State board member shares life experiences at PDCCC

Published 11:03 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Dr. Sasha Gong autographs copies of her book during a recent visit to Paul D. Camp Community College. She is joined by college President Dr. Paul Wm. Conco, left, and former state board chairman Bobby Wrenn of Emporia, who hosted Gong’s visit.

FRANKLIN—As young as 9 years old, Dr. Sasha Gong worked hard labor on a farm.

Her family was ousted from the cities and sent to the countryside by the communist Chinese government because her grandfather was considered an enemy of the state for housing counter-revolutionaries.

Still, Gong insists her story, which she recently shared at Paul D. Camp Community College, is “nothing special.”

“This is my entire generation’s story,” she said.

A native of Beijing, China, and a member of the state board for Virginia Community College System, Gong noted that working on a farm in China couldn’t be compared to the farms here.

“On an American farm, you get to eat,” she said. “Eighty percent of what was produced there was given to the state; 1965-66 were real miserable years working at the countryside. I was 75 to 80 pounds and made to carry 150 pounds.”

Later in her teens, during a time of banned books and closed schools, Gong discovered a love for reading, which led to a love for writing.

If it happened that your pen criticized the government, or made a call for democracy, it meant trouble.

“If you were brave enough, you posted it,” she said.

For doing so, Gong was given a one-year sentence in solitary confinement.

Still, it’s “nothing special,” and nothing unusual to get arrested during those times.

After her release, she took the college exam and graduated with two degrees in history from Peking University.

Gong applied to Harvard. Accepted on a fellowship, she came to America in 1987 in a pocket-less dress with one suitcase and $20 in her shoes. She earned her doctorate in 1995. Gong ran as the Republican challenger in 2009 in the 46th District Virginia House of Delegates.

“This is the most amazing country,” she said. “Think of the freedom it provides.”

Gong has taught at the University of California and George Mason University and has written a book entitled, “Born American, A Chinese Woman’s Dream of Liberty.”