Two Chinese American Boys And Their White Mentors
Adolescent peers, especially those of the same ethnic background, have major impact on the psychological development of each other. But when peers of one’s own ethnic group are not available, what alternative resources assume this role? The present account illustrates how much older white people functioned as mentors for two young sons of Chinese laundrymen, each coincidentally having the same name, John Jung. They grew up in cultural isolation in two different generations, one in North Dakota, and the other in Georgia. I used their written correspondences to determine the influence of white mentors on the social development of these ethnically isolated boys. In one case, I examined letters written in the 1920s by the North Dakota boy to his fourth grade teacher after she moved from his hometown and in the other case I studied letters that white adults in my Georgia hometown wrote in the early 1950s to me, the John Jung in Georgia, after I moved to San Francisco when I was 15.