On March 1, 2008, my close friend, JoAnn Dionne, launched her first book titled, Little Emperors. The book is a memoir of her time spent teaching English to elementary students in the Republic of China. She takes a look at the boundaries acknowledged and dissolved both in the classroom and beyond the school gates, and the change in China's politics and collective thinking, succumbing to Western influences. Her memoir is both humourous and startling from the daily activities she relays, and life-altering adventures she encounters in a communist country. The book is a reflection of her acqaintances, choices, observations of people and ideas, and emotions while in a foreign place as she struggles with her foreign concepts and assimilates herself into a new world.
She organized her launch to be held in a new art gallery called Dales in Chinatown, Victoria, BC. A fit setting and a phenomenal turnout, as her audience was packed to the rafters. She graciously invited a few local writers - Steven J. Thompson, Yvonne Blomer, Liz Walker, Missie Peters, and myself -to read our selected poems (her favourites) before she read excerpts from Little Emperors. As part of her launch, she also invited a spokesperson from the Free Tibet society. Her memoir is a sharing of her broadening perspectives and embracing of Eastern culture, as well as a message to Westerners about the atrocities that still occur in that part of the world; atrocities that are against basic human rights.
I am honoured to be able to call such a brilliant, adventurous writer my friend, and to have witnessed her great accomplishment and be a part of the celebration of her book.
You can check out her book at: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Little-Emperors-Year-Future-China-JoAnn-Dionne/9781550027563-item.html