They were exiled! They couldn’t return to their country anymore. They were locked out from their country — because they believed that there is a better way for the people to communicate with the government, which they perceived as not taking the input from the people.
But then, the student movement in Tiananmen was also characterized by a very chaotic, not very efficient communication, even according to the leaders themselves.
Actually, my father’s paper, his PhD thesis, was about the socio-dynamics between the leaders in Tiananmen protestors. That task was very complicated — impossible, even — because the movement were not using an effective archive system, one that you can look behind historically.
So what happened was very chaotic. It’s like a blob, not really organized. It’s impossible for one PhD thesis to cover this subject. But then, by just interviewing and learning and growing up with them, I learned that the exiles were from all different sort of fields, they were mostly university students who studied hard science or soft science, or some other topics.
They very much still want to learn more in each other’s respective fields, to make useful contributions in the future. That shaped my early education. I don’t make artificial distinctions between the schools, the academic fields. Because when you’re on Tiananmen Square, the divisions of whatever field or whatever university you’re from, did not do much good.
Anything that the contributors learn, the knowledge they have in mind, can only be put into practical use through collaborating with other people. That’s very formative of me, so I don’t have this artificial notion of schools or fields or disciplines.