Stepping Forth into the World
The Chinese Educational Mission to the United States, 1872–81
ISBN : 978-988-8028-87-0
332 pages, 6″ x 9″, 37 b&w illus.; 11 tables
Also available in Hardback HK$350.00
The Chinese Educational Mission was the earliest effort at educational modernization in China. As part of the Self-Strengthening Movement, the Qing government sent 120 young boys to New England to live and study for a decade, before abruptly summoning them home to China in 1881. The returned students helped staff numerous other modernization projects; some rose to top administrative and political posts in the Qing government. This book, based upon extensive research in US archives and newspapers, sheds new light on the students during their nine-year stay in the United States, and it compares their lives with those of the Japanese students in New England at about the same time.
This detailed study of one of the most important projects in China’s Self-Strengthening Movement will appeal to historians of modern China as well as to comparative historians of China and Japan. The book also contrasts the experiences of the Chinese Educational Mission students with those of other Chinese in the United States during a period of anti-Chinese sentiment, which was to culminate in the enactment of Chinese Exclusion in 1882. Its conclusion that the anti- Chinese movement may have been as much class-based as race-based will provide much food for thought to scholars of Asian American studies.
“Professor Rhoads has meticulously constructed the individual and collective histories of the 120 young men and boys sent by a beleaguered late Qing government to live and acquire English and Western knowledge in white New England families, schools and universities. As the vanguard of legions of Chinese students who have studied in the U.S. since, and as contemporaries of the far more numerous Chinese coolies whose paths they never crossed, this compelling study adds a surprising new chapter to early Asian American history.” —Evelyn Hu-DeHart, professor of history and ethnic studies; director, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Brown University
“A remarkable chapter in trans-Pacific history. Drawing from a huge array of local archives and personal papers, Professor Rhoads has produced the most authoritative study of the Chinese Education Mission. This collective biography of 120 teenage boys presents life in home-stay families, at schools, and in colleges, sometimes tender, sometimes tension-filled. Terminated abruptly in 1881, the mission failed, but among those who partook of this trans-Pacific exchange, there were heart-warming as well as heart-wrenching stories.” —David Pong, professor of East Asian history, University of Delaware; editor-in-chief, Encyclopedia of Modern China
“Meticulously researched and well written, this book is an essential reading for anyone who wants to understand China’s past, present, and future through the lens of China’s first government-sponsored studying abroad program.” —Xu Guoqi, associate professor of history, University of Hong Kong; author of Strangers on the Western Front: Chinese Workers and the Great War