Liuyang, as part of Changsha, is famous for fireworks. It has remained the largest firework production base in the world for decades.
There is a village here called Yangtian, which means fields of rice seedlings. Yangtian Village is like a mysterious paddy field constantly providing nutritions to healthy seedlings for centuries.
In the past half century, the village has astonished the people by offering over twenty holders with Ph.D in various categories. This is very unusual in China since our education level is rather low.
In Yangtian Village, most of the villagers share the same surname Luo, it is actually the common home and root of many Luo families in Hunan Province, especially in Changsha. And the Yangtian Luo family came from neighboring Jiangxi Province.
Actually my ancestor used to live here in Yangtian as well. A man who was later titled as Lord Shiwen relocated to a place in northern Changsha, he did well there and had a large family. And he became the common ancestor of thousands of Changsha Luos, including my grandpa, my father and me. That place nowadays is still called LuoDai, it means two leading families are Luo and Dai in that town. LuoDai is where my mother was born.
RELOCATION IN HISTORY AND WARS
A branch of Luos left LuoDai about six hundreds of years ago and settled down in a nearby town called Gaoqiao, this is where father s family lived. Because of the wars, my grandpa and his brother left Gaoqiao and settled down in Jinjing, which is between Gaoqiao and LuoDai, and we still live here.
There has been a very strong belief in Luo families that receiving higher education is the most reliable way to climb up to a higher social level and repay the family and nation.
My father told me this ever since I was little, his father told him the same ever since he was little.
Every Chinese family had a formal instruction written or carved on the walls of each family hall in our traditional societies. In our Luo family instructions, studying was strongly emphasized.
A Strong Family Bond
In this Yangtian Village, there has been a very strong bond. Rich or poor, they dont intend to leave. Other families living in this same village are minorities, they would choose to relocate to the cities or larger nearby towns whenever they have the money, but the Luos, which has remajned the absolute majority in Yangtian, always come back no matter how successful they are in the outside world. They would use every piece of the land available to build their dream homes here, because this is their forever home. They are the absolute masters of the land, while other surnames are just someone borrowing the land for survival.
I am the same. I was doing well in California and many Chinese cities, but Iive in Jinjing, where I feel safe the most.
Today I took one of my summer camp students Peng Yong to revisit Yangtian, by biking, hoping to understand how a family instruction build the ultimate foundation of the fate of all Luos.
A UNITED SOCIETY
I have a good friend Deng, who is part of the administration team of the village. He said, whenever the local administration team decides to build a nicer infrastructure facility in the village: higher level road, a park, or a library, the villagers are all willing to contribute. This is not common to see in rural China as well.
I admire the people.
I am thinking, such strong blood bond could be the main force which made 21 PhD holders and hundreds of master degree holders, not the family instructions. When you feel safe and loved, you tend to have more energy and enthusiasm to study hard and contribute to the reputation of the Luos.