Updated: Jun 8
Press Consultant to the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
Marcia Burick graduated from Wellesley College in 1962, with a major in Political Science and a focus on the Asian courses in several departments that were available at the time. There were sadly no Chinese language courses offered until Professor Lin founded the program several years later.(Marcia used the money from two Mai Ling Soong prizes to attend a NATO Youth Conference in the south of France.) She joined the staff of the Press and Public Affairs Office of the U.S. Mission to the U.N., under the leadership of Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson, in September, 1962, just a few weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis. She then spent much of the next decade having two wonderful children and working as a press director and speech writer for such organizations as Planned Parenthood of New York City, the Institute for International Education, The Fund for Peace and, occasionally, for the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and accompanied her family to Taiwan in the summer of 1970.
She used to say that she drifted to the job of Press Officer for the visit of the Chinese Table Tennis Team to the United States in Spring, 1972 after the National Committee, a non-governmental organization, asked the U.S. Table Team Association, then in China in Spring, 1971 at the invitation of Premier Zhou En-Lai, to invite the Chinese team to make a return visit to the U.S. in 1972, the beginning of U.S.-China Relations. She traveled with the teams throughout the U.S. in April, 1972.
Having moved to Northampton, Mass., she earned an M.A. in Urban Studies at Smith College, and wrote her thesis on Hong Kong Resettlement Housing, having received the Mary Elvira Stevens Fellowship for Wellesley alums for travel and research abroad. It was during that time, in winter, 1973, while living in Hong Kong, that she and her young family visited China, under the auspices of the All-China Sports Federation. (They were told that the seven year old and two year old boys were the first young American children to be there in many decades.) Marcia returned to Northampton and became active in politics and community services. In 1980 she became chief aide to the Mayor of Northampton for a number of interesting years in local government and, during breaks, was able to organize and conduct several tours to China, including one for Wellesley alums which, in 1983, was happily for us led by Professor Helen Lin.
She worked for many years, often under USIS or USAID auspices, consulting on social services or teaching government best practices in such places as the Baltics, Poland, Nigeria, Gaza, South Africa, and ran a program over several years for the Institute for Training and Development for government officials in Indonesia. She is pleased to be able to speak to Tiger Talk participants about those three weeks in 1972 at the beginning of Ping Pong Diplomacy: the rest is history.