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News . Feature Stories . President’s Traveling Scholarship: Chi (Irena) Wong ’20


March 13, 2024

President’s Traveling Scholarship: Chi (Irena) Wong ’20

Chi (Irena) Wong ’20 visited Thaihot Plaza in Fuzhou, China during her scholarship trip. Submitted photo.

By Karen Sandstrom ’12

The magic of travel often grows in the gap between expectations and experience. This proved true for Chi (Irena) Wong, who used her scholarship for a trip with her family to Hong Kong and Fuzhou, China to explore where they had lived before immigrating to the United States. Wong had never traveled abroad.

Wong’s father had lived in Hong Kong before coming to the U.S. in the 1990s. During their visit, they stayed in the town of Sai Ying Pun, near where he and his family had lived.

“Even though the street and town have changed a lot, they were still able to remember the roads they walked and the businesses that had occupied those locations. I was able to eat the local foods and the cheap 7-Eleven meals that my dad and aunt ate in order to save money,” Wong says.

“Hong Kong unexpectedly became more precious, and made me feel more connected, than I had expected.”

By contrast, Fuzhou was “more fully Eastern,” and in some ways more distant, she adds. They visited a village where her grandparents and older relatives had lived, but there were fewer memories to mine.

Wong plans to use her travel sketches, photographs and memories to inform new drawings and paintings with a focus on architecture.

“Hong Kong has some insane architecture, especially since the island has extreme hills,” she says. “The way how the city was built on these hills really amazes me. I will be drawing inspiration from its hilly terrain, and also draw more food!”

Learn how other CIA alumni used their President’s Traveling Scholarships:

Josh Maxwell ’13
Amber N. Ford ’16
Andres Almy ’20
Alison Alsup ’23

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