One Book One Belmont Author Event: Kwan Kew Lai & The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly
Tuesday, October 257:00—8:00 PMAssembly RoomBelmont Public Library336 Concord Avenue, Belmont, MA, 02478
Join us for this fascinating author talk featuring Kwan Kew Lai and her new memoir, The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly.
In The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly, the author weaves in her family’s story of joy, sorrow, loss, love, and endless struggles with poverty and hunger. This poignant memoir, with universal and timeless themes, will leave you in awe. Kwan Kew Lai met her first Punjabi woman doctor while lying in a hospital bed with a severe kidney infection at the age of fourteen. Watching the woman walk away down the hall, Kwan Kew was convinced she could, and would, carve out her own destiny. In the British Straits Settlement of Penang Island, she was born into an impoverished Chinese family of two boys and ten girls on the cusp of the Japanese occupation during World War Two. She did not wish to repeat the life of her uneducated mother, burdened with an endless brood, nor tolerate the fact that her father considered girls useless since they could not carry on their family name.
The newly independent country of Malaya developed a national policy favoring one racial group, the Bumiputras, vastly diminishing her chance of receiving a university scholarship. Her fortuitous introduction to a free library and her determination to continue her education, led to the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship from Wellesley College. When her father saw her off at the Penang International Airport as the first child to attend college, she proved herself to him, but more importantly she started the journey of a lifetime fulfilling dreams that originated as a young girl playing in the mud with the chickens.
Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Kwan Kew Lai received a full scholarship from Wellesley College. She is a Harvard Medical Faculty Physician. In 2005, she left academia to dedicate time to humanitarian work; in HIV/AIDS in Africa, and she provides disaster relief all over the world, such as during the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian Rohingya refugee crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic in New York and the Navajo Nation. Her debut, Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak, chronicles her time in Liberia and Sierra Leone caring for Ebola patients. Into Africa, Out of Academia: A Doctor's Memoir came out in 2020.
You can request a copy of The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly here. Copies will also be for sale thanks to Belmont Books.
Thanks to the Friends of the Belmont Public Library and our community co-sponsors who make this amazing series of events possible.
No Registration Required