5/2/12

The John Jung Letters

A few years ago I was intrigued to learn that the University of North Dakota had an archive of "John Jung Letters," written in the 1920s by a young Chinese boy whose father ran a laundry in Devils Lake, a small town in North Dakota.  Fascinated by the fact that not only did this boy and I share the same name, but that we seemed to have a common life experience growing up in cultural isolation in a small town in a laundry run by our parents, I had to see these letters that were a collection of letters he wrote to  his fourth grade teacher after she moved to another town.  These letters, written over a span of about seven years open a window on the personal growth of development of John Jung as a Chinese boy in North Dakota where there were few other Chinese. 

I also had my own "John Jung letters, collected from the 1950s after I left my birthplace, Macon, Georgia, to live in San Francisco.  Unlike the North Dakota letters, my collection does not contain letters that I wrote but rather it is a set of letters I received and saved from one of my teachers and two other white adult mentors who were strong influences on my personal growth.

I wrote a paper for a meeting of the Association of Asian American Studies that discussed these two sets of "John Jung letters" and posted the paper on this site, The John Jung Letters.

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