Opening the Door to Hope By Peter Wu
Author’s Note During the Cultural Revolution in China, which started from the mid 1960s to mid 1970s, scholars were discriminated and humiliated. All colleges and universities were closed down. After this perilous era, Deng Xiaoping took control over China, and helped the country reform. China’s economy, and educational system were developing rapidly. People gained more freedom and the country was more engaged to international affairs. After my father graduated from high school, he didn’t know he could actually go to college; it wasn’t until he was told by a schoolmaster that he knew a new life waited for him. He left the small town called Chang xing in Zhe Jiang and went to study about foods at Rutger's University in New Jersey, U.S.A.
Family tree This is my family tree, there is more to it than just that, but here is the important part.
Opening the Door to Hope I kicked a pebble across the deserted schoolyard. It bounced off against the old China tiles on the cracked walls. I wondered what it would be like if knowledge was adored in this country, maybe my parents wouldn’t have to where “tall hats” a few years back. Why? Because they were teachers. Everyone was forced to work in the Fields, yet everyone was starving. Furthermore, none of us high school students get to go to college, where you explore amazing things and Find out how to make it useful for you and others’ life. I heard footsteps. “Kejian,” I turned around and saw the square-‐faced, shorthaired, schoolmaster. Even though he was only in his late 40s, he looked so frail
that if the wind today was any stronger, he might collapse. “What are you doing here?” he inquired, “Don’t you know what happened?” “Know what?” my eyes widening a little. “Young man, you are very lucky. You are one out of a hundred people that get to go to college.” “Since when?” I thought he might just be joking. “Since Deng Xiaoping declared the Open-‐door Policy.” “How come I didn’t know?” “Maybe you were too busy working in the Fields,” mused the schoolmaster. “Now why don’t you bring the news to your family?”
Is he just pulling my leg? But in my image, the aging schoolmaster was always wise, honest, and kind-‐ hearted, so why would he lie to me? So I set on the perilous 10-‐mile trek… to the high school. I took a long walk to the high school board of college admissions and there it was. It was as if those three characters were carved in diamonds: Wu Kejian. I rubbed my eyes. It’s still there; it really was true! I get to go to college! In America! A new place! A new life! The next thing I knew, I was soaring across the dirt path back home. I wasn’t tired at all. Even I was surprised by my crazy speed. The farmers nearby stared at me, saying things like “Don’t run too fast! You
could get hurt!” But I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was Fly back home. I blasted the door open and shouted, “Mom, dad! I’m going to college in the US!” My mother sprang up. She ran into the kitchen. I started hearing sizzling; she’s probably preparing a feast that only comes once an year. Dad was standing there, lips trembling. He looked like he was going to run around in circles, crying with excitement. But instead, what came out was, “Son. Soon, all of us in the country would not have to worry about starving. We will become a strong nation. But you must study hard at college and exceed in subjects that will be useful. Then, you have the ability to help this country.”
In a blink of an eye, the day I anticipated arrived. My head hurt; my stomach churned. I was so glad that the Flight was over. So here I was, JFK airport. So they really weren’t exaggerating. Towering buildings poked the sky. Taxis were like hives of bees. Noisy vendors were chanting out, “Hot dogs!” No wonder why America is called the “new world”, It feels really strange, where you First Find yourself in a village where buildings are no taller than 5 meters and the next day, you suddenly Find yourself surrounded by gigantic industrial structures, cars everywhere, and lights gleaming like stars. My new life begins here, now.
Interview What happened during the event? After event? -the “bad guys” in the government were convicted and locked in jailed. China develops economy, education, freedom of people -starts in late 70s -Stop ideological debates, class struggles stop, Focus on economy, start opening the door, keep china engaged to world affairs, improving the justice system. -permits foreign products, such as McDonald’s, KFC etc. -First McDonald’s in Guangzhou, Line half a mile long How did it affect you? -Got opportunity to go to college, in USA -met Mom in US How did the event start? -Deng Xiaoping thinks over, figures out why China isn’t catching up with the rest of the world How did this event change your perspective of life/world?
-Opens everyone’s eyes gets broader understanding, more information of the world, meet people from all over the world. -People appreciate knowledge. New slogan “Knowledge is power” Were other family members affected by the event? -Mom, Dad, grandpa and grandma become well respected. Who was with you during the event? -Everyone in China. Family, Classmates. What was your most unforgettable moment during the event? -Was told by school master that he got a college permission, first didn’t believe, and went to high school to see college admissions poster and saw his name. -Next day, took a 15km walk to the college to study. -Friends envious. -In a countryside school. -Leaving China on airplane, arriving at JFK airsick, First time in New York -Feels that New york is Big, well developed, people friendly, straight and honest.
How did you feel that time? -Disbelief, surprise, excited, anxious, looking forward to starting a new life in a whole new environment.
Bibliography "Chinese Economic Reform." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Chinese_economic_reform>.
Reflections What speciﬁc challenges did you face during this project? It was hard to get much important details. What did you learn about your family member? (personality, character…) He was a hard-‐working, down-‐to-‐earth country boy, who yearned for knowledge. What did you learn about yourself (as a learner, as a family member)? I learned that I was very fortunate to be in this genera=on. I, along with my brother, were the ﬁrst people in this family to be born in America. How have you grown? (as a writer…) I am a small step closer to becoming a good writer.
Why do you think doing a project like this is important? In the future, if we interview someone, we will know how it’s done. What part of this process did you enjoy most? Why? Wri=ng the porBolio. I got to put many interes=ng things like my fathers old photos and my family tree. What part of this process did you least enjoy? Why? Wri=ng the narra=ve. I had to make a lot of correc=ons and it s=ll isn’t perfect. How do you plan to share this project with your family/ family member? My family members can read it, and give their perspecCves
Published on Nov 7, 2012