Minfong Ho Essay

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Minfong Ho is an award-winning Chinese–American writer. Her works frequently deal with the lives of people living in poverty in Southeast Asian countries. Despite being fiction, her stories are always set against the backdrop of real events, such as the student movement in Thailand in the 1970s and the Cambodian refugee problem with the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. Her simple yet touching language and her optimistic themes have made her writing popular among children as well as young adults. Life Minfong Ho was born in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), to an economist father and chemist mother, who were both of Chinese descent. Ho was raised in Thailand, near Bangkok, enrolled in Tunghai University in Taiwan and subsequently transferred to Cornell University in the United States, where she received her Bachelor's degree in economics. Ho is the daughter of the businessman and diplomat Ho Rih Hwa, and chemist/bilingual writer Li Lienfung. It was at Cornell that she first began to write, as a way to combat homesickness. She submitted a short story, titled Sing to the Dawn, to the Council for Interracial Books for Children for its annual short story contest. She won the award for the Asian American Division of unpublished Third World Authors, and was encouraged to expand the story into a novel. This she did, and through the process Ho began to see writing as "a political expression," as she once wrote in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin. She had mistrusted the stories about Thailand, Burma, and China she previously read, for she thought that their mostly idyllic portrayal of lives there misrepresented the Asia that she came to know during her childhood. In Sing to the Dawn, Ho brought her readers into a realistic rural Thailand through the eyes of a young village girl Dawan, whose struggle to convince
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