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Panelist Bio

Sara Bongiorni
Author of A Year Without 'Made in China'

Sara Bongiorni, author of A Year Without 'Made in China': One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy, was born and raised in San Diego County, where she attended Helix High School and the University of California, San Diego.

After graduating from UCSD, she spent several years working in book publishing before returning to school to pursue a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Since subsequently worked as a business writer at regional newspapers and publications, first in California and later in Louisiana, where she moved in the late '90s.

As a reporter, one of Sara's areas of special interest was international trade and its impact on local economies. She won several local, state and national awards for her stories, including a 2002 "Best in Business" award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for a series on the impact of out-migration on the Louisiana economy.

Sara has been a freelance writer since 2005, during which time she has published essays in The Christian Science Monitor, The Shanghai Daily News and other publications.

A Year Without 'Made in China' is Sara's first book. It is a vivid, personal account of a yearlong experiment that began on January 1, 2005, when Sara and her family resolved to forgo goods imported from China for one year.

Like most consumers, the Bongiornis knew China needed consumers like them to fuel its vast economy. The boycott of Chinese merchandise would help the family answer a different question: did they need China, too?

China's deep reach into this middle-class family's life is revealed through the difficulties the Bongiornis face in trying to live without Chinese imports. For the author, life without Chinese goods means a daily string of frustrations and the need for dogged creativity to overcome them. The book describes her struggle to keep her rebellious husband in line, a face-off with her young son over Chinese-made toys and her attempt to build her own mousetrap when she discovers the one she wants is made only in China.

Sara's insights as a former reporter also come into play in the book. When Wal-Mart downplays its reliance on Chinese products in a national magazine, Sara sets out for the nearest Super Wal-Mart to inspect its shelves to catch the retailer in a fib.

The book's epilogue tells readers what happened after the boycott officially ended on December 31, 2005.

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