activism, Asian American, China, Chinese American, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Hawai’i, international, Japan, language, lawyer,multicultural, women, Yale University
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2015.048.006 The Family Journey of Alice Young

This oral history is told by Alice Young, whose family’s multi-lingual, multi-cultural, academic, and diplomatic backgrounds and paths led her to become a pioneering, resilient, and globally oriented person. Her father and stepmother were linguists from diplomatic families and had formative impacts on East Asian languages and studies at so many academic institutions that Alice attended thirteen schools in twelve years. Sometimes, the Youngs were in places such as McLean, Virginia, where they were the only Asians, while in other periods, they experienced Hawaii hybridity and lived on a U.S. military base in Japan. Having spent her high school years building comfort and belonging with her communities in Hawaii, Alice stayed on the islands for her first year of college, then transferred to Georgetown on a scholarship. In her junior year, she joined Yale first class of women, entering an institution that had not only been all-male up until that year, but was also composed of primarily New England and prep school peers. At Yale, Alice became a student activist protesting the Vietnam War and co-founded the Asian American Student Association, which advocated for the recruitment of Asian American students and promoted Asian American studies. She returned to Japan on the Bates Fellowship to study under the Nobel Prize winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata. Desiring to make changes informed by her activism and caring about Asia, Alice made a difficult decision to choose to law over academia, attending Harvard Law School, where she co-founded the Harvard Women Law Student Association, was mentored by Professor Derek Bell, became involved with East Asian Legal Studies and the Black Law Students Association. Her pioneering law practice spanned many locations and extensive linguistic, cultural, business, and political knowledge and interests. After beginning her career at Coudert Brothers, she simultaneously became a partner and founded the New York office of Graham & James, and later joined Milbank Tweed. Alice also discusses her views on mentorship, the role of hard work in luck and serendipity, support within life partnership, her father pride in her, her decision-making around her career about parenting, her efforts to raise Chinese Irish American children who love their heritage, and generational differences and problems in China.