Together with three comrades from the days on the farm, Ma has come to a quiet restaurant in the heart of Shanghai to talk about the past and explain how those years changed her life. Xi Jinping , the party chief who became president this March and is expected to lead the country for the next 10 years, went to the poor northern Chinese province of Shaanxi when he was 15, less than a year after Ma left home. He only returned home to Beijing seven years later. For many, it amounted to outright deportation and imprisonment in labour camps, depriving an entire generation of their youth and ripping millions of families apart.
Many have set up web forums to exchange old photographs and formed groups to travel to the farms and villages. Ma and her three Shanghai friends all spent several years in Tieli, a county km from the Russian border at camps run by the bingtuan, a paramilitary force set up to develop agriculture and forestry in remote border regions. They now have their own website, and have organised several reunions. While they order food, they start reminiscing about the endless sky, the clear streams, the block houses they built with their own hands and evenings full of song and laughter.
After that, it would become almost impossible to refuse. Bao Danru, the recently retired former deputy head of the Shanghai municipal labour bureau, recalls how, aged 16, he signed up to go to the northeast without telling his parents. It was too late for them to say anything. Two years ago, the Tieli group published a book with hundreds of pictures and nostalgic verses. During the meal, Cao shows me some of the photos. There is Bao, young and upright, a tractor driver. There is Gu Yaoqi, now a thin elderly man but then the most handsome of the gang, giggle the two women.
And then there is the photo of Ma on the train. Cao praises her beauty but her friend starts swallowing hard. Both her parents were attacked in the cultural revolution as counter-revolutionaries, and their home was raided by Red Guards. Such troubles were very common.
Even Xi Jinping was in a similar situation — when he left home, his father, a veteran revolutionary leader, had just been imprisoned. She recalls that she was close to breaking down when her father saw her off. On that trip, she and her mother sat face to face crying silently for more than half an hour.
Cao also speaks out. I had no opportunities there, none. The two women launch into tales of the Great Northern Wilderness. In , when the region suffered torrential rains, their clothes would not dry for weeks. Gu tells of the long days during the harvest. Many fell ill with cholera. When leaving the block house in the morning, Gu Yaoqi would step into faeces from people who had hurriedly relieved themselves overnight just outside.
Another group of Shanghainese who spent part of their youth in the northeast have built an educated youth museum on the south bank of the Amur river that forms the border between China and Russia. Its avant-garde building, a bright red triangle, sits amid a smattering of low brick houses in sunny little gardens. Many more who died of malnutrition, the cold or in accidents. The museum does not offer any political comment. Similarly, the booklet published by Bao and his comrades has a chapter on those who died in Tieli, but there is little more than their pictures with a few lines of remembrance.
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What we talk about are our memories, this is about our youth. Feng Gejie, a year-old from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, laboured on a state farm for a decade and is still full of anger about a system that he believes wrecked his life.
He describes his time on the farm as one long stretch of imprisonment, and he was continually subjected to political struggle sessions. Mass meetings where people had to criticise their fellow students, neighbours and colleagues were one of the main strategies with which Mao ruled the country. Humiliations and physical violence were common, and many were beaten to death or driven to suicide. Bronx Community College opened in ; Queensborough in The three community colleges were hardly adequate to handle the enrollment pressures coming to bear. But the complacency regarding significant expansion of the system was about to end, with an international event few could have predicted.
Across the nation, the Sputnik phenomenon fueled increased education spending and a focus on higher education, as the U. In New York, there was another critical development that would shake the higher education firmament: the election, by a ,vote margin, of the liberal-moderate Republican Gov. Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. Moving quickly to put his stamp on state education, Gov. Rockefeller named Ford Foundation President Henry Heald to review higher education needs and facilities in the state and propose ways to bolster the state economically, scientifically and culturally.
Among the proposals that most rankled the New York City educators, the Heald report urged creation of two separate, prestigious, Ph. Private colleges would also receive public funds for construction and student aid. Momentum had been building for doctoral programs to be offered in the city colleges as well. The Heald report and a subsequent master plan by SUNY trustees were criticized in the city as a state power grab.
City College President Dr.
China’s ‘sent-down’ youth | Financial Times
Within a few months the state began acting on the Heald proposals. Ingraham of Brooklyn, had been studying the municipal system. The Committee to Look to the Future urged that the seven municipal colleges be reorganized into a city university empowered to grant Ph. Immediate support for the university proposal came from soon-to-be three-term Democratic Mayor Wagner. Wagner was a strong friend of the public colleges, a sentiment imbued by his affection for his father, a German immigrant who had graduated from City College in , later rising to the U.
State legislation creating The City University of New York as an integrated system empowered to develop doctoral programs and grant Ph. Everett brought in Dr. After the war, she had headed the mathematics branch of the U. It would be several years before the first CUNY doctorates were granted. Rees, and Everett, faced a challenging puzzle. Within the new City University, there had emerged political splits over the importance of the now-linked doctoral program and free tuition.
Chancellor Everett, needing support from the Board of Higher Education and the colleges to restore the free tuition mandate and obtain state funding for the Ph. Board Chairman Rosenberg had also embraced the free tuition fight as his signature public issue. In , after two years as Chancellor, Everett resigned. A national search was launched for a new Chancellor, and Bowker, who knew Mina Rees from his World War II service as a statistician, accepted the appointment.
But the system was straining. The war babies are here …. The measures included an earlier start to the school day; addition of Friday afternoon, evening and Saturday classes, and using closed-circuit TV and other methods to teach more students at once. But it was clear these measures would be no match for the even more serious enrollment crunch projected for the late s. Something had to be done. A staff paper released by Bowker in September outlined two funding strategies that in some ways foreshadowed the CUNY Compact funding model pioneered by Chancellor Matthew Goldstein decades later and relied upon by the University today.
When Bowker returned to his post a few months later, the chancellorship had been revised and strengthened. For the City University of New York it was an opportunity to begin to centralize University operations and strengthen the structure of the university, for the future.
Bowker and Mina Rees, who was in charge of developing the Ph. But over time, Bowker and Rees circumvented the turf-protecting college administrations by developing subject-based University committees composed of faculty members who came to be persuaded of the advantages of centrally located Ph. In , Bowker engineered a spectacular real estate deal and bought a building on 42nd Street, across from the New York Public Library, to house the new graduate school.
During his years as Chancellor, he created the Graduate Center — the Graduate School and University Center — providing an institutional structure and home for the development of graduate education at the University. Today, the largely state-funded CUNY is a magnet for record numbers of students — , today at its 23 institutions — and boasts one of the most racially and ethnically diverse student bodies in the world. Federal and state aid — Pell grants and state TAP awards — cover education costs, in many cases percent, for the neediest students. Despite the fiscal challenges, the University in remains committed to providing affordable academic quality.
Its evolution as the integrated university, envisioned 50 years ago, continues today with yet another reinvention. Fifty years on, focused on academic excellence, public service and access for who all seek a higher education, the modern, integrated University continues to seek innovation in the pursuit of knowledge, to search for new meaning and to reinvent itself to further meet the educational needs of New Yorkers and beyond. How the CUNY Graduate Center grew from a maverick endeavor to a paragon of doctoral-level public higher education is the subject of a book to be published this fall.
The center commissioned the book — including vintage photographs — for its anniversary celebration. Kelly, lauding his faculty and alumni. In a small office without students, courses or even a secretary, Rees began the Graduate Center on Sept. Outside the University, many believed that advanced graduate studies should not be part of public education.
She identified Oxford University, with its many colleges, as a model, and visited to see how it could inspire her own plans in New York.
The center has of its own faculty and draws on the expertise of more than 1, scholars, from throughout the University and the city. There, Anderson worked with John Rothman, a volunteer archivist and retired New York Times director of information services, who organized five decades of documents and memorandums that now fill six bookcases.