How would Sainiya, a 14-year-old girl from the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, cope with life in a European boarding school? The question from a woman working in admissions at a prestigious school in Ireland provoked incredulity from Sainiya's father, He Xiongfei, a Beijing publisher.
''She's been in boarding school since she was 3,'' he said, as if that settled it. But did it?
Mr. He is one of thousands of Chinese parents each year who choose an overseas education for their children, hoping they will learn world-class skills grounded with liberal, democratic values in a healthy environment.
He's also one of millions of parents who have sent their children to ''boarding kindergartens,'' a tradition that began after the 1949 Communist revolution, where children as young as 3 (occasionally even 2) live at school during the week — sometimes, but not always, returning home for the weekend.
Sainiya appeared to do fine during the year she spent at St. Columba's College — except for the food, which she disliked. But the jury is still out: Emotional trauma can be harder to detect than an aversion to boiled vegetables.
在圣哥伦比亚学院(St. Columba's College)的那一年里，除了不喜欢那里的食物，塞尼娅似乎适应得很好。但这个结论恐怕并不明确，因为比起对水煮蔬菜的厌恶，情感创伤更难察觉。
In China, a new generation of young, Western-trained psychoanalysts is concerned that early childhood separation from parents or primary caregivers, considered normal here for generations, has caused profound, hidden trauma in millions of Chinese.
They believe early separation, a documented psychological phenomenon, has led to emotional problems in adults who may fail to form healthy relationships. Feeling abandoned as children, they struggle with worthlessness and depression.
Trying to help fix China's soul, Liu Yiling, an analyst accredited with the International Psychoanalytic Association; Dr. Zhong Jie of Peking University; and Dr. Wang Xiao of the Tavistock Centerin London are holding two public lectures and a four-day seminar next month at Peking University titled ''Early Separation and Psychoanalysis.'' These are for people who want to learn more about themselves and those considering a career in psychoanalysis.
下个月，国际精神分析协会(International Psychoanalytic Association)认证的分析师刘翼灵、北京大学的钟杰博士和伦敦塔维斯托克中心(Tavistock Center)的王虓博士将在北京大学举办两场公开讲座，以及一场名为"精神分析中的早期分离"的研讨会，研讨会将持续四天时间。他们试图以此帮助修复中国的心灵。这些活动面向的是那些希望更深入地了解自己，以及考虑以精神分析为职业的人。
China built many ''boarding kindergartens'' after the revolution in order to free parents, especially mothers, to work outside the home, part of the official goal of women's emancipation that in reality was geared to the needs of the Communist Party.
The phenomenon reached a peak during the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962, when children were boarded in droves as Mao Zedong ordered China to outstrip the United States and Britain through agricultural collectivization and industrial production.
In ''Mao's Great Famine,'' the historian Frank Dikötter documented appalling conditions in kindergartens of that time. Hunger, disease and neglect were common.
在《毛泽东的大饥荒》(Mao's Great Famine)一书中，历史学家冯客(Frank Dikötter)记录了当时幼儿园骇人听闻的情况。饥饿、疾病和玩忽职守的现象相当普遍。
Today, separation trauma may also be caused by the widely accepted cultural practice of giving children to grandparents to raise, so parents can work long hours amid intense economic pressures, Ms. Liu said.
''Everyone says it's fine for the grandparents to raise the kids,'' she said. ''But that's not what my patients tell me. They tell me they really missed their mother and father.''
Chinese families are no longer scattered because of political campaigns, but what of the impact of boarding kindergartens today? On the Internet, parents ask: I'm so busy at work, where is there a boarding kindergarten in Nanjing, or Shanghai? How much does it cost?
What of the approximately 55 million children left behind on the farm with relatives while their migrant parents work in the cities, seeing them perhaps once a year?
Both there and in urban, middle-class families, more separation looms when the grandparents hand the children back to their parents, whom they may hardly know, at a later date. ''This is a really big problem,'' Ms. Liu said.
Sainiya changed dramatically at her Irish school, though she stayed only a year. She lost weight and seemed popular with her classmates. But her father worried. ''Do you think she's having love affairs?'' he asked. I didn't know, and I doubt Sainiya told him.