In 1989, Helen Wang came to the United States to pursue graduate studies.
Like thousands of Chinese students, she says she was coming to America not merely
for a chance at academic advancement. It was a way to seek a better
future in this “land of opportunity” and “country of freedom.” Today,
these phrases sound more like clichés to her. But for those who had not
known the meanings of words like “opportunity” or “freedom,” America was
a place for the impossible, and a romantic version of what the world
After finishing her masters at Stanford University, she joined a
think tank where she consulted for Fortune 500 companies including Apple
Computer, Oracle, and Bank of America. Then she became an entrepreneur
in Silicon Valley start-ups, riding the high and low tides of the
In 2004, she returned to Stanford University as an industrial fellow to
work on projects that use technology to help underserved communities.
After working in start-ups in Silicon Valley for ten years, she wanted to do something she cared dearly about and use her skills
for the greater good. She was interested in addressing social problems and
finding innovative solutions that could help transform the system and
allow society to take new leaps.
The project she developed, e-Mobilizer, was to help microentrepreneurs,
mostly women, to access the Internet marketplace using their mobile
worked with energetic students, professors, and technologists to develop
a prototype. During this period, she traveled back and forth to China
extensively to do field work.
Each time she went back to China, she saw amazing changes. Its cities were bigger, and its skylines were more impressive; more things were
happening there than in any other part of the world. At the same time, she
found an increasing fear of China’s spectacular growth in the West. She thought that while some fears might be legitimate, most were unrealistic or due to
misunderstanding or mistrust. She understood that there was a big gap in understanding
between China and the West.
As a Chinese native and an American citizen, she felt compelled to
bridge the gap. Helen believes that the world’s stability and prosperity
will depend on how well China and the West understand each other, trust
each other, and learn from each other.
In writing The Chinese Dream, she interviewed over one hundred people in China and spoke to leading economists and China experts. Because she grew up in China, she has an insider’s view of the cultural and
social background of current events there. She has also
lived in the United States for twenty years. So she also understands the
perspectives of American readers and can easily identify some
misconceptions people in the West have about China.
Helen's experience of straddling two cultures allows her to transcend some
of her limitations and become richer and fuller as a bridge between two worlds. Today, she is not only proud of loving her countries (by birth
or by adoption), she is also proud of loving the whole of humankind.
"Whether we are Chinese or American, in essence, we are all one human
race, like the leaves of one tree and the waves of one sea. It is in my
struggle to seek oneness within myself that I came to see that 'the
earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.'”