Written after the devastation of World War II, the young women graduating from The Dominican College of San Rafael in California devoted energy and imagination to creating a book dedicated to understanding China. Over 60 years ago, they introduced their work with the following words, still relevant today:
Never again can we feel secure within the boundaries of our two oceans. It is a small world and the peoples in it will and must learn to know each other better, to understand each other better than they have in the past. We Americans do not possess the only way of life; there are others, different and yet desirable for the locations in which they exist. We must learn to understand the conditions and heritages which have determined those various cultures….But the East, Asia and its countries, have been neglected in most [Western] curricula. We have been brought up on the maxim that “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” This may have been true in a century of European domination; it cannot be true in a world where mutual cooperation will be necessary to preserve peace. East and West must meet and share.
In no case is this more true than in our relations with China. There are many reasons for us to attempt to know and understand this country which has long been an enigma to us and to most Western minds. By her geographical position, China is extremely important in the share of the future world. Her peace and prosperity will be necessary for world peace. China’s political status is also highly important; the policy we adopt toward this country will determine future order in the Pacific. And lastly, we must recognize that we have much to learn from these peoples who have fought for long years against an enemy that now faces us, fought through years of struggle without equipment or organization. We owe them the deepest respect, and it would be to our advantage to know more of this dauntless, patient country.
An appreciation of the innate sturdiness and dignity of the Chinese people, their present position in the world, and some aspects of the culture that makes the Chinese character what it is: these are the subjects to which the greater part of this book is devoted, out of present respect for a great people and towards a closer relationship in the future.” L.H. ’46, The Firebrand: The Dominican College of San Rafael MCMXLV