Seeds of Fire

  • Rowena Xiaoqing He
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)


Before I was born, my parents had to leave the city where they grew up to work in the northern mountainous areas. During the Cultural Revolution, the Communist Party promoted the slogan that it was “better to be red than expert.” Jobs were assigned by the government and often did not correspond to an individual’s skills. My mother, who had trained to be an opera singer, was assigned to work in a factory packed with graduates from universities around the country. My father, who had just graduated from medical school, was sent to work in a different village hospital with “barefoot doctors.”2 Father could not come home every night, and Mother lived alone in a small room she had been assigned, which was near a prison.3 Once a prisoner escaped and tried to break into Mother’s room. She was scared to death. She was rescued by her neighbor, but she told me she was always afraid to be alone in darkness after that.


Communist Party Cultural Revolution Village Doctor Funeral Home Northern Mountainous Area 
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  1. 6.
    The land reform campaign (1947–1952) was launched in rural China. Land and other property was forcibly taken from landlords and redistributed among peasants. The land reform campaign increased the Communist Party’s popularity among Chinese peasants, “but, as a consequence, it is unlikely that fewer than 1.5 to 2 million people were killed” between 1947 and 1952. Frank Dikötter, The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution, 1945–57 (London: Bloomsbury, 2013 ), p. 83.Google Scholar

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© Rowena Xiaoqing He 2014

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  • Rowena Xiaoqing He

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