It took Lisa and me more than two hours getting from downtown Chicago to Harper College in Palatine, a northwestern suburb about 30 miles away last Wednesday to attend the screening and Q & A of Mulberry Child. The constant rain turned the traffic bumper to bumper. We missed the opening of the show, but made it there in time to do the Q & A.
I was impressed that so many people showed up in this terrible weather (we’d learn later how many areas were flooded) and more impressed that the Q & A lasted an hour and a few in the audience continued the discussion at the book signing table, and the staff and faculty members at Harper College, including Dr. Richard Johnson and Judy Kulchawik, stayed with us and joined the conversations all the way to the end. The event was scheduled from 6 to 9 pm. By the time we left the campus building, it was well after 10 pm.
The audience was a mix of students and members from the nearby community. A few Chinese in the audience asked questions relating to advice on how to raise the next generation in the U.S. and pass on to them the Chinese heritage. One Chinese mother shared similar experience to that of ours, revealing an interesting situation in which her son has all Asian friends, but her daughter, all Americans. Puzzled, she asked Lisa if she has ever had Asian boyfriends, explaining she didn’t mean to probe into her personal life, but she was curious to know. I laughed, telling the audience this is why I love to do Q & A with Lisa, for I could imagine Lisa would roll her eyes if I ever dared to bring up such a question. These Q & A sessions have provided us a true venue to hear each other while we address questions from the audience.
Typical of Lisa, a professional in public relations, she answered the question diplomatically yet straightforward. The audience laughed and let her off the hook.
One young man from Greece shared his experience and asked Lisa if there was any negative side for being between cultures.
A middle-aged American couple who had just finished reading my book commented how the film brought everything live for them and asked about the filmmaking process.
A woman in her 30s, a student at Harper and has lived in many parts of the world with her parents during her growing up years, raved about the film and offered to introduce it to high schools in the area, stating how informative and educational the film will be to students.
As always, Lisa and I were genuinely touched. We didn’t get home until close to midnight, and Jiayu, a graduate student at IIT who gave us the ride to and back from Harper College, bravely battled the rain and traffic, and managed to get us all home safely (not without some dangerous maneuvering), including giving a ride home for two city residents who missed their last train.
Our sincere thanks to the Humanities Center at Harper College for hosting the event and the audience for their interest, support, and connection.
Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated Jacqueline Bisset.