Global Voices "Last Train Home"

Global Voices "Last Train Home"

Sun, 05/31/2015 - 10:00pm

Photo: The Zhangs are crowded by passengers at Guangzhou Railway Station, heading home for Chinese New Year.

Credit: Courtesy of Weishan Tan

This award-winning film travels with a Chinese couple, part of the 130 million migrant workers who journey to their home villages every spring for the New Year.

China’s booming economy depends on the single largest migrant work force in the world: 240 million people who have left their homes and villages to seek work in urban factories. The scale of this internal migration, and the social turmoil it brings, is never more visible than in the workers’ annual return to their families and villages for Chinese New Year. So many millions on the move is a testament to the determination of Chinese workers to reconnect with family and tradition. It also exposes a nation under stress from rapid economic development and massive social change. Among those millions are husband and wife Zhang Changhua and Chen Suqin who, 16 years earlier, left their village in Sichuan Province — and left their children in the care of grandparents — to work in the city of Guangzhou, 1,300 miles away. Their contact with their children was reduced largely to telephone calls and the annual New Year’s reunion. Last Train Home, airing Sunday, May 31 at 10 p.m. on WXXI World, is most intimately the story of the Zhang family, who are fated to reach for the promise of the new China and discover its wrenching cost.