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On Whom to Lean: The Life Stories of the War-Torn Generation of Chinese Americans at Rossmoor is a collection of memoirs of a group of senior Chinese-American immigrants who retired together in the same community of Rossmoor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of them represented the first wave of Chinese immigrants who came to this country during or right after World War II. Unlike the earlier generations of immigrants, they did not come to seek fortune. Many were university students coming for advanced studies or on Chinese government service. They became stranded in this country because of the change of Chinese Government. Through hard work in this land of opportunity, they were able, each on their own way, to settle down, make a success of their career.

The book, originally written in Chinese and was published in 2015 by a junior resident of Rossmoor, contains the life stories of sixteen such senior Chinese-American couples. At least one of each couple has lived into the age of 90s. They have a wide range of backgrounds, occupations and interests. The artfully written narratives that tell their stories from young age to maturity are both instructive and pleasant to read. Their lives are depicted in a historical context, starting from wartime in China and following their arrival in the United States. Individually, their stories, even at difficult times, are compelling, upbeat and filled with anecdotes. Collectively, their stories epitomise an uncommon generation of Chinese immigrants who took up challenges, availed themselves of opportunities, made many accomplishments in their professional careers and eventually congregate in a peaceful community to enjoy retirement.

  • Book Title: On Whom to Lean: The Life Stories of the War-Torn Generation of Chinese Americans at Rossmoor
  • Author: Li Zongyi
  • Editor: Zhao Tianchi
  • English Translator: Christine Yunn-Yu Sun
  • Chinese Print Book Publisher: Huaxia Renwen Publishing, September 2015
  • English Print Book Publisher: Huaxia Renwen Publishing, July 2017
  • Languages: English (Chinese edition is available here)
  • Formats: Print Book Only
  • English Sample Reading (Chinese edition is available here)

About Li Zongyi:

Li Zongyi was born in Beijing, China, after the end of World War II. During the war, her father was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese. Zongyi’s education in China was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution (1996-1976) when she was sent to the countryside for eight years. It was only after the Cultural Revolution ended that she was able to resume her education in ophthalmology. She came to the United States in 1983 to continue her research at the University of Illinois, Chicago campus.

Zongyi and her husband, Zhao Tianchi, moved to Rossmoor in 2012 after retiring from University of Washington in Seattle. Once in Rossmoor, she befriended some senior Chinese American residents in their nineties who have lived through the wartime. She began interviewing them and recording their life stories.


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