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Lecture - Journey across the Four Seas

The China Institute presents a lecture and book signing by Veronica Li

September 22, 2007 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Author Veronica Li will speak about her book, Journey across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home.  It is a true story of her mother’s life in Asia before she brought the family from Hong Kong to the U.S.  Her mother, Flora, is the daughter-in-law of Wang Yun-Wu, former finance minister and deputy prime minister of Nationalist China.  Wang was also inventor of the Four Corner Dictionary and general manager of Commercial Press.  He was famous for his self-taught scholarship, which earned him the nickname, “Living Encyclopedia.” 

When Veronica’s elderly parents moved in with her, she decided to record the stories of her mother’s life for posterity.  Her intention had been to educate the family’s American born generations about their Chinese roots.  But what she discovered was a historical event that extended well beyond her family: the launching of China’s women’s lib.  Her mother represents the first generation of Chinese women to be free from the age-old practice of footbinding.  They took timid steps at first, until monumental crises forced them to make a giant leap.

Flora’s saga is an odyssey through Hong Kong, Chongqing, Nanjing, Bangkok, Taipei, and finally the U.S.  It is a story of a Chinese woman’s search for a better life from 1918 to 1968.  Unprecedented upheavals rocked this fifty-year period.  The Chinese had just overthrown their ancient system of monarchy.  Various factions fought to fill the power vacuum, and Japanese troops invaded China.  Life was difficult for Chinese of all classes.  Flora and the sisters of her generation rose to the challenge.  They got themselves educated and acquired the skills to earn a living.  They worked beside their husbands and got their children educated to succeed in the modern world.  Their courage helped shape Chinese culture as it stands today.  Chinese women are no longer bound by crippling customs.  At the same time, they have upheld the Confucian values of family and education, which remain the bedrock of Chinese communities everywhere.

Free admissions, but advanced registration is required. To register by phone, please call 212-744-8181, ext. 142. To register online, please submit the registration form below.


Phone Number: 
212-744-8181, ext. 142