February 19, 2019
USCET celebrated Chinese New Years with GWU's Elliott School of International Affairs by co-hosting a book launch and signing event for the award-winning Asian American author and activist Helen Zia.
Zia’s latest book, Last Boat out of Shanghai, follows the gripping real life stories of four young people who fled from Shanghai during the mass exodus of 1949. Through these harrowing stories, readers learn of the courage, determination, and sacrifice that the characters confronted in their decisions to leave their homeland behind, as well as the challenges they faced in their new countries.
As a first-generation Chinese American, Zia is uniquely equipped to explain how crises like the Shanghai exodus affect children and their families, students and their futures, and, ultimately, the way we see ourselves and those around us. Displacement, immigration, and refugee crises are as salient today as they were 50 years ago. Zia emphasized humanity and triumph of the human spirit in her powerful presentation.
Ambassador Reuben Brigety, dean of The Elliott School, delivered the event’s opening remarks, while USCET’s own Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, whose family immigrated to the US from Shanghai during that tumultuous period, moderated an engaging dialogue with the author. Over 100 GW students, scholars, and guests from the Chinese American community in the Greater Washington Area participated in the event.
Zia, winner of the 2018 Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Lifetime Achievement Award, was also a distinguished participant in USCET’s 2017 Asian American Authors Series in Beijing, Shanghai, and Sichuan.