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Release: Immediate

Four Chinese women reunited at the UI to share stories, history

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Some 50 years ago in China, four young women met in high school and became close friends. That friendship has lasted through years of political turmoil, persecution, and separation, and now, the four are reunited at the University of Iowa to share the history they have watched unfold.

One of the four is UI Professor Emeritus Hualing Nieh Engle, co-founder and former director of the UI International Writing Program. At her suggestion, the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) agreed to sponsor a month-long residency at the UI for her three former classmates, all of whom are accomplished scholars in China. The women were invited to Iowa as specialists in their fields and also as part of Engle's proposal to write a fictionalized version of their stories in a historical novel about Chinese life in the last half of this century.

The four women will share their stories and the history they have lived at an informal dialogue panel discussion entitled, "After 50 years - Four Women of China Reunited in Iowa" Thursday, Nov. 6, starting at 7 p.m. in the International Center Lounge on the UI campus. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Engle will moderate the panel, and participate in the discussion with her three former classmates:

* Jiang Dezhen, professor emeritus of the department of psychology, Beijing University. She is currently the associate director of Elderly Studies, Beijing University, and she has published several books and lectured extensively on the psychology of the elderly.

* Li Kailing, professor emeritus of the department of Chinese literature, Hubei University, Wuhan, China and also a member of the People's Congress in Hubei Province. She is also a scholar of literary criticism.

* Zong Zhiwen, professor emeritus of the Institute for Modern Chinese History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China. She is also the author of two biographies - one of Chiang Kai-Shek, and the other of Song Ching-Ling, Chiang Kai-Shek's sister-in-law and wife of Sun Yat-san, former president of the Republic of China.

The four friends were separated when Engle, then 24, fled to Taiwan in 1949, the same year communists took over mainland China. In 1964, Engle arrived in Iowa City as a visiting writer. She earned her M.F.A. from the Writers' Workshop in 1966 and became an associate professor in 1968. She later married the late Paul Engle, former director of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and together they founded the International Writing Program.

For more information, contact the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, 335-1305.