Happy Birthday, Indiana! A Special Present for Indiana’s Bicentennial

Click here to view the Chinese translation.

“Chinese Hoosiers,” a book documenting the lives of 21 exceptional Chinese or Chinese Americans who lived in or are still living in the Hoosier state, will be available to the public in August, 2016. We invited one of the authors, Lu Wang, to share some of her experiences while writing the book.

This year, the State of Indiana is celebrating its bicentennial. Throughout the past 200 years, many Chinese individuals with outstanding talents have called Indiana home. Endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, the Confucius Institute in Indianapolis initiated the book project to document the experiences of Chinese Hoosiers, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the five-member team. It took us two years to finish the book, a special present for Indiana’s bicentennial.Chinese Hoosiers

While researching the book, I was excited to discover that many well-known Chinese people were associated with Indiana. For example, Dr. Jiaxian Deng, the founder and pioneer of China’s nuclear program; Dr. Sili Liang, the founding member in the field of missile control system development;  and Liren Sun,  the illustrious military officer who bested Japanese forces during WWII, were all graduates of Purdue University. Dr. Gang Yi, the Vice President for the People’s Bank of China, was a professor in the Department of Economics at IUPUI.  Unfortunately, due to space constraints, we could not include all of the outstanding Chinese Hoosiers who have made great contributions to China and Indiana. In the end, we selected 21 people as representatives in various fields of science, military, politics, academics and business.

During the process of writing the book, I was touched by people’s strong connections with Indiana, and often found myself in tears. When I visited Dr. Tongkui Ju, a man who received his law degree from Indiana University and returned to China in 1949, he told me that he had sent Christmas cards to each of Indiana University presidents and the Indiana University School of Law every year for more than 20 years. Although the 91-year-old’s health is failing, he still manages to send his cards. Indiana University has never failed to live up to this old alumnus’ visions. In 2014, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie awarded Dr. Ju with Indiana University’s highest honor, the Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion.

Because most of interviewees were elderly, time was against us. Immediately after starting our writing, we heard the tragic news that Dr. Bobby Fong, a former president of Butler University, had passed away. Dr. Liang passed away as well just before the book was published. It is heartbreaking that they were not able to read the completed stories about Chinese Hoosiers— stories that include their own.  However, by telling these stories, we hope younger generations of Chinese and Americans will find inspiration and encouragement through the legacy of these exceptional Hoosiers.

In closing, I would like to express a special thank you to Dr. Xu, the director of the Confucius Institute.  He has made tremendous contributions to this book, and I am touched by his dedication and commitment.

 Lu Wang lives in Indianapolis and is pursuing advanced degrees in law and accounting. As a freelance writer and reporter, she has worked in multiple publishing institutes over the course of her career. To purchase a copy of the book of Chinese Hoosiers, please contact the Confucius Institute in Indianapolis.