China’s ‘Unluckiest Generation’ Reflects On Cost Of Revolution

From USA Today:

As many Americans this year recall defining events of 1969 — the moon landing and Woodstock— many in China are looking back at a radically different experience.

Four decades ago, Chairman Mao Zedong dispatched at least 17 million teenagers from China’s urban areas “up to the mountains and down to the villages” to “learn from the peasants.” They were forced to swap school for backbreaking labor in desperate conditions. Some spent a decade before they could return home. Many never got home.

Thousands are going back to the scene of their broken dreams, to the villages and state-run farms where they came of age. Known as China’s “unluckiest generation,” they are exploring their bittersweet memories.

In large groups, and individually, these people are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their defining experience. Some have prospered since then — including the man likely to be China’s next leader, Vice President Xi Jinping— but others have never recovered from the loss of education and opportunities.


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