The Asian Centennial at William & Mary: Pu Kao Chen '23

October 7, 2021 to April 24, 2022
Yearbook photo of Pu Kao Chen '23 from the 1923 Colonial Echo
Pu Kao Chen '23, 1923 Colonial Echo

In 1921, Pu Kao (P. K.) Chen, a Chinese international student from Tsing Hua College in “Peking” (Beijing), boarded the steamship China to come study at William & Mary. In doing so, he became the first Asian student, and the first student of color on record to attend W&M.

This exhibit is part of the Asian Centennial at William & Mary, to commemorate P. K. Chen’s admission, and to recognize the pioneering efforts of previous generations of students, faculty, and staff of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern descent. Our programming seeks to provide a platform for university-wide conversations on diversity and inclusion.

This exhibit explores P.  K. Chen’s experiences in the United States as chronicled in his own account, “A Chinese Student's First Impressions of America,” published in the William and Mary Literary Magazine in 1923. Join us as we follow Chen through his own words...

The P. K. Chen exhibit was created and designed by Sumié Yotsukura ‘22, with research assistance by Brian Zhao ‘23, under the supervision of Professors Deenesh Sohoni and Francis Tanglao-Aguas. Archival and exhibit preparation support was provided by Jay Gaidmore, Ali Zawoyski, Jennie Davy, and Alex Wheeler ‘23 from W&M Libraries. This exhibit was made possible with the generous financial support of the Charles Center—who provide support for undergraduate research—and the Global Studies Program.

The exhibit builds on previous research conducted by W&M students, faculty, and staff including Prof. Emeritus Terry Meyers, Anthony Elopre '08, Benming Zhang ’16, Ivana Marshall, and Shayna Gutcho.