BEIJING - Near the center of Beijing, tourists swarmed past a four-story red brick building as a guide introduced it as a significant hub of thought in modern Chinese history.
Dubbed "Red Building," the site was once the main campus of Peking University (PKU). Within its walls, China's advanced youth, including Mao Zedong, developed the Marxist ideas that paved the way for the establishment of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Marxism was first disseminated in China at PKU, and young people there today are still inspired by the spirit of their peers during the early history of the Party.
"Our generation should carry on their original aspiration, and make the country more prosperous," said Zhang Dongjie, a postgraduate student at PKU.
Zhang has volunteered to teach in some of China's most remote areas.
When he was teaching in a township in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, more than half of his students were from the Kazak ethnic minority, with most from farming and herding families.
"During the experience, I taught not only the students but also myself," said Zhang. "I learned more about China in remote areas."
Since 1998, over 370 volunteers from PKU have taught in different provinces, regions and municipalities. Since 2010, over 2,200 PKU graduates have opted to work as public servants in grassroots-level governments.
Zhang said that it is through such practices that he understands how one should integrate their personal fate with the destiny of the country, a spirit that was made apparent by Party pioneers at the time of the CPC's founding.
"I will choose to go where the Party and people need me," he said.
For Song Xi, another postgraduate student at PKU, her understanding of the Party's early history offers her a boost during low points and setbacks.
"The Party has continued to grow despite many obstacles and setbacks during a century of development," said Song. "It is the same case with personal growth. There might be obstacles, but keeping in mind your original aspiration will bring you strength."
Today, PKU is a leading institution for Marxist studies in China. In 2018, the school opened the program "Dazhao Class," named after CPC pioneer Li Dazhao. The class cultivates talent in the field of theoretical Marxism.
The program recruits from the pool of PKU undergraduates. Jiang Ruxue, a senior undergraduate who formerly studied philosophy, signed up for the program. She sees Marxism as a keen interest, and said she can explore interdisciplinary fields of knowledge such as economics, history and sociology.
Jiang was also moved by the generations of young people who fought for their ideals.
"It was a time of tremendous change when the Party was founded, and young people fought with responsibility and care for the country," she said. "We are in a relatively peaceful time, but the spirit of those youths still applies, and is inherited."
Jiang hopes to be a teacher of political theory in the future, imparting knowledge to the next generation of young people.
"Young people are the future of the country, and their belief represents the hope of our nation," she said.