Author Cheryl Tan Holds Lecture & Discussion Tour in China as Part of USCET’s Asian American Author Series

June 26, 2018

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In early May, journalist and author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan wrapped up a week long, three city discussion and lecture tour in China as part of USCET’s ongoing Asian American Author Series. The Series, which launched in November 2012 with award-winning Chinese American author Gish Jen, introduces Asian American authors and literature to Chinese audiences. Tan, who was preceded by the distinguished authors Shawn Wong and Helen Zia, is the fourth to be featured in the Series.

Throughout her tour, Tan was hosted by several locations, including East China Normal University (ECNU), Beijing American Center, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Hopkins Nanjing Institute, and Literary Shanghai.

Tan and her event attendees explored various themes at her lectures. At ECNU, Tan discussed the differences between Chinese identity in Singapore and the US. Her lecture provoked some in the audience to ask about her experiences as an international student and if she was able to assimilate into American university society. Because many of the ECNU attendees were literature majors, they also asked about how she became a writer and about her particular writing process. In her responses, Tan stressed the importance of using one’s “authentic voice” when writing stories and articles.

At BFSU, Tan spoke with Fulbright scholar Professor Kuilan’s American Literature undergraduate class. There, the students gave meticulous presentations on her book Tiger in the Kitchen, after which she provided feedback on their analyses. When speaking later with USCET, Tan admitted that she found herself becoming quite emotional when the students spoke about the lessons they learned from her grandmother, aunty, and mother in her book.

“It was incredibly moving,” she described. “The entire program really struck a chord with me.”

At Hopkins Nanjing, Tan spoke to an audience of over fifty people, a large contingent of which was formed by students from the Nanjing Journalism School. These students were curious about the state of journalism in Trump’s America. They also asked about how journalism as a discipline can best respond to different political situations. Others were interested in hearing Tan’s thoughts on Chinese Diaspora identities and how she, as an Asian American woman, navigates traditional gender roles. Tan took advantage of the discussion to share her journey from a girl growing up in Singapore to an international student, a metro beat reporter, and finally, to a novelist. 

At the end of the program, Tan explained that she particularly enjoyed meeting the students and found their enthusiasm for literature and American culture to be “extremely inspiring and invigorating.”

“It was exciting to think that these students will go on to teach in universities across China,” she said. 

The students, likewise, echoed her enthusiasm. One literature student from ECNU, Lana Zhang, said she loved the event because it gave her “new ideas about writing.” Overall, Tan reached more than 300 different professors, students, and members of the public at her various events.

“I feel this is such an important program that you put on,” she shared with USCET later. “Everything was marvelous and very well-planned.”

Tan is a New York-based journalist and the author of Sarong Party Girls and A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family. She is also the editor of the fiction anthology Singapore Noir. She was previously a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, In Style magazine, and the Baltimore Sun. In addition, her stories have appeared in The New York Times, the Paris Review, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, among others.

 

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五月初,作为“亚裔美国作家系列”项目的一部分,记者兼作家Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan在中国进行了长达一周、3所城市的讲座和讨论之旅。这个系列项目在2012年11月推出,由华裔美国作家Gish Jen发起,向中国读者介绍了亚裔美国作家和文学。之前分别有杰出知名作家Shawn Wong和Helen Zia加入该项目,Tan是第四位加入项目的亚裔美国作家。

在整个旅程中,她受到了来自华东师范大学、北京美国中心、北京外国语大学、南京大学-约翰斯·霍普金斯大学中美文化研究中心和文艺上海的热烈欢迎。

Tan和她的活动参与者在她的演讲中探讨了各种主题。在华东师范大学,Tan讨论了中国在新加坡和美国的身份差异。她的演讲在听众中引起了一些人的兴趣,并问她作为一个国际学生的经历,以及她是否能够融入美国大学社会。因为很多参加此次会议的人都是文学专业的学生,他们还问她是如何成为一名作家的,以及她的写作过程。Tan在回应中强调,在写故事和文章时,要用“真实的声音”。

在北京外国语大学,Tan与福布莱特计划Kuilan教授的美国文学本科班进行了讨论。学生对她的书籍Tiger in the Kitchen进行了详细的分析演示,之后Tan针对学生们的分析给予了反馈。之后,Tan与USCET说道,她在听到学生从她书籍里描绘的她的奶奶、姨妈和妈妈身上学到了许多时,她感到非常感动。

“这非常令人感动,”她这样描绘到。“这整个项目引起了我的共鸣。”

在南京大学-约翰斯·霍普金斯大学中美文化研究中心,Tan对超过50名观众发表了讲话,其中很大一部分人是来自南京新闻学院的学生。这些学生对特朗普治理下的美国新闻状况感到好奇,还询问新闻作为一门学科如何能最好地应对不同的政治形势。另一些人则对Tan的侨民身份感兴趣,以及作为一名亚裔美国女性,她如何在传统的性别角色中扮演好自己的角色。Tan利用这次讨论的机会,分享了她从一个在新加坡长大的女孩到一个国际学生;从一个地铁记者,最后,成为一个小说家的旅程。

在项目的最后,Tan提到,她特别喜欢与学生见面,并发现他们对文学和美国文化的热情是“极其鼓舞人心和振奋人心的。”

“想到这些学生之后会在中国的大学里任教,我便感到非常兴奋。”她说道。

同样,学生们也表达了他们的热情。来自华东师范大学文学专业的学生Lana Zhang说,她非常喜欢这个活动,因为给了她“关于写作的新想法”。总的来说,Tan在各种活动中与300多位教授、学生和公众进行了交流。

“我感觉到了运转这个项目的重要性,”她后来跟USCET分享到。“所有事情都很奇妙,同时计划的也非常周密。”

Tan是一位驻纽约的记者,同时她也是Sarong Party GirlsA Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family书籍的作者。她还是小说选集《Singapore Noir》一书的编辑。在这之前,她曾经是《华尔街日报》、《时尚》和《巴尔的摩太阳报》的特约撰稿人。此外,她的故事还出现在《纽约时报》、《巴黎评论》、《华盛顿邮报》和《外交政策》等杂志上。