Arts, Culture & Media

Memoir: Socialism is Great!

(What was your reaction to the Sichuan earthquake?) I felt very sad and upset, but I'm glad China has changed. This is a huge earthquake and in 1976 the government reacted very differently: tried to cover up the news and refused international aid. (Do you think people realized in 1976 that the government was reacting that way?) No, China was isolated. I didn't know the government was refusing aid. (You've witnessed this massive change in China, so can you talk about how your life was a timeline of the transitions in China and what you remember of your first job working as an apprentice in a factory in China?) Boring. I had plans for myself to be a journalist and writer but then in 1980 my mother dragged me out of school to put me to work. My job was to test a pressure gauge so then as an escape I started to read literature. I decided to teach myself English hoping to be an interpreter. Learning English changed my life. I learned of individualism and Jane Eyre was one of the first books I read which taught me that. I was caught reading it which was not good. Jane Eyre was a rebel too. So I thought, why should I stick to rules? In 1989, I organized a huge demonstration among workers and before that I wore bright colors and had a boyfriend. (So tell us about Tiananmen Square, where were you?) I was in Nianjeng, I had a boyfriend who was more worldly and I was questioning the system. I wanted to join the students who were pushing for change. So I organized workers and we went to the streets supporting students. (How hard was it for you to attract supporters?) There were lots of kindred spirits and there was widespread discontent. This was a fascinating time for China. To travel before, I had to get permission from my factory. I hope I have been part of the force that pushed for change.

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