photo of Chinese woman northeast and southwest China
China glossary


(CHINA 25 - Southwest)






Village women’s director


Fale village, Weining county, Guizhou


22 April 1997



Section 1
After finishing another interview with Zaikuan team, we came to Fale team. Zhonglan, who had been accompanying us for these days, was from this team. She was the only high school graduate in Fale village; furthermore, she was now the women’s officer of Fale village, which is a government position. I thought she would be an ideal narrator. With this background in mind, when I interviewed Zhonglan, I wanted her to talk about the situation of women in the village - but we didn't succeed in this. She was not as talkative as we expected. It seems that after the household responsibility system (when people worked for themselves rather than cooperatively) was promoted in the township, interaction between farmers became less. Women seldom contacted each other. No activities were organised. Although Zhonglan held the title of women’s officer, she didn't know much about their situation in the village. So the content of the interview, which took place in her home, was about the general situation, rather than being in–depth on women.

Can you introduce yourself?
Introduce what?

Like what's your name?

How old are you?

There are only two children in your family? or...

Three. Are these two yours? [There were two children in the yard at that time.]
No, the youngest is - this one. [She pointed to the girl.]

Who are the other two?
Two boys, one girl. [In fact, she has four children.] Now one girl is studying in Yancang; one boy is studying in Bandi. One is in the village studying; the remainder is this little one.
Section 2
How old is the eldest one?
The eldest one is 16, the girl who's studying in Yancang.

Studying in a middle school?
In a primary school.

Girl, the eldest one. Is this one (youngest daughter) of school age?
About to be, the youngest one.

Will you allow her to study?

How do you think about this issue? I mean the issue of education for girls and boys.
I see this issue this way - I came here after I finished high school. Before that, the condition (situation) was worse, everything was worse. Now again, I am old and I haven't moved forward. I'll serve (nurture) these children well. [Laughs] If there are opportunities, he should be able to be admitted to school. I would find the opportunity for him to study. I myself have no hope in the future.

You have studied in high school? Did you graduate from high school?
I studied in Yancang and graduated from high school.

There are few people like you in your village?
Our village doesn't have a boy student.

….[people] who had studied at high school?
Yes. I didn't get admitted. After graduating from the high school I came back home. I wanted to take the exam to be a women’s officer. I couldn't get promotion unless I had worked for three to five years; I didn't get the position. If it was not for [support from] the National Minority Affairs Committee, we [would have] almost left our village.

Oh, you had taken the exam to become a women’s officer?
I got that. I passed that but had been pressed down (passed over) because I didn't fulfil the criteria of working for three to five years, so I couldn't be promoted.

What was the three to five years?
To go through the procedure.

Oh, is it a requirement?

At that time, you couldn't get it just because of this condition (requirement)?
Section 3
How many years had you worked by that time?
More than one year after I went through the procedure. Now I have no future. Now I stay at home by myself. They said there was money for poverty alleviation. I said that we would just go and buy more livestock and stay at home. No matter how hard it is, these children would suffer. It depends on his (son’s?) capability. It depends whether he could get into to school.

Do your children study well?

Do they study well at present?
The boy studies better than the girl, the one who's studying in Bandi. Now they let him learn Yi language.

He learns Yi language too?
En (yes).

In your village, were there activities such as literacy classes taught in Yi language?
What? What did you say?

Did they use Yi language to get rid of illiteracy. Were such things done?

No. Which child are you in your parents' family?
The eldest.

How many brothers do you have? And sisters?
Seven brothers and sisters altogether.

Could your brothers and sisters go to school?

Did other children in your family get the chance to study?

Your brothers and sisters?
Oh, I have a brother in Weining.

In Caohai town.

Oh, did he go out (leave the area) because of [wanting to] study?
En, my elder brother finished middle school and joined the army, and just came back. He came back from the army but now he's sick at home. My other younger brothers, after they graduated, all stayed at home. He wanted to take the exam. But the old people in our family didn't allow him to go. Now they feel regret. There is no development in these places. Really, except for raising livestock, there isn't anything else here. We all depend on livestock for our living.
Section 4
Could you speak louder? How much livestock do you raise in your family?
In my family, there are five buffaloes and two horses. We got another horse last year. But my boy rode on it and climbed up the mountain, then it fell down and died.

How about pigs?
We have no pigs.

You don't raise pigs?
We fed pigs, but last year, three were killed [for food] by our family…[interrupted by visitor].

You don't raise pigs in your family then?
We do raise them. But we haven't bought any up to this time.

Oh, you haven't bought any?
Last year, we fed three, and all were killed. Now we haven't bought any.

Last year you killed three pigs?

You killed. Did you sell some of the meat or you keep it all for yourselves to eat?
We kept all for eating.

Oh, then your family had much meat?
Much? Not much.

What's the main source of income of your family?
We depend mainly on livestock. We can't depend on other things; it’s mainly livestock.

Can you explain it in more detail?
Detail? [Laughs] In our community, if you are rich, you keep large livestock. If one has money, one would buy some goats and sheep to feed up. From what other sources can you make money? From carrying charcoal [on your back]? How much can you earn from carrying charcoal?

Have your family ever carried charcoal to sell [in markets]?
We have never carried charcoal to sell.

Are there any goats in your family?
No goats. Now we have only large livestock, no small ones.

So your family mainly depends on selling large livestock?

Do you think the large livestock are easy to raise?
If you’ve only got livestock, it doesn’t matter whether it’s easy or not, you only have to work hard, work harder still...
Section 5
Do you think the physical conditions here are good for raising livestock? Such as, is there enough grass to feed them?
The grass here is good.

It is good?
It’s just that production doesn’t go up; otherwise, livestock are easy to manage.

You are the women officer of your village? How many years have you been the officer?
Two to three years, but I’ve done nothing [laughs].

Probably you know better [than us] about the women's situation in the village. Can you briefly introduce me to it?
I know the medical aspect better. We have to make the place more convenient. We have no road. You see, a woman, when she does field work [and] she feels pain, she goes to ask the doctor to come to her home, but they cannot come. They can only use the old methods, but it’s still painful. Medicine? We cannot find (get hold of) medicine. You use the old methods, we don’t know how to ask doctor in detail and so we apply the old method without care (incorrectly). [Laughs] That's pitiful.

You said it's mainly the health aspect of the women?
Yes. It’s the health aspect; there is no medical facility. We don’t have good facilities.

What do you think is the main issue of women's health?
Gynaecological diseases, it is just the gynaecological diseases that have got very serious.

What's the disease exactly? Can you describe?
Eiya. Now, it's... now, this time, I cannot say it clearly. Gynaecological disease; women's issues. You see, during women’s monthly periods, when they work, [there are] people who have better living conditions… [But] if the woman’s living condition is not good, she has to take grass paper as the (sanitary) pad, and then she’ll get the disease (infections).

Do people here just put some grass on the ground when they have children?

She doesn't have the child in the bed?

Do you think it's good for her body?
It has an impact on the body. People whose living conditions are not good, they have to eat pickled vegetable and red beans, which are things people usually won’t eat if their living condition is good. But when she doesn't have any other choice, what can she eat? People who have better living conditions would kill a chicken for the woman to eat. They would buy a chicken for her to eat. If you don't have a good standard of living, you have to take anything that is available. And they get disease from that (from poor nutrition etc).
Section 6
Are there any medical facilities in the village?

Do women go for check-ups when they are pregnant?
They don't get checked. If they have some disease, they’ll just go to the village doctor. Some others just wouldn't go for any treatment.

Are there many village doctors here?
There are not many. How many? I don’t know exactly.

If you go to see the village doctor, do you need to pay him?
I don't pay. If he comes, I’ll just cook a meal for him. For some families, if their living condition is difficult, he visits and they would just receive him. He would leave after the treatment. What money could he ask for?

What kinds of disease can the village doctor mainly treat?
Now the village doctors help to treat children’s diseases. They give children injections, give them drugs, use their hands to touch the children and see what illness they have - they don't have any other methods of treatment. They don't have scientific knowledge; they have nothing. When a child has fever, they would just advise you to boil an egg and put it on the child’s forehead.

Will they look for some herbal medicine as a kind of treatment?
Medicinal herbs? They know some. They would look for some and ask the patient to take them. Some who don't know herbal medicine well may just look for something similar for the patients.

Do you think herbal medicine is better, or western medicine?
Well, we need western medicines to cure illness. How could the herbal medicines which can be found in this place heal anything? Those medicines that have been processed are good; processed western medicine is good.

Can you tell me more things about women? You have talked about the health aspect. What are the common problems of other families in life and at work?
In this village? Eiya, I tell you now, many women have suffered the same symptom. When they come back from a day’s work, they all say that they feel pain on the wrist.

Pain in their wrist? [possible reference to arthritis or rheumatism or sprain from heavy farming work?]
En, even us, we have the pain too.

Do you think women in this place bear more of the workload? Or is it the men who bear more?
Women bear more. Men only help with the work when it's the busy season for planting. At other times, all the work is done by women. Men go out [of the village] to other places to work.
Section 7
Are there people in your village have gone out to work? Any women?

Are there any women who go out to earn money?
There are women who go outside to earn money.

What do they do usually? They….?
This time [of year] they’ll set up a stall in the market.

Some are in Lushan.

They take stuff from here to there to sell?
From this place?

En, people from this place?
No, there aren't any.

I asked are there women from your village who go out to sell things?
Do women go out? There aren't any. It’s rare, only one has.

There is one? What kind of business is she running?
She sells hammers in a shop.

She sells in a shop? Is the shop run by herself?
She runs it by herself. Now all shops are privately run.

Where is her shop?

Do you think it's good for young women to go out to earn money?
Good. We think it's good. Most women stay at home. Where could she go to earn money? You said there were no girls; there were even no boys [going out].

Why don't the boys want to go out?
They have no money in their hands, what can they take to go? They all stay at home.

Do you think women in this village are hardworking?
In what situation?

Are they hardworking?
Oh, they are not just hardworking; they work themselves to death [laughs]. If you are not hardworking, what will you eat? They work very hard. They have to fetch a bucket of water before other people get up. As soon as other people get up, they go to bring another bucket of water back. After breakfast, they go to do the field work. When she comes back home in the evening, when there is no other work, she has to take the bucket to fetch water again.
Section 8
Some families have better life because they have more livestock. Do you think it's because they work hard?
En? What did you say?

Some families, for example, your family, raise many livestock, while some raise fewer. Do you think those who raise fewer do this because they are not hard working?
People who raise fewer are more relaxed. They have no money. If you are willing to work hard, the harder you work the more you get.

Is he willing to go?
Of course he is willing to go. Now, those people come to alleviate poverty, everyone wants to raise up more [livestock], everyone wants to. Like those in Dade, in Yanliang's family they have over 100 goats. But they have only one person to herd them, only a woman.

Did her family get the poverty-alleviation money to raise livestock?
Yes. She doesn't sleep at night. There isn't a pen. All the livestock are being kept and watched by the door. She needs to get up to check them at night.

She is afraid that the livestock will be stolen?
En (yes), she’s afraid. Those who don't get poverty alleviation money, they steal. By stealing one goat, one can get 500 to 600 yuan. The goats are good.

Those who don’t come to steal goats, are they all believers in religion (probably meaning Christianity)?
Yes, people who believe in religion won't steal.

Are there many people who believe in religion?
There are many, half of the people believe. But rarely young boys, they don't believe.

Why don't the young boys believe in religion?
They don't want to believe.

After the household responsibility system (when people worked for themselves rather than cooperatively) was carried out, have women got together to organise activities?
There isn't any activity. Women all have to do the field work. The responsibility system is good. You labour as [much or as little as] you like, and you get richer if you work harder.

What do you think are the differences before and after the responsibility system?
What are the differences? For example, the yield of grain or of every other thing is better than before.
Section 9
What's the reason?
What's the reason? We work by ourselves and don't have to share with others. What you do is yours. Everyone earns more. In the past, a group of people worked on the same piece of land. You dug on the piece of land and I would not labour more than you did. People didn't want to work hard. Like, when we grew the potatoes, we just threw them there and didn't care if they grew well. Now you grow potatoes, and you will get the yield.

Your piece of land hasn't been reallocated after (since) the responsibility system?

Was the land allocated once only?
It was allocated only by (at?) that time.

It has been over 10 years since then?
Probably... about 17 years.

Didn't people born after that time get any land?
They didn't get any land. Even my children didn't get any, only the two of us (husband and wife) have.

Is the grain sufficient for your family to eat?
Not sufficient, and I get food for him [laughs].

Where did you get the food?
Just from our buffalo, or horse - I sold one in exchange for some food for him. Men have gone out to look for jobs. We women just stay at home to do some housework, to plant grain, and to let children to go to school. It’s tough for us to maintain the livelihood of our family.

Doesn’t your family lack grain?

How many months in the year will your family lack enough grain as food?
En, it's not too bad to mix the fine grain with some coarse ones for eating. The yield of corn is enough for half the year only. We all eat corn, but we have fewer cornfields.

Does your family buy rice?

You buy rice once in a while – how often?
It's irregular. Sometimes when I'm home alone, I am not able to move the grind roller, so I will have more meals of rice. Sometimes if I have time, I'll cook and eat corn.

Besides the land that is allocated to you, did you rent fields on the mountain?
The fields on the mountain can't be rented.
Section 10
When you graze the buffalo and goats, do you allow them to wander around freely?
They are allowed to wander around freely. They can climb along this road, or climb over that slope. There is a piece of land for pasturing.

Comparing your village with other villages, which is better?
We here are regarded as a bit better than other places.

In what aspects?
For example, our yield of corn is better than theirs. The corn isn't good in other places.

Oh, the corn here is better?
En. We hear the difference is very little, [but] otherwise we would be the same as other places. Our family has become rich only recently. One family [in the past] got little land. The piece of land in front of my house belonged to 4 to 5 families in the past. One family occupied only a small plot of land.

Have you started planting corn for this year?
How much did we plant this year?

Have you planted?

Did you plant the corn with plastic films?
Yes, but my family hasn't planted [yet].

Your family hasn't planted. Will you plant?
I will plant it tomorrow and the day after.

Will you use plastic film?
En, I will use plastic film [to cover the seeds and keep in moisture and nutrients].

Which one do you usually apply to the field: chemical fertiliser or manure?
I used manure more in the past but now I use chemical fertiliser more. If you put chemical fertiliser this year but stop using it next year, will the production go down?

Do you use hybrid corn seeds?

Are the corn seeds you used an improved variety?
The variety of seeds we used hasn’t changed.

Haven't you used improved varieties of seeds?
En, we haven't changed the variety of seeds in recent years.

You know the fields in your place. What is the yield per mu (1 mu equals 0.067 hectares)? Do you know?
One mu of corn? I'm not sure.
Section 11
Don't you know the exact amount?
One mu of corn, at most several sheng (unit of capacity: 1 sheng equals 1 litre). I don't know about this.

When you think about the development here, which aspects do you think need to be developed?
How to raise livestock, especially in this village. We all depend on livestock; other things won’t work.

How do you think the raising of livestock could be improved?
Have good policy. You provide us some assistance, we try to raise more [animals], so that it can be developed. Now we don’t have the first amount of capital. Not necessarily up to 100 yuan; even 20 to 30 yuan can do it. For example, we could use it to raise small livestock. It would create turnover in one year. The first time, we could raise 10 to 20 goats. Ten female goats will give birth to over 20 small goats a year. Breeding two goats bears one litter of goats; they’ll have two litters a year.

You suggested raising more [livestock]. Besides that, what else do you suggest for development?
Especially here, we need a source of water. If the water source comes, there would be no problem about raising livestock. I don't have any other wishes.

You mentioned about water sources. It seemed to me that a water pipe had been set up before?

How was it damaged?
The people from Dafa destroyed it. The water pipe was laid underground, but water didn't come. Now all the water pipes have been taken away.

Is it because there was no water that they took the pipes away?
People stole them.

Why didn’t the water come? Didn’t anyone manage to stop them being stolen?
How could you manage to? The thief did it at midnight; you didn't know where he had gone.

Why did he steal those small pipes?
To build houses.

To build houses?

All (the thieves) were people in your village?
There were outsiders too. I heard some people said, "You won’t be able to investigate. They were stolen at midnight."
Section 12
How long do you need to walk to fetch water now?
I go to Dafa.

How far to walk from here?
You came from that place. It is where you came from there to here. Now we have to go there.

So your village is not so far from that place?
It’s far away.

Does the village down there go to the same place to fetch water too?
Which village down there?

The villages down there?
They don't go; only we go. There is no water in our village.

But you need to irrigate the fields too?
We don't irrigate.

You depend completely on rain?
En, we all depend on rain.

Is there much rain?
There is much rain. When there is too much rain, the mudflow comes down from the woods on the mountain slope. That mud spreads on the fields.

The mud flows down the mountain slope?
Oh, and sand, all flow down.

En, we have encountered this two to three times before.

Do you remember if there was such thing when you were young?
Those things?

When you were young, when it rained, would the sand run down?
Sometimes. It was not serious when there were many trees on the slope, not as serious as it is now.

Were there trees in this place when you were young?
We remember there were thick groves of trees [points to white poplars]. There isn't one grove now.

Do you think about planting more trees again here?
Here in this place? Plant trees? [Laughs] Kapok [tree], Qi [tree], and this is Parasol [Interviewer: In fact, it's the white poplar tree.]

Can these trees grow if you plant them?
They can grow. But they break when the frost comes [the branches break because they freeze and snap]. Ours were all broken down.
Section 13
What things do you think would be destroyed most seriously when it freezes?
Trees in particular.

What problems would be caused if the trees were cut?

If the trees were cut, what problems would occur?
The trees just won’t grow. What problems would occur? Anyway, they were not there originally. Because our financial situation was not good, we had to cut down the trees and took them to Maguan to sell. We sold them to the factory. The Zhimu (a kind of wood) was all cut down to sell. In the past, we had no food to eat. If a person didn't cut down some wood to sell, what could he eat? So we cut all [of it]. If you blamed him because of this and prohibited him to do so, he would have had no food to eat. There was a person who prohibited him. But he would continue to do it even people didn’t allow him to do so. Now we have a better living standard; we ourselves plant trees. He dares not to come to cut them.

Did you like to plant trees by yourself before?
I liked to plant trees. He (husband?) knew that I liked to plant trees. It's the best time for planting trees - when he’s not at home. I took the seedlings and planted them freely.

As a women officer in your village, did you ever think about mobilising the women in your village to plant trees?
Just one family has some. I didn't mobilise the women to do it [laughs].

If you mobilise them, will they start planting?
People’s thoughts are backward. Since the household responsibility system people labour on their own land. If you instruct them to do anything, they’ll feel strange. They don't need you to give them instructions [laughs].

What do you think about the transport here?
Transport? In the past, we were longing for it. Last year, this small road was built, we were very happy about it.

Oh, it was just built last year?
Yes, we were longing for the road very much. My man was the team leader; he led the villagers to build it. He didn't ask me to but I went to follow him for the construction. No one was excused [from the work of road building]. If you didn't build this road, it meant that if you went to Yancang to buy vegetables, you had to take a wicker basket to carry them back on foot. After it has been built, it's convenient. It’s easier than walking. Once it had been built, people who had better living standards bought horse carts. If we didn’t have the road, our children wouldn't be able to see a bus until they went to the market; they would never have a chance to see a bus. This year and last year our child saw buses twice. When the bus comes, groups and groups of people surround it and look at it.
Section 14
Did the government come to help for the road construction?
The government paid some money, and we provided the labour.

People paid money and you provided labour. You were willing to do it like that?
We were willing to do that.

Do you think it is good?
Of course it's good, very good. Here in this place, in the past if you wanted to build a house, trucks cannot come in and we didn't have tractors. We had to go outside to buy the cement and tiles, and then use horses to carry them back.

Had the road been built when you built your house?
Ours? It had been built for 10 years.

It has been built for 10 years already?
We didn't have money. We saw others dividing up their family [probably when a newly married couple moves out to live apart]. We two built a house hastily. You see [laughs].

Is there anyone who has got rich in the village?
There are many who’ve got rich. They are not rich if you compare them with other places. [But] compared with other people in this village, they’ve developed a lot.

What did they develop mainly?
What did they depend on for their development? They bought some chemical fertilisers, planted more, planted some other coarse grains. They raised livestock, several cows. He took one to sell when he had no food to eat. They just depended on these to get rich. What other things could they depend on to get rich? We are not rich.

Do you think the difference between the rich and the poor is great?
The difference is not so great. They don’t have much difference between them. Some people are poor because of physical disability, or getting old; when they go out [of the village] they cannot make money. They are poorer. People who can go out and make money, can go to ask for a loan. He asked for a loan for running some businesses. He can barely maintain his living.

Are there many disabled people in your village?

Disabled people?
There aren't many. Like the family in our team. Their family had money to build their house. Her man's eyes aren't good, the woman is dumb (cannot speak), and his mum is very old.

Is their family being categorised as a “household under special difficulty” (meaning the neediest in the community, a category defined by China’s central government for the purpose of poverty alleviation)?
En (yes). Usually when people need to pay some money every year [as in tax, fees for water, electricity etc], he doesn't pay. This year, people visited their home and gave him a set of bedding and 100 yuan.
Section 15
Are there any single person, old widow or widower here?
Here? There aren’t any in this village. There is one in Dafa, and one in Haizu.

Not many? How do people treat these single people and widows or widowers? Who takes care of them?
Who could they wait to be taken care of? He takes a small bucket [to fetch his water], it's good that Dafa is near; he carries one small bucket of water each time.

Does he carry it himself?
He carries it himself.

Do other people help him?
When people are not busy, they will help him. When people are busy, he goes by himself; they don't do it for him every day.

For those who don't have a son, when their daughters are all married, what do they do?
They’ll live together with their daughters. I mean for those who have better standard of living, the daughter would take him in together with her. If they don't have good living conditions, they live separately.

Live separately. Then for the people in your village, do they worry about having boys or girls because of this? I mean that they will have no son to depend on when they get old. Do people have such thoughts?
There is nothing you can do if you’ve got no son. For me, I think girls are good. For a girl, wherever she goes, she will make a living if she has favourable conditions.

Do you think there is the belief that boys are more valuable than girls in your village?
More or less.

Usually how many children does a family have now?
Usually five or six. People like us who have gone through the [family planning] operation have three or four children. Since we had the operation, no enforcement of family planning has been carried out in recent years. Transportation is not convenient. When the government officials of the family planning committee came, people would run away. In the past, when they asked us to do it (family planning), we thought it through and agreed. What's the advantage of having more [children]? Apart from anything else, we cannot afford one pair of shoes for him. We feel pitiful about it. Now everyone said we shouldn't have had the operation. We see others bringing up 10 children - we also wanted to have more, but we cannot afford it.

How many children do you think is best?
At most two to three, at most four. We all said that if we have too many we cannot afford it. It's enough that you can bring up these and nurture them well. Now in our team there are still some people whose mindset hasn't changed. They have five or six children, or even six or seven. How much can you afford to buy for them to wear and eat?
Section 16
Do other people think in that way?
There are still some.

Do you know any special traditions and custom?
When a daughter gets married - for people who believe in religion - when their daughter gets married, they take her to the [Christian] church. During that evening, of the wedding night, he takes her to the church, he goes to the church, and prays, something like that. For those who don't believe in religion, they’ll just send her away, and get her some food. In the past, old people would drink alcohol and present gifts - we don't know it (the custom?) well [laughs].

Just now you said when a woman delivers a child, she would do it on the ground. Is it a kind of custom?
It's the custom. She has no scientific knowledge. She would just wait at home for when the moment comes. When she starts feeling pains, she takes a handful of grass on the ground and gives birth just like that. She feels pain but nothing can be done. For others who have good living conditions, she can have pre-natal check-up - the family would pay some money to buy medicine so she would not easily get sick.

Are there any customs for the families who have many sons - when they want to divide up their families [and live separately]?
What rule? Nothing special. Just the son’s uncles and old grandpa would be asked to come to the house. No matter how many sons they have, they ask the old grandpa to come, and finally get divided (split up). For some kind old people, when they were about to divide the family, they would cook a meal for everyone. Some families were divided in quarrel. There is no fixed custom.

If the parents are still alive when the family gets divided, who will be in charge of the process?
Both would be in charge. For those who have many relatives and clans, all the uncles would be called to come. If the son is obedient, they will negotiate; if he isn't obedient, they will quarrel and fight. You cannot tell exactly.

I heard it was popular that the aunt's daughter married the uncle's son? Is it still popular now?
There are a few who do this now.

Are there still?
There are still some.

For this practice, are there any customs one has to follow?
There aren't any customs.

Do you think that the Yi are almost the same as the Han in many aspects?
Almost the same.
Section 17
What do you think is the significant difference between them and Han nationality?
Yi nationality? All are the same. My family accepts marriage with your family (Han nationality). My younger brother's wife is a Han.

Are you related to Han through marriage?
And our uncle, and our children's uncle. The aunt is a Han.
[Zhonglan say some words quietly, but she's too shy to speak out.]

You just say what's the advantage of marrying other nationalities?
What’s the advantage? The children are cleverer.

If they marry a close relative, what's the disadvantage?

What's the disadvantage of marrying a close relative?
They said the next generation won't be clever.

Who did you hear that from?
Who did I hear that from? Now I have heard from many about this. Anyway, girls in our village have all married into other villages, they go to faraway places. Many people have gone, just because many people came [here] to ask [them] for marriage.

So many girls of your village married to other places?
They married to other places. Some have gone to Shenzhen; many more have gone to Yunnan.

Are there any in your village [at the moment]? The girls who have gone away?
There aren't any in our village. Anyway, some are gone from around this area.

There are some around this area. How about some villages farther away?
There is one in our village. Her man (husband) burned the house, and pushed his two daughters into the fire. She took a boy to Shenzhen. Where has she gone? She went to marry one (another?) man. Her boy went to school.

Did she ever come back?
Yes. Someone said she had a very good life. This time she took one girl with her to travel outside. Her hometown, that is, her parents' family, is in Taohua village.

How about her man?
Her man is from Haizu.

Is he still there?
After he burned the house and the two children, no one could find out where he has gone.

He disappeared?
No one could find him. No one knows where he has gone. It has been three years already.
Section 18
Do you think it's good to go out (leave the village) like this?
Good. Now we all think about that. We cannot leave the housework at home [laughs] for so many times we all sit together and think about that.

Not many people go out from your village?
Not many. Especially no one go out from Fale village.

Why don't they go out?
What can they do? Many people cannot read. They couldn't find a way to earn money if they go out. What can they do if they go out? The only way is to stay at home; if you cannot find money you could only steal.

Who are the capable people in your village?
They are not very capable. Those who have some knowledge may find a way to do big business. Some could just stay home to raise livestock; more have no way out. We can only stay at home and think that we are stuck in an impasse [laughs].

Do you think one needs scientific knowledge to raise livestock?

Scientific knowledge?
Of course we need it. Why don’t we need it? If I had some medical knowledge, when the livestock have a disease, I would know how to tackle it, give an injection, and give medicines. I don’t have any medical knowledge.

How to obtain this kind of knowledge?

Where did you gain your scientific knowledge?
I just went to learn.

Where did you learn it?
There was an opportunity up there. Otherwise, how could I learn it?

Did you ever think about running some training in this place, teaching people how to raise livestock?
Train by myself? She has [to have] the experience to support this.

Had it been done before?
You say...?

I mean training people, and teaching people how to do it?
I haven't done it.

You didn't do it?
I didn't train anyone. The old people just used a wire to puncture... [laughs].
Section 19
Used what?
Wire – they sharpened it and then he used it to puncture [the skin of an animal]. He knew where the problem was and just punctured it. It was the old method; we didn't have any scientific knowledge for treatment.

Are there any people here who work for the animal husbandry bureau?
There are some people here who work for the animal husbandry bureau. We have only met them a few times. [laughs]

Didn't they come to disseminate knowledge?
They didn't disseminate anything. I was expecting them to come to my home some nights so that I could learn from them. But they didn't come.

You want to learn, don't you?
I'm old, and don’t want to learn. My aunt said, “You want to learn again now?” She blamed me for wanting to learn and asking to raise more livestock, but waiting for her to look after the livestock.

You have studied. How do the people in the village regard you?
How do they look at me? No matter whether you have knowledge or not, we down here in the countryside - people’s thoughts are backward. Whether you know [something through studying] or you don't know – you are just the same.

No difference?

Do you think people like the fact you have been to school? Do you manage your family better than others?
That's nothing; we are just the same [shyly].

You tell me more about this.
I cannot explain it clearly.

Cannot explain it clearly?
People who have been to school and been outside, they do less field work. If they come home, they will do the cleaning and washing in the house. Those who hadn't gone out [of the village] care less about dirt while eating. You cannot explain it clearly.

Do they do better in hygienic matters?
Reflecting on my own experience, the work [of improvement?] cannot be done in one or two days. It has to be done gradually. You go to the slope to work longer, and you stay longer.

Did women over there have concern about hygiene?
They now have much concern about hygiene.
Section 20
What's the difference with the past?
They have developed much more than before. In the past, we had no stools but now we have. We merely sat on a stump or anywhere. The old people, wherever they went, they just squatted on the ground. That was their habit. They didn't wear shoes; they sat at the hearth with bare feet. It's much better now. They said there had no change. But there are many changes. The poor now have better living conditions.

What are the main changes? Can you tell?
The main changes are in living conditions. Clothes, and many other things have changed much. In the past, the old people wore only one big pair of trousers, the wide trousers. Clothes were the same. They didn’t have underwear and shirts. We heard this from the old people. All wore gunny (made from flax or hemp) clothes. People worked in the daytime, and made the clothes at night.

Have you seen that taking place?
We haven't seen that. We can barely remember how to use cotton and spin. There isn't [the need] now. Things have changed greatly. Now if you have found some business to do, you can use money to buy clothes. We don't need to make shoes either.

Are there other changes? Like food - what's the difference with the past?
There are many changes.

You tell me in more detail.
In more detail? [Laughs, is shy.]

Now what do you think is the happiest thing? The happiest?
Happiest thing? Now, the higher authorities care about us rural people. They take care of the people when their lives are difficult. When we have no money, they allocate the funds to us. We are very happy about this. Children can go to school; the road has been built. In the future, if my child is admitted to the middle school, with the road that is there, I could take the bus and get there in one day. In the past, when we went to somewhere to study, we picked a small basket of potatoes to take with us. Whether it was enough to eat or not, we had to be busy for one week. Now we are very happy. Only [problem is] that if we have no money, we cannot support our children. We cannot go anywhere ... [her voice is too low, cannot hear answer]

What do you think needs most to be changed?

What other things need to be changed?
Need to be changed? Just as what I have said. I don’t have more to say.

If you had money, what's the first thing you want to do?
The first thing I want to do…I want to go out to do business. If my family gets rich, I’ll raise more livestock. I’ll try to nurture the children. My wish is just this; no others.

All right, they’ve come back.
[Wang Kun comes back and I finish the interview.]