I was 13 years old when I started practicing Falun Gong.
My mom started practicing in 1998. She became kinder and more patient. My dad and I saw a difference in her and the improvement in her health, so in early 1999 we started practicing too. Before the persecution, I was very happy. My family and I went to my teacher’s house, who was also the local coordinator, every night to read one lecture of Zhuan Falun. Every day I got to spend time with my family members. That didn’t happen a lot before we practiced.
My life completely changed after the persecution started
I still remember July 20th; that’s when the persecution started. My parents and other local practitioners went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Dafa, but I stayed at home with my grandma. The next day policemen broke into our house and they searched everything. I was scared to tears, and I didn’t know what was happening. I was later told that the policemen searched our house because my parents went to Beijing to appeal.
My dad returned from Beijing after about ten days. Because there were so many policemen in Beijing everywhere, they couldn’t find a way to get to the appeals office for Falun Gong. When he came back home, he was fired immediately. My mom went to Tiananmen Square to tell people the truth about Falun Dafa and was kidnapped there soon afterward. She was thrown into a local detainment center, and my family was forced to pay about 4,000 Chinese yuan. At that time my mom’s monthly salary was around 300, so that was a huge amount of money for us. My dad had to borrow money to pay the policemen to release her.
Every day on the TV there was propaganda saying Falun Gong is a cult that kills people and themselves. I was very confused because I felt Falun Gong was very good, but everything that I saw on TV was saying it was not good. That’s when things changed at school. My teachers and classmates started discriminating against me. The teacher told us that Falun Gong is a cult and that people who practice Falun Gong are crazy.
I was a very simple person when I was young. I was raised in a family culture where you should be honest with yourself and others. After practicing Falun Gong, all my family members followed truthfulness, kindness, and tolerance. I was just 13. I hadn’t learned how to lie to people yet. I tried to tell the others that Falun Gong is good, my family members are not crazy and that they just want to be kind and honest people, but that just didn’t work. At that time I really felt very lonely and helpless.
The persecution turned my best friends against me
I went to a private middle school, so I lived in a dorm room. We were on the 8th floor, and I had an upper bunk. One night when I was sleeping, two girls climbed up to my bed. They threw off my quilt, grabbed my collar, and forced me to sit up. They slapped my face to wake me up. I didn’t know what was going on. They cursed at me and said that I’m crazy, I shouldn’t be alive, I need to commit suicide, things like that. They forced me to the ground and opened the window. I remember it was very chilly, and they pushed my head out of the window and said, “Jump. You jump from here. You should not live.” I was just 13 or 14 years old. I didn’t understand how those girls could treat me like that because we were friends before this incident happened. Everything changed when the persecution started. At that moment I didn’t know what I should do because the window was really high up, and I couldn’t just climb over it. If the window had been lower, I probably would’ve just jumped.
There was another incident during our independent study period. I needed to go to the bathroom, so I stood up, started walking, and another girl put her foot out to trip me. I fell onto the floor in front of the whole class. I hurt myself pretty badly. Everybody was looking at me and laughing. The girl said, “Why didn’t you just jump to your death? You should just kill yourself so you don’t need to get up anymore.”
They didn’t treat me this badly at the beginning. They just said some mean words and they called me “crazy girl.” Gradually, they started doing other things like stealing my stuff and throwing my books on the floor in front of the teacher, but the teacher didn’t stop them either. I tried to get help from the teacher, but my teacher was actually on their side. It didn’t happen on the first day like this, but just little by little. At the beginning, only one or two girls were mean to me, but gradually I realized that nobody in the whole class talked to me anymore. Actually, they didn’t dare to talk to me because the girls who treated me badly threatened the entire class. They said, “If anyone in this class dares to talk or say a word to Vivian, we will treat you the same as we treat her.” So nobody dared to talk to me anymore.
My headmaster protected me and kept me in school
One day I went to talk to the school headmaster in his office. I told him that I needed to quit school. He asked me why. I said that because my parents practice Falun Gong and I practice Falun Gong, I was treated very unfairly. And because my parents were being persecuted, my family couldn’t pay the high tuition fee. It was very expensive, over 1,000 yuan. It was just 100 yuan for public schools.
He was really the only person that supported me in my very tough situation. And that’s the only reason why I could stay on and graduate. After graduation, he told me that one day two policemen actually came to my school and told him that I could not take part in the national middle school graduation test or go to high school or even university because my family and I practice Falun Gong. But the headmaster told them that he didn’t care what the families do, but this girl, she is innocent and she didn’t do anything wrong. She should be able to take the test to earn what she’s supposed to.
Because of his protection, I was not afraid or thrown out of school at that time. And I was so lucky to be in a private school and so lucky to have him. If I was a public school student, I definitely would’ve been thrown out of school by then because I know other practitioners’ family members, boys and girls my age, they had to stop going to school at a very young age because their families practiced Falun Gong.
A nightmare childhood seeps into adulthood
I went to university in 2004. I tried to let my university student classmates know that Falun Gong is not a cult, but it’s very difficult to change university students’ minds. And they had been told Falun Gong was a cult since they were in middle school. I only told my friends that I practice Falun Gong. I didn’t talk about it in public because I really didn’t want to repeat the nightmare from middle school. I went to school in Xi’an. It’s a big city that’s a very long distance from my hometown. My family was far away, and I didn’t want to make any trouble anymore like in middle school. I didn’t want to be treated like that again. So I only told my friends in class, but only two of my friends still decided to be my friends.
When I graduated from university, I decided to be a teacher just like my primary school/middle school teacher Guihua Liu, who was persecuted to death for her belief when I was in high school. When I became a teacher, I started to understand why my teachers treated me like that. Because, as an adult and as a teacher, you have to learn all the principles on political requirements from the party, and the party requires all teachers to brainwash students that Falun Gong is a cult. That’s the only standard answer to test questions about Falun Gong. And when I worked as a teacher, I tried to explain to my students the truth about what was happening to Falun Gong practitioners. The other teachers reported me to the manager of the school. And then the manager talked to me, and then my salary was lowered. I was paid only 1,200 yuan per month, but my rent was 1,050 yuan per month. Even though I was a teacher working in a foreign language institute, I could not cover my own living expenses.
The manager of the school told me that if I continued to tell people that Falun Gong is not a cult, then he would report me to the police station directly, and I’d be arrested for my belief, just like what happened to my mom. That was really a nightmare. One day when I was working there, I saw two police cars parking in the parking lot. My friend, who was also one of the managers of the institute, told me, “You need to go immediately because they had a meeting in the morning talking about Falun Gong. If you don’t go, you may have trouble.” So I just rushed out of the institute. I didn’t even clean my desk or anything. I didn’t take anything. I just ran away.
We’re grateful for the chance to freely practice Falun Gong in America
I remember the night when my husband and I actually arrived in America. The first thing we did at the airport was to take out our iPad. We connected to Wi-Fi, and we went to minghui.org immediately and it wasn’t blocked! We just felt that it was, wow, so surprising! We could search for Falun Dafa information online as we like, but you can’t do that in China.
At the beginning when we arrived in America, we felt so much freedom. I had never felt that much freedom since I was a little girl. I didn’t feel any pressure, and I could talk about my belief to anyone I wanted to. I won’t be persecuted for my words or my beliefs, and I can practice and do the exercises by the lake or at the dorm or at the park. Nobody will arrest me and I will not lose anything for doing this. That was just unbelievable. For the first two or three years, every time when we practiced openly, we commented on it. It was so amazing.
As a new mom, I now understand why my parents never gave up their faith
When I was growing up during the persecution, I didn’t understand well what my family was doing. I felt that all my problems were caused by my family members. When I was 17 or 18, I even felt that if they didn’t insist on practicing Falun Gong, I wouldn’t have been treated like that by my classmates.
Thanks to outside pressure, China is truly changing
I’d like to thank all the people outside of China for their help and attention. The help from America is actually really changing China. China abandoned the forced labor camp system because of the pressure from America. Even though they are still persecuting Falun Gong, at least they changed the title of the forced labor camps. There are no forced labor camps in China now. They have some re-education centers and some other centers, the persecution is still going on, but we see that it’s slowly changing. I really think that as more people pay attention and more people stand up for human rights, the fight for justice will help end the persecution very soon.