A Chinese Family’s Changes over 60 Years: Growing with our country

This is an ordinary chinese family in Beijing — a happy, harmonious family of three generations.

Chinese family
In the cardboard are “treasures” that Chen Fu has cherished for many years. In reminiscence of the experiences half a century ago, he gave a childlike smile.
Chinese family
Chen Fu devoted most of his lifetime to China’s aerospace industry. He was conferred with many honors for his merits.

Confucius Institute Reporter
Zhang Jusheng
本刊特约记者 张居生
This is an ordinary family in Beijing — a happy, harmonious family of three generations.

The grandfather, Chen Fu, 75, was a researcher at China Aerospace Industry Corporation before he retired in 1994. He is one of the founders of China’s aerospace industry. Born in 1934, he did farm work in his early years and survived the hardships before 1949. When recalling those difficult years, he said, “I never imagined that our life would get better and better.” The father, Chen Beixiang, was born in the 1960s. “Beixiang” means “flying to the north” in Chinese. Chen Fu gave his son this name because the son was born when he was about to go to work in Beijing, the capital in north China. Chen Beixiang belongs to the generation which benefited from the country’s reform and opening-up policy. With a 30-year age gap, the son chose a way of life different from his father’s – starting a business of his own. He rented a quadrangle in Juer Hutong and opened a bar there. “It was not until 1982 when I went to college that I learned the word ‘bar’. Now I’m one of the owners of a bar. What a change in life!” said Chen Beixiang, rather confident of his bar’s business.

Chinese family
Singing the old song “Nanniwan”, which was quite
popular in the 1950s to 1960s, the couple recall those old days.
Chinese family
The “Hutong Bar,” run by Chen Beixiang and his partners, is a quadrangle in Juer Hutong, Beijing, with a floor space of more than 300 square meters.

The granddaughter, Tengteng, 16, is a student at a prestigious high school in Beijing. She is good at art, such as calligraphy, painting and music. She started practicing piano at four and even gave a performance at the Grand National Theater in Beijing. She also participated in China’s Central Philharmonic Orchestra performances in Australia’s Sydney Opera House. As one of the 1990s generation, Tengteng has a very different childhood compared with the older generations. She already had her own bedroom, computer and cell phone when she was a 5th grader. She hangs out with friends. She likes Harry Potter and admires Beethoven and Mozart.

Chinese family
The white-and-black picture, two meters long, features an old Hutong in Beijing. It adds flavor to Chen’s bar.
Chinese family
The foreigners in the bar are, quite curiously, listening to Chen Beixiang recount the history of Hutong.
Chinese family
Looking through the map of old Beijing, experiencing the history and culture of Beijing’s Hutong and being inspired by Hutong — Chen Beixiang is never tired of doing that.

Three generations in one family. They, along with their country, have gone through difficulties in the past 60 years; they have also witnessed great vicissitudes and have grown together with the country. They are a microcosm of the average Chinese families.

Chinese family
At his middle age, Chen Beixiang has to take care of his old parents and young children. Now he accompanies his mother to see the doctor.

Let’s follow the camera and walk into the life of the family …

Chinese family
Tengteng put up many Harry Potter’s posters on the wardrobe. “Now, there are barely any stars I idolize. My stars, like Beethoven and Mozart, are all in my mind.” she said, smiling.
Chinese family
Every day Tengteng learns English from a teacher in the United States via the Internet. The Internet has become an  ndispensable “companion” in her life.
Chinese family
Tengteng is practicing golf under her parents’ instruction.
Chinese family
Young as she is, Tengteng has been to quite a few countries for vacation, such as Turkey, Australia and the United States. She is performing belly dancing, which she picked up during the tour in Egypt. The family of three generations enjoys being together and shares the happiness of family life.

Confucius Institute Magazine 4

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 4. Volume IV. September 2009.
View/Download the print issue in PDF

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