I return to the South this week with a Vanderbilt student: Dr. T. L. Li (李天祿, pinyin Lǐ Tiānlù; courtesy name 福田, pinyin Fútián). Dr. Li was not only extremely involved in the international Methodist Church, but participated in political events and was savvy enough to navigate the changing political waters of China through the Communist takeover.
My student for this week is Miss Phoebe Stone (石非比, pinyin Shí Fēibǐ), who was the younger sister of the famous Dr. Mary Stone, one of the first Western-trained female physicians in China, and one of the first Chinese women to study in the United States. Mary is a little bit outside of the time period of my research, but Phoebe fits right in, and I’m excited to share her story with you.
This week’s profiled student is P. C. Chan, or Chan Pak Chue (陳伯賜, pinyin Chén Bócì, Jyutping Cantonese Can4 Baak3ci3). Born in 1895, P. C. Chan became an influential doctor and Christian both in the United States and China.
Returning tangentially to the Soo Hoo family, I thought I’d dedicate a blog post to Lily Soo Hoo’s husband: William Z. L. Sung (沈嗣良, pinyin Shěn SìLiáng, Cantonese Jyutping Cam4/Sam2 Zi6Loeng4), a Chinese student who studied at Oberlin and Columbia and worked for St. John’s University in Shanghai. Continue reading “William Zu Liang Sung (沈嗣良)”
It’s been a bit since the Chan family, so I thought I’d tackle another large family of Chinese Christians. Again, like in my post about the Chan family, I’ll start with the patriarch, who had no university schooling in the United States. However, unlike Rev. S. K. Chan, he did feel very strongly the importance of education for both himself and his children.
I was skimming through my unpublished drafts today, and I noticed that although I finished my postings on the Chan family over two months ago, I never posted about the middle daughter: Lillian Chan. Oops. So here’s a short post about the final daughter of the Chan family who studied in American schools: Lily Chan.
I’m finishing up my posts on the Chan family this week, and I decided to post both Fanny’s and Ida’s posts today. These two youngest siblings were extremely difficult to trace; one of them died young and the other never became a US citizen, so there is comparatively little information about them. For that reason I’ve decided to post both biographies today, since the posts are shorter than my typical.
Bertha Grace Chan (Chinese name 陳端信, pinyin Chén Duānxìn) was born in September of 1887 in China, possibly in Canton (Guangzhou), but more likely in Hong Kong, as she was considered a British citizen. Her father was a Methodist missionary and her mother was a physician. When she was less than a year old, her family moved to Vancouver for her father’s missionary work. They lived in Canada for 12 years before moving to the United States.
The focus of this blog is on Chinese students who studied in American universities, specifically those that were sponsored by the government through the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship or other programs. Because of this, I tend to concentrate on educational motivations that provoked the massive influx of Chinese students in American universities from the turn of the 20th century until World War II. Simply put, students came to America from China to get a Western education and to take that knowledge back to their home country to improve the social and political situation there. This theme is easy to see in W. K. Lam‘s political ambitions and H. T. Wong‘s military career. The typical tone of the articles in the Chinese Students’ Monthly, a publication produced by the Chinese Students’ Association in America, also evidences this focus on education, Western learning, and the betterment of China through technological advancement. But I would be remiss in not mentioning the other large institutional factor in promoting Chinese student immigration to America: the growth and influence of the Christian churches in China.
Christianity in China has a long history, but the modern missionary movement is most pertinent to the subject of this blog. Beginning in the early 1800s, Christian missionary work was focused on the coastal areas and the south of China; the first missionaries operated in Macau, Hong Kong, and Canton (today Guangzhou). Christianity and a desire to study in the West often overlapped among Chinese students, so it’s not surprising that many of the students who arrived in America in the early 1900s were both Christians and from the province of Guangdong. Cities which were open to foreign trade such as Shanghai were also centers of Christianity at this time, and many students from the city of Shanghai and the province of Zhejiang also came to America in large numbers to study. The importance of missionary schools cannot be overstated either; many students who ended up finishing their studies in America first studied at missionary schools in China, such as Canton Christian College in Guangzhou and St. John’s University in Shanghai. In short, most students who came to America did so under government encouragement and to learn Western subjects, but a majority of them were also Christian.
This brings us to the subject of today’s post: the Chan family. They are a bit atypical among the other Chinese students I am studying, since Sing Kai Chan, the family patriarch, came to America purely to work as a missionary; he did not study at an American school at all. He also brought his family along, and then his children became Chinese students in America due simply to growing up in America, not due to an educational motivation to travel to another country to study. This means that the motivations of this family in coming to America are a bit different from those of the other students I am researching. However, although the father did not come to America to study, he was motivated by that second impulse, that of Christianity, and so I find him and his family worthy topics of study. I thought I’d write a little bit about them as a family overall and then dedicate individual posts to those members who were students in America. Overall, the themes of Christianity, cultural interchange through performance, and eventual residence in the US still resonate throughout the story of this family.