While working as a child in her parents' downtown Stockton, California, laundry, Maxine Ting Ting Hong would listen to the many Chinese immigrants who gathered there daily to exchange stories. This exposure to the dynamics of talk-story would later resound throughout her work and make her one of the most respected authors of her generation. Born on 27 October 1940 in Stockton, California, Kingston's first language was Say Yup, a dialect of Cantonese spoken by her parents, who had immigrated to the United States from China. This initially presented some challenges in her transition to an English-speaking school, but Kingston ultimately became an A student. Her first publication, an essay titled I Am an American, appeared in 1955. She entered the University of California, Berkeley, as an engineering major on eleven scholarships and graduated in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in English. That same year she married fellow Berkeley student and actor Earll Kingston; their son Joseph Lawrence Chung Mei was born in 1964. Kingston taught high school in Hayward, California, for the following years, during which time she was involved in anti–Vietnam War activism. In 1967 the Kingston family moved to Hawaii, where the couple continued to participate in antiwar efforts and Kingston taught in a variety of venues.Less
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