When Olive was a child in the 1970s, the summer holiday meant a chance to see her father, who worked as a junior officer in the PLA. The long trip took 3 or 4 days in total; travelling by train, truck, and sometimes carriage. She told me how they would reserve two seats; her little brother slept across them, and she would lie on newspaper underneath, whilst somebody else balanced in the luggage rack above. Even though the journey was exhausting, she described the vast grasslands, stretches of mountains, and untouched forest along the way as the most beautiful memories of her childhood.
Today, Olive has huge concern for the 50 million children who grow up in China’s countryside, and are separated from their parents who have migrated to do temporary work in large cities. As a psychoanalysist, she knows what kind of mental scars this separation can leave.
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