Zhao Bingqing, a 27-year-old university teacher, has spent a period of time at a military compound in the northwestern outskirts of Beijing.
Provided with a soldier's uniform and an automatic rifle, Zhao said her days at the military barracks will forever change her life.
Zhao, a lecturer at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and formerly a model, is one of hundreds of militia women preparing to march past Tian'anmen Square in the upcoming grand military parade on Tuesday marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
"When the Party secretary of my institute recently came to the barracks to visit militia women from the school, he told me that I seemed to be in better shape and more elegant than before and looked like a real soldier," she said.
Such changes have been taking place not only with her, but also for almost all of her fellow militia women, Zhao added.
"When we started our training at the barracks for the parade, we had to spend a few days overcoming difficulties such as being unaccustomed to tough training," the militia woman said. "After we successfully endured the hardships of the first days, we gradually realized that the demanding training will generate many future benefits for us. These benefits-such as improved physical ability and a stronger mind-will definitely help us in the future."
Furthermore, militia women have also obtained deep and comprehensive knowledge about the country's national defense system.
"For me, the good habits and practices I've picked up through the training here, including self-discipline, will be with me for the rest of my life," she added.
Speaking of her unforgettable memories at the training site, Zhao recalled the only time that some of the militia women were reduced to tears.
"It was not because the training was tough and exhausting, but because we were moved by each other," she explained. "After standing for a long period, some of us looked each other in the eye and we knew, though no one was speaking at that time, that we spent many days together for one shared goal-to bring glory to the motherland-and the tears began flowing. It is hard to express our feelings at that time, but I am quite sure that the tears were not about suffering but related to our growth and benefit."
Zhao said her father and grandfather were members of the People's Liberation Army and all of her family members are proud of her being part of the parade.
"My father still thinks like a soldier. After I came here and started my training, each time he called me he didn't ask whether the training was tough or if I was tired, but instead encouraged me to carry on."
Senior Colonel Zhu Deyou, commander of the women's militia unit, said that members of the unit are civilians, mainly from Beijing's Chaoyang district, and are made up of civil servants, doctors, teachers and office clerks. Some university students were also included in the unit. There are also 81 mothers in the group.
The officer said the average age of the militia members is 26. Thirty-four of them marched along Chang'an Avenue in the women's militia unit a decade ago during the National Day parade in 2009 marking the 60th anniversary of New China's founding.