Bill Wading presents "All the Tea in China"

2011 Leisurely Evenings

A Leisurely Evening at a Chinese Home

generalaimg 29 20131107 1823053882On March 18 the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends launched its occasional series of activities at Gramercy Park. Titled A Leisurely Evening at a Chinese Home, this series attempts to reproduce an evening in a traditional multigenerational Chinese household in a simpler time. In many ways it succeeded: the ages of attendees stretched from 3 months to 96 years old! The 3-month-old luxuriated and slept contentedly in the many pairs of loving arms that enveloped him, while his 2-year-old brother played the Chinese game of 5-piece chess with gusto with his much older challengers. Elsewhere therewere tables of intense mahjong players sitting next to novices who were just trying to recognize and sort out the tiles. The quiet, complacent bridge-playing table on the other side made clear why laughter and chatter make mahjong such a social activity. The strolling elders, nodding appreciatively at the table showcasing paper cutting, shared laughter with each other, completing this picture of harmony and fun. Asian Max Catering provided a satisfying buffet dinner.

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A Leisurely Evening of Jade Appreciation at a Chinese Home


generalaimg 30 20131107 1806796084On May 20 the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends continued its occasional series, A Leisurely Evening at a Chinese Home, at Gramercy Park. Adding jade appreciation as an educational component to the evening saw many attendees bringing their family heirlooms as well as recent acquisitions for all to enjoy. A sparkling jadeite bangle bracelet found a companion in a variegated nephrite one, while a translucent white phoenix looked over its shoulders at a 'mutton fat' little boy bearing a bat (the word 'bat' in Chinese is a homonym to 'blessings' and therefore a symbol of good fortune) on his back. How does one explain to an innocent 9-year-old that the chocolate brown color in a white jade bangle is really not due to it having been buried once with a corpse and therefore stained by the blood of the deceased, as legends would have it? Everyone was deeply appreciative of the willingness of everyone else for bringing in cherished objects and sharing the family stories behind them. We were all richer because of them.
In between jade jam sessions, many novices at mahjong congregated at two tables to unravel the mysteries behind the tiles. Similarities to bridge notwithstanding, the seemingly infinite possibilities of pairings and sequences within each 'suite' continued to confound. The tactile satisfaction of feeling the carving on the individual tiles added to the game's fascination. No wonder it is touted as an invigorating game for seniors!
As the evening drew to a close, young and old alike, satiated with good food from Golden Bamboo Catering and relaxed from easygoing conversations, smiled and bid each other farewell, until the next time.

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2011 Dakota County Display

Dakota County Display of Chinese Culture

generalaimg 25 20131107 1996156788In the spring the Dakota County Public Art Citizen Advisory Committee presented the fourth installment of its Three Cultures series of exhibits on China. The exhibit was viewed through three different lenses. The first was through the County sister relationship with Chengde in China. The second was a reflection of key elements of traditional Chinese culture. The third was the perspective of Chinese Americans who had moved into Dakota County. CHFF provided many artifacts to showcase Chinese culture in its second objective, and collected and provided biographical information on prominent Chinese Americans in Dakota County.

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2011 Chinese New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Normandale French Immersion School -- Volunteers of the Calligraphy Team of CHF Friends weregeneralaimg 19 20131107 1560753634 busy this year, answering calls for their expertise from around the metropolitan area. Over two days in February they presented four talks on Chinese New Year traditions and myths to over 200 first graders in Edina schools, including the Normandale French Immersion School. These vivacious kids clamored to name the 12 animals that made up the Chinese clock, and sat in rapt attention as Stephen Mao described the hungry beast that was let out of its jail on every New Year’s Eve to devour everyone in sight. Thus was born the custom of congratulating everyone, ‘gong xi, gong xi’, on New Year’s Day: for having survived the beast! With their fists thus cupped in the traditional Chinese manner, the children then lined up to offer Stephen and Ming Tchou ‘gong xi’. In return they each received a hong bao stuffed with a lucky penny. Now no harm will come their way until the next New Year’s Eve.

Midtown Global Market -- The Calligraphy Team then headed across town to Midtown Global Market on February 4 to anchor its Chinese New Year celebration. Many young families, often with grandparents in tow, came to have their names translated or their fortunes told. How should the fortuneteller answer an earnest golden-haired little boy’s query on whom he would marry? Or what to say when his parents drew a josh stick that painted doom? The answers were and will remain the secrets of the fortuneteller.

The Marsh -- The next day, February 5, the Team traversed town again, this time to the celebration at The Marsh in Minnetonka. Organized with the advice of Yin Simpson, the event began with a rousing lion dance by the Minnesota International Lion Dance and continued with the generalaimg 16 20131107 1578853941Team plying its signature role of name translation and fortune telling, this time augmented by the paper cutting expertise of Hong Lin. Inspired by the natural settings of the Marsh and its adherence to inner well being, many of the fortunes drawn that evening related to oneness with nature, inner journeys of peace and family harmony. The airy rooms, with their walls lined with windows or adorned with exquisite Chinese silks, paintings and calligraphy panels, provided the soothing environment conducive for discussions on Zen and meditation.

Minnetonka Schools -- Tired but energized by interactions with so many interested kids and their parents, the Team returned to Minnetonka the following week, this time to the high school for its Chinese New Year celebration. Prevalent among the attendees here were kids enrolled in the Chinese immersion program at Minnetonka and the Chinese adoptees. It was a joy to hear so many kids rattling off their Chinese names and then to see them recognize their corresponding Chinese characters. A debate over the appropriateness of their names then arose: was there sufficient exhortation for the child to better him/herself? Would the child grow up to meet the high expectation inherent in this particular combination name? What about the deeper meaning of grace? A Chinese father’s heart never rests.

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2011 Grandfather's Day

Grandfather’s Day

In celebrating grandfather’s day in September Yinghua Academy invited our calligraphers Stephen Tsui and Stephen Mao to visit their classrooms. They visited several grades and talked about Japanese occupation of China during WWII, Chinese currencies, cooking, and calligraphy. The students also demonstrated their proficiencies in both Chinese language and writing to these two grandfathers.

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2012 Leisurely Evening with Cathy Bao Bean

The Chopsticks-Fork Principle, a presentation by Cathy Bao Bean

cathybbean 10 20140111 1318806413October 31, 2012 Bean, the author of The Chopsticks-Fork Principle, A Memior and Manual, was in town on October 31 and gave a CHFF presentation to a group of interested listeners at the party room at David Fong’s Restaurant in Bloomington. She regaled the audience with countless stories of unintended cross-purposes or misunderstandings in her attempts to satisfy disparate cultural norms and her experiences of raising a bicultural family. Her guiding chopsticks and fork principle explains how anyone who steps outside the home can benefit by greater awareness of the diversity within and around us. A delicious dinner in the upstairs restaurant brought the evening to a satisfying close.    

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