H. Yuan Tien at a ANU alumni event in 2014.

Yuan Tien at a ANU alumni event in 2014.

Alumni Then and Now: H. Yuan Tien, PhD ’60

In its upper streams, China's mighty Yangzi River has untold numbers of twists and bends. One just never knows what's around a curve.

This was particularly the case for YUAN TIEN, who uses such an analogy when describing how he first heard about ANU in 1956.

"I was pursuing my Masters degree in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. All was going well, except that I had a cleric job instead of a scholarship," he says.

"One afternoon, my sister-in-law burst into our apartment with the announcement in The Guardian that ANU was offering three-year research scholarships in its Department of Demography.

"I hastened to follow up on this lead but where was Canberra? I'd heard very little about the city, other than its name.

"As for Australia, I knew little more than what Dickens alluded to in Great Expectations; the convicts and their transportations.

"So with more than a little trepidation my family and I set sail."

Canberra was in its infancy but building a national capital was in full flow. It was a big step into the unknown for Yuan.