A museum commemorating Cultural Revolution-era youth reeducation opened in Xichang, Sichuan earlier this week.
The 7,300-sqm museum sits on the site of the most well-preserved large-scale youth education farmland today, the Sichuan Province Yuan Youth Farm in the Xinhua Village of Xichang.
The thousands of artifacts on display at the museum include dress of the period, diaries of the youth, letters, tools, musical instruments, certificates, photographs, and replicas of the buildings that the youth lived and worked in during their stay. Many of the items have been donated by the youth who lived and worked at the farm.
Starting in 1964, over 24,000 high-school students from Sichuan's cities, including 7,403 from Xichang, were sent to the Liang Shan countryside as part of the "up to the mountain, down to the village youth reeducation" movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
While they lived at the farm, each youth was allotted RMB7.5 per month in meals, and 5 mao per month in pocket money. Parents and relatives were expected to cover any other expenses. Within one year of the farm's opening, the youth had prepared 1.3 sqkm of land and planted 1.2 sqkm of peanuts, corn, and soybeans.
More than 1,000 of these city residents who had been sent to the countryside during their youth assembled at the Chengdu train station and took the train together to Xichang to attend the opening.
At the opening, these "returnees" recalled memories from their time at the farm. Sun Jie described buying cloth for new clothes: "In 1974, I went back to Chengdu during Spring Festival. Among my six brothers and sisters, we had tickets for one-third a meter of cloth and 250g of cotton. I went to the Renmin Nan Lu Department Store to line up to buy two pieces of printed cotton cloth. Under the guidance of my grandmother, I hand-sewed my first double-layered, reversible padded cotton jacket. It was in the fashionable blue-gray color of the time, and it was my pride and joy and a cause of envy among my sisters. I didn't stop wearing it until 1978, when I received an acceptance letter from the Chengdu Finance and Trade School. It was the warmth of that jacket that got me through those difficult times."
The museum is the only one of its kind in China whose RMB20 million construction was funded solely by the government.
Xichang lies near the southern border of Sichuan and today is most notable for being the capital of the Yi Autonomous Prefecture and its rocket-launch center.