When Wesleyan College President Ruth Knox traveled to China last year to visit the China Welfare Institute, she felt an instant connection.
One reason: The institute was founded in 1938 by Soong Ching-ling, a 1913 Wesleyan graduate.
Ching-ling was the widow of Sun Yat-sen. He led the 1911 revolution that overthrew Chinas last feudal dynasty and founded the countrys first republic.
Carrying on her husbands work, Ching-ling founded the institute and devoted her life to the well-being of Chinas women and children, mainly in the areas of medical care, preschool education, after-school programs and the arts.
Knox underscored the connections Tuesday during the schools fall convocation in the Porter fine arts building.
I felt a deep respect for what the China Welfare Institute does, Knox said.
Luning Wang, the institutes executive vice president, was the convocations featured speaker.
She said she has longed for the chance to visit Wesleyan for a long time.
Today I feel very much honored to address you at this moment, she said to the schools students and faculty. For years I have dreamed of experiencing Wesleyan College and her culture, even if only for a day.
Before her address, Wang offered greetings to faculty members and addressed the students as my fellow girlfriends.
Nothing can stop girls from being useful to their country just like boys, she said.
Wang played a portion of an audio recording of Ching-ling from the 1980s, one of the last times she spoke publicly.
Todays China ... is better than it has ever been before. People are awakened, Ching-ling said in the recording, made while addressing students at a college in British Columbia, Canada, where she was receiving an honorary doctorate.
We must work with all those in the world who regard us as equals.
Wesleyan recently celebrated the opening of a Confucius Institute at the school, one of about 420 around the world. The institute will help promote Chinese language and culture and foster intercultural exchange among students and educators, among other activities.