Maureen Tsao Manetti was born in 1960 in Taipei, Taiwan. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a nurse who specialized in Chinese medicine (acupuncture). Her father, Wu Ming Tsao, born in 1927 in Shanghai, China, experienced the Japanese occupation during WWII. He eventually became a physician for the Nationalist forces, and in 1949 an American smuggled him onto a boat escaping for Taiwan, where he set up a medical practice and taught in medical school. In 1959, he immigrated to Massachusetts on a special skills visa. Seeking a way to bring his family to the United States, he moved to Canada because immigration quotas made it easier to bring his family there and then move to America later. Maureen enjoyed growing up in Canada, fondly recalling molasses, pea soup, and pancakes. She remained active with figure skating and ballet. Eventually, the family resettled in Maine after her 4th grade year. In Maine, she was more aware of “being different” than she was in Canada, and thoughtfully considered her options before becoming an American citizen. She eventually became a lawyer, but later transitioned into the practice of acupuncture like her mother, representing the 5th generation of her family to practice that form of medicine. She is proud of her son Michael for attending West Point, and feels that it has deepened her patriotism.
In this interview, she talks about her family history, her father’s journey from China to Taiwan, America, and Canada, and her childhood. She reflects on her experiences as a lawyer and acupuncturist, and the importance of maintaining cultural traditions. Finally, she discusses what her father’s struggles mean to her, and her son’s personal growth at West Point.