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Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao, ruled China with an iron fist from 1949 to 1976. The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) led by Mao was meant to wipe out all things non-communist in China. The Chinese government wanted its people to forget about literature, art, school, professional careers and anything else that China’s communist government considered foreign, elitist or in any way opposed to the communist system. Mao’s communist philosophy changed the government, economy and lifestyle of all Chinese people. A group called the Red Guard helped make this a reality. This public radio story tells how people who were part of the Cultural Revolution are beginning to tell their stories.
Story Length: 4:27
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AIR DATE: 02/04/2014
History tells us that peaceful empires are very rare. In the 21st century, China is the fastest-growing world power. China claims that its rise is peaceful: it has no plans to invade and conquer new territory. But is it possible for any nation to grow without causing any conflicts? In the 15th century the Chinese explorer Zheng sailed across the Eastern Hemisphere from Taiwan to India to Arabia to Africa. He was on a trade mission, but the kingdoms he encountered were not really free to choose whether or not they would become part of the Chinese trade empire. This public radio story looks at China’s past to draw some conclusions about its future.
The Communist Revolution in the Soviet Union led to a totalitarian dictatorship that killed or imprisoned tens of millions of people. It was a period of cruelty that has not been forgotten in Russia today. However, some former Communist rulers are still in current-day Russia’s government, which means there’s a complicated relationship with the Soviet past and bringing back some Soviet-era practices. Listen to this story to understand how Russia’s Communist past still plays a role in present-day politics.
By the end of World War II, the city of Berlin, like Germany as a whole, was divided. The eastern part of the city was dominated by a USSR-led communist regime, and the western part had a democratic government influenced by America and Great Britain. In 1961, the Berlin Wall was raised, not only physically dividing the city into East and West Berlin, but also psychologically and emotionally splitting the people. Travel between the two sides was prohibited. Since the reunification of Germany and the demolition of the wall in 1989, city planners have been trying to rebuild the city, tearing down the old buildings of communist East Berlin and replacing them with new structures. But the new buildings have sparked controversy over what should be preserved and what should be torn down. Listen to this story to hear different perspectives and ideas about how the city should handle the buildings of the past and move toward a unified future.
Confucius was a philosopher who was born more than 2500 years ago in China, and his ideas have become central to China’s identity. His ideas became Chinese imperial philosophy and they were especially popular during the pivotal Han and Tang and Song Dynasties. Today, China is working to broaden not only its economic and diplomatic power, but also its cultural influence, and is looking back to Confucianism for help. China hopes that extending their soft power will lead to an increase in its ability to export Chinese values as well. But this story finds that Chinese values may not be applicable across all cultures. Listen to hear more about this soft-power powerhouse and how a centuries-old philosopher still leads a nation.
These levels of listening complexity can help teachers choose stories for their students. The levels do not relate to the content of the story, but to the complexity of the vocabulary, sentence structure and language in the audio story.
These stories are easier to understand and are a good starting point for elementary students or English learners.
These stories have an average language challenge for middle and high school students, and can be scaffolded for English learners.
These stories have challenging vocabulary and language and students may need to have some background knowledge to understand the story.