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"The [boarding] school's way of cultivating us as 'seedlings of Revisionism' left a deep impression on me."

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  • Interviewer: Hello, thank you for participating today.
  • Interviewer: Can you tell me, in which decade were you born?
  • Interviewer: You don't have to say a specific date, just something like "'50s," "'60s," or "'70s" will do.
  • I was born in the '50s.
  • Interviewer: Additionally, can you tell me where were you living during the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution?
  • I was living in the capital, Beijing.
  • Interviewer: If we give you around ten minutes to say anything about the Cultural Revolution,
  • Interviewer: ...without feeling like you need to plan or organize your thoughts too much,
  • Interviewer: ...in the first ten minutes, what would you most want to share with us?
  • Interviewer: ...You could speak about a memory, a specific incident, or this period's influence on your later life.
  • Interviewer: ...What would you like to talk about?
  • Well, before the Cultural Revolution, I was attending elementary school.
  • It was also a boarding school.
  • Compared to the educational experience of most Beijing children, it wasn't exactly the same.
  • The school conditions were a lot better.
  • When the Cultural Revolution came along, the school was closed,
  • because it was said to be "cultivating seedlings of Revisionism."
  • We were sent home to play, since there was no school we could go to.
  • I felt that the school's way of cultivating us as "seedlings of Revisionism" left a deep impression on me.
  • Interviewer: You remember it fondly, right?
  • Yes, because the classical education made us very proper.
  • As a result, when we were sent back home and encountered the kids who didn't go to boarding school to receive a classical education,
  • we thought they were very wild.
  • During the Cultural Revolution, those kids did everything like swearing at people and such -- everything!
  • When we were released [from school] for a year or so, during that period, I thought life was happy.
  • During the Cultural Revolution, our family wasn't attacked because my parents were working in government offices.
  • My parents had joined the revolution early, before Liberation.
  • Their "family background" was also good, so they didn't experience any attacks.
  • Compared to others, our living conditions seemed, well, quite happy.
  • [Thinking about] that period is definitely a happy childhood recollection.
  • But during the Cultural Revolution,
    I did see two dead bodies
    .
  • One was behind my mother's workplace, on the railroad tracks; someone had committed suicide.
  • Everyone said they were going to go look, so we went to look, and we just rolled him up in a straw mat.
  • The first time I encountered [death], it was a suicide.
  • Another was at the Jian Gong College nearby. There were two groups [engaged in] --
  • Interviewer: --violent struggle.
  • Violent struggle. [They] beat a person to death, placed him on a board attached to a car,
  • paraded out from Jian Gong College, and kept driving on the Zhanlan Road.
  • I did not see the person who was beaten to death, but I went to see what all the commotion was with the car.
  • Those were the two times I encountered dead people during the Cultural Revolution.
  • Those memories stuck with me.
  • Interviewer: Do you remember if later on, you discussed this with your own children -- about the Cultural Revolution, about that period?
  • Interviewer: Did you have a chance to talk about it with your children?
  • Interviewer: Are they interested?
  • I have talked about it with my children.
  • Interviewer: Can they understand it?
    Do they seem interested?
  • They've listened, but how much impact it has or how much the matter touches them, I'm not sure; I haven't talked about it that deeply.
  • But to me personally, the experience of the Cultural Revolution enabled us to reflect.
  • Doing physical endurance training, going to the countryside to study farming in the summer,
  • and later on going to join a production team -- to me, all of these things were precious experiences.
  • Interviewer: So you view these years from a positive perspective.
  • Yes.
  • Interviewer: What about your parents? Were you able to find chances to talk about life during the Cultural Revolution with them?
  • Interviewer: Perhaps because your family was never attacked, there weren't any especially
    negative influences, right?
  • In general, there wasn't much negative to complain about.
  • Interviewer: How about your peers?
    Do you think they have different feelings?
  • I had a classmate from elementary school to middle school.
  • [His/her] father and my mother had been coworkers for many years.
  • [His/her] mother couldn't stand the shock of
    the Cultural Revolution, so she overdosed
    on sleeping pills to commit suicide.
  • It really impacted [my classmate]. They were a well-off family until [his/her] mother committed suicide,
  • and we were only around 10 years old when it happened.
  • So this event's influence on [his/her] life was huge.
  • By the time we were in high school, [he/she] was always negative about everything.
  • When we were young, we thought everything should be about positivity and improvement, but it was clear [he/she] had none of that enthusiasm.
  • At the time I couldn't understand, but now I can.
  • The event's influence was so strong that in the end, neither [he/she] nor [his/her] brother married and they seemed to live very pessimistically.
  • Therefore, I have seen how having that kind of experience in one's family can influence a person.
  • Interviewer: I'm very thankful you would take some time to reflect for us. Thank you.