Born and bred in Xi'an, the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Yi Yang is a 24-year-old auxiliary police officer in the city's Traffic Police Detachment. The area he covers is near the Qujiang International Conference & Exhibition Center, and famous attractions such as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Shaanxi Provincial History Museum. It's a busy area where streets are usually chocked with traffic, and flooded with foreign tourists.
Last year, Yi became an Internet celebrity after a short video of him helping foreign drivers in four languages emerged.
Yi graduated from the School of English Education of Xi'an International Studies University in 2014. "I worked as an English teacher for a year, but I always wanted to join the police force. So I quit the job and became an auxiliary police officer in 2015," he said.
Yi is responsible for traffic safety, street patrol and handling minor accidents. Sometimes he offers help to local and foreign visitors. In addition to giving them directions, he also tells them the history of those attractions.
"The traffic police work very close to the citizens. Other than the safety and dispersion, we should be prepared to provide more services," says Yi.
Yi also speaks French, Russian and Japanese. He learned these languages in his spare time by hanging around with friends, autodidactism and talking to foreigners. "I've always been a language enthusiast. I can speak different Chinese dialects. For me, learning languages is a pleasure."
Thanks to his language skills, many foreigners have received help. In the video that launched his online fame, Yi chats up tourists in fluent French. "I asked where they were from in English. They said Paris. So I switched to French. They felt excited to speak their mother tongue on a foreign land." Sometimes the police officer also explains the traffic rules to foreigners.
Yi does this because of his kind nature and love to the city. As a travel enthusiast, the young man traveled around China during college years. Eventually he chose to stay in his hometown: "Xi'an City is like an old sage who accepts different philosophies, yet still manifests his own brilliance. Coming back from the modern cities filled with skyscrapers, I very much enjoy walking around the ancient city wall, watching the flags fluttering in the sunset breeze. I believe the rich historical foundation of the city is unparalleled."
Yi feels happy that his efforts in college have paid off. Being famous didn't really change his life. The patrol work is the same as usual. He has a simple wish though, "I hope that everybody could obey the traffic rules and make Xi'an a better place together.”