Specifically studying in USA 留美. Yung Wing 容閎 (Rong Hong; 1828-1912) was the first, graduated from Yale in 1854. Since then a skeleton of kids sailed to USA over the years, then stopped in 1881. Then the next wave of Chinese students came to USA was through the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program at Qinghua, starting 1909. Many my relatives had benefited from this. Qinghua would become a full college in 1929. Those students were official sent – passing the exam.
The next wave of perhaps would be my generation, those who was born in the early 1960s, those were on their own, privately. Of course there were some official sent students too. This was lead off by China and USA re-established relationship in 1972. A daughter of my mom’s colleague [Xiong Hui 熊卉(?)] came to USA in the early 1970s, with the help of her aunt who was living in NJ (I think). She attended Iona College in New Rochelle, Westchester County, 16 miles northeast to midtown Manhattan. At that time, sending home color pictures was a huge joy and fashionable and affordable thing to do.
A close classmate married a guy who was on government stipend at Cornell in 1987. However, most my generation came to USA on their own.
Then .. in
A friend who attends Colombia University in NYC wrote in my WeChat group: a family of four from China asking me if he makes a donation so his daughter could attend the Business school at Columbia.
Irene 我：是真的还是你开玩笑？Was is [sic] it real or you made it up?
在哥大上学的朋友： It is real! (开始我还以为是问有没有什么奖学金，然后他解释了一下他问题的意思我就被震惊了……
It is real! In the beginning I thought he was asking if there is any scholarship but then he explained what his question meant, for moment, I was shocked.