On April 26th, students, staff and faculty gathered to celebrate the translation of the biography of Sarcey Chen, WPI Class of 1924. This event was co-sponsored by the library and the WPI Alumni Office. Mr. Chen received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and returned to China to found the North Pole Appliance Company. He hoped China would use new technology to transport fresh food long distances in refrigerated rail cars.
Japan’s invasion of China early in the 1930s led to Sarcey Chen’s involvement in the resistance movement against Japan in Shanghai, where Sarcey lived. He raised money for the Chinese forces and helped plan construction of routes for the army. His failed attempt to assassinate one of the Chinese men who was part of the puppet government in Shanghai led to his arrest and execution in 1940.
Yitai Lu and Qian Wan, in China, wrote a biography of Mr. Chen, and WPI students Xiaowen and Xiaolin Zhen and Chao Liao translated the biography, beginning in 2008. At last the translation is complete, and the reception was held to celebrate this, and the life of Sarcey Chen.
Humanities and Arts Professor Jennifer Rudolph explained that China sent some of its most promising young men to the U.S. in the early decades of the 1900s to learn skills they could bring back to their home country. The Japanese invasion and the events that followed disrupted many of the hopes and plans these young men had for China.
Nienling Leung, whose father was a classmate and friend of Sarcey Chen at Tsinghua University, told of her memories of that time. She was a child then and her father was a diplomat. Her father wrote a remembrance of Sarcey which is in the translated book.
We thanked the students who translated the biography, and especially recognized Xiaowen and Xiaolin Zhen, who worked on the project from beginning to end.
Bound copies of the book will be available in the library’s circulating collection, as well as Special Collections. We are also planning to have an electronic version through the library’s web site.
Note: Photos were taken by Jackie Mushinsky