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tv   Qian Wang Beautiful Country  CSPAN  April 20, 2022 10:28pm-11:09pm EDT

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chin, julie wong is with us today courtesy of >> with us today courtesy of
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our sponsors and as a graduate fyale law school formally a commercial litigator now managing partner and a firm dedicated to advocating for education and rights she's arrived in major publications such as "the new york times" and "washington post" livingep in brooklyn with her husband and to rescue dogs salt-and-pepper. please give a warm savanna welcome.e. [applause] and in the episode of seinfeld titled library copy library investigation officer visit jerry's apartment this occurs because according to library records jerry had henry miller's topic of concert
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checked out since 1971. but according to jerry he returned at that same year. when he learns of the dilemma kramer is terrified. do you know how much that comes to? that is a nickel a day for 20 years that would be $50000. but when jerry corrects him it doesn't work like that kramer gives voice to a fear that would have sent chills through my body at a dime a day that's $100,000. when lieutenant bookman arrives on the scene heth delivers the best monologue of the series. i will try to do it justice. let me tell you something funny boy. you know that little stamp the one that says new york public library? that may not mean anything to you. but it means a lot to me. sure, go ahead and laugh if
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you want to. i have seen your type before. flashy and making scene flaunting convention. i know what you are thinking what is this guy making such a big stink about all library books? i will give you aie hint, junior. maybe we can live without libraries maybe people you and me we're too old to change the world. but what about that kid sitting down opening a book right now and data branch at the local library to find drawings on that cat in the hat and the five chinese brothers doesn't he deserve better? if you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you better think again. i know what you're thinking. what is she doing and why she starting with this?
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but i'm afraid to tell you i will never stop quoting seinfeld. [laughter] as a jewish new yorker growing up in the nineties i am legally required to open every speech with a reference to seinfeld. i don't make the rules.ty but the reality is beautiful special days like this when so many of us get to get together to celebrate the written word but the monologue comes to me he may have been comically overzealous about his job living up to his name after all but he got something very right books are so much more than words on paper. for a lonely child, they may well be her home, her refuge, her pipeline to a better future.
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i know this because i was that child. when i moved to america from china in 1984, everything i have ever known disappeared overnight. and for the first time in my itlife i found myself a racial minority in a land and those with physical labor where we made pennies. and at the sushi plant where my mother skin turned purple from exposure and learning that i was illegal i walked the other way whenever i saw anyone in uniform. cop or custodian the firstwa english word i learned was the slur for chinese.
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word that etched into my brain with a certain knowledge that my race was repugnant. the first day still come to me in loneliness and hunger and i still remember the confusion when does confusion that enveloped me to literally translate beautiful country. that albert einstein once said the only thing you have to know is the location of the library. we call that managing is for reason. that branch was a block away from the elementary school one day, the fog and confusion dissipated and my world opened up again. is no longer alone i cannot
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restore my life in china to give back my family and friends but it did supply new companions deferred, the big red target the very hungry caterpillar and soon the babysitters club and sweet valley high. thanks to the library i was no longer living alone with my parents and with the rotation of immigrant families. and instead sitting in stony brook connecticut munching oreos hanging out with my friends fielding babysitting calls just like any other american cat. fans of the babysitters club he likes the junk food in the hollow books but that reminded me of home.
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growing up in aev persecuted family during the cultural revolution my father hit his favorite english books many were banned with the ransacked home and later become an english literature professor but quickly found that even in his classrooms to teach the critical thought and social commentary he so admired from charles dickens and often told me from days of center teaching narrative is power. nothing matters more than the story you tell. that message perhaps is more important now than ever before. every time i heard this in china, i thought he knew what
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he meant. but i did not really feel it or believe it until i arrived in america and discovered the safety of books. as i taught myself english volume after volume learning about the parts of america otherwise and accessible to me i learned that i was not too different from the kids that are often portrayed so as i write in t beautiful country from there, there was no saving me i lived and breathed books. i actually think we may have understated the importance of books failing to say that book save lives and that offers companionship for the lonely and a roadmap and a roadmap for the persecuted and the
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number one priority was blending in. if we can learn to speak english perfectly just like the native speaker then i could possibly say i have been born here a full and legitimate american housing leknow suspicion about my immigration status. if i can blend in i know exactly what christmas doesn'tr what los angeles looks like and i would fit in just like another american kid. access to safety and the longing was freely availableac to me in one place in my work now as an education lawyer to see the sanctuary
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the rest of our societies teams have forgotten those who have no adult supervision no means of traveling around the world no one telling them that they are loved are safe where worthy. every single volume offers a voice and hope in the guidance they need to chart a different path to dream a different and a bigger dream and for those children offer p a home in the present and in the future. this is even more true for other children because i was fortunate to have landed in a large city walking from library to library or bookstore to bookstore to avail myself of allll the public resources for free. i have countless books at my disposal. i choseie for myself the stories
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and wanted to read and yet even in that freedom i felt lostli reflections of my life came only in slivers but households and the diary of anne frank whose also meant she had to grow up in hiding and through the eyes of jonas to see all that wasn't visible to others the glimmer of recognition was even more precious and i felt seen and i hope they signaled i might a even be worthy. if america can love those characters then i could also be loved and perhaps i was not so different so those glimmers
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may not have become available to me and it's worth returning to this point the narrative power and nothing matters more than the stories we tell. so just days ago the american library association reported that this past fall from unprecedented 330 challenges and in november i was fortunate to speak at a convention where i was shockedre to learn the act of providing equal access to books andnd resources has become more politicized and exhausting than ever. the movement to ban books isn't just happening in our classrooms but in our libraries across the nation
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and discourse. i'm sure he will remember a time in childhood when your parents were godlike, 200 feet tall, all-knowing and encompassing. as long as they were around you are safe for me that smokeen screen faded early when i landed at jfk airport at age seven my parents would shrink down to mere mortals they were reduced to be just as confused and lost and afraid as i was. but for me library books and indeed over the years are all authority figures under theve threat of discovery and the deportation somehow i never
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feared librarians the only beings with i was my true self with charlotte and wilbur to this day remain my northstar for friendship those that still keep me company at times i feel singularly odd and when i feel i alone endure the stress ofee moving the abruptat conditions i just need to think of mrs. frisbie. through the library that i learned for the first time about the work of thurgood marshall and ruth bader ginsburg and then 25 years ago i resolved to become a lawyer just like them and change the story our country he chose to the courtroom so
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neither that day or that conviction for the treasures of the books that i discovered are etched into my being. my heart still mourns those from where the red fern grows and the silliness of the school to fill itself with the feminism of a wrinkle in time. but most of all the honor of having found books that reflected me at a time that i needed them gave me a sense despite all messaging i was not singularly unwanted and that perhaps i was just as worthy as the next. to this day whenever i feel scared and last few things are more comforting than the sight and smell of books and because you are here at a book festival at 9:00 a.m. on a
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saturday. [laughter] i suspect you can relate. so now you know little bito about me i think it may be safe for me to share a confession. i'm not that different from jerry. sometime over the winter in the fifth grade in 1997, i also had a missing overdue book. is a. checked out a new batch of books one afternoon, the librarian said there was a problem. i appeared to have a book out that was creek quickly accruing find i said i remember returning at the week before but the system had no record of it and when i heard this i all that sink into the ground what would happen? allowed to be borrow books anymore would be thrown into prison for theet
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debt for me overdue fees? what i get to read imprisoned? worst of all as they went home and had no book weather because i lost it or returned hit without record, what would happen? did the library have other rcopies or what i forever deprive the other children of that volume? the fear was because the book in question was number 82 in the babysitters club series. [laughter] don't worry you may not have the numbers memorize like i do with that just means you are a normal person. [laughter] number 82 is called jesse in the troublemaker and primarily follows the frustrations with
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one sitting charge of daniel roberts both of these characters meant the world to me jesse was the only black member of the babysitters club and it felt like her family was the only black family in town like claudia the only asian member prejudice and ignorance were all too common in my life meanwhile danielle wasan a child of leukemia and while i wasg fortunate enough not to have endured anything like what daniel went through i had a sick mother and me were terrified all the attention from doctors and hospitals and in jesse's and danielle's experience with them together i found in a h book reflections of my reality and now i had gone and misplace that book so no other
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child who was struggling could find the comfort that i did. and that to me was the absolute worst. in the end of course my library and was far more lenient than kramer would have suggested. with that $100,000 charge. not for me. she said she would flag the booking give it six months to reemerge. and then just in case i forgot it somewhere i looked thoroughly and to see the tears in my eyes she said don't worry, dear. it always turns up. she was right it was not at home but if humans later when i on —- inquired about the
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book and they always did it was like a new pet. relief poured over me as i was told that yes the book had been found. the book had been found the flag was removed from my account in the overdue charges growing were white clean. i was free. that experienced it with me. because even in for a child who was always reading five books at once every individualtr book mattered because of the message that it shared and uniquely positioned and that
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was the idea that motivated me to believe that my story and my life might matter to just one person that i could ever hope that my book would one day connect with just one person out there to tell them that they are worthy of being seen and isn't that why so many of us are drawn to read and to write and to commune in the power of storytelling? so what happens to the fabric of our society? connection communities like a
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relative dominoes on each other. and where they go then is left adrift. looking around at this beautiful for one —- book festival i soak it all in and then to be immersed in so many stories and perspectives and ideas. you don't have to agree with them all that you are free to hear the mall. and this is our country at the most beautiful. this is the kind of day that shows us how fortunate we are to live in the united states. and how empowered we are to change the world and how we
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might go forward with those that we are fortunate to hear. today's events are not unlike one great big sprawling and i always imagined period days will be a kind of library. as you walk around paradise today i think about all of the ways you can preserve and share a piece of paradise with your community and people all around you. you have the power to rally for change by volunteering at your library or calling upon your elected officials to fight for more public assistance. and as i'm legally required to
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open with the seinfeld quote. maybe we can live without libraries and people like you and me. we are too old to change the world. but what about that kid sitting down you can be a voice andps the champion but that's all it makes america beautiful. pink is so much. [applause]
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one question per person. [laughter] if nobody asks i will have to sing. [laughter] >> thank you for coming today. you mentioned now that you work so did your love of reading influence that decision? and then to have seen inside the legal system and judicial system and then the route to systemic change and foundational change is in the
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education system and to availing all children of more resources. and to deal them without love early and often. all of my experiences those practicing law at that point to give the direction of education. >> so the first barnes & noble gift card was a workbook and a dictionary. if you got $50 today what would you spend it on? >>r i don't know how much they go for now but at least five or ten of the babysitters club series. [laughter] recently they have been recast
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as graphic novels which i have not been able because i don't want to tarnish my original experience but i would be very curious. i wish i could get a gift certificate back. [laughter] >> the parallels to grown in translation and her immigration experience was previous to yours. and what you see with those experiences now. and those people coming from china? >> the sad truth is that i
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don't see a huge change the advances in the way that we talked about immigrants and resources that we make available to new immigrants. that so often of what i see on the ground in chinatown walking around new york city is much of the same conditions. the problem with the american dream what has materiallyy changed for me but walking from my fancy home to my office on the way there is still see young immigrant children going to the trash with their parents to still see inns their eyes the same things i grappled with decades ago and then i went to pick up that child and say it will be okay you are seen and there are people out there fighting for you but i'm afraid that would terrify the child more.
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[laughter]ve that's all i can do to just keep working often in those moments those survival skills a follow me and swallow me up and it feels like it's not enough that i can do every day to take away the reality. >> my book club read your book is that there is a lot more. >> i went to the book to focus on those five years. i really did not think of my book to be about me or my life. and when it to be a celebration and attribute and
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to children that is very special and then to go out ine' the world we don't understand and so incredibly open and vulnerable and then we learn hito become guarded and to hone in on this precious years it's that little child and inside of us that drives the decisions and the way we engage with each other and interact withis the world. looking at that seven -year-old child the practical reasons i'm only 34 and have that wisdom yet and have important things to say about the later years maybe there's
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a follow-on book. >> i love your talk. so my primary means to have this book was was the school library and for me i went to law school also. . . . . my fire
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children who get meals in the school because i relied on those free meals and once you are not required to be there every day it may no longer be feasible or may no longer feel safe to go out and get that meal so what happens to those children who don't have food at home or books at home or don't even have internet access? what i've seen from engaging with community librarians including my childhood home they are working on having loans with ipads and computers where children can be able to access pdf resources and books online. they are sending out virtual resources every day and making sure that families are attuned to them. the librarians have become the front lines of the pandemic for
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that underserved community. but even so, in my work at my firm, i've seen a lot of developmental delays and as we know, one year of missed education or two years of missed education has a ripple effect across the child's future. and so it is everything that we are focusing on to minimize those delays and minimize those gaps and discrepancies. but it is a valid concern and i would just say that making those public resources as widely available as possible even for those who may not necessarily have internet access have access to electronic devices should be of a first and foremost goal of the government and agencies and libraries and community members like you. >> thank you. >> thank you.
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>> i am curious -- i'm only halfway through the book but i'm curious with all the context you had as a child, the good and the bad, have you run into any of those people as a grown-up?er >> do you mean like the teachers -- >> teachers, other students, the little girl that wanted to translate for you, just any of those influences -- you had to so many that as an adult have you ever run into them again? >> i was fortunate to have found a very close knit and tightknit community as you said of both good and bad but also very good people and support and actually i am leaving from here to go
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straight to the airport because my best friend from thein third grade, elaine in the book is getting married tomorrow and i am a officiating. so i'm very excited' [laughter] i've never officiated before so i hope i don't mess it up. the book also brought me back to 124 where i went to elementary school and i spoke to a lot of the teachers there including my second grade teacher who is still teaching as well as my former classmates who are now teachers and they also had some choicece words to say about the teacher that i described. i've gotten a lot of e-mails bemoaning teachers like him. but teaching is a hard job so i don't begrudge and am not connected with him. most special perhaps is my third grade teacher, the principal at 124 put us in touch and i senteb her photos of the charlotte's web copy that she gave me when i was 8-years-old and she could
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not believe that i had kept it all of these years. but then she send me copies of cards that i gave her often full of gibberish that she kept for 28 years, 30 years and i did not remember -- i guess i rememberer a little bit how much of a snarky sneaky kid i was, but in one of the cards, i was purportedly apologizing for what i had gotten in trouble with which is speaking chinese and i said it wasn'tt my fault my friend is the one that did it and then it was followed by a riddle like what do you call a witch on a beach. i think i copied it from somewhere and to think that she thought that line of random ramblings was special enough to keep. it made me cry instantaneously. it's so very special and she now
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has children of her own and we plan to meet up in brooklyn when everything gets a little bit less hectic. but this book has brought about so many developments and connections i couldn't have even fathomed and i just feel like the luckiest a person in the wod anden most special connecting wh readers almost -- everyone like you with whom the book has resonated with more van eyck could have thought because it really does prove my initial hypothesis with writing beautiful country p and it's tht when you peel back all the labels, we are really not different at all. [applause] >> thank you so much. [applause] there are a lot of places to get political information but only at c-span do you get it straight from the source no matter where
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you're from or where you stand on the issues c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased, word for word if it happens here or here or here or anywhere that matters, america is watching on c-span, powered by cable. first ladies in their own words, the eight part series looking at the role of the first ladies, their time in the white house and the issue is important to them. >> it was a great advantage to know what it was like to work in the school because education is such an important issue will both for a governor but also for president.
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>> i am very much the kind of person who believes you should say what you mean and mean what you say and take the consequences. >> and the online video library featuring lady bird johnson, betty ford, rosalynn carter, nancy reagan, hillary clinton, laura bush, michelle obama and trump. watch first ladies in their own words saturdays at 2 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span2 or listen to this year he is as a podcast on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. >> today we are here to talk about nuclear weapons and the danger of nuclear conflict. a topic that couldn't be more important or timely right now. nuclear weapons have not been used in combat since 1945.


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