Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unforgettable Exhibition—Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion
by Winny Lin
Co-chair of South Bay Chapter, USCPFA

     It was almost by accident that I learned of the exciting and informative exhibition now at the Chinese Historical Society of America’s museum on Clay Street in San Francisco Chinatown.  Two friends had casually mentioned it on Facebook and I knew at once that it was a “must see”. The exhibition is called “Chinese American:Exclusion/Inclusion”. 

The museum describes the exhibition as “a gift from the New York Historical Society which traces the Chinese American experience since the beginning of trade between the United States and China in 1784 through the turbulent struggle for equal rights and opportunities in this country.”   However  the SF Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) also has added elements which bring a West Coast perspective to it. 

I have long been very interested in the Chinese experience in America.  I am getting more familiar with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, have recently visited Angel Island, the entry point for many Chinese immigrants, and read many memories by Chinese American authors.  So, this exhibition was immediately and powerfully attractive. I was also eager to learn more about the CHSA and its programs. When my friends and I visited the museum on November 16, we we treated to a wonderful experience which no one should miss or no Chinese-Americans should miss.  Three aspects of the exhibition stand out to me:

1.  United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898)

First there is an examination of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and its dreadful impact on Chinese immigrants.  But then I learned about the 1898 Supreme Court case of U.S. vs Wong Kim Ark.  Using a small section of the Exclusion Act as its rational, a California court refused to readmit Wong back into America after his visit to China. Wong was born in the US of parents here legally and held that the 14th amendment to the Constitution guaranteed his citizenship.  The Supreme Court ruled in his favor and that ruling continues to grant citizenship those born here. This is the first time I have heard of this story. I am very proud that one of our own had the courage to carry the struggle all the way to the Supreme Court. 

2. Jake Lee, the artist and his paintings

The second is the paintings of Jake Lee (1915-1991), a well-known watercolor artist in the San Francisco area.  The paintings themselves caught my eye because of the historical relevance, but Lee’s story is also very interesting.  In 1959 the owner of Kan’s restaurant in Chinatown commissioned Lee to make 12 paintings with themes that celebrated the Chinese experience in the United States especially in SF.  Kan hung them all in his restaurant, but they somehow disappeared upon Kan’s death. Fortunately, CHSA has found eight of them at auction and they are a superb addition to the exhibition.  The paintings shown below one depicts the festival scene with a lion dance and the other tells the story of brave Chinese workers building the transcontinental railroad. 

3. Frank Wong’s Miniture Chinatown

The third standout was partially hidden away in a backroom.  My friend, Carol Louie, pointed out  those miniature models to me and I instantly fell in love with all the intricate and detailed designs, including furniture and household items.  Taken together they show the life lived in San Francisco’s Chinatown from 1940’s to the present day.  The pieces are the work of a self-taught, 81-yr-old artist named Frank Wong.  Here is a photo that I took of the kitchen. It is crammed with old-fashioned wall paper, linoleum floor, but the most interesting part to me is what is inside those cabinets.

In conclusion, I just want to say how thankful I am that there is a group like CHSA dedicated to keeping the history of us Chinese-Americans alive and well.  The museum gathers and promotes the social, cultural and political history of the Chinese in America and their ongoing contributions to American life. 
I wonder if they would some time in the future do an exhibition of the contemporary Chinese-American achievers like Elaine Chao ( appointed by Donald Trump as the next Secretary of Transportation ), I. M. Pei (architect), Vera Wang (fashion design), Bruce Lee (martial arts and film industry ), Jeremy Lin (Sports), Gary Locke (former ambassador to China) and more. There is so much we should be proud of and need to be reminded of. 
Visit their site at, for more information. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

USCPFA Member Presented Ralph B Atkinson Award

Yesterday, ACLU Board of Director Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts presented member Gerry Low-Sabado with the Ralph B. Atkinson award. Gerry, through her research into her own family's history, unearthed a buried and forgotten Chinese history of Monterey and Pacific Grove. Said Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Kampe, who also presented Gerry with the City of Pacific Grove's Certificate of Recognition,"The fishing village was a remarkable achievement for that time." And Gerry's research, said Sue Parris, a Pacific Grove resident and member of the National Coalition Building Institute,"is responsible for bringing us around."
The Atkinson Award, named for the distinguished civil rights advocate, Ralph B. Atkinson, is awarded annually to a member of the community who advances civil liberties. Senator Sam Farr, a past recipient, also sent Gerry a certificate.
Congratulations, Gerry!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Member John M Interviews Head of China/New Zealand Friendship Assoc

In the 1930s Rewi alley and others popularized the idea of INDUSCO small scale cooperatives . in the 1950s in China there were mutual aid teams and small cooperatives. Why has that been revived today?
JOHN: What is the guiding movement behind the cooperative spirit that exist in China today ?
DAVID: Why now we are working mainly in the poorer provinces we are essentially a poverty reduction project based. We started off using New Zealand government funding which was poverty reduction. So we had to have a poverty reduction element. Now the training programs have changed a bit so they can assist any cooperatives. It is an essential part of Chinese government policy to make the east and west, the cities and rural areas, more equal. To help to Assist the more marginalized areas. The move to the west or poorer regions in general. Part of their rural economic development policy is to establish more rural cooperatives. There are two approaches to their policy cooperatives or large scale farming systems. Cooperatives fit very well into larger scale farming systems because there is more farmland available as more and more people migrate into the cities, more and more farmers have the opportunity to lease land. The scale is improving and with the coops they can definitely improve the scale not necessarily thru collectivizing their land but often thru the marketing system where they can Market things often it takes engagement in the broader Market so much more efficient scale of economy .
To mainly work in projects that involve collective marketing . That is the greatest benefit. For example a small scale operation in the west of Gansu province can get contracts to supply Beijing  companies. Some of our larger more successful cooperatives are starting to export. They are even starting to export now because they have the production scale to enter  that kind of market. 
JOHN: Can you give me some idea of the scale of this whole Cooperative effort that your group is directly involved with. Who is your group?
DAVID: My key group, I as a representative of the China friendship society .  I am the key International person I am working with two people , ONE is as a colleague from Shandan Bailie School who, also, is a representative from gong he , the ICCIC  (International Committee for promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives) He has also been to Massey University where he's done a Masters Degree in rural Economic Development. The other is a Canadian who has lived in China for 20 years, he's a World Bank expert.
It is a very good small team . The  projects that I have been involved with started in 2006 in the northwest and started on a quite small scale initially . We focused on two projects in one small county and established that as a model county. then extended that to four other counties in that district. Then we started to expand into other provinces.  Initially into Shaanxi province. our counterparts have included the agricultural departments who are responsible for rural economic development and heads of economic management stations. They have been our key counterparts in china. Plus Often we have used the Womens federation because we are trying to assist with womens' development in those rural areas.
 .  Very often women are left behind because the men have gone out looking for work .women actually run the Farms. The all China women's Federation is trying to promote the participation and development of women in society.
The Cooperatives cover a wide range , anything from animal husbandry to fruit growing right through women's handicrafts we have quite a focus on those recently.
JOHN: Can you give me some sense in all these Cooperatives about how many people we might be talking about?
DAVID: They all start very small sometimes a minimum of 10 or 12 people . I think that an indication of the success of our cooperatives is that they quite rapidly increase; we still have cooperatives of 30 to 40 people people. Our biggest one in fact is over 500 members. I think that there is a danger when they become too large that the management and the membership become too distant. One of the keys to the success and sustainability of the cooperative's is the transparent relationship between the members and leadership. There must be very good open transparency and Trust by the members in their leaders.
  So that is the scale we have co-ops in the west of Gansu that Supply to companies in the east.
JOHN: so if you had a ballpark number to give me 10,000 people might be involved in this or you have no idea currently?
DAVID: Initially our projects up to 2013 were funded by the New Zealand government aid. Since then they have cut out funding to China. Let's say there are about 90 coops, mainly in Gansu and Shaanxi, but also one or two in other provinces . We considered at that point that we had assisted about 20000 households. Since then the New Zealand government money has ended we got some money from a wealthy businessman in Xianyang in Shaanxi. He gave us enough money to keep the program going but we changed the nature of the program rather than working with specific Co-op scattered throughout their locations and developing model cooperatives we are now offering training programs . they are quite specific and anybody can come, they might be for marketing, they might be for accounting. it might be for management we ran one very recently in Communications which is very important for coops. Communication to industry and to local governments in marketing. 
John:  question do you know something about digital green 
David answer :: those things are always around another aspect of what we're trying to develop is a marketing brand. Branding will often be more effective in pre-production. Women's handicrafts are often keen on identifying their products as handmade.
John: I will send you this link about digital green. It has to do with education and Farmers taking videos with their cell phones  and propagating farming methods thru call phone pictures  that others can use.  
David : I know that we are using the internet for communicating ideas.  I am not really up on that but I know the Internet is becoming more important . In fact the   training course that we had for women's handicrafts Cooperative specifically was on marketing and marketing products thru shops and villages.
John: we talked about the  scale and scope of the things that you're
doing and that now you have moved to the area of training programs Is there any possibility of going back to using part of the old model of expanding cooperatives in particular areas . Is that doable if there were funding?

David: I think there is because we have just had a very recent project that is not coming from the New Zealand government but the friendship society. It is to go on some new areas. We are targeting areas where Rewi Alley worked. So how did I get involved that quick. We are looking at an area of the border between Jiang Xi and fujian province where Rewy Alley worked in. now we are looking at a project in central Fujian and in Sichuan province. There is an opportunity for other areas as well but at the moment we only have funding for this. 

  I  think we will work more initially with a model team to start with. I think it is important in a new area that some sound cooperatives are established as model demonstration sites. John so this is funding from the New Zealand friendship association yes yes very small scale funding John how much small-scale Funday David this project is being kicked off with as little as $16,000 NZ, about 12,000 US dollars. That allows three visits with two experts and I will join them on the last visit to do an evaluation . After that how we extend the project has yet to be determined funding is a very big issue for us.

John so if you were to receive international corporation matching money from the US China people's friendship Association and one or two agricultural persons would that be of interest to you guys.?

David: absolutely we would be very pleased to receive financial support.

John: I would have to come up with a proposal to do that

David: we could come up with a specific proposal and do an outline for you such as what criteria are attractive to your end

John: I am not on the national board but I am on our Western Regional Board. So it is possible and our national Convention is in our western region next year

David: That really comes back to the question how did I get involved. We have to go back to Rewi Alley when he worked with the cooperatives in the late 1930.He worked with Soong Qing Ling, Edgar Snow, MA Haide[ the American Doctor George Hatem ].
 We do have an American link there to the original gong he. Currently there is an American who is the vice chair of Gong He in  Beijing,  we still use that organization. Gong he still exists, still struggling again for funding.
JOHN : Did I tell you I I met him Rewi Alley in 1986, the year before he died
DAVID : that would have been 1986
John , I met him in 1984, very impressive man ancient history
JOHN: So that's how you got involved and you initially got funding from the New Zealand government. Who had the idea to put this together.
DAVID , my colleague in Shandan ,who had been involved in Gong He and myself. Because it that time I just completed a post graduate diploma in Development studies and was very interested in this aspect of development. Social Community Development and using cooperatives as a tool for Rural Development we are working very much in the legacy of Rewi Alley  but it is in the modern climate. The Chinese government policy is very supportive of that climate. One of our points of difference with the approach of the Chinese government is that in our cooperatives we have a much more participatory bottom up approach so our co-ops are able to be established in a sustainable  way because of the  relationship between membership and Leadership. It is a real form of community democracy
JOHN yeah it encourages more Democratic participation.  So  then this  sometimes is a contradiction with the Chinese government that their approach tends to be a little more top down.
DAVID: it has been but more and more where we work particularly in Shanghai and Gansu we are getting more and more support from the local government. They are still starting to provide funding for the trainees to come . However our trainers don't actually receive fees for their work, they are doing the work for expenses, for virtually no fees. My colleague from shan Dan is taking 3 years leave from shan dan, they will pay his salary. so we're not talking about $1,000 a day world Bank developmenalist, here think we are talking about volunteers who have a passion for this kind of work.
JOHN : One of the questions that I had was looking at what we called contradictions Mao dun I know you have had successes what are the things that you would think of as failures. One of our earlier failures was when we were trying to establish model cooperatives. I remember one Township where the local government felt threatened by our coming in there. Generally local governments were very respective because under the Western development plan they were charged with three tasks. One Infastructure development  roads, schools, etc. second Technical development they have adequate expertise there .the third is Social Development so that's an area they really struggle with.  So they really recognize the value of that kind of work .  So there is a lot of flexibility in the policy that has come down from Beijing thru the political level to the county. There were some early problems there but we've learned
To save our problems to the next day that it isn't worth????
The second problem is that we had a coop they really received some bad seed the whole Co-operative membership lost faith in the cooperative and that almost destroyed that cooperative. Generally I think that with our management process that they are aware of those kinds of issues. There was another early problem we had where the market price that we were offering to the farmers as members was much more than the spot price of the market. So the the members dropped the contract with the co-op and went to pick up the spot price. Which then destroy the credibility of the marketing ability of the Co-op. So then it is a matter of communication [Farmers ] Don't Run Away renegotiate. So those are some of the problems co-ops are faced with.
John : you mentioned some cooperation with the all-china women's Federation. Has that been on a local scale or a national effort
DAVID: It has been on a local level. In Shanxi, , it has been on a provincial level filter right down to the county so that hierarchy has worked very well for  In Gansu more at District level rather than provincial level.
JOHN: in my personal view I've always considered the all-China women's Federation a really powerful National tool that could do a lot, probably a lot more than it is doing but it has the potential because of the migration of men to the cities. There are huge numbers of women left in the countryside they can be organized. That organization has a lot of history organizing women.
DAVID : Yes, that's right, completely right that's why we use them. Our first project in Shanxi was through the women's Federation. And we've had co-operatives that were even run by 
women. There was one very effective woman in a very remote area of a county in the southwest corner of Shanxi province running a pig coop. She was the leader there .Very, very capable. 
This is one thing that we did find out that was very exciting not only do they have poverty  but they have a Poverty of opportunity and when they are given opportunity then they develop very fast and leaders emerge and We very much encourage the participation of women if not as a leader then, [ she be  ] involved in the leadership group
John: that is a wonderful phrase Poverty of opportunity that may be something that I need to lead this with.
I remember one story that you told me knowing that 2 years ago about improving livestock giving people piglets I remember you told me about how they had arranged this gate.
DAVID :  it was a different project and animal husbandry project in GUI ZHOU 
It was not a Cooperative project in specific it was to increase the growth rate
of young animals.
A very simple technology these animals are housed and the young animals need
Higher nutrition you know we pay attention to our children and make sure that they get their nutrition even if we can't afford it. So we have a creep fence where young animals get under a bar to get better access to quality food and the other animals ended up eating the straw. A very simple technology. Technologies are better managed by the local technicians the local expertise then by our cooperatives . BUT we found in our very first project we had a technology objective. We found that that they weren't needed. Once the Cooperative was established and that the Management system in place  they were able to seek the technology that was needed. There is another area we are really interested in.
That is the concept of the farmer field school that is a little bit like your digital green approach the farmers getting together and teaching each other.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

World Premiere: The San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber 红樓夢

The War Memorial Opera House was packed the night my husband, Kenny, and I had the pleasure and honor of seeing San Francisco Opera’s production of Dream of the Red Chamber.  红樓夢 ! The performance was mesmerizing in all of its aspects: storytelling, singing, lyrics, ingenious stage designs and costuming.  As an added bonus, author Cao Xuqin’s beautiful poems in Chinese were also displayed on screens on both sides of the stage.  Truly, this classic Chinese novel has been successfully transported to the American opera stage!  I had wondered if that was possible to turn a 2,500-page Chinese classic into a 2-act western style opera, but in the end it turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Amazing Storyline
     Like many operas, the storyline is a bit complicated involving as it does alternate universes, competing lovers, scheming adults, greed, chicanery, and a sad ending.  Many Chinese scholars compare the importance of Dream of the Red Chamber in Chinese culture to Romeo and Juliet in western culture.  The story opens with a particular stone left behind from the construction of Heaven by 女媧 and a flower 絳珠草 existing in another world. The stone nurtured the flower with its dew for 3,000 years. Together they decided to be incarnated as mortals to experience love on earth.  Against sound advice from a monk, they pass through a magic mirror and assume human identities, one man and the other a woman.  Their fates are intertwined and their hopes dashed by those around them. Sitting in my seat, I could not help but wonder “why couldn’t they be left alone and enjoy their pure love?”  But, that’s not the story.  The idea of life being an illusion and filled with predestined suffering is deeply rooted in Buddhist and Daoist theology, both of which are prominent features of Chinese culture. 
For a complete description of the plot visit the SFO website and download the Synopsis for Dream of the Red Camber.   

The Creative Team 
Shanghai-born and MacArthur Award Winner Bright Sheng was first challenged  in 2011 by the Chinese Heritage Foundation of Minnesota to bring something great in Chinese culture to the American audience.  His thorough understanding of the classic, Dream of the Red Chamber, which he has read many times, enabled him to synthesize the 2500-page novel and bring it to the stage while keeping faith with the original.

Tony-winning American-born playwright David Henry Wang, who readily accepted Bright Sheng’s challenge to do the libretto, was unfamiliar with the novel but has a deep understanding of American culture so he could ensure that the material would touch an American audience. This duo dared in their cuts and focused the opera on the love triangle of Bao Yu, Dai Yu, and Bao Chai and made the story relevant to the modern 21st century audience.
Then American-born Taiwanese director Stan La joined forces with the others to bring his vast stage experience to the project.
Oscar-winning Hong Kong-born designer Tim Yip’s contributions can be seen in every set design and costume.
I was in awe as I watched what these four had created.

Beautiful and powerful set designs
I was very impressed by the stage set designs which so effectively support and enhance the storyline.  My favorite parts are when Dai Yu (the flower in the other universe) is in her living quarters surrounded by a bamboo grove.  Another one is when Dai Yu was burning the poetry that Bao Yu (the stone in the other universe) and she wrote together.  The set has two levels.  On one, you see Dai Yu in her flowing green outfit crying and singing.  At the same time, on a lower level Bao Yu is lamenting that he and Dai Yu cannot marry.  The staging makes it work. Simple but powerful! I like these two even better than the magnificent Daguan Yuan 大觀園 where Family Jia lived and where the setting is for the story.

The creative costume designs
Tim Yip, the production designer of Dream of the Red Chamber, purposely made his costumes somewhat abstract leaving one’s imagination to come to the fore.  Take Dai Yu’s costume for an example. She wears this flowing green elegant piece all through two acts.  Yip explained that he did it so we could “sense the body within—or perhaps the aura of character’s spirit”.  The green in this case reflects Dai Yu’s living quarters in the garden, surrounded by bamboo.

Music and Singing
Obviously, a major part of an opera is its music, both the orchestral and the vocal.  Bright Sheng as composer and co-librettist and librettist David Henry Hwang have worked wonders.  When the orchestra starts playing and the actors start singing, one’s body and soul vibrates with joy.  It is even possible at times to forget all your worldly worries.  The production uses singers from all over the world, Yijie Shi (from Shanghai, China, tenor) plays Bao Yu, Pureum Jo (Seoul, South Korea, soprano plays Dai Yu, and Irene Roberts (Sacramento, CA, Messo-soprano)  and so on. The fantastic SFO orchestra is at its usual finest.

This world-class production won the support of many people from the American-Chinese community who donated significant time and money to make it a reality.  I recognized some of the famous names like Amy Tan and Yuan Yuan Tan on the committee of Ambassadors. The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco helped introduce the community to the novel Dream of the Red Chamber and features it on museum displays.  We can be very proud of the way that Chinese from different parts of the world brought their talents together to create this masterpiece.  

If you are interested in exploring in detail the origins and meanings of the novel itself, click on this site for a full-blown course of study.

On a personal note, I feel very blessed that we were there to see the world premier!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

                             DOUBLE CELEBRATION ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2016

What  a wonderful Double Celebration we had  Sunday at our Sept. meeting! About 50 people showed up at Shirley and Kim Kinoshita’s  house for great food, moon cakes, and fellowship.
Wow! Thank you, Shirley and Kim, for your hospitality!
Look at our four smiling presidents(from left to right):  Henry Bender, John Marienthal, Marsha Chan, and Jana McBurney-Lin. John gave a slideshow of  45 years of our chapter history.

Our co-chair,  Winny Lin narrated the story of Houyi and Chang-e, the Moon Lady, with the help of some Stanford students—Kenneth and Adrienne and engaged the audience. That was super fun! 
Shawa Zhang introduced Professor Martin Hellman and his wife Dorothie who gave their version of “The Moon Goddess and the New Map” and gave everyone a copy of their book and autographed. 

Delicious Moon Cakes. You can not celebrate the holiday without the traditional food. 

Happy Chinese and American friends. 

 Special thanks to Susan for her great documentary photos(some are from Velma Chan)  and videos.

and here is a  Poem by Li, Xian Da - Billy Lee’s cousin in China 

真情作料, 祝福为馅
邀君共赏, 月上柳枝梢

祝 中秋快乐,阖家幸福!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Join In Honoring USCPFA Member Gerry Low-Sabado

USCPFA member Gerry Low-Sabado has worked tirelessly to research and share her family's Monterey history. They were among the first groups of immigrants to live there, setting up fishing villages, discovering new ways of catching squid, building up a thriving community. As the mayor of Monterey recently said, "They are responsible for making the city what it is today."
Gerry will be awarded the Ralph B. Atkinson Award for Civil Liberties on October 15. Please join us in celebrating her work.

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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 16-June 8 Special Art Exhibit : Relics From A Disaster

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the China's great disasters: the Cultural Revolution. Some 1.5 million people were killed during the revolution, and millions of others suffered imprisonment, torture, and seizure of property. The nations schools were closed, China's culture and art destroyed, social resources wasted. Mao's ten-year program devastated the country. 
Art Curator Shu Jianhui has put together an exhibit of surviving art pieces. They will be on display in his gallery for the next two weeks. Stop by. 
Where: Silicon Valley Asian Art Center, 3777 Stevens Creek Blvd, 4th Floor
When: May 16-June 8, Wed-Fri: 11:00-4:30, Sat/Sun: 11:00-6:00, 
**Don't miss a special lecture on May 30 from 2-5. 

China in the News

Be sure to read these fascinating articles on China:

China Turns Pro-Entrepreneurship: A World of Start-ups

Robinhood is an American start-up company that uses technology to allow anyone to buy and sell stocks on a cell phone or iPhone, with no broker fee, with intent to democratize the market. DJI of China is the world market leader in easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems. What do the two have in common?
Innovation and technology.
In mid April, our speaker Jason Tu spoke to us about business innovation, technology, and financing startups in China. Jason has a long acquaintance with the USCPFA, dating from school in Evansville, Indiana, then Purdue, then France. He worked in Hong Kong in a British bank, then in Shenzhen in Financial Technology. Now he's an MBA student at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Recently he led a group of Stanford business students to visit new media and technology companies in China.
Jason told us about three key features of the recent technology startup trend in China.
1) China has moved from reverse engineering copycat to global innovation. Example: the Drone Market, where DJI accounts for 70% of the global commercial drone market share. Drones controlthemselves using deep learning, a kind of artificial intelligence. The Chinese use the drones to inspect railroad tracks, to inspect high-voltage power lines, and in agriculture to spray pesticides and fertilizers. Jason talked about how early drone technology evolved from ban open source code from Carnegie Mellon and how the Chinese further developed that to world standards.
2) China is bypassing some technology to focus on the future. Example: while still unable to manufacture good gasoline engines, China puts a lot of focus and investment into electric vehicle development and in other high-tech areas such as robotics. In 2015, China produced 33,000 electric cars, and has intent to produce 5 million by 2020.
3) Numbers and population really matter. Example: e-commerce. Wei Xin (WeChat), a smartphone app, reaches 700 million users—including me. Like the iPhone, one can do free calls, video, text, and even get a taxi and pay utility bills on the ap. One can find others on WeChat in ones area and connect with them. Consumer technology companies have gone far beyond their counterparts in the US, with many new business models flourishing in China. But the real engine behind the fast-developing consumer technology is its large population whose members constantly have a thirst for new things.
Where does the money come from?
From both public and private sources. There are a great number of venture capitalists nowadays in China, whose money is primarily from high net worth individuals and companies that made their money from traditional sectors such as manufacturing, real estate, and large tech companies. Some private companies, such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, put money into private financing as well.
Public sector money depends on the city, each of which has its startup incentive schemes rolled out by the government. Some venture capital firms and private equity firms have government backing as well.
Jason talked about Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing. Of the three, Shenzhen will match private money that exceeds 1 million Renminbi. Beijing has a very large startup community. While Shanghai has its Free Trade Zone, it has the most rules and regulations, seemingly never-ending ones that keep changing.
With the current economic slowdown, there is great concern that the traditional big companies won’t provide enough jobs to new graduates. Sixteen million Chinese enter the labor market every year. Hence the Chinese government is now very pro-entrepreneurship—encouraging the private sector to expand.

By Jason Tu and John Marienthal

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Artist Wong Shares With Us

Last year, Oakland resident Flo Oy Wong came with author John Jung, and spoke about her life growing up in a restaurant. On Sunday, she returned to share her poetry and art. She showed us some of her installation artwork, which makes use of a unique medium: silk screening on rice sacks. 
1997 Solo Exhibition "Rice Grains" at University of Kansas

2004 Exhibit in Koret Gallery, SF Library

She also shared some of her poetry.  “Home,”which was first published in the 2nd zine of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, is inspired by her mother who worked 17-hour days in a restaurant:

Home is Settled With Heart
I have traveled this road so long
Perhaps its flavor perfumes my dreams.
Often now when I look upon it
I taste joy and sorrow
Ancestors sprinkled upon me
A bit of rice here
A bit of rice there.
They, worn and tired,
From labor in wet fields
Whisper that home is settled with heart.
I go on, carrying their sweat and toil,
To embrace offspring whose journey
Glows warm through a curtained window
For which their lives are spent.
(July 2015)

"See That Tree?" was published in the inaugural issue of the online journal The Literary Nest.

"See that tree, Say So?
It is dying. So must I."
Your words float towards me in your small apartment
The freeway noise, an uninvited companion,
Rumbles into the living room
Where you and I sit
Our hearts linked, hands not touching
Your slippers sliding to the floor.
I smile to hide my unease
I look at you, kind eyes framed by wrinkles
Not many but they are there.
Your hair pulled back in a bun
Worn that way for many years
Except for the time you had a perm
Curls making you uncomfortable
I didn't know you then
But I know you now.
Our knowing shimmering like light green opals
Of your ring mounted in soft gold
Worn when you wiped your son's face
On a sultry summer's eve
That iridescence I feel now
As I fumble on a thin layer of dreams.
(Jan 25, 2015)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

English-speaking Monks and their Disappearing Lifestyle

USCPFA Member John Marienthal has had the good fortune to travel to all 23 of China's provinces. In 1995, while living in Xinjiang for a year, he managed to arrange a trip to neighboring Tibet. (see blog posts one and post two.) One aspect of Tibet--which dragged down every visitor--was the altitude difference. It is the highest place on earth, starting in Lhasa at about 12,000ft. 
"The most recognized building in Tibet—the Potola Palace-- was built in the 13th century as a fortress. It sits high on a ridge. Fortunately, when we visited, our bus took us around back (and we were able to avoid the endless staircase). 
Potola Palace
"What most impressed me—aside from the beauty of the palace and a dance performance that was being staged for a different tourist group, was spotting my first solar cooker. Apparently, Lhasa has most direct sunshine in the world. The monks had welded a metal camera-like tripod that held a teakettle. At the bottom of the kettle was the focal point of a large parabolic solar reflector. I asked how long it took to boil tea. He said about fifteen minutes. (Yes, of course. Because of the altitude.)
"We had a new guide who was not very well-versed in the history of the palace. His grasp of English was also very basic. Still, he did his best, matching up each room with a description in his guidebook, and then translating that to us. At one point we passed a group of monks in meditation. I lingered to let the group go ahead, and one of the monks turned to me and said in perfect English, 'I’m sorry. Your guide is mistaken. He has confused this shrine with another room.' I was delighted to find this fluent English speaker—although I woudn’t have guessed him to know the language in a thousand years. In fact, so many times, we would be talking, assuming the people around us couldn’t follow our conversation only to realize that they did. Moral of the story: don’t gripe and moan--especially in elevators. You never know who understands you.
"We visited the living quarters of the Dalai and Panchen Lamas. The Dalai lives in India. The Panchen Lama has visiting quarters in the Potola Palace, but he usually lives in Beijing. As we left the Potola Palace by climbing down the endless front steps, I felt tired and overwhelmed. Still, we pushed onward to Ganden Monastery, which is built on a high ridge that is over 12,200 feet high. 
Ganden Monastery
There is no fresh water on the ridge. Each morning the young novitiates carry water buckets down the ridge, then carry fresh water back 800 feet to the top. This is said to teach humility and service to one’s fellow man. Instead of making the climb, we browbeat our guide into driving us up to the top of the ridge. It was a scarily narrow road with no shoulders to pull off onto, no barriers to prevent a tumble off the side. But it saved us walking up the endless ridge.
This monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution , as it was the largest monastery. It became a target of the young red guards who were out to liberate people from “old ideas,” smash the old, and bring forth the new. To destroy the monastery, they commandeered an artillery piece, dragged it atop a nearby ridge, and shelled the monastery for three days. At the time the monastery had over 6000 monks and novitiates. Two thirds of all the buildings were destroyed.
When we visited in ‘95 the monastery was being rebuilt. Many of the outlying buildings that had been destroyed were to become the new living quarters for the new monks. We asked how many new monks would there be, and a lively discussion ensued. The answer? Maybe 400. Maybe 1600. Prior to 1960—and the onslaught of the Cultural Revolution—families routinely offered their sons into the monastery system. (A third of young men followed this path.) But this was 1995. How many people would continue to do that?