Bill Wading presents "All the Tea in China"

2019 Open House

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.

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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)"



Bill Wadding presents "All the Tea in China"

On a balmy May afternoon the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends presented Will Waddington of TeaSource in an informative talk titled, All the Tea in China. In a high-spirited, freewheeling interactive session with an engaged audience, Bill talked about the native origin of tea in China and its many variations and different individual practices in different regions of China. He dwelled on the six major types of tea: black, red, Oolong, green yellow and white, the ages of the tea leaves and the different stages of oxidation (or none) that they are allowed to go through, the effects of soil types, humidity and elevation on tea bushes, and the care one should take on keeping the ideal temperature of water or steeping time for each type of tea. He also brewed both an Oolong and a Purer tea for everyone to taste, demonstrating the differences the brewing time makes on the same type of tea. Everyone found the information most helpful, and the tasting, when accompanied by the special condiments personally selected by Yin Simpson, most enlightening.

There was also much laughter, particularly when Bill debunked myths, such as the specialness of leaves picked only by monkeys in inaccessible areas, and substituted astute and accurate observations instead. In cultivating special relationships with small individual growers in different regions of China and maintaining contact through many years, Bill has been able to offer high quality tea leaves that have received careful handling throughout the growing and tea making processes.

Soon the two-hour session ended, leaving many audience members with more questions and much eagerness to pay more attention to tea from now on, particularly in steeping loose tea leaves rather than relying on tea bags.


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2019 Events

CHF has been busy this year, starting with Chinese New Year celebrations at Mall of America, Midtown GLobal Market and The Marsh.  We followed with three highly successful Sunday Teas at artist Paul Kwok's studio: a lively discussion on the popular movie, Crazy Rich Asians; a presentation by photographer Wing Young Huie, and a presentation on Tea in China by Bill Waddington.  We also attended several events, an anniversary celebration at The Marsh where we presented founder Ruth Stricker Dayton with a roast pig, on this golden year of her birth in the Year of the Pig, and also attendance at a concert by the Beijing Chinese Culture Center, one of our grant recipients.

Do visit our Photo Gallery 

Sunday Tea with Wing Young Huie

On the afternoon of March 31, the Chinese Heritage Foundation’s Sunday Tea Series presented photographer Wing Young Huie in a talk on his career and his new book, Chinese-ness, The Meaning of Identity and the Nature of Belonging. Wing had invited us to meet at his studio, the Third Place Gallery, located in the heart of south Minneapolis. Fifty of us were seated in a semi-circle around Wing, bathed with natural light from the studio’s store front windows and surrounded by Wing’s large photographs on two long brick walls.

Wing began his presentation by talking about his father, who first came to this country from TaiShan in Guangdong Province in China when he was a very young. He worked very hard, saved his money, returned to TaiShan to marry and came back to work hard again. It was only after many such cycles before he was able to finally bring his wife and children over here. Wing was the only one of his six children who was born in this country.

Over the course of his absorbing presentation Wing took us through the major phases of his photographic journey as well as that of his search for his own identity. He showed us numerous examples of being a street photographer, asking his subjects, all strangers to him and often to each other, to write their thoughts on a chalk board (thus his Chalk Talks). Thus was born his Lake Street and University Avenue Projects. He showed us a particularly poignant example, that of a white mother and her African American adopted daughter. After having photographed them when the daughter was a baby, he found them again on the daughter’s wedding day many years later. The juxtaposition of these then and now photographs shows overwhelming emotions that only an artist who has established a close relationship with his subjects can reveal.

For his new book, Chineseness, Wing added a new concept: what if? In the I am You chapter Wing shows photographs of different people he had encountered in China, and then himself in their clothes. A special dimension has been added to the ambiguity of identity, a subject of later chapters in the book. Another topic that Wing explores in his book is Paper Sons and Daughters. Continuing the project that he began at the History Theatre’s premiere production of The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, Wing has given prominence to this still frequently taboo and painful topic. The descendants of Paper Sons and Daughters no longer need to hide.

The Chinese Heritage Foundation is delighted to have been an underwriter of the printing of Wing’s new book and is thrilled that Wing has just won a Minnesota Book Award in the Memoir and Creative Nonfiction category. Many Congratulations, Wing!

Decoding Chinese Opera

On the afternoon of December 9, an audience, consisting primarily of opera and music lovers, was abuzz with excitement, in anticipation of a Chinese Heritage Foundation lecture/recital showcasing prominent Chinese opera star, Feifei Shen, from Beijing. Shortly after 3 PM moderator Margaret Wong promptly began the program with a short history of the development of Chinese opera, from 2000 BC to the Tang Dynasty (600-900 AD), and introduced FeiFei to the audience.  Beautifully dressed in a white gown, FeiFei began with an ancient folk song, then sang two arias from the popular 2008 TV series on Dream of the Red Chamber, followed by two contemporary ballads on two famous women poets: Li Qing Zhao and Zhuó WenJun.

While FeiFei was changing her costume, Margaret continued with a description of the established format of Chinese opera, taking the audience through its staging, props, required attributes of actors (to be able to sing, speak, act and do acrobatics).  She the described the four main roles in Chinese opera: the dan (the diva), the sheng (male lead), the chou (clown) and the jing (painted face).  She also enumerated the significance of the colors of the painted face.  Throughout her delivery, Margaret encouraged the audience to imagine themselves in a traditional Chinese teahouse where Chinese operas are frequently performed and that it was all right to get up to avail themselves to the delicious tea and delectable treats that Yin Simpson had arranged for them.

When FeiFei returned, in a gorgeous traditional Chinese gown, she sang three arias from traditional Chinese opera: Farewell, My ConcubineA Walk in the Gardenfrom Peony Pavilion, and Lady Yang Gets Drunk.   The deeply appreciative audience sat quietly while FeiFei glided and danced as she sang. While such graceful and choreographed movements are integral to the delivery of all major arias in Chinese opera, they are rare in western opera.

With a final costume change FeiFei returned to sing four traditional folk songs, accompanied by pianist Li Lei.  At their conclusion, the audience applauded enthusiastically and many of them lingered afterwards to greet and to chat with FeiFei, urging her to return soon for more performances.  These serious music lovers greatly appreciated the intimate opportunity to see and hear Chinese opera the way it was intended, away from the acoustic assault necessitated by large venues.