SPECIAL NOTE: I wrote ABOUT THE AUTHOR for my new book GROWING UP CHINESE (5th book), and I like to share it with you…not everything but a few things about me. The book is now with a publisher, and I would like to enter it for the 2018 Washington State Book Award contest…if you do nothing, nothing will happen.
About the Author
Stephen Ling’s grandparents immigrated to Malaya (now Malaysia) in 1903 because the Malayan government was looking for the “poor of the poorest” in Fujian Province, China, and with the help of an American Methodist missionary—who had worked in this part of China and could speak their Fuzhou dialect—to establish an “agricultural colony” in a remote corner in Malaya, primarily to grow rice to feed a mushrooming population but more to curtail their importation of expensive rice from other Southeast Asian countries. Yongfa (Stephen’s Chinese name) was born in Malaya, and adopted by one of these families whose livelihood depended solely on pigs and rubber trees because none in the family had any education or a job with steady income outside the farm. They blamed the Japanese Occupation of the country, reducing them to a life of poverty and servitude. Yongfa grew up with a mother—father left the family to pursue his failed fishing and opium businesses and raise a new family with a mistress—who insisted and persisted in trying to transform him into a farmer because, in her myopic vision and provincial outlook on life… “every man in the village is a farmer and able to raise a family”. Throughout his early teens, he fought against her—unbecoming of a filial son—because he suspected, early in his life, there was something awaiting him somewhere beyond the village, that a farmer’s life was an insult to his innate talents and intellectual potential. Growing Up Chinese is about the struggles of Yongfa who refused to kowtow to a culture, or mother, that endeavored to control and define his life and his future. Eventually he finished his high school despite many man-made hurdles along his heart-wrenching journey, and went to Singapore to study in an interdenominational college. Afterwards he obtained a scholarship to study in America. Crazy Americans is about his dream to study in America and the few crazy Americans he met on board a cargo ship from Singapore to Los Angles, an unexpected introduction to America!
He first pursued religion and philosophy and graduated from Southern Methodist University. While living in Austin and pursuing further studies at the University of Texas, a friend introduced him to work with him as a grocery stocker and he, as a new immigrant to America, was overjoyed to find work to fatten his bank account. And this enabled him to buy his first “small” house in an expensive neighborhood because of a rental-purchase plan that was available to him. Soon he left school to pursue “making” money, from stocking to management with a national grocery chain, until one day, he realized, “This is not for me because I need to exploit my potential God has given me.” He resumed his studies at the University of Texas, this time, to pursue journalism and economics. After his studies, he worked briefly at a Catholic university in Austin, then moved to Washington State “because the weather in Texas is too hot for me. Having visited Seattle once, I felt Seattle is God’s paradise on earth…the weather here is neither hot nor cold”.
The school districts in Washington State in early 1990s were desperate to find minority teachers and he got lucky. The invitation to become a visiting professor at Xiamen University, an elite school in China, changed his life and thinking forever, and now, with THIS IS CHINA (6th book), he wants every American to know what modern China is all about and its role in the world, now and in the many decades to come.