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Building a Collection: Giok Po Oey and the John M. Echols Collection

Return to Indonesia

The rapidly expanding Southeast Asia Program at Cornell, just a few years old when Giok Po completed his Master’s work, had begun building a library collection in earnest. Realizing they would need someone in the library to help arrange and catalog the collection, and hoping to eventually create a curator position for it, they approached Giok Po with an offer to stay in the US and work at Cornell. With the promise of a good job at Cornell University Library, but lacking visa approval to stay, Giok Po returned to Indonesia with a Master’s degree in Chinese Literature focusing on Southeast Asia. He secured a promising position as a reporter at the top Chinese community newspaper in Indonesia while he applied and was unable to obtain a visa multiple times from 1953 to 1955, due to strict limits on Chinese immigration that had been in place in one form or another since the 1880’s. During that time, he married "Tinny" Lian Hoa Tan, whom he had known for some years.