Acclaimed Chinese author to speak at FHSU, Hays Public Library as part of Women's History Month

Noted author Ji-li Jiang (pronounced jee-lee JANG) will speak at Fort Hays State University and at the Hays Public Library on Feb. 28 and March 1 as part of the celebration of Women's History Month.

Her visit is being coordinated by the university's Women?s and Gender Studies Program.

Jiang's first book, Red Scarf Girl, chronicles her experiences during the 1960s Cultural Revolution in China. Jiang was 12 years old in 1966, the year that Chairman Mao launched the Cultural Revolution. An outstanding student and much-admired leader of her class, Jiang seemed poised for a bright future. But that abruptly changed with the advent of the Cultural Revolution, when intelligence and independent thinking became suspect and a wealthy family background invited persecution.

Jiang will be on campus Feb. 28 and March 1. Her visit will include a campuswide presentation from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Memorial Union's Fort Hays Ballroom and a presentation from 7-9 p.m. March 1 at the Hays Public Library. During each presentation, Jiang will discuss her experiences during China?s Cultural Revolution based on her book Red Scarf Girl.

After the advent of the Cultural Revolution, Jiang and her family were humiliated and reviled for the next three years by their former friends, neighbors and colleagues, and lived in constant terror of attack. At last, with the detention of her father, Jiang was faced with the most dreadful decision of her young life -- denounce him and break with her family or refuse to testify against him and sacrifice her future in the Communist Party.

Red Scarf Girl won an American Library Association award for Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Notable Book award in 1998. In 1997, both Publishers Weekly and Parenting magazines cited it as one of the best nonfiction books for children. Along with other numerous awards and honors, the book made the Voice of Youth Advocates? Nonfiction Honor List in 1998.

In 2001, her adaptation of the Chinese classic story "Magical Monkey King -- Mischief in Heaven" was first serialized in more than a hundred newspapers and was received warmly by children and young adults.

The story was published in book form in 2002.

After coming to the United States in 1984 from Shanghai, China, where she worked as a science teacher, Jiang studied travel industry management in Hawaii and then worked as a corporate operations analyst and budgeting director in Hawaii and Chicago. In 1992, she co-founded East West Exchange Inc., a company that promotes and facilitates cultural and business exchanges between China and western countries.

Jiang now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Besides writing, she gives speeches about her book and her life in China. Since publishing Red Scarf Girl, Jiang has given more than 400 speeches and presentations at schools, universities and conferences and has spoken to thousands of students, teachers and librarians. Jiang also devotes her time to various cultural exchange programs, including bringing American entertainers to participate in art festivals in China; sending doctors to China to study alternative medicine; and organizing summer camp programs in China for American students.

Jiang has said of her work, "Helping to bridge the gap between China and western countries is something I find fascinating, challenging and rewarding. . . . I truly believe that better understanding among people around the world is the route to peace."

Her visit to Hays is sponsored by several FHSU and community agencies: the Office of the Provost; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Departments of History, English, Political Science and Justice Studies, and Modern Languages; the Office of Student Affairs; the Center for Civic Leadership; and Friends of Hays Public Library.

For further information about Ji-li Jiang's campus visit, contact Dr. Jan Wilson, director of the Women?s and Gender Studies Program, at (785) 628-5671 or

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