Sunday, July 24, 2016

Highlights from Third Annual Tea and Cake Party

The Third Annual Tea and Cake Party (see slideshow) was held at Billy and Lucille's Portola Valley Home on June 4. It was mainly for USCPFA S.Bay Members to build Friendship with a few Chinese students who are now studying at Stanford University. Holden and Sherry Yang from Beijing
brought along their three-year-old daughter .Holden holds a Graduate degree in Economics from BeiDa. Sherry who graduated from TsingHua University, now has a degree from Stanford Business School. Zhang Yanshuo, also from Beijing, is presently pursuing her PhD in Fine Arts at Stanford.
Billy also invited his English-conversation partner from DeAnza college, Ms Sholeh Niroumand and her Iranian husband Saeed and their college-age daughter Negin to join us. From his FF Fraternity was Mr.Calvin Chin who just moved back from Shanghai and wife Angie and children: Spencer and Sloane. Another two new guest were Ms Witty Wang and her teen-age daughter, Renie. Witty built her career as a TV ancho, reporter, director, producer, and editor for Shanghai Media Groupfor many years. She also was a Knoght Fellow at Stanford in 2007-2008. Daughter Renie is now a student at Palo Alto High.
The main entertainment that afternoon was provided by two New York University- Shanghai
Fellows, who studied in China. They were very generous to share their personal stories with us.
Below are their stories.
My experience in China has largely centered around environmental work. I grew interested in China in high school where I had the opportunity to study Chinese. After high school I deferred college and went to be an in-house English teacher at an American multinational in Guangzhou. After seeing extensive environmental degradation in two of my students’ home villages during the Spring Festival, I quit teaching and took a job at Future Generations, an environmental NGO in Beijing. In collaboration with Beijing Forestry University, we conducted a series of environmental awareness campaigns throughout China called the Green Long March.
At McGill University and the University of British Columbia in Canada, I studied Chinese and wrote my thesis on the evolution of the Chinese written language in the internet age. I spent a summer studying and working in Taipei, learning to read/write traditional Chinese characters.
After college, I took a scholarship to study in Chongqing for 2 months before looking for work in Beijing. Tired of breathing toxic air, I returned to the US and found work at Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental non-profit in New York. As their Asia Regional Coordinator, I helped half a dozen NGOs in China fight polluters and get access to information and funding. On a work trip, I had the chance to visit our partners in Beijing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Hefei, Xiangyang and Lanzhou.
A year after I started at Waterkeeper, New York University Shanghai accepted me as part of a year-long writing fellowship program. I moved to Shanghai to help start NYU Shanghai, teaching its first class of students expository writing, leading student activity groups, proofreading Chinese translations for the Chinese department, and advising the Startup Shanghai student entrepreneurship club. Inspired by my students and the vibrant tech/startup scene in Shanghai, I began to teach myself to code.
I moved to San Francisco and studied more computer science before getting a job as a software engineer at Scoot, a company that runs a fleet of shared, smart-networked smart-phone-activated electric mopeds. I was drawn to Scoot from my experiences living in China's dense, scooter-filled urban centers - small electric vehicles are the future!
Growing up in San Francisco, I attended the Chinese American International School until I moved to Shanghai, China when I was twelve. While in Shanghai, I attended both international and local schools until I started college at NYU. After graduation, I relocated back to Shanghai to be part of NYU Shanghai's student life department during the inaugural year. Half the student body was Chinese and the other half represented over 65 countries, with a strong American presence. I quickly discovered the challenges of cross-cultural communication for students that had previously not been exposed to internationalism.
In China, it is clear that students have a well-prepped curriculum in middle school and high school that prepares them to thrive in college. However, American students had more confidence and demonstrated more social skills that I believe was partially gained through leadership opportunities in High School. Many American high schools take extracurricular activities seriously (sports, drama, Model United Nations, music etc.). Captains and upperclassman are given unique responsibility that is virtually non-existent in Chinese schools considering the heaving preparation for GaoKao. Finding ways to create an atmosphere of equal opportunity in leadership was an adjustment at first but become more natural as the school year progressed at NYU Shanghai.
It became clear very quickly that most students clicked with peers from a similar culture. One of the few organic ways to facilitate cross-cultural friendships was through common interests. For instance, on my basketball team, the players not only practiced and competed together but also watched/discussed the NBA during downtime. Our acapella music club had a unique blend of Chinese/US fusion in rhythm.
In conclusion, I notice Chinese schools in Shanghai understand the importance of outside-the-classroom student development in regards to future desired careers. As John Huntsman said at the 1990 Institute Gala 25 anniversary, 20 years ago Chinese middle school students mostly idealized Mao Zi Dong, Deng Xiao Ping and Bill Clinton - now it is Jack Ma, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. With the technology being seen as a lucrative opportunity for many, I see great potential in China's upcoming generation if they can find a healthy balance in continuing strong academics standards while facilitating students with more leadership and creative opportunities.
All in all, it was an enjoyable gathering for all. A HOME SETTING is always a more FRIENDLY
SETTING. We hope to continue this annual Tea & Cake Party for as long as possible.

Billy & Lucille Lee

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Recipe for Making Zhongzi (粽⼦子) by Susan Man

The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar at the beginning of the summer season. The festival commemorates the
death of the exiled patriot and poet Qu Yuan who lived in ancient China in third century BC. During the two-day holiday, the more athletic celebrants take part in dragon-boat races which reenact the frantic efforts of fishermen who raced to try to save the beloved poet from drowning. The more literary celebrants recite the poems of Qu Yuan to keep his spirit alive. And ALL of us take part in making and eating zhongzi (粽⼦子), bundles of sticky rice that the fishermen threw into the water to divert demons and fish from Qu Yuan’s body when it became obvious that he had died.
Although, zhongzi is a national dish in China, there are many regional variations on how to make them. There are savory or sweet ones; there are big and small ones; there are simple ones with a few ingredients and there are those stuffed to the gills with all sorts of delicacies. The Cantonese style is savory, big, and filled with everything you’ve ever loved in the Chinese cuisine! You may have guessed that the types sold in stores as “Cantonese Zhongzi” bears little resemblance to what you make yourself.
The best time to make zhongzi is, of course, during the Dragon Boat Festival. The ingredients are easily available and on sale! The key to success is organization and preparation. I usually make zhongzi sixty or more at a time (using a 10 pound bag of sticky rice). I feed them to my family until they resist, give them away to my friends, and freeze them later use. They freeze particularly well, and each zhongzi is good for a meal, especially nice when paired with a salad.
• Bamboo leaves
• String (to tie the zhongzi)
• Sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice (soaked at least 2 hours)
• Mung beans, hulled and split (soaked with the sticky rice)
• Peanuts (soaked at least 2 hours)
• Dried black-eyed peas (soaked at least 2 hours)
• Boneless pork butt (sliced and marinaded at least 4 hours in soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, and garlic powder)
• Chinese sausages (cut into small pieces about ½ inch)
• Chinese mushrooms (sliced and marinaded at least 4 hours in soy sauce, sugar, rice wine)
• Dried shrimp (soaked at least 2 hours)
• Dried scallops (soaked at least 2 hours)
• Salted duck eggs (optional)
1. Prepare the bamboo leaves carefully. Choose leaves that are flexible, large, and will not split.
2. Clean the sticky rice, rinsing until the water no longer is cloudy. Add salt (about 1 teaspoon per pound of rice) and soak at least 4 hours.
3. Add mung beans that have been rinsed.
4. Lay out all ingredients along with the bamboo leaves and string.
5. Wrap the zhongzi carefully taking care the rice will not leak out during cooking. Add prepared ingredients as desired. Many videos are available on YouTube showing how to wrap the zhongzi. My method works well for the larger Cantonese zhongzi.
6. Boil in slightly salted water for approximately three hours.
• The best tip in successful zhongzi making is to properly prepare the bamboo leaves. They impart a distinctive flavor to the zhongzi and soft, flexible, and sufficiently large bamboo leaves will making making zhongzi a snap! I boil them at least 15 minutes to clean and soften them and leave them soaking until ready to use. They should be warm during the wrapping.
• Have a code to determine the type of ingredients inside by the string. My code is to use a loop for the salted duck egg, two short strings for vegan (no meat), and a long and short string for carnivores.
• Boil zhongzi separately for those who are vegan, vegetarian, or have allergies
(such as a peanut or seafood allergies).
• As my vegan granddaughter is staying with me this summer, I am especially taken by how healthy this dish can be with a mixture of rice, beans, peanuts, and mushrooms. Mung beans in particular are especially healthy as they are a type of soy bean. I cook the vegan zhongzi separately.
• Be particularly aware of those with peanut allergies. I cook those zhongzi with peanuts separately.
• The basic marinade I use is ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup sugar, and 1 Tablespoon rice wine. It can be adjusted according to use.
• I use an electric pressure called an Instant Pot that shortens the cooking time to 30 minutes. This is a wonderful appliance that I use constantly in my kitchen for soups, stews, braising tough cuts of meats.
• When reheating zhongzi you can boil it in water (slightly salted) or steam it. I get slightly less good outcome by using the microwave oven.

Dragon Boat Festival Celebration

Although we didn't have a dragon boat race for our festival celebration, we still had a great time with 40 friends at Board member Teresa O'Neil's house in Santa Clara.
 Board Member Susan Man made over 50 Cantonese style zhongzi for the party, adding marinated pork, Chinese black mushroom, dried shrimp, split mong beans, and salty egg yolk. She laughed, “It has so many wonderful ingredients, everything except the kitchen sink!”
We not only enjoyed the zhongzi she prepared, but she--and sous chef Kenny Lin-- taught those interested how to make and wrap them.

In addition to the festival food, zhongzi, people also brought seasonal Chinese fruits, like lychee 荔枝, and dragon eye nuts 龙眼,pineapples, and cherries… Chinese minfen 米粉,and a whole lot more...
Aside from eating lots of delicious food, Winny Lin, co-chair of our chapter, retold the story of Qu Yuan 屈原, the patriotic poet of the Warring States. She enlisted several guests in the re-enactment of the story. Yanshuo Zhang, Phd candidate of Stanford Eastern Studies, recited and explained excerpts of Li Shao 離騷, the famous poem that the father of Chinese poetry, Qu Yuan, wrote before he threw himself into the Mi Lo River汩羅江! Tina Man also brought fragrant sachets, 香包, as prizes.
“You know how to make us laugh, how to feed our stomachs and how to warm our hearts!” said Shawa, one of our guests.
That's our definition of a good party.
Stay tuned for details about our next event in September.