Village Insights: BTC’s Urban-Rural Connections – A Path to Progress

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Shanghai Village Notes Education Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “BTC” for its formal English name Beyond The City) was established in September 2017 as a social enterprise dedicated to connecting urban and rural areas and promoting common prosperity. The team, adhering to the spirit of innovation and practicality, focuses on understanding, serving, and building rural areas to contribute to a more connected and prosperous China.

In 2017, three young individuals each borrowed 100,000 yuan from their families to start Beyond The City (BTC). Today, it has grown from a team of three to a collective and has gradually developed into a youth action platform assisting in rural revitalization with projects spread across the country, such as the Coffee Travel Manor in Lancang, Pu’er, Yunnan, the industrial base in Jixi, Anhui, and study camps in Western Hunan, Western Sichuan, Yunnan-Guizhou, Shandong, and Inner Mongolia.

Over the past seven years, as a social enterprise, BTCs has consistently adhered to the vision of “illuminating the beauty of the countryside.” The organization firmly practices the philosophy of “understanding, serving, and ultimately building rural areas,” with “connection” as their core values.


Recently, China Development Brief interviewed Mr. Wang Xingyu, the founder of BTC, and Mr. Liu Guoxing, the chief of Public Welfare Project Cooperation. The interview is as follows:


CDB: BTC has made significant achievements in rural revitalization. Could you please introduce the main challenges your team encountered while implementing these projects and how you overcame them?


BTC: In our efforts to promote rural revitalization, we have accumulated rich practical experience and encountered some challenges. Particularly in promoting urban-rural common prosperity and advancing educational philanthropy, we found that the singularity of the social evaluation system is a core issue. If we continue to use urban evaluation standards to measure rural areas, rural revitalization will face numerous difficulties. Therefore, we’ve gradually advocated for ” Distinctive Success”, attempting to improve the singularity of the social evaluation system.

Reflecting on the past, BTC faced difficulties from 2020 to 2022. We had to cancel numerous projects and issue substantial large refunds, which posed unique challenges to team’s morale.

During these tough times, we continuously worked hard to attract more like-minded partners to co-create. Over the years, we have attracted many young people who want to contribute to society and the countryside. They gather on our platform, collectively pursuing the value of “altruism,” living for more than just themselves.


CDB: BTC connects urban and rural areas through the concept of “seeing is the foundation of education and the starting point of change.” What does this mean?


BTC: Within BTC’s various business segments, urban vocational tourism and rural experiential learning represent two areas where we contribute to rural revitalization. On one hand, we enable urban teenagers to participate in meaningful study trips and research in rural areas (referred to as rural study tours). On the other hand, we focus on providing career education, psychological education, and learning motivation for rural teenagers, sponsoring them to experience various professions in the city (referred to as urban career tours). Through these projects, we aim to foster mutual understanding between urban and rural areas and facilitate the redistribution of educational resources.


CDB: The rural study tours for urban teenagers and the urban career tours for rural teenagers have been running for several years. Could you share some successful cases and describe their actual impact on the participating teenagers?


BTC: We are delighted to share the following impactful case studies. Furthermore, we eagerly anticipate collaborating with additional partners and social forces as we strive to deliver quality education to more children and revitalize rural areas.

Just last month, the rural revitalization project, jointly developed by our team and Shanghai Qingpu World Foreign Language School, was successfully completed. Moving forward, students from the elementary and middle departments of the school will embark on study tours to our project base in Lancang, Yunnan. These tours are immersive experiential learning opportunities rooted in rural society. As a pioneering advocate of the ‘rural study tours’ concept, BTC has been actively exploring ways to enhance study tour education.

In our years of urban and rural youth education practice, we found that for children to succeed, having a broader vision is a prerequisite. This vision is twofold, including both outward-looking views of major cities and inward-looking views of rural fields and traditional China. For many urban children, what they need is a real and original growth experience. Like a tree, only by deeply rooting in the soil and absorbing the nutrients of the earth can the branches and leaves thrive.

In the “Urban Career Tour” project, BTC and Changning County in Yibin City, Sichuan, collaborated to offer local rural opportunities to venture beyond the mountains and gain insights into the wider world. By engaging with enterprises, we facilitated diverse career experiences for students, including factory visits, exposure to modern agricultural technology, and insights into e-commerce operations. These activities not only expanded students’ horizons but also ignited their interest and motivation for future career paths.

Through the practical cases and innovative explorations of BTC, we can see that connecting urban and rural areas and promoting common prosperity require not only policy support and financial investment but also joint efforts and innovative thinking from all sectors of society. BTC will continue to embrace this mission, leveraging the influence of social enterprises to build a better rural and urban China and contribute to the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.


CDB: How does BTC balance the distribution of resources between urban and rural areas in its educational projects and ensure that all participants receive fair educational opportunities and growth support?


BTC: In the context of rural revitalization, BTC, as a socially responsible enterprise, recognizes that it cannot replace other stakeholders in allocating urban and rural resources. However, our role lies in ensuring mutual visibility between urban and rural areas. Through our platform, we strive to provide greater educational access and assistance to those with limited resources.

  • Diversified Study Tour Project Design: Design diverse study tour projects based on different age groups and needs, covering multiple levels from basic education to advanced exploration to meet the learning needs of students from different backgrounds.
  • Establishment of Multiple Study Tour Camps: Establish multiple study tour camps nationwide, including rural and urban areas in various provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions, ensuring more students have access to study tour opportunities and can experience the cultural and natural environments of different regions.
  • Cooperative Construction Projects: Collaborate with local governments, schools, and communities to jointly carry out study tour projects. For example, the cooperation with Shanghai Qingpu District World Foreign Language School and Lancang in Yunnan ensures the sustainability and effectiveness of the projects through resource sharing and support.
  • Focus on Social Fairness and Inclusion: Emphasize social fairness and inclusion in project implementation by providing additional support through scholarship programs or other forms to ensure that economically disadvantaged students can also participate in study tour activities.

Through these measures, BTC is committed to building bridges between urban and rural education, promoting the comprehensive growth of students, cultivating a sense of social responsibility, and ensuring that all participants enjoy fair educational opportunities and support.


CDB: We understand that BTC is promoting the “Youth Future Courses” public welfare project. What are the three stages of this project, and how is it progressing so far?


BTC: Yes, we launched the “Youth Future Courses” public welfare project at the beginning of 2024 to inspire the learning motivation of urban and rural teenagers. The project is divided into three stages:

  1. Youth Learning to Learn: In the initial stage of our project, we focus on “learning to learn,” aiming to cultivate children’s learning habits and independent thinking abilities, helping them better understand the importance of learning and its practical significance.
  2. Youth Finding Yourself: Based on the above, we provide more practical courses and experiences in the second stage, guiding children to discover their interests and strengths. By participating in various career tours, rural and urban children can explore different career paths and better understand their abilities and potential, thus finding more suitable development directions for themselves.
  3. Youth Growth Companion: In the third stage, we aim to build a more lasting and supportive growth companion system. By establishing mentorship programs, pairing children with experienced professionals, and providing continuous guidance and support, we help children achieve sustainable growth and development.

So far, the “Youth Future Courses” public welfare project has achieved positive progress. Through cooperation with local schools and communities, we have provided practical and meaningful educational activities for numerous urban and rural children, helping them improve their learning motivation and self-awareness.


CDB: BTC has accumulated rich practical experience in educational philanthropy. How does the team balance the relationship between social enterprise and social responsibility in practical operations?


BTC: A social enterprise proactively integrates social impact into its core business model, operating with a dual purpose—achieving financial sustainability while addressing social or environmental challenges. Social enterprises actively create value for both their stakeholders and society at large. In this regard, BTC is no exception.

  • Adherence to Core Values: Adhere to the core values of “connection” and “trust” in all operations, ensuring that our projects and activities reflect our commitment to social responsibility and public welfare.
  • Sustainable Development Model: Adopt a sustainable development model that combines social value creation with commercial operations. For example, through the operation of study tour bases and the development of public welfare courses, we generate economic benefits while fulfilling our social mission.
  • Continuous Innovation: Continuously innovate project models and operational strategies to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of our projects. By integrating new technologies and concepts, we improve the quality and impact of our educational projects and better meet the needs of participants.
  • Transparent and Open Communication: Maintain transparent and open communication with stakeholders, including government agencies, partner organizations, participants, and the public. Regularly share our project progress, achievements, and challenges to build trust and support.
  • Emphasis on Social Impact: Continuously assess and optimize our social impact, ensuring that our projects and activities truly benefit society. By setting clear social responsibility goals and performance indicators, we measure and improve our contributions to society.


CDB: As a social enterprise, what are the future development plans and goals of BTC? How do you see the potential impact of your work on the rural revitalization and educational philanthropy fields?


BTC: We will continue our efforts in the following areas:

  • Expand the Scale and Coverage of Projects: We aim to continuously expand the scale and coverage of our projects.
  • Strengthen Cooperation and Resource Integration: We will strengthen our cooperation with government agencies, enterprises, schools, and communities.
  • Promote Innovation and Quality Improvement: We are committed to promoting innovation and quality improvement in project design and implementation.
  • Enhance Social Influence and Public Awareness: By actively participating in public welfare activities and social initiatives, we aim to enhance our social influence and public awareness.
  • Build a Professional and Dedicated Team: Building a professional and dedicated team is crucial to our success.


CDB Closing Remarks:

Through conversations with BTC, we gained profound insights into the efforts and contributions of this social enterprise in promoting rural-urban connectivity and shared prosperity. Simultaneously, we discovered that many answers to rural challenges often lie hidden within cities, particularly concerning ‘people.’

Since 2023, BTC has progressively established the ‘Shanghai Youth’ platform, an offshoot of their rural initiatives. Currently based in Chengdu, Shanghai Youth aims to collaboratively create ‘distinctive success’ with like-minded urban youth, ultimately supporting rural development. The platform welcomes entrepreneurs from various fields related to rural revitalization, as well as socially responsible businesses and content teams interested in rural development.

BTC embraces a youth-driven approach, opening up its diverse resources to provide physical and online co-creation and sharing platforms. Through this window, they bring together passionate individuals from different domains, collectively offering comprehensive support for youth entrepreneurship, interaction, and development in rural areas.

In Brief

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