once wrote the following words for her song, Shining: "Not everyone has the privilege to journey with his dreams." In her opinion, only those who are always there for their dreams, regardless of the difficulties in life, can do that. Their love and hard work will also strike a chord with others.
Yan Qiong has been honored as one of "China's Top 10 Innovators for Media," one of "China's Top 10 Experts of Brand Culture Construction," and one of "CCTV's Women Pacesetters for Achievements." She has also received first prize in the China Radio and Television News Award.
Yan once edited books, including China Force, China Blueprint and Chinese Entrepreneurship Models. She compiled the Chinese Economic Figure of the Year series of books, and she wrote — in ancient-Chinese style — a collection of poems, Picturesque Countryside.
Her childhood was "fed" with books. Chinese and foreign masterpieces, including The Lin Family Shop and David Copperfield, were among her page-turners. Magazines and newspapers, especially those that featured children's literature, were among her favorite reads. She has read A Dream of Red Mansions, one of the four ancient Chinese literature classics, many times.
An article about the late Lin Qiaozhi (1901-1983), one of the founders of modern Chinese gynecology, impressed her. After she read that article, Yan desired to become a professional, dedicated woman, like Lin.
After she graduated from university, she became a reporter, and she found fulfillment in conducting in-depth interviews at the grassroots level.
She fell in love with the vast world of rural land, and she developed a deep affection for issues related to agriculture, farmers and rural areas. Her reportage, Answers from Harvest Land, has been well received by readers.
Yan began working for CCTV in 1996, and she continued to pay attention to rural issues. In early 2011, she created a new TV program, China County Times, which focused on the economic development of counties and districts across the country. The program was broadcast on CCTV-2.
Years of experience and a broad perspective ensures Yan's reporting is professional and weighty. To address the problems of unsalable agricultural products in many rural areas, she created a public-service advertisement, which was broadcast simultaneously on four channels of CCTV, to help farmers sell the products.
Life Bright with Dreams
|Yan Qiong (3rd, L) in We Are the Hero|
Since she joined CCTV, Yan has worked as a reporter, director and chief editor. In 2015, she produced We Are the Hero, which was designed to be an open class for young entrepreneurs.
The program became a stage, on which many entrepreneurs have been able to showcase their values and realize their dreams; as such, the show has been referred to as an "incubator for good projects." Yan and her colleagues have far and away been the heroes behind the scenes, as they have witnessed and boosted the dreams of many people.
Yan once attended the awards ceremony for the China Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. During that event, a young man ran from the stage and presented the gold medal, which he had just received, to Yan. "This belongs to you!" he said.
That young man was Wang Weichen. While studying for a master's degree, at Northeast Agricultural University, he and his friends developed an organic fertilizer capable of solving rural environmental pollution, among various other problems.
As a young entrepreneur (he was born in the 1990s), Wang's career experience was tortuous, and limited. However, We Are the Hero gave him — and so many other young people — the opportunity to realize his dreams. Wang has never forgotten the warmth and power the program, and Yan (its producer), once gave him.
Yan, as a woman, realized women entrepreneurs always face more difficulties compared with men. She wanted to provide women with more platforms so they could succeed with their business ventures.
Thanks to the efforts of Yan and her team, more than 80 businesswomen have appeared on the program. They have received guidance from investors, and other guests, as well as funding and access to various resources and business channels.
Among the women to appear on the show were: Fu Bin, a Ph.D. holder, who led the team that independently developed deep-sea robots; Zhou Jialin, a hearing-impaired woman, who excelled in palm-weaving skills; Yang Xue, an ethnic Yi woman, who returned to her hometown to start a business after she graduated from university; and, Zheng Shuyuan, a retired engineer, who makes products out of straw to protect the environment.
In 2017, Yan and her team worked with the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) to select outstanding entrepreneurs to step on the stage of We Are the Hero.
A special episode received widespread attention. Qiao Xue, who was determined to market her handmade leather goods, which had characteristics of her hometown, appeared on the program. That helped her achieve success, and she eventually established a poverty-alleviation workshop in her community.
During the Spring Festival holiday in 2020, the program, with ACWF, broadcast a special episode that showcased women's strength as innovators and entrepreneurs.
We Are the Hero has become the benchmark of China's entrepreneur-related programs. Behind the show is the tireless dedication of Yan and her team.
Yan has always believed anyone can finish his/her tasks through strength, but that it takes intelligence to do things well, and that it takes diligence to complete a task perfectly.
"What we do is achieve others' dreams. If an entrepreneur is a butterfly, the program has to empower its wings and to raise its hopes to become a butterfly," she says.
To discover more outstanding projects, the production team travelled across China. Each member of the production crew challenged his/her physical limit. The crew once traveled through seven cities, including Lhasa, in a month, and rushed to four cities in one day, to research various enterprises.
Some of the show's guests have suggested Yan's team works harder than the entrepreneurs. Yan has been referred to as "the producer who traveled the most in CCTV's Finance Channel" by her colleagues.
Beautiful Motherland in Poetry
|The Picturesque Country written by Yan Qiong|
In 2021, a collection of ancient style poems written by Yan, The Picturesque Country, was published by China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Corporation.
"From junior high school until now, poetry has been with me, and has been my soul confidant. I believe it will accompany me throughout my life," Yan says.
Journalism has given Yan many opportunities to appreciate the scenery and folk customs of the motherland. She has used prose to record what she has seen and heard, and she has tried to express those experiences through archaic poetry.
It was, indeed, a challenge. But Yan enjoyed that creative process, as it gave her inner joy. In recent years, she has written more than 230 poems, in ancient-Chinese style. She selected 72 of those poems to form the collection.
"Time always has a kind of calm power, portraying experience into an annual ring and carving the past into eternity. This will be the most powerful happiness in life. The poetry collection is a dialogue between me and the beautiful motherland, conceiving love from the bottom of my heart," says Yan.
During the winter of 2018, Yan visited Wuxi, a city in East China's Jiangsu Province, during the time the city encountered the heaviest snowfall it had received in the previous 10 years. As the highways were closed, she and a few colleagues encountered many difficulties as they came back to Beijing. Against this backdrop, Yan wrote a poem, Wuxi, to express her thoughts about that trip.
Prior to that, in October 2017, Yan led her team during a visit to Ankang, a city in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. The team surveyed more than 20 young entrepreneurs, deep in the mountains, who had changed themselves and their hometowns, despite the lack of modern communication and transportation infrastructure.
Yan wrote a poem to pay tribute to the young people who had passion, and who had worked hard to build a beautiful home.
Yan's son, Chen Yilin, who is studying for a master's degree in the UK, wrote an essay, On Hearing Song, as a foreword to his mother's collection of poems.
"For me, who has been isolated in a dormitory for many days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your poems are a unique voice of the homeland, and a channel to introduce my motherland to the outside world," he wrote.
"I will read your poems aloud, and explain to foreigners the scenery and the historical stories recorded there," he continued. "I would like them to see the real China, not limited to the Yellow River, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall."
In 2020, Yan helped launch an activity to care for left-behind girls. She knit scarves for six girls, and she wrote the following to them, "I hope the handmade scarf will bring you a little joy and warmth. As long as there is warm sun in your heart, every day will be sunny."
Photos Supplied by Xia Gaoqiang, Chen Yilin, Zhao Shanshan and Yan Qiong
(Women of China English Monthly March 2021 issue)
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