Genesis - To celebrate the long history of Chinese Americans in Minnesota, CHF, in 2008, developed the idea of a fair, titled A Passage to China, to consist of interactive booths at which fair goers would be introduced to different aspects of Chinese culture, e.g. paper folding, using chopsticks, Chinese painting and calligraphy, meeting historical figures, learning to use an abacus, making Chinese lanterns and masks, etc. Anchoring these booths would be by the cultural organizations in our community.
Admission to this fair would be free. To encourage participation each fair goer would be issued a "passport." On completing an activity, the attendee would receive a stamp on the map of China in his/her passport. The province/city that would be stamped would be associated with the activity just completed. Upon obtaining a requisite number of stamps the attendee may come to the CHF table and claim a prize: a hong bao with a brand new Chinese coin in it.
To complement all the interactive activities there would be continuous cultural performances and entertainment, and, of course, Chinese food!
The primary target audience for our fair would be the greater Twin Cities community. We wished to attract people who would not usually attend Chinese events and to invite them to get to know us. The best venue for our outreach events therefore would be a shopping mall. Since 2009 Passage has been presented at Mall of America in Bloomington.
This concept received prompt and enthusiastic endorsement from numerous organizations in our community. It has become a reality rapidly.
The goal of Passage is to advance mutual courtesy and understanding among all peoples in Minnesota and visitors from around the world. This is best expressed by the couplet that hangs at our entrance gates. Commissioned by us and composed by a volunteer, the couplet says:
With mutual understanding, U. S. and China will thrive together.
With mutual courtesy the world will shine in splendor together.
So come to Mall of America and enjoy the sights and sounds of our many activities in person, and if you have time, come volunteer with us and reap the rewards of giving freely of your time and talent.
Inspiration for Title - the inspiration came from the 1924 novel by E. M. Foster: A Passage to India. This novel centers around a young Indian physician who aspired to all things English, an English colonial officer, a young English woman and her chaperone. Through a series of complex, enigmatic, and highly charged events all 4 of them came to a better, though at times unsettling, understanding of themselves. The young Indian physician, after being falsely accused of raping the young English woman, rediscovered his Indian heritage and returned to his home village. The young English woman found personal growth and maturity through honesty and returned to England. In presenting the different perspectives of its four principals, the book explores inter-racial relationships against the backdrop of the sometimes-brutal English rule in India.
In presenting A Passage to China at an international shopping mall, we offer everyone an opportunity to take an inner journey into a better understanding of ourselves and, at the same time, to seek our own place in an increasingly multicultural world.