The first time I meet Han MeiMei, we were standing on my deck in Vermont. She looked at the fields around my house and she said, ‘That’s a lot of fields. Have you ever thought of writing messages to airplanes?’ I had not thought of this.
Han is a brain scientist. She studies the nature of memory, and she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. She grew up in a state-run factory compound in Guilin, in southeast China’s Guangxi province. Everyone who worked there lived there, and shopped there, and the children were educated in schools there. Han was born in 1984, soon after China had decided to open itself to more economic engagement with the international economy. But she was also a second child when second children were not allowed in China.
We talked about growing up in China, and what she learned about China after she left. And why she’s chosen to spend her life asking questions that may never be answered in her lifetime.
Thank you as always to Tobin Anderson.
Music credits I cannot pronounce:
An excellent Little Tiger Team video that you must watch:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7hbYLaD-FY
Han is not her real name. A lot of what she says in this conversation would be considered censorable in China, and she wanted to protect her privacy.
Playlist from show:
1. “Fly, butterfly!” by The Little Tigers Team
2. “Our life is full of sunshine” by Yu Shuzhen
3. “Songs and smiles” by The Milkyway Youth Art Troupe
4. “Flowing water ” by Guan Pinghu
5. “The waters and clouds of Xiaoxiang” by Wu Jinglue
6. “For ten years, the river runs east; for ten years, the river runs west” by Wutiaoren