The decision to educate the daughters, and especially right through to university abroad, was almost unparalleled in the Chinese families of those days. So was Soong's progressive treatment of his girls as intellectual peers.
When at home evenings, Charlie, who had a good baritone voice, liked to entertain his brood with songs--devotional, folk and popular--learned in North Carolina and Tennessee. Ching Ling, again right up to her eighties, would hum some of these as she relaxed at the piano in her bedroom after a hard day's work.
Alongside all this Americana, however, Soong insisted that his children gain some Chinese classical education. A home tutor was hired, the same man Charlie had earlier engaged for himself.
Soong Ching Ling was born in Shanghai in 1893. She had come to the United States to study in 1907 when not yet 15.
Already apparent when she was a schoolgirl in Shanghai were her earnestness,readiness to put others ahead of herself,and interested in the deeper meaning of things. A very early trait of Ching Ling's character was that she rarely seemed flurried or hurried, but was equable in mood.
Then there was her studiousness. She would ask for and devour books"far in advance of her age. " At Wesleyan her broad interests, ranging from literature to history and philosophy, were recognized in her editorial appointment to the college magazine.