Kwen Chu oral history interview and transcript
Kwen-Hua Fei Chu was born on September 6, 1923 in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. At age ten, she was adopted by her paternal aunt to perform house chores. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, she fled with her adoptive family to Nanjing where she attended high school. She was then accepted into Zhejiang University and was a member of the first class of women majoring in chemical engineering. During college she and her peers were called to march with Chinese soldiers as part of the 战地服务团 (battlefield services corps), helping to raise their morale. After graduating, she and her husband worked in Taiwan for a few years, until her husband came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a PhD in chemical engineering. He then got a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Kwen and her three children joined him in Tulsa in 1961. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1965 when Kwen’s husband was hired as a professor at UCLA. There, Kwen studied computer programming and re-entered the workforce as a programmer for Signal Oil. She and her family moved to Houston in 1972 when Signal Oil moved their headquarters to Houston, and later she was hired at Getty Oil (Texaco) where she worked until age 75. She still resides in Houston by herself, her only remaining child is Harriet, who lives in Boston. She enjoys constantly learning new things by reading the news and learning English vocabulary.
This recording and transcript form part of a collection of oral history interviews conducted by the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University. This collection includes audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with Asian Americans native to or living in Houston.