About Nancy Pine


My Story

It’s a long way from the log cabin in the woods of New Jersey where I grew up, to husking corn in a Chinese village many decades later, but it has been a great adventure! 

A friend introduced me to a hard-driving, stubborn Chinese reformer, because he knew An Wei and I were both dedicated to helping Americans and Chinese understand each other. After consulting and doing research in urban China for a decade, I had a deep desire to understand life in the countryside, so I joined a teaching project in An Wei’s village.

As I began to grasp the rural rhythms tied to the changing seasons, I also realized that An Wei’s life – growing up in a miserably poor home, struggling to succeed in school despite deep poverty and hunger, and surviving the Cultural Revolution with his values intact – was a story that must be told. During ten years of interviews, I learned so much more. In high school, he outwitted a corrupt commune commander. In university, disadvantaged by speaking a rural dialect few understood, he worked harder than others and became a top achiever. As an interpreter for the Foreign Affairs Office, he had to fight for the housing to which he was entitled. At every turn, An Wei not only pushed back, often risking his career and retaliation, but he offered thoughtful alternative solutions. And despite challenges from the Chinese government, he succeeded.  He even launched a democratic congress in his village. 

For me, An Wei’s life, his accomplishments, his fearlessness, and his drive to make his world better, showed that one individual could challenge authority and make a difference, while upholding his core values. It is definitely a story worth telling!

Nancy Pine holds a PhD in education and has travelled and studied in rural China for decades. She is one of the leading American experts on Chinese early childhood education. She founded the Bridging Cultures US/China Program and has advised the administration and faculty on China at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles.

Nancy Pine

Media Bio

Nancy Pine has travelled and studied in China for decades. She holds a PhD in education and is one of the leading American experts on Chinese early childhood education, which led to her book, Educating Young Giants, published by Palgrave Macmillan. She has taught everything from kindergarten to graduate school, and founded the Bridging Cultures US/China Program. At Mount Saint Mary’s University, she has advised the administration and faculty on China.

Nancy Pine gives talks nationally and internationally and has won numerous awards including a City of Los Angeles honor for her cross-cultural activities. Her current book, One in a Billion: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey in Modern-Day China, carries the reader into the heart-wrenching, and ultimately uplifting story of one outspoken man who illuminates the souls of a billion ordinary Chinese citizens. Val Zavala, an award-winning KCET journalist, says: “In One in a Billion, the complex history of a complex country unrolls with the ease of a deeply textured Chinese scroll.”

Nancy’s Books

Educating Young Giants: What Kids Learn
(And Don’t Learn) in China and America

Educating Young Giants carries readers into Chinese and American elementary and high school classrooms, and highlights the big differences between schooling in China and the United States. Nancy Pine reveals how these two countries need to extract themselves from outmoded practice and learn from each other’s strengths.

I wish I had read Nancy Pine’s Educating Young Giants, What Kids Learn (and Don’t learn) in China and America before I went to China in 2007! It’s a thoughtful and thorough account that starts with classrooms in both nations that come alive in her telling. She has a familiarity with both, and a breadth in both, that makes her efforts to draw from them very credible. And she’s a good storyteller.

—Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar, New York University Steinhardt School of Education, and MacArthur Fellow

This useful comparison of primary education in China and the U.S. is a must-read for anyone involved with educational reform and assessment. Dr. Pine offers a well-documented, thorough, unbiased, and up-to-date report. Challenging current educational reforms to be more responsive to rapid changes around us, she provides insightful observations that should lead the way.

Alice S. Huang, California Institute of Technology