An entertaining collection of essays by 7 college girls learning English in China, at the start of the 20th century. Each student was given a topic to write a personal essay on, and to read aloud in class. The essays were read aloud, written down and published without revision – revealing not only the girls’ difficulties in English, but also their thoughts, aspirations, and the culture of the day.
From Bing Ang to her mother:
“By day and by night I pray for your safety and I offer to heaven much incense, and also foods, and my hope is that no harm may come near to your house. Before the rise of the sun each day I make my worship as you have taught me, though many of the girls in this College do not so, and sometimes I have very great fear that the Guis (devils) will all swallow up on this account.”
From a diary:
“Upon mine ear fall the sound of approaching feet-steps. Thereupon I at the once close Book and go to look within the ear of FooFoo who is full of gladsome barkings at Dr. Ewing making entrance. To her, I present good-night partings and without delay make arrival at Dormitory where warmly wrapt in my Mieng of comfort I lie in readiness for sleep, but she come not. Upon her little bed in further corner my room-mate, Ging Muoi, make slumberings of so great audibleness I find not rest.”