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Dr. Kwan Kew Lai Presents The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly with Effie Kong

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Thursday, December 15, 2022

Main Library
449 Broadway
Community Room

Event image for Dr. Kwan Kew Lai Presents The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly with Effie Kong

Join Dr. Kwan Kew Lai for a reading and discussion of her memoir, The Girl Who Taught Herself to FlyShe will be in conversation with Effie Kong.

Kwan Kew met her first Punjabi woman doctor while lying in a hospital bed with a severe kidney infection at the age of fourteen. Kwan Kew was convinced she could, and would, carve out her own destiny as a doctor. Today, Dr. Kwan Kew Lai is disaster relief medical volunteer and Harvard Medical faculty physician. This memoir weaves in her family’s story of joy, sorrow, loss, love, and endless struggles with poverty and hunger. 


Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Kwan Kew Lai attended Wellesley College on a full scholarship, paving the way for her to become a doctor. In 2005, she left her position as a professor of medicine to dedicate time to humanitarian work. She has volunteered in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, and Malawi. She has also worked to provide disaster relief all over the world during wars, famine, and natural disasters, including the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian and Rohingya refugee crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic in New York and the Navajo Nation. She is a three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is the author of Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak, Into Africa, Out of Academia: A Doctor’s Memoir, and The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly. She lives near Boston.

Yifei “Effie” Kong immigrated to Texas at the age of seven. A third-culture kid at heart, much of her interest, work, and writing echo her enduring questions about belonging, ancestry, and self-definition. Effie's writing has been supported by Writers Room of Boston and Art Farm residency. 

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