In 1986, Cleo and Hank Kocol traveled to China to lecture before learned Chinese audiences, she on American literature, he on nuclear medicine. At this meeting, Cleo delivered an informative and entertaining presentation on their experience, as well as elucidating the Chinese history that both preceded and followed their visit.
Their visit lasted a month. However, in preparation for the event Hank studied Mandarin Chinese for the whole year preceding their departure.
As the author of The Good Foreigner, Cleo is an expert on her subject, which explains why some thirty of us enjoyed her talk so much. She read a passage from her book, as well as a translation of the artwork “Peace Poem to Cleo Kocol” which was presented to her prior to their return home. Another gift she showed us was a beautiful silk tapestry, with patterns not printed but woven into it.
Cleo revealed her liberated side in the experiences she finds most interesting. For example, she told us that in support of the government’s one child policy, women of child-bearing age were subjected to frequent fluoroscopy to ascertain that their IUDs remained in place, being exposed thereby to repeated doses of ionizing radiation. She also amused us by relating the times she quoted to Chinese men passages from Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung) that support equal rights for women.
The span of Cleo’s presentation was breathtaking, ranging from the 1949 Communist Revolution to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and President Nixon’s visit in 1972, to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. And of course the time of her and Hank’s visit was right in there between the latter two significant events.
Thank you Cleo Kocol for your presentation on a subject of vital importance to us and to our nation. We enjoyed it immensely.
Report prepared by R0ger Zabkie