Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Sen and Helen Fan
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Sen Fan was born in 1927 in Haimen, a rural village in Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai. He was about ten years old when the Japanese invaded China, and his father died during the Sino-Japanese War. After the war he went to Shanghai for about a year, and in 1948 he moved with his mother, sisters and brothers to Taiwan. He attended normal school in Taipei, and after he received a bachelor's degree he taught mathematics and ecology at Ching Kung University in southern Taiwan. In 1958 he accepted a position at Nanyang University in Singapore, where he taught mathematics until 1960. He then decided to continue his studies in the United States. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1960 and 1961 and received a master's degree, and late in 1961 he accepted a job at the University of Minnesota at Morris. With the exception of about three years, Fan has continued to teach in the mathematics department at Morris. In 1965 and 1966 he furthered his graduate studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and from 1966 to 1968 he taught at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. In 1958 Fan married Ying Ying Hsu (Helen Fan) in Taiwan, and the couple moved to Singapore together. Helen Fan was born in 1931 in the city of Changzhou in Jiangsu Province. Her father was a clerk for the railroad in Jiangsu. In 1948 she moved to Taiwan with her sister and brother. She attended normal school there, and after receiving a bachelor's degree she taught elementary school for three years. After the couple's marriage and move to Singapore, their first son, Paul, was born. When Sen Fan decided to go to the University of Illinois, Helen Fan and Paul remained in Taiwan until arriving in Morris in late 1961, by which time Sen had finished his studies and taken the job at Morris. Another son, Robert, and a daughter, Grace, were born after the family was reunited in Morris. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: They discuss problems they have encountered in raising their children in an isolated town in central Minnesota where few other Chinese live; differences in Chinese and American child-rearing practices; and adjustments they have made. They also point out that they and their children have been well-accepted in Morris, aside from some name-calling in elementary school. Although they would like their children to interact with other Chinese with whom they could identify, both agree that in the larger university settings such as the University of Illinois and Brown University, where there are many Chinese students and faculty, they found far less social intermingling between Americans and Chinese than occurs at Morris. The Fans point to the fact that they are frequently invited to the homes of faculty and other staff as an indication of the warm reception they have had in the university community in Morris. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Sen and Helen Fan are representative of the many professionals among the Chinese who have settled in Minnesota since the early 1960s. As the first Chinese to live in Morris, they provide an interesting commentary on the process of acculturation in an environment very different from what they had known in China.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
64 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:16:32 running time
Creation Interviewee: Fan, Sen
Interviewee: Fan, Helen
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Morris, Stevens County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asian Americans -- Minnesota
Chinese Americans -- Minnesota.
Made in Morris, Stevens County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 12/01/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.11
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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