Stories: by Person: W

Wen Jizhen

(Wan Kwai Ching, Connie Wan)
1895 ~ 1981

Wen Jizhen was born in Hong Kong around 1895 and raised in a Christian family from the Baptist church. She attended the prestigious private Maryknoll School until her father died and as the oldest child at age twelve, she needed vocational training at a local teacher’s college so she could help support the family beginning at age 16. In 1913, she organized Ming To School in Hong Kong for poor children, where she served as principal until she married Zhao Enci in 1916. They lived on the Canton Christian College (after 1926, Lingnan University) campus, and Wen began using the Bible in literacy education for poor staff girls from nearby villages. She and her husband then organized and managed several village Free Schools sponsored by the United Brethren Mission and taught by college faculty, with an emphasis on women and children, as well as night schools for adult men and women. Wen also served as superintendent of nondenominational Christian preaching bands in southern Guangdong. During World War II, the Zhaos moved their family and schools numerous times to evade the Japanese, at times caring for up to 150 student and faculty refugees. From 1951-57, Wen was unable to leave Guangzhou even after the Christian schools were closed, separated from her husband in Hong Kong and the United States.

From 1959 until 1967, Wen lived in Hong Kong. Upon her husband’s retirement in 1967, the couple moved to Burbank, California to live with their daughter. Wen died in 1981.

About the Author

By Carol Lee Hamrin

George Mason University Research Professor and Senior Associate for Global China Center

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