Chinese Culture Tidbit: China’s Class of 1977

Chinese Culture Tidbit: China’s Class of 1977

As 2018 swings into motion, we also took time to dig deeper beyond the explosive economic growth that took place in China over the past decade. A great price has been paid for China to jump from third-world to first-world status. One of the significant moments in China’s history was the Cultural Revolution. Seemingly overnight, academics and educators went from being respected to beaten and humiliated. Important books and records of a long and rich history were burnt.

And learning at schools and universities came to a halt. Until 1977.

In 1977, the Chinese government under Vice Premier Deng Xiao Peng decided to reinstate the college entrance exams, also known as 高考 (gāo kǎo). BBC covered a story of how one of their journalists received news in 1977 that she could once again fulfill her dreams of getting a university education. She later went on to enter and graduate from Peking University.

The entrance exams in 1977 marked the beginning of China’s reform on the road to opening up and the Class of ’77 went on to become the backbone of China’s transformation for the next four decades. They were professors, scientists, lawyers, doctors, writers and leaders in their fields, among them the current Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

It was clear that this generation would be the elite tasked with the responsibility of bringing the nation out of a period of darkness. Today, the term “Class of ’77” still refers to a generation marked by life experience, hard work and a strong sense of responsibility.

To learn a new language goes far beyond just memorizing words and grammatical structures. To learn a new language is to learn how it frames a society. That is why at LightBeijing we set ourselves apart by challenging all students to go beyond simply learning words and to delve deeper into the language and culture.

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