Brianna Marteney was surprised to read about a young girl being “brainwashed” in communist China.

After studying the history of the country, Marteney and her classmates at Peebles Elementary School read Ji-li Jiang’s autobiography, “Red Scarf Girl.” The memoir details Jiang’s life, experiences and struggles surviving the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.

“It’s not right because people shouldn’t have to have their house searched,” said Marteney, a fourth-grader.

Jiang, 60, visited the elementary school Friday to share her story. She first decided to write the book as a way to express the frustrations she had over her bad experiences. Now, she has a greater purpose.

“I feel more obligated to tell this piece of history because a lot of Americans don’t know,” she said.

Jiang also said she hopes the book will give students “courage” to make the right decisions.

“I realize the kids here have different

difficulties and challenges in life. It’s not like when I first got (to America) where I thought, ‘Wow. They have such a great life,’” she said. “Now I realize, actually, their life is not easy either. They have different struggles, family problems and peer pressure.”

Fourth-grade teacher Karen Young said her class studied propaganda and the history of communist China before reading the book. The students also made connections to what’s going on today in China and North Korea, which are under communist rule.

“My kids were so into it,” Young said.

Marteney and her classmates greeted Jiang, saying “hello” in Chinese. She was happy and excited the author visited.

“It’s nice to see her in person, so we can see how she looks and hear how she sounds,” she said. “It must have been hard for her (to live through the revolution).”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at SarahRafique or "like" Sarah Rafique.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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