Early Chinese Students in Maine – Bowdoin College

By Gary Libby

In a previous article, Gary Libby described the first Chinese students to appear in Maine colleges. Although the first one (Tsu Sheng Linn, 1909) ended up in the Thomaston prison, those who followed had rather better success. In this second part, we meet the first students at Bowdoin.

The first Chinese student to attend Bowdoin College was Huan Shang Tang, of Canton, who matriculated in the fall of 1916. He was one of fifty students sent to study in the United States that year. He immediately joined the Bowdoin Club, and by 1918 had been so assimilated that he was required to register for the military draft. His yearbook inscription suggested that he had imbibed more than one American pastime: “[Huan] has been greatly captivated by our American young ladies, and in spite of his modest, bashful appearance has managed to get away with a whole lot during his brief sojourn with us.”

The next student to study at Bowdoin was Huan’s roommate, Ch’en Pe’ng Chin a native of Hankou. A brilliant tennis player, he was the first Chinese to win an athletic letter at Bowdoin. He joined Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

Arthur Tsu-Kuang Linn attended Harvard before spending a year as a member of Bowdoin’s Class of 1922. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.

Chi-Hai Fong, was the son of a Chinese foreign service officer who had attended the American High School in Mexico City. His father in-law, Chi Ling Hsuing, was Prime Minister of China during World War I. Although a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity, he and his wife lived off-campus in a small McKean Street apartment furnished with fine Chinese appointments. Their baby daughter, named Kien Mae Fong, was born in Brunswick in April, 1925. He majored in German and studied French, Greek, Spanish and Italian. His fluent English allowed him to excel in debate. He was one of four students selected to deliver Commencement Day addresses in 1927.

Quincy Queen Shan Sheh, of Tienjin, China, also graduated in the Class of 1927. He participated in cross country and track. He was a member of the Quill Board from his freshman through his junior years. He returned to China and spent a long career teaching English at several Chinese universities.

Vi Tsu Sun, Colby College’s first Chinese student, graduated in 1920. He was closely followed by Tun Fu Dzen and Chin Foh Song who both graduated in 1921. Mr. Son was living in Hangzhou, China, in 1939. Li Yieh Su graduated in 1924. He was living in Shanghai, China in 1939.

[From the January 2006 CAFAM Newsletter]

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