Pomfret to Speak at OCSF
John Pomfret, author of "Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China," about life after Mao, will be the featured speaker at the Oct. 23 Occidental College Speakers Forum at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena.
An 11:30 a.m. reception will precede the noon luncheon in the hotel's Viennese Ballroom. The Ritz-Carlton is located at 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave. Tickets for the luncheon are $35 per person ($20 for Oxy GOLD members). For reservations or additional information, contact Julia Harkleroad at (323) 259-1456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At age 20, Pomfret spent a year at Nanjing University in the aftermath of Maoist rule as an exchange student from Stanford. His Nanjing classmates were among those who survived the tragedy of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution under Mao. Pomfret, now The Washington Post's bureau chief in Los Angeles, was one of the first American students to study and live with Chinese students after the United States and China formally restored diplomatic relations in 1979.
Reviewer Karl Taro Greenfield describes "Chinese Lessons," which came out in August, as a "road map through post-Mao China." Pomfret wrote the book after attending the 20th reunion of the Nanjing University History Class of 1982, where he reacquainted himself with his classmates and their stories. One classmate's father was killed during the Cultural Revolution for the crime of being an intellectual; another classmate labored in the fields for years rather than agree to a party-arranged marriage; a third was forced to publicly denounce and humiliate her father.
Pomfret, who speaks, reads and writes Mandarin, has lived in worked in China intermittently for the last 25 years. He was a reporter in China during the Tiananmen Square protests in the late 1980s and served as Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post from 1998-2003. A self-described "adrenaline junkie," he has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Congo, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Turkey as a foreign correspondent. In 2003, Pomfret was awarded the Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Asian Journalism by the Asia Society.