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Posts Tagged ‘Jian Ping’

Appreciating life

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

photo 1Chicago’s lakefront trail is most dynamic on Saturday mornings from spring through the fall. If you are up early and get to the trail, you will feel the pulse of the city right there. I have seen and participated in various activities in one form or another many times, yet I find myself deeply moved each time I am back on the trail, and feel very fortunate to be part of it—living, embracing, and appreciating life to the fullest.

On a Saturday a few weeks ago when the weather was still very warm, I rode my bike north on the trail after my early morning swim. I encountered many people running along the trail, some in groups, and others solo. Perspiration dripped from their back and arms, giving their skin a healthy and radiant glow.  As I passed them, admiring their strength and spirit, I noticed a young father pushing a baby stroller ahead of him as he ran. Despite the extra weight, he was going at a good pace. I raised my thumb on the handlebar.

photo 3I was happy to see more people were using the blue Divvy bikes, the Chicago bike sharing system, on the trail. The front and back lights on the bikes flashed in white and red as if to render a friendly greeting.

The trail got more crowded as I moved north. Once I passed Grand Avenue, the mile-long swimming section along the raised concrete sidewalk came into view. There were quite a few people in the water swimming long distance, with the majority wearing wetsuits.  I slowed down, watching their arms alternating in and out of the water and admiring the power and speed of these strong swimmers, both men and women.

photo 5As I turned the curve and headed toward the Oak Street underpass, I saw many people playing sand volleyball. They all looked young, nicely tanned by the summer sun, and healthy. Right off the sandy beach, children and adults were enjoying themselves on the beach.

Everywhere I looked, I saw the joy of activities and movements. It was the beauty of life at its best.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film was on national PBS in May 2014

Mulberry Child on PBS

Saturday, May 17th, 2014
Jian Ping, Ellis Goodman & Lisa Xia greeting attendees

Jian Ping, Ellis Goodman & Lisa Xia greeting attendees

It feels unreal to watch my life story on television. In Chicago, WTTW (Channel 11), the local PBS station, broadcast Mulberry Child three times. I watched it twice. The first time, half of the film, and the second, in its entirety. I tried to watch the film from an “objective” perspective, as if I were watching someone else’s story. It worked at certain parts, but at some very strong personal moments, such as scenes in which Lisa and I get into an argument, images of my father waving gently, a few days before his passing, and my mother, pushing open a door to look out, as if expecting her grown up children to come back, tears still welled up in my eyes.

What touches me most is the outpouring of emotion and support that I’ve received from viewers and friends, and they are still arriving in my email on a daily basis since the broadcast of the film and online streaming on started on May 1. The flash page of Mulberry Child on PBS doesn’t have my email address. Many people went out of their way to locate it from my book or film website to send me their thoughts and comments. I received many emails before, mostly from friends and viewers in Chicago where the film had more than twenty screenings at different venues, including a weeklong engagement to the public at the Gene Siskel Film Center. But it feels so differently when the emails come from strangers throughout the country.

At reception

At reception

The broadcast of Mulberry Child, which started on May 1 on PBS, will continue nationwide through the month. Each PBS station has its own schedule, and in addition, the World Channel, an affiliation of PBS, scheduled multiple screenings in many cities. The first email I received was on the first of broadcasting, from a woman named Sanviki. “I just watched Mulberry Child on PBS,” she started. “It is difficult to express my exact response—thoughts and feelings at this time; all I can say at this time is that the movie had a profound affect upon me… I felt compiled to write to you, I needed to let you know that your work is important and that I bid you the inspiration to continue in your journey of awareness, self-expression and truth—especially as it relate to deepening the development of love for yourself, your daughter and others.”

Many more followed.

Lisa chatting with attendees

Lisa chatting with attendees


“I wanted to personally thank you for sharing your profound life story of resilience and hope.”

“I watched your movie and my heart went out. I would love learn more and see more.”

“My wife and I just watched Mulberry Child. It moved and reminded us emotionally to appreciate the gifts and sacrifices by our parents.”

“I watched Mulberry Child documentary on PBS this morning and was moved to tears more than once. Watching you with your daughter made me miss my mother terribly so I cried for that loss. I also cried for the trials of your family and for those of all the Chinese people during that terrible time.”

Jian with Grace and He

Jian with Grace and He

I don’t know where these viewers live or who they are beside their names, but their resonance with Mulberry Child and their sharing of emotion touched me deeply. I made sure to respond to everyone’s email personally.

When WTTW in Chicago premiered at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, we held a reception and screening at Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, celebrating the milestone with appetizers, wine, and Tsingtao Beer. About 150 people attended the event. Once again, I was touched that quite a few friends who had seen the film more than once, including a recent screening at the Harold Washington Library Center on May 1, came again to show support.

I was thrilled that my daughter Lisa, who had moved to work in Frankfurt, Germany since March, happened to be back in Chicago and was able to join me at the reception and conduct the 40-minute long discussion after the screening with me. People connected with our story in different ways, based on their background and experience. But the outpour of emotion was so moving. Several viewers in the audience paused to chock back tears when they made comments and raised questions. Lisa shed tears, too, and I had to exert more control to suppress mine.

Moments like this made me realize that it’s certainly worthwhile to throw our personal life on to the screen. I feel so fortune that our story is inspiring others on their personal journey and relationships, not to mention that the process of making and showing the film has brought Lisa and I much closer!

My heart-felt thanks to you all.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The movie is shown on PBS nationwide in May, 2014. Visit for more information.

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Curious and eager Chinese language students

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

I had the pleasure of working with the Confucius Institute in Chicago, and through them, giving talks about bringing Chinese culture into the classrooms of Chinese language studies at Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

CPS students listening to my talk about Chinese tea.

CPS students listening to my talk about Chinese tea.

CPS has one of the most successful Chinese language teaching programs in the U.S., with more than 13,000 students from elementary to high schools enrolled in the program. I started by giving workshops to Chinese language teachers at the Confucius Institute, providing tools and insights in integrating Chinese heritage and culture in their language teaching, and later, talking directly to students in different grades at CPS schools. I very much enjoyed the experience.

All the Chinese language teachers whom I’ve met, either native Chinese or Americans speaking fluent Chinese, are very enthusiastic about their mission. While a few have been teaching Chinese for years and accumulated a wealth of experience, most of the teachers are young and have started their teaching career not that long ago. Many of them have a heavy workload, teaching five classes of different levels nearly every day.

Students watched with great interest how tea is brewed and served.

Students watching with great interest how tea is brewed and served.

My talks included introducing Confucian ideologies, classic vernacular literature, Chinese folk arts, and tea culture to the teachers and students. Only when I started talking to students directly, did I realize how curious and eager they wanted to learn and how helpful it would be to make their language learning experience more enriched and fun by bringing more culture related content.

My latest 10 hours of presentations to students in various grades brought me a lot of joy and convinced me that more should be done in this front. These pictures here show how engaged the students were.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary movie and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.

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Another successful run in Chicago

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Sold Out Screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center

Mulberry Child finished its second run at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago last Thursday, with 11 screenings over a period of one week. Most of the shows were sold out, and each of the Q & A sessions lasted 45 minutes or more. I was and still am very touched and honored.

I was pleased to see some friends and friends’ friends come to the screenings; and more Asians, including many Chinese, in the audience this time. I was thrilled, like I was at the first round of screenings, that the audiences connected with the themes of Mulberry Child from various levels regardless of their backgrounds. When I saw several friends/viewers who had watched the film in January came back again, this time with their friends and family members, I was moved beyond words. Many members of

Jian Ping talking with audience after screening

book clubs, Women of the World, and the Asian Group of IWA that I had met and given talks to before also came to the screenings, some coming as far as Crystal Lake, more than 50 miles away!

Meanwhile, Nina Metz’ at the Chicago Tribune released a coverage on Mulberry Child the day the film opened its screening. The half-page write up was accompanied with a large photo of my daughter, Lisa, and me and gave a very good idea of what the film is about.

Many heartfelt thanks to you all for your interest and support!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film just finished its second run for a week at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

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Updates on Mulberry Child (2)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Little Jodi who played Jian

Director Susan Morgan Cooper and cast–who played little Jian and her parents in Mulberry Child speak about their experience behind the scene. Click on the link below to view the interviews.

Director and Cast Talk about the Making of the Film


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. For more information, visit,, and

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Updates on Mulberry Child

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

It’s been a very exciting and busy time since the completion of Mulberry Child movie in October. After the moving reception from the audience at the Heartland Film Festival, I’ve received quite a few requests for talks about my book and the film at special groups and for screenings at university campuses. I’m thrilled and touched. I look forward to embarking on a journey to share my story, and along the way, to empower more people to overcome adversities in their lives.

Here is a link to the trailer of the film:


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. The book has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. For more information, visit, or


An Inspiring Experience at the Heartland Film Festival

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011


Tickets to Mulberry Child sold out at AMC theatre

Nothing is more reassuring and gratifying than finishing the screening of your film at a film festival with a SOLD OUT show and a standing ovation from the audience. That was the exciting experience I had at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, a well-respected festival by filmmakers and film patrons at which Mulberry Child had its world premiere.


“Thank you! Thank you so much!” Susan Morgan Cooper, director of the feature-length documentary film based on my book Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, repeatedly said to the enthusiastic audience. She wiped away tears of joy and appreciation as she faced the audience in this packed AMC theatre in Castleton Square.


Jian, Lisa and Susan at Heartland Film Festival Gala

My daughter, Lisa, and I stood by Susan’s side, along with Louise Henderson, director of the festival’s documentary program who introduced us to the audience. We were all touched and thrilled by the response we received. I must say I was also overwhelmed and humbled. All my concerns and worries about exposing my life and that of my family evaporated at that moment. Even Lisa, a reluctant participant throughout the filmmaking process, came on board, now that she saw the positive impact that the film had on others.


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit to watch the trailer of Mulberry Child. For more information on Jian Ping and her book, visit and

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Mulberry Child Movie Postcard

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Mulberry Child movie, directed by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset, is finally completed! The world premiere will be at the Heartland Film Festival on October 16, 2011 in Indianapolis and the film will be screened three times at the Festival.

Sunday, October 16, 5:45 PM at AMC Showplace 17, 4325 South Meridian Street,

Monday, October 17, 3:30 PM at AMC Castleton Square, 6020 E. 82nd St.

Friday, October 21, 7:15 PM at AMC Castleton Square, 6020 82nd St.

Check out the details at the link below.

On the right is the postcard of the film!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A memoir of China. Visit, for more information.

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Mulberry Child Makes Premiere at the Heartland Film Festival

Thursday, September 29th, 2011


Little Jian in re-enactment

I’m so excited to share the news that Mulberry Child (MC) movie will start its premiere at the Heartland Film Festival on October 16 and will have two more screenings at the Festival on October 17 and October 21!


Of course, we are all excited about Jacqueline Bisset, winner of Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, to be the narrator of the film.

Susan Morgan Cooper, Director of MC, said: “I am delighted to return to Heartland’s nurturing and very classy film festival … The atmosphere of the festival inspires many lasting friendships.”

Susan’s last film An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story, was also shown at the Festival when it was first released.


Teenage Jian dreaming of flying away

It was a healing process for me to put the memories of the hardship I endured during China’s Cultural Revolution on paper. The book is also a legacy for my daughter—my effort to connect her to my family roots, and teach her the importance of resilience. I’m amazed by Susan’s wonderful job in expanding the film to include my life with my daughter in Chicago today. She successfully weaved my intentions for the book into episodes of my life stories in China and in the U.S.


The movie is a unique hybrid of documentary and narrative film, using rare archival footage, photographs taken surreptitiously by Li Zhensheng, and dramatic re-enactment. Susan succeeded in presenting the terrifying days of the Cultural Revolution and my fear as a little girl for my family. What Susan finds most compelling is what happens when the trauma of such a past haunts the future and impact my relationship with my daughter.

Check out the film at the Heartland Film Festival at

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit,, Mulberry Child movie is directed by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.




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Commencement Speech at Loyola University

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Me, giving speech at the commencement

I had the honor to give the commencement speech at the College of Arts and Science at Loyola University (LU) on Friday, May 13th.

Joyce and Laurie, who I had been in communication with, greeted me upon my arrival and took me to the room where all the faculty members who would be seated on stage were waiting for their line-up. I had the opportunity to meet President Garanzini, Dean Fennell, and others. Although I had obtained two graduate and one undergraduate degrees, I had never attended any commencement ceremony dressed in academic apparels. I was quite excited.  

Dean Fennell giving greeting

It was great to see students getting ready for their defining moment with excitement. The auditorium was full when we walked in. The proud graduating students were seated in the middle, and their family members and friends were seated on both sides of the raised benches. My husband Francis, daughter Lisa, and close friends Jing, Gillian and Ellis were also among the audience. I felt like I were one of the students ready to embark on a new phase in life.

Me, speaking at the commencement

At 10 a.m., the commencement ceremony started as planned. Dean Fennell gave the greeting, followed by student speaker Erica Grandados-De La Rosa, and me, giving the keynote speech. After the conferring of degrees to nearly 600 students majoring different fields in arts, Father Garanzini gave the blessing. When Rob Bucholz, MC and Professor of History, announced the closing of the ceremony, I was still immersed in the spirit of celebration.

Faculty, students, and families at the commencement

The key points I’d like to have them walk away with include 1) embrace different cultures and people of different ethnic origins; 2) be strong and resilient; and 3) dream big dreams no matter how improbable they seem.

I was moved when many members of the faculty came over to give me their positive feedback on my speech. I felt very honored and privileged to have this opportunity, sharing a few life lessons I had learned living in two countries and two cultures.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, for more information. Mulberry Child has been made into a feature-length documentary film and will be released in 2011.

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