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"Two people born in the same year have completely opposite feelings about the Cultural Revolution."

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  • Interviewer: Thank you for accepting my interview. First, could you please tell me when you were born? You don’t need to say the exact year; just the decade will do, such as “’30s,” “’40s,” “’50s”…
  • I was born in the 1970s.
  • Interviewer: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
  • In Northeast China.
  • Interviewer: Could you tell us, as far as you can remember, when did you first gain an impression of the Cultural Revolution? Through what channel did you get this impression?
  • I probably can’t think of exactly when it was, but it must’ve been pretty early, most likely when I was in elementary school. People in my family, such as my mother, often brought it up.
  • When the Cultural Revolution started, she was in elementary school, and later she went “down to the countryside.”
  • She studied hard, but because of the interruption of the Cultural Revolution, she did not go to college.
  • This is something that always bothered her.
  • Interviewer: So you learned about it from your family and their experiences.
  • Right, through my family. Later, my major touched upon some historical facts regarding the Cultural Revolution.
  • So, after growing up, my understanding has advanced a bit.
  • Interviewer: Are you personally interested in the topic of the Cultural Revolution?
  • Yes, I can say I’m quite interested in it.
  • Interviewer: Is it related to your major?
  • It’s closely related.
  • I’ve even been a teaching assistant for a special class on the Cultural Revolution.
  • Interviewer: Oh, OK. If I give you a few minutes to say anything you like, what would you want to share regarding your research or what interests you about the Cultural Revolution?
  • I’d like to offer some perceptions that are distinct from my major.
  • My mother and [one of] my undergraduate teachers happen to be around the same age, but their feelings about the Cultural Revolution are completely different; this has left me with a deep impression.
  • My mom told me that although she went “down to the countryside,” when she looks back on that time period now, she has good memories.
  • These days, she and the classmates with whom she went “down to the countryside” often get on WeChat and sing songs from the Cultural Revolution era.
  • During holidays, they take turns singing songs from those times. So, she really misses it. Also, she said when Mao Zedong died, she happened to be on a train.
  • She said she was wiping the tears streaming down her face, and a lot of the people sitting around her were doing the same; the feeling was really sincere.
  • My teacher and my mom were born in the same year, but my teacher went to college later on.
  • He said that year [1976] he was in an [Educated Youth] collective household, and when they heard the news that Mao had died, they went out and bought meat and wine to celebrate, saying, “Our future is taking a turn for the better.”
  • Obviously, these two people born in the same year have completely opposite feelings about the Cultural Revolution. This really shocked me.
  • Interviewer: You are quite sensitive; you quickly wondered, why would two people of the same age have totally different feelings? Thank you so much for the interview.
  • You’re welcome!