quinta-feira, 9 de janeiro de 2020

My Life in China and America (1909)

My Life in China and America (1909) é o título da  autobiografia de Wing Yung, escrita pelo próprio aos 75 anos.
Nascido junto a Macau em 1828 o pai enviou-o para Macau onde sabia existirem muitas escolas que podiam proporcionar uma melhor educação para o filho. Começou a estudar em escolas missionárias com apenas 7 anos onde aprendeu inglês. E ainda estudou em Hong Kong. A experiência seria decisiva para o futuro.
Seguiria em 1847 com o reverendo Samuel Robbins Brown para os Estados Unidos sendo o primeiro chinês a formar-se numa universidade norte-americana, a famosa Universidade de Yale, onde ainda hoje se podem ver nos registos das inscrições de 1854: "Wing Yung, Macao, China"
Escreve ele na biografia:
"The class of 1854, to which I had the honor and the good fortune to belong, graduated ninety-eight all told. Being the first Chinaman who had ever been known to go through a first-class American college, I naturally attracted considerable attention."
Em 1855 regressou à China onde se empenhou para que mais jovens chineses pudessem estudar nos EUA. E assim foi. Centenas puderam fazê-lo e no aprofundamento das relações entre os dois países Wing viria a ser não só comissário de educação junto do governo de Pequim como também diplomata chinês em Washington. Em 1872 cria a Missão da Educação Chinesa em Hartford. Turbulências políticas no país natal obrigaram ao regresso aos Estados Unidos. Com a cabeça a prémio na China e a cidadania norte-americana revogada só com a ajuda de amigos conseguiu fugir da China e entrar nos Estados Unidos de forma ilegal  em 1898 onde já tinha casado e tinha dois filhos. Morreu pobre em Hartford em 1912 deixando um legado ainda hoje reconhecido pelos dois países que sempre sentiu como seus.
Excertos do livro sobre a vida do autor em Macau:
"I was born on the 17th of November, 1828, in the village of Nam Ping (South Screen) which is about four miles southwest of the Portuguese Colony of Macao, and is situated on Pedro Island lying west of Macao, from which it is separated by a channel of half a mile wide. I was one of a family of four children. A brother was the eldest, a sister came next, I was the third, and another brother was the fourth and the youngest of the group. I am the only survivor of them all. 
As early as 1834, an English lady, Mrs. Gutzlaff, wife of the Rev. Charles Gutzlaff, a missionary to China, came to Macao and, under the auspices of the Ladies' Association in London for the promotion of female education in India and the East, immediately took up the work of her mission by starting a girls' school for Chinese girls, which was soon followed by the opening of a school for boys also. 
Mrs. Gutzlaff's comprador or factotum happened to come from the village I did and was, in fact, my father's friend and neighbor. It was through him that my parents heard about Mrs. Gutzlaff's school and it was doubtless through his influence and means that my father got me admitted into the school. It has always been a mystery to me why my parents should take it into their heads to put me into a foreign school, instead of a regular orthodox Confucian school, where my brother much older than myself was placed. 
Most assuredly such a step would have been more in play with Chinese public sentiment, taste, and the wants of the country at large, than to allow me to attend an English school; moreover, a Chinese cult is the only avenue in China that leads to political preferment, influence, power and wealth. I can only account for the departure thus taken on the theory that as foreign intercourse with China was just beginning to grow, my parents, anticipating that it might soon assume the proportions of a tidal wave, thought it worth while to take time by the forelock and put one of their sons to learning English that he might become one of the advanced interpreters and have a more advantageous position from which to make his way into the business and diplomatic world. This I take to be the chief aim that influenced my parents to put me into Mrs. Gutzlaff's Mission School. As to what other results or sequences it has eventually brought about in my subsequent life, they were entirely left to Him who has control of all our devising and planning, as they are governed by a complete system of divine laws of antecedents and consequents, or of cause and effect. 
In 1835, when I was barely seven years of age, my father took me to Macao. Upon reaching the school, I was brought before Mrs. Gutzlaff. She was the first English lady I had ever seen. On my untutored and unsophisticated mind she made a deep impression. If my memory serves me right, she was somewhat tall and well-built. She had prominent features which were strong and assertive; her eyes were of clear blue lustre, somewhat deep set. She had thin lips, supported by a square chin,- both indicative of firmness and authority. She had flaxen hair and eyebrows somewhat heavy. Her features taken collectively indicated great determination and will power. (...) 
Em 1880
In the fall of 1840, while the Opium War was still going on, my father died, leaving four children on my mother's hands without means of support.
Fortunately, three of us were old enough to lend a helping hand. My brother was engaged in fishing, my sister helped in housework, and I took to hawking candy through my own village and the neighboring one. I took hold of the business in good earnest, rising at three o'clock every morning, and I did not come home until six o'clock in the evening. My daily earnings netted twenty-five cents, which I turned over to my mother, and with the help given by my brother, who was the main stay of the family, we managed to keep the wolf away from our door. I was engaged in hawking candy for about five months, and when winter was over, when no candy was made, I changed my occupation and went into the rice fields to glean rice after the reapers. My sister usually accompanied me in such excursions. But unlike Ruth of old, I had no Boaz to help me out when I was short in my gleaning. But my knowledge of English came to my rescue. My sister told the head reaper that I could speak, read and write English. This awakened the curiosity of the reaper. He beckoned me to him and asked me whether I wouldn't talk some “Red Hair Men” talk to him. He said he never heard of such talk in his life. I felt bashful and diffident at first, but my sister encouraged me and said “the reaper may give you a large bundle of rice sheaf to take home.” This was said as a kind of prompter. The reaper was shrewd enough to take it up, and told me that if I would talk, he would give me a bundle heavier than I could carry. So I began and repeated the alphabet to him. All the reapers as well as the gleaners stood in vacant silence, with mouths wide open, grinning with evident delight. A few minutes after my maiden speech was delivered in the paddy field with water and mud almost knee deep, I was rewarded with several sheaves, and I had to hurry away in order to get two other boys to carry what my sister and I could not lug. Thus I came home loaded with joy and sheaves of golden rice to my mother, little dreaming that my smattering knowledge of English would serve me such a turn so early in my career. I was then about twelve years old. Even Ruth with her six measures of corn did not fare any better than I did. 
Soon after the gleaning days, all too few, were over, a neighbor of mine who was a printer in the printing office of a Roman Catholic priest happened to be home from Macao on a vacation. He spoke to my mother about the priest wanting to hire a boy in his office who knew enough English to read the numerals correctly, so as to be able to fold and prepare the papers for the binders. My mother said I could do the work. So I was introduced to the priest and a bargain was struck. I returned home to report myself, and a few days later I was in Macao and entered upon my duty as a folder on a salary of $4.50 a month. My board and lodging came to $1.50 - the balance of $3.00 was punctually sent to my mother every month. I did not get rich quickly in this employment, for I had been there but four months when a call for me to quit work came from a quarter I least expected. It had more the sound of heaven in it. It came from a Dr. Benjamin Hobson, a medical missionary in Macao whose hospital was not more than a mile from the printer's office. He sent word that he wanted to see me; that he had been hunting for me for months. I knew Dr. Hobson well, for I saw him a number of times at Mrs. Gutzlaff's. So I called on him. At the outset, I thought he was going to take me in to make a doctor of me, but no, he said he had a promise to fulfill. Mrs. Gutzlaff's last message to him, before she embarked for America with the three blind girls, was to be sure to find out where I was and to put me into the Morrison Education Society School as soon as it was opened for pupils. 
“This is what I wanted to see you for,” said Dr. Hobson. "Before you leave your employment and after you get the consent of your mother to let you go to the Morrison School, I would like to have you come to the hospital and stay with me for a short time so that I may become better acquainted with you, before I take you to the Morrison School, which is already opened for pupils, and introduce you to the teacher.” 
At the end of the interview, I went home to see my mother who, after some reluctance, gave her consent. I returned to Macao, bade farewell to the priest who, though reticent and reserved, not having said a word to me during all the four months I was in his employ, yet did not find fault with me in my work. I went over to the hospital. Dr. Hobson immediately set me to work with the mortar and pestle, preparing materials for ointments and pills. I used to carry a tray and accompany him in his rounds to visit the patients, in the benevolent work of alleviating their pains and sufferings. I was with him about a couple of months in the hospital work, at the end of which time he took me one day and introduced me to the Rev. Samuel Robins Brown, the teacher of the Morrison Education Society School. (...)

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