Nov. 9 marks the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Growing up in China, I had my own experience with communism and the walls it builds.

I came to the United States in the summer of 1998. While doing research online for my professor, I came across a public letter written by a mom who lost her high school son at the Tiananmen Square massacre. I instantly recognized her story as the truth and I was moved to tears. At that moment I realized that I had been deceived by the Chinese Communist Party my entire life. I also realized that I could never go back to China. The wall in my heart built by the CCP collapsed.

Growing up, I was always a good and obedient student. I accepted everything I was told by my teachers and I believed what I learned from state media. I didn't know I was getting incomplete or even intentionally distorted information. I thought Chairman Mao led the party to victory against the Japanese invasion because that was what I learned in history class. I thought the Cultural Revolution was initiated by a few bad people who managed to gain power while overall, the communist party was innocent. I thought that no students got hurt on June 4 and that it was liberation army soldiers who were killed by violent gangsters. I believed it was so fortunate that the democracy movement was cracked down on so quickly.

People in the free world may wonder how the Chinese can live under the communist party's rule with so many tragedies and campaigns of persecution. The answer is simple: Information control. Through state-controlled media, propaganda learned in schools and the "Great Firewall" internet barrier coupled with the threat of violence, the CCP has successfully built walls of fear in people's hearts. People then blindly follow along to protect themselves and lose their concern for others.

As a victim of CCP myself, I am hoping to see all of the walls created by communism to someday come down. I know that once all Chinese understand the truth, they will choose a brighter future for themselves and their children. There is a day coming that will be celebrated as the end of communism in China.

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Joy Zhao

Woodbury