On 10 December 1977, I took a bus to No 35 Middle School in the West City District of Beijing to do something young people in China hadn't done for more than 12 years.I was taking part in the first college entrance examination since 1965. There was subdued yet palpable excitement and expectation in the cold winter air, because for the first time in years we had our destiny in our own hands. In my pocket I clutched a bar of chocolate from my father. It was his way of supporting me - I'd never tasted chocolate before.
During the Cultural Revolution, normal learning at schools and universities was interrupted, teachers and intellectuals found themselves publicly humiliated and beaten; some were driven to suicide. It was not a good time for those who valued a formal education.