I grew up in communist China from 1970 to 1979 before coming to the United States. This photo is a rare photo of our family together. This is the time when China just opened their immigration policy to allow people to leave China.
My mom was a pediatrician, my dad was an architect. I have fond memories of a community who worked hard, all paid equal amounts (around $75 a year) and surround by people who were liked minded.
My vivid memories before I was 9 years old were
- walking to get breakfast with food ration tickets
- getting up early for a morning run with all my classmates at the crack of dawn
- doing morning exercise routines and eye exercises to keep our eyes healthy
- raising silk worms
- trying my first cigarette and choking and swearing I would never again
- huddle together with the family to try a rare pot of molasses and twirling it with chopsticks
- waiting for my dad to come back after a 3 month business trips, he was gone most of the time
- eating roasted hot peppers that my sister gave me as a prank
- cheering my sister on as she competed in jump rope competition
- getting my first red scarf after being induced into the little red army while holding the little red book of Mao
- making our annual coal blocks to burn in our cooking stove using a metal stamping tool
- huddle together with others in a dorm to watch the only TV in the whole building
- bringing empty toothpaste tubes to trade for candy
- bring a bowl of rice to a cart outside to get pop rice
- reading Chinese hand written letters in cursive from my relatives
- watching my dad do Chinese calligraphy
- looking at the hand drawn architecture plans my father finished that night
- running away from boarding school and crying until my parents took me out
- head lice, falling down into a sewer, falling flat on my back from an elephant shaped slide
- sleeping on bamboo beds and my mom fanning me to sleep
In the backdrop, my parents did struggled with their friends who were re-educated and committed suicide under enormous pressure from cultural revolution. As a kid, the events of the cultural revolution just seem to be normal events that I hear my parents talk about. They ultimately made a choice that my sister and I didn’t have a future in China and were able to come to the US through immigration because my grandmother was here since the 1960’s.