The last generation of Nei Di Ren (people from the hinterland) refers to a group of people who were born between 1937 and 1950 in mainland China or Hong Kong,
grew up in Taiwan, and now reside in the United States. We are a minority among minorities. Fifty years from now, when Chinese historians study this period, they will
find that we, the Nei Di Ren, are a unique group of people. Caught between Eastern and Western cultures, juggling ideas that are imported as well as homespun, and
facing the transition from the old to the new world order, we have held on to our Chinese heritage, the bad along with the good, while eagerly embracing western
civilization. We are the last generation of Nei Di Ren who, gradually, will be gone with the wind.

We were born into a chaotic time marked by continuous warfare. The older among us were born during the Sino-Japan war, the younger during the civil war between
Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist army and Mao Tze-Tung's People's Liberation Army. Many were born in Sichuan province and have names like Yu-Sheng (born in Yu,
AKA Chong-Qing, capital of The Republic of China during the Second World War), Rong-Sheng (born in Rong, AKA Cheng-Du, capital of Sichuan), or Jia-Ling (after the
poetically beautiful river flowing through Sichuan). Although we were born during war time, most of us were too young to remember the hardship of the refugee years.
We followed our parents to Taiwan and became "inlanders" to the natives. We did not choose this path, but, looking back, we know it was the first significant break in
our lives. If we had not escaped to Taiwan, I believe at least one third of us would have perished under Mao Tze-Tung's communist regime. And if we did manage to
stay alive, our children would have had a very different life ahead of them. In short, we are a lucky group of people who were snatched away from the tiger's mouth at
the last minute.

We spent our childhood in Taiwan; some in the northern cities, and others in the southern fields. We have worn the clumsy wooden clogs, gone barefooted, played
cops and robbers, and slept on the Ta-Ta-Mi (an old Japanese style straw mat). Although we were short on material possessions, we never went hungry. Many of us
grew up in "Juan Cun" (literally spouse village), a compound of state provided housing for the dependents of government and military personnel. Many criticized us for
never learning to speak Taiwanese and not being "Taiwanese" enough after spending our formative years on the island. However, this was not our fault. The
government at that time was trying to establish Mandarin as the official language on the island. We had no opportunity to speak Taiwanese at school and could not
learn it from our parents at home since they themselves did not speak it. It is unreasonable to place the blame on us.

We are perhaps the most studious group of people in the history of China. Starting from elementary school, middle school, high school, college, to graduate school,
we had to pass examinations after examinations to advance ourselves. Each of us had to "conquer the five gates and slay the six guards" (legendary feat of Guan Yu,
a heroic figure during the period of the Three Kingdoms around 220AD). We are true veterans of the "academic advancement" battles. After college, most of us went
on to seek advanced degrees abroad. Many chose the fields of science and engineering. The reason was simple: it was easier to find a job in those fields in the US
after graduation. However, all of those choices that seemed so correct at the time planted the seeds of insecurity and limitation during our professional careers and
throughout our lives. The United States is not the land of our birth, and Taiwan but a distant memory. Too often we are made to feel like some forlorn traveler listening
to the blowing of the political winds in a lone boat picked out by the moonlight. In Taiwan, first we were called Nei Di Ren; later, we were addressed as Wai Sheng Ren
(people from other provinces) to differentiate us from the provincial Taiwanese. Yet when we go to China, we are treated as Taiwanese. In the US, we are the first
generation immigrants. We are children of Chinese parents, and parents of American children. It seems all our lives, no matter where we reside, we are destined to
be transients instead of settlers.

In terms of political beliefs, we rejected the "white terror" perpetrated by Chiang Kai-Shek's government. Nor could we identify with the "red terror" that is the
communist one party dictatorship practiced in China. We love Taiwan more than we love China, but we are not the "New Taiwanese" who deny their Chinese heritage.
We are Chinese Americans who are proud of the Chinese blood that courses through our veins.

Before the age of 40, we aspired to be liberalists with a conscience. After the age of 40, many of us chose to vote the Democrat ticket because it is the party for the
underdogs, even though we identified more closely in ideology and action with the Republicans. A few of us became politically impassioned during the Diaoyu Tai
Movement. But most of us view political movements with the detachment of a bystander. We have witnessed two absurd political farces in our lives: one is the so
called Cultural Revolution instigated by Mao Tze-Tung and his cult followers that decimated a generation of Chinese scholars and almost ran the country into the
ground; the other is the on going saga of Lee Deng-Hui, ex-president of the Republic of China and ex-chairman of the Nationalist party, turning against his own party
and bringing it to the brink of destruction. It is no wonder that we can not bring ourselves to have faith in politicians.

Girls of our generation wore plenty of petticoats over full skirts, danced the jitterbug, listened to Connie Francis, and dreamed of James Dean. There were no taxis
then. On a date, we either walked if it is not too far, or took a rickshaw if it is some distance away. At that time, the canal along Xin Sheng South Road flowed in the
open air. I often think the young of today view the relationship between men and women with too much casualness and directness. Once at a party in Taipei with a
group of colleagues from a famous literature magazine, the subject of the transcendental stage of the men/women relationship was brought up. I quoted Yuan Chen's
poem: "Taking a path among the many beautiful flowers, I cannot bring myself to look at any. Although I make the excuse of some ascetic pursuit, it is really because I
have known you." One well known poet who happens to be very handsome took exception. He recited another Chinese classic poem: "Only If I die in the arms of a
beautiful woman will my soul go to the underworld as a happy Casanova." I still cannot decide if he was joking. Generally I believe ours is the last generation of the
true romantics who are hopelessly out of fashion and can no longer keep up with the time.

We have obligations to our parents to keep them in their old age; we also have obligations to our children to give them the best of what we possess. When we get old,
we do not expect to become a burden to our children. We are the last "sandwich" generation. We wish our children could understand and identify with Chinese
culture more. But after twelve years of weekend Chinese school, we are just happy that they could recognize simple names such as "Wang Da Zhong" and "Li Xiao
Ming". We are the last among the 1.2 billion Chinese who are more or less adequate in both Chinese and English.

We were born too late and missed the period of great unrest and great opportunity - the northern expedition aimed at subduing the war lords, the eight year battle
against the Japanese invasion, and the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. We were born too early and missed the period of Taiwan's miraculous
economic growth from the 1970's to the 1980's. To some degree, we try to be true to Confucius's belief that a man must expand his resoluteness because he accepts
the challenges and realizes his burden will be heavy and his path long. We are not the greatest generation of Chinese; we are simply the last generation of Nei Di Ren.
Special Websites Recommended By Friends: Set 008
最後一代的 NDR,指的是我們這批1937到1950年在中國大陸或香港出生,臺灣長大,長住美國的內地人。

我們是少數中的少數。50年後,當後世的中國人回頭研究這一段歷史,他們會發現我們這些內地人,是卡在
東西文化的夾縫裡,遊走於外來與本土間,在新舊交替的時代中,對中華文化抱殘守缺,對西方文明汲汲經
營,非常特別的一代。逐漸地我們這代都會隨風而逝。

我們那一代生於戰亂,早生的遇到抗日,晚生的遇到內戰,很多生在四川,所以名為渝生、蓉生、嘉陵的很
普遍。我們雖然生於戰亂,但卻因年齡太小而對逃難沒什麽印象。我們跟著父母到了臺灣,變成內地人,那
不是我們的選擇,但回頭來看,這可能是我們命運中的一個 break。

如果我們沒去成臺灣,我想我們至少有三分之一的人活不到今天。就算活到今天,我們子女的一生絕對會完
全不同。基本上,我們是虎口餘生非常幸運的一群。

我們的童年是在臺灣過的;有的在北部的城市,有的在南部的田間。穿過木屐,打過赤腳,玩過官兵抓強
盜,睡過榻榻米。雖然物質的享受很貧乏,但我們沒有餓過肚子。我們這一代,很多是在眷村長大的,有人
怪我們住在臺灣那麽久還不會說台灣話,不夠本土。 我們不會說臺灣話不是我們的錯,那時候的政治大環
境,在學校不准講,回家不會講,這筆帳沒理由算在我們頭上的。

我們也可能是中國歷史上最會讀書的一代。從小學、初中、高中、大學到留學,一路考下來,過五關、斬六
將,個個身經百戰,久「烤」成精。大學畢業後,我們大多都選擇出國留學的這條路,學理工的特別多,有
幾個理由:

(1)        受到當年楊振寧,李政道榮獲諾貝爾獎的鼓舞,家庭,學校,社會都鼓勵我們"理工報國", 在科技
上光宗耀祖。
(2)        家長們大多對政治沒興趣,對法律,醫科不瞭解。大多不推崇這些科系。
(3)        留在美國找事容易。但當年看起來很正確的選擇卻埋下了後半輩子在美國沒安全感的種子。

風鳴兩岸葉,月照一孤舟,
美國非吾土,臺灣憶舊逰。

在臺灣,他們早些時候叫我們內地人,後來又叫我們外省人。到了中國大陸,他們稱呼我們為臺灣人,在美
國我們是第一代移民。中國人的子女,美國人的父母,我們的一生,不管住在那裡,始終還是過客而非歸
人。

在政治認同上,我們對臺灣早年白色恐怖沒好感,因而對毛澤東式的共產主義不能認同。

我們愛臺灣也愛中國大陸,但我們不是新臺灣人而是身上有中華民族血液的美籍中國人。大多也對鄧小平的
改革開放政策持支援的態度。對90年代以後臺灣的紛亂憂心忡忡。

40歲以前,我們多半是有心腸的自由主義者。40歲以後,我們多半變成了把票投給美國民主黨但思想行爲追
隨共和黨的有頭腦者。我們這一代有一些人在保釣運動中熱情過,但大多數對政治運動選擇旁觀者的冷漠。
在我們的一生中,曾經目睹三個極爲荒唐的政治鬧劇:毛澤東和其信徒搞出來的文化大革命幾乎革掉了中國
的命。李登輝一個沒有誠信又搞黑金的政客,又以國民黨黨主席的身份居然把自己的黨搞垮;民進黨的陳水
扁,滿嘴謊話,作盡了貪汙腐敗和禍國殃民的事,竟然還賴在位子上想把臺灣徹底弄垮爲止。也難怪我們這
代,大多數的人對政治人物不信任。

和我們這輩的女孩子們,年輕的時候多半穿過蓬蓬裙,跳過吉路巴,聽過康妮弗蘭西斯,迷過詹姆斯• 迪
恩。在計程車還沒出現的時候,約會路近靠走,路長坐三輪車。那時臺北市新生南路路旁的大水溝還沒蓋
上。我常想,現代的年輕人,把男女感情的境界看得太開放,太直接。一般講起來,我們這代也是最後一代
的純情派,是不合時宜的浪漫主義。

我們對上要生養死葬我們的父母,對下會把最好的給子女。當我們老了的時候,我們不會將負擔加諸在子女
的身上,我們是最後一代的三明治。我們希望我們的小孩對中國文化多一些瞭解和認同,但12年中文學校下
來,能認得王大中、李小明就不錯了。我們可能是13億中國人中,中英文都還可以的一代。希望不是最後一
代。

我們生的太晚,錯過了北伐、抗日、內戰、成大功、立大業轟轟烈烈的時代。但我們也生得太早,臺灣經濟
起飛的成果沒我們的份。在某種程度上,我們仍保留了一些中國人士不可弘毅,任重而道遠的美德。我們不
是中國人中最偉大的一代,我們是最後一代的內地人
Click each of the following links to view the respective special website.
Our Generation: 最後一代的內地人
recommended by C Alan Kang  亢勤生 and others
Click for website of Last NDR (Nei-Di-Ren) 最後一代內地人
最後一代內地人article at original Last NDR Website
The Last Generation of Nei Di Ren
Written by: Xin Huai-Nan, Translated by: K C Lu
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