On Oct. 4, we took a day trip east to Guang’an, the birthplace of influential Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) who led China into the era of “Reform and Opening”. The China we are visiting today might look very different had Deng not charted the course he did. A large park built on the site of Deng’s home village includes his parents’ home and a major museum dedicated to Deng’s life and accomplishments. The museum’s roof lines, three descending and three ascending (not all visible in our photo) supposedly represent the three major setbacks and three recoveries in Deng’s political career. We were privileged to have local resident Mr. H. join us for our tour. He embellished the information provided on museum signs with many anecdotes.
We are becoming accustomed to the frequent requests by Chinese nationals to have us pose in pictures with them (or with their babies). With so many visitors at the museum, we probably could have held a competition to see who from our group was most desirable as a photographic prop. After touring the museum and the parental home, Mr. H. took us to a nearby residence, home to one of the village families relocated in order to build the museum complex. There we had lunch and an opportunity for more informal conversation with Mr. H. We listened attentively to his firsthand account of childhood and youth during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, as well as the story of his education and work in subsequent decades.