Keep My Memory Safe: Fook Soo Am, The Pagoda
Published by: Baraka Books
Imprint: Baraka Books
Sales Date: 2023-05-01
Published: May 2023
Imprint: Baraka Books
Page Count: 220 Pages
Dimensions: 5.50 x 8.50
220 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.50 in
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Born in Hong Kong to unwed parents, Stephanie Chitpin was transported illegally to the Island of Mauritius by Ah Pak, the head nun of a Buddhist temple with the help of Mr. Chui, a benevolent Chinese businessman. Ah Pak raised her as an orphan ward of the temple, Fook Soo Am, known as the Pagoda. Encouraged by Mr. Chui and in spite of Ah Pak's opposition, she did very well at school. The scars incurred by classmates' name calling (bastard, and more) the shame of being an orphan raised in a temple, tragic deaths, and other obstacles did not prevent her from pursuing her education and finishing high school at the age of 16. Although Ah Pak had other plans for her, Mr. Chui stood by her with diplomacy and tact throughout her school years and onto university in Canada on a scholarship.
Keep My Memory Safe poetically chronicles life in the temple and in Mauritius, and the move to Canada. This immigration story is totally unique as no other orphaned temple nuns are known to have gone on to acquire a topnotch education and become academics.
"This inspiring story of courage and determination chronicles Stephanie's quest for a better education and a better life in the face of adversity. . . vivid and moving . . ." Laura Patterson, The Miramichi Reader
"In this affecting, evocative memoir, Professor Chitpin recounts her extraordinary childhood, growing up as an orphan in the Fook Soo Am Buddhist Pagoda at the end of a dirt road in Mauritius. As she traces the people and events of her life up until her first years as a student in Canada, important themes emerge. We see the complexity of human identity, different kinds of family bonds, the significance of education, and the challenges of moving across and between cultures. Professor Chitpin, now an established academic, also exposes the fragility of our lives and shows how for many children from disadvantaged backgrounds, there is no easy path to success." Richard Barwell, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa
"More than a life course, Stephanie Chitpin's book fits in the landscape of Mauritian autobiographical texts as a 'quest.' It is the reflection of a deep and permanent search aimed at filling a void and providing answers to one of the greatest philosophical questions that one can put to oneself: who am I? Her story gives us above all a lesson of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, whatever form it may choose to take in one's life. One can see in the journey of this orphan girl who grew up in the heart of Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius, while being somehow excluded from it, whose family was limited to a community of sisters in a pagoda, and whose connections outside the pagoda were confined to one or two families of Mauritian-Chinese traders, an enormous and unusual strength of character." Professor Arnaud Carpooran, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Mauritius