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CHF Fifteenth Annual Open House

On the crisp morning of November 17, 2019, the Chinese Heritage Foundation held its fifteenth anniversary open house, again at the party room of the Gramercy Co-op Building in Richfield. Amid the excited buzz about this year’s honoree, Ruth Stricker Dayton, volunteers were busy decorating the room and preparing a veritable feast under the watchful eye of Yin Simpson

Shortly after 12 noon, a capacity crowd had gathered, including friends of Ruth Dayton and members of the staff at The Marsh. Everyone was in a festive mood, enjoying a delicious lunch of smoked salmon, crab puffs, seafood curry noodles, and tealeaf eggs. There were also special considerations for vegetarians, with vegetarian and yam noodles, fresh fruit and kale salads; and CHF’s signature almond and ginger cookies, as well as cream puffs and chocolate truffles.

While everyone was settling back with tea and dessert, Margaret Wong, chair of CHF Friends, began our program. After some welcome remarks, she turned to Ida Lano to showcase some of CHF grant recipients. Two theatre companies, History Theatre and Theater Mu talked about their theater classes in three Chinese language schools: YuCai, MN International Chinese School and Minhua Central Chinese School. This venture is in collaboration with CHF on its initiative to increase interest and participation of young Chinese families in theatre. Daniel Wang, a two-year participant at YuCai gave a short speech (excerpted below) in which he mentioned some of the benefits of the classes: learning how to speak in public, how to listen to others, developing self-confidence, and finding one’s own voice. These were just some of the lessons he learned that he felt are central for living a meaningful life.

Minhua Chorus, a long time champion of Chinese music in our community, received a grant for its annual concert and offered two samples from its program: Oliver Tao’s recitation of a famous poem by S? Shi and a vocal performance of a song by Josh McCallister. The poem, Sharing the Beautiful Moonlight Far from East to West, talks about the loneliness of the poet. Alone with wine in hand, he is dancing with his shadow on a clear, chilly evening with a full moon. He wonders what time of year it is and why the moon always seems to be full when he is alone. He yearns for the company of his dear family and friends, and recalls fondly their times together and their subsequent partings. Contemplating on the endless cycle of the waxing and waning of the moon, he hopes that likewise, humanity will endure, and that he will soon be reunited with his loved ones across the vast distance of a thousand miles.

In 2006 CHF established a graduate fellowship in History at U MN devoted to the study of WWII in China and its neighbors. Ann Waltner, chair of the History Department, stressed the importance of this fellowship to the Department and introduced three current graduate students who have benefited from this fellowship. Then she, together with Christine Marran, chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, introduced the audience to a new scholarship fund, endowed by CHF founder and president Ming Tchou, and jointly administered by their respective departments. Two outstanding students are already the beneficiaries of Ming’s generosity.

Margaret Wong then returned to the podium and briefly recounted the activities of CHF Friends in the past year. Accompanied by slides, she captured the highlights of four events: Decoding Chinese Opera, Crazy Rich Asians discussion, All the Tea in China presented by Bill Waddington, and a presentation by photographer Wing Young Huie.

Next came Pearl Bergad to introduce our Honorary Chinese Minnesotan of Note, Ruth Stricker Dayton, to our audience. She described Ruth’s triumph over lupus, using a comprehensive approach to wellness that engages the mental, spiritual and emotional, as well as the physical fitness in her life. She developed her personal philosophy of the mind-body connection, incorporating the Chinese concept of balance, that of yin and yang, and expanded it in her joint venture with her husband, Bruce Dayton, in The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness. It is an inclusive place for wellness – physical, mental and emotional. It combines the allopathic philosophy of western medicine with holistic or complementary practices (or integrative therapies as they are now called) such as massages and Chinese acupuncture. Thirty-five years later, the Marsh is considered the premier center for integrated mind-body fitness in the U.S., and is a model in both Europe and Asia.

The Chinese Heritage Foundation honors Ruth Stricker Dayton for her big heart, altruism, humility, infectious joy, deep compassion, generous philanthropy, positive outlook, and abiding desire to serve the greater good. We celebrate her pioneering role in incorporating the Chinese philosophy of balance into the mind-body connection and integrative medicine. She is our role model for how to lead a purposeful, all embracing and rewarding life.

One of Ruth’s lifelong mentors is tai chi master ChungLiang Al Huang. Al flew in especially to honor Ruth. He spoke warmly of his admiration and respect for her, and when Ruth joined him at the podium, the entire audience stood up to honor one of the most remarkable ladies in Minnesota.

Our Open House ended on a high note and everyone went out in the developing cold late afternoon with warm hearts and a new resolve to lead a more purposeful life.

 Please visit our photo gallery.

Daniel Wang’s speech:

“Ever since I was young, I was always shy. I couldn’t look people in the eye whenspeaking, and I couldn’t talk without stuttering when I was talking in front of the class.But this all changed for the better when I started coming to Seats to Stage. Every class,we got up in front of the group and presented our writings, our stories, and our thoughts.This was new to me. I never had shared my personal thoughts or stories in front of agroup of people before. My former dog who pooped on the yoga mat, my unagreeable stomach during my trip to China, and my thoughts on culture were only a few examples that I shared with the class. This not only allowed me to be more confident in speaking with people, but also understand the importance of being more personal with them.Making people laugh, I learned, could help you strengthen the bonds between you andeveryone. With that said, I believe that Seats to Stage is a class where you can discover your voice, and encourage other people to discover their own voices. Thank you.”

 

Kiri Werner's speech:

"My name is Kiri Werner and I am in 6th grade at YingHua Academy.

I used this grant to publish a book that I wrote when I lived in China two years ago.

We lived in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. While we lived there I attended XingHua Primary school.

Every day when I would walk to school I would stop and talk to the local people. One day it might be the books store lady, another day it might be the fruit stall lady. Sometimes on the weekends I would help my dad fix things around our apartment. We would have to go out and buy little things at the hardware store and I would talk the old man that ran the store. 

I really liked learning about their lives and how they chose their jobs. So I started to do interviews with them.

In the end I did over a dozen interviews. We edited them and compiled them into this book. 

When I came back to Minnesota, I showed the book to the teachers at my school. They really liked it and thought it would be useful in helping to prepare kids that are going on the school’s annual trip to China. 

Now Dr. Lien is preparing the book so that it can be used in the school. 

We are very grateful for the CHF grant to be a partner in this project to help more kids to learn about everyday people’s lives in China. 

Publish: chu ban

Grant: 资助” (zi zhu)"