CHINA'S LOST GENERATION REUNITES

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Between 1962-78, 18 million young urban Chinese were send to the countryside to learn farming. They were pulled out of school and torn from their homes. This generation is now known to many as “the lost generation," because they were deprived from education. Wu Jian Hua is one of them. She was send to the countryside at the age of 17, where she was deprived of food, not eating for days.

“When we were born a natural disaster hit, we didn’t have enough food. When we started primary school the Cultural Revolution began. We couldn’t go to school. Later Chairman Mao created the “Down to the countryside” movement, so we went to the countryside. When we had jobs the salary was really low. When we started our family the one child policy was enforced. Then we only had one child. When the kid grew up we were told to retire early. Nowadays the salary is high but we don’t have a job. We are the worst generation, we have suffered immensely”.

She reunited with her old comrades for an emotional 40-year reunion weekend, at the village where they were once forced to labor.

CHINA’S LOST GENERATION REUNITES (04.15 MIN)
VOICE OVER: 40 years ago Chairman Mao pulled Wu Jian Hua out of school and send her off to the countryside. Today she reunites with old friends from the farm. She jokes.
WU JIAN HUA: (00.15) “This statue of Mao symbolizes that we had to go to the countryside five years. The hidden hand on his back means another five years”.
VO: It’s estimated that 18 million young urban Chinese were relocated to the countryside from 1962 to 1978. The aim of Mao’s “down to the countryside movement” was to install the virtues of farm life in the youth. They were labelled the “educated youth”. Today it’s their 40 years reunion party.
WJH: (00.41) “Since I left Luoyang I have never been back. I have many friends here, whom I want to see“.
VO: China transformed dramatically the last 40 years. On QQ, a Chinese social media, the “educated youth” search and found each other and planned the reunion weekend. And this time they are here deliberately.
WJH: (01.04) “We had to go the countryside or we couldn’t get a job. I went unwillingly, I had to. Many people cried, acted out, we had to go”.
“Two years we were told that we had to stay at the farm forever. We felt hopeless. The farm became a mess. We didn’t work, we didn’t have a agricultural product, and no food. The director was chased away by us. Almost everybody left. Many bad things happened. Some attempted to commit suicide by lying on the railway”. (01.41) “I almost died on the farm. I didn’t eat anything for maybe three days. I was lying upside down on my bed. I was crying and crying. They immediately called the director. When he asked what happened I said only one word. Hungry. The director ran back to his office and found a piece of dry bread that had been left there for many days. It was hard as a stone. I couldn’t eat it. I don’t know where they found water, they put the bread in it for a while, then I ate it and became myself again. It saved my life. It is something I cannot forget”. VO: Wu Jian Hua suffered, like many others. During the great leap forward and the culture revolution hunger hit and killed millions. Mao’s “down to the countryside movement” was merely one of the many experiments Mao implemented.
WJH: (02.26) “When I look back there are many things I don’t even dare to think about. Sometimes the young generation don’t understand the elder generation. We feel very sad”.
(02.44) “Our generation is the worst and has suffered the most. We have experienced all the bad things that have happened in China. When we were born a natural disaster hit, we didn’t have enough food. When we started primary school the Cultural Revolution began. We couldn’t go to school. Later Chairman Mao created the “Down to the countryside” movement, so we went to the countryside. When we had jobs the salary was really low. When we started our family the one child policy was enforced. Then we only had one child. When the kid grew up we were told to retire early. Nowadays the salary is high but we don’t have a job. We are the worst generation, we have suffered immensely”. VO: Wu Jian Hua’s exile in the countryside lasted 4 years. Today 40 years later the nostalgia thrives and the joy of reunion is great. But Wu Jian Hua knowingly spells out what the four years at the countryside did to her.
WJH: (03.53) “Everything depends on education. If I had gotten a better education I would have lived a better life. It’s the sorrow of my life”.

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