In a series of three papers, I examine the identity development of three Chinese women teachers as they moved back and forth between Eastern and Western cultures and languages amid the rapidly changing events of the last four decades. I use a river metaphor to explore three phases in the cross-cultural lives of these women: in the first paper, their lives in China amid multiple cultural movements; in the second, their lives in Canada; and in the third their lives in the North American academy. This lifebased narrative inquiry, situated between non-fiction, fiction and academic discourses, opens up possibilities for establishing a link between cross-cultural lives and identities, cross-cultural teacher education and curriculum studies in multicultural contexts. In this first paper, I explore the three teachers' lives in China before, during and after the Cultural Revolution. I tell stories of changes for each participant as cultural upheavals were experienced in their homes and schooling. I pay special attention to the relationship between living such disruptive lives, telling such lives, and developing an inquiry-oriented way of thinking about and writing about such lives related to identity development and its impact upon cross-cultural curriculum making and multicultural education.