Thousands of students at Shaanxi Normal University have drawn inspiration from President Xi Jinping's seven years as an "educated youth" in the small village of Liangjiahe in Shaanxi province.
The university opened a compulsory course in September on Xi's seven years of service in Liangjiahe to help students learn how the young Xi Jinping grew up in adversity.
From 1969 to 1975, Xi lived and worked in the village as part of a campaign launched by Chairman Mao Zedong that called on urban youth to gain life experience by working in rural areas.
The university enrolls more than 2,000 government-funded normal students every year. Almost 90 percent of the students are from impoverished central and western regions of China. They do not need to pay tuition, but are required to teach at local primary and secondary schools after graduation.
Students have attended group discussions in class and do practical research after class. They have written more than 1,000 voluntary reviews.
Cheng Guangxu, the university's Party secretary, said the course aims to offer guidance to the students to help them become more qualified teachers.
Ren Xiaowei, dean of the university's School of Marxism, said the school has established a stable teaching team, with senior experts as lecturers for the course.
Teachers should comprehensively grasp the essence of the young Xi Jinping's thought, so that the course can combine theory and practicality, he said.
The university plans to compile the teaching materials of the course into a book, which will be published soon.
Song Jiling, associate professor at the School of Marxism, said the course can help students understand how the Party has always put the people first and has been determined to eradicate extreme poverty and improve people's livelihoods.
Tian Shuning, a student at the School of Life Sciences, said the noble character of Xi will serve as the guiding light as she becomes a teacher after graduation.
"I will be committed to my job and treat my students kindly," she said.
Li Yahui, a senior student majoring in political education, said students should emulate the young Xi Jinping's attitude of hard work and self-cultivation amid adversity.
"Xi's perseverance and dedication to work have inspired me to hold myself to a higher standard and contribute to the great national rejuvenation," Li said.
Sun Shiwen, a second-year student at the School of Geography and Tourism, said the examples and stories teachers provided in class offer a vivid image of history.