By Greg Hugh
The Community Room of Grammercy Park in Richfield, Minnesota, was filled to capacity when Chinese Heritage Foundation (CHF) recently held its 14th annual open house. The CHF was established in 2004 by members of the local Chinese community to preserve and promote the understanding of Chinese history, culture and tradition among all Minnesotans. In 2008, the CHF Friends (CHFF) was established separately to support the mission of CHF through educational and cultural activities, community outreach programs and fund-raising projects.
Prior to the start of the program, Margaret Wong, CHFF Board chair, welcomed the gathering and encouraged everyone to register and mingle with each other. Also, as is custom of most CHFF functions, guests were treated to a luncheon put together by Yin Simpson, event planner extraordinaire and CHFF Board member. Evidently, this was a very popular part of the open house since the gathering devoured the tasty offerings, which prevented most of the volunteers an opportunity to partake of the food prepared by a few CHFF board members and other volunteers.
Wong introduced Carol Barnett, composer of “Mother,” which was sung by mezzo-soprano Clara Osowsky, to make a few comments.
Representatives from previous CHF/F grant and fellowship recipients were then introduced to provide remarks. These included Source Song Festival, History Theatre, Theater Mu, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden and the Department of History at the University of Minnesota.Add a comment
By Greg Hugh
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Minnesota Chapter recently observed National Philanthropy Day by hosting a celebration to honor individuals and groups whose philanthropy has improved our communities and the world. More than 400 guests attended this event held in the grand ballroom of the JW Marriott at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
The following were recognized at this year’s celebration: Outstanding Philanthropists, Bill and Teri Popp and David and Patty Murphy; Outstanding Professional Fundraiser, Mort Naiman; Outstanding Philanthropic Organization, Federated Insurance Company and Jennie Hsiao, Outstanding Philanthropist.
According to the biography presented in the program booklet on each honoree, Jennie Hsiao was described as follows:
“Jennie Hsiao has been an active and recognized leader in Minnesota’s Chinese-American community for more than 60 years. She is described as a shining example of generosity, honesty, initiative, leadership, and dedicated involvement in causes she cares deeply about. A native of Hunan Province, she came to Minnesota in 1958 to marry Feng ‘Fred’ Hsiao, who co-founded Shaw-Lundquist Associates, Inc., the largest minority-owned construction firm in the Midwest, where until recently, Jennie served as a director.
“Like many Chinese-Americans, Jennie’s early giving reflected her desire to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture – first for American-raised children and then for her community.
“Jennie has broadened her passion for philanthropy through many gifts to a diverse group of Chinese-American cultural and social organizations to enhance understanding of Chinese culture. She has also been generous of her time in support of the University of Minnesota, promoting the Chinese garden and the many wonderful programs offered to students and the public about Chinese language, culture and society.
“Jennie has been a generous donor to the University of Minnesota, including the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, China Center, Confucius Institute, and Gopher Athletics. Jennie provided the lead gift for a Chinese Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. In 2001, she and Fred established the Hsiao Scholarship and in 2005 the Hsiao-Shaw Lundquist Fellowship at the China Center, benefiting more than 100 students to date.
“Jennie’s passionate support for students through the scholarships she and Fred established through Minnesota China Center from donors in the Chinese-American, University, and Minnesota communities.”
Videos showcasing each honoree’s contributions were shown, followed by comments from the honorees. All of them spoke candidly about their call to philanthropy. Hsiao proved to be an excellent example of how the Chinese American community could be a more active participant to encourage and advance philanthropy in our community.
Hsiao was nominated by Joan Brzezinski, University of Minnesota China Center, Sherri Gerbert Fuller, Minnesota Historical Society, Peter Moe, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and Susan Hommes, University of Minnesota Foundation and selected by an AFP committee to be an honoree.
To learn more about AFP, visit www.afpminnesota.org.
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By Greg Hugh
Prior to the curtain raising at Northrup Auditorium, a small group of invited guests gathered at Legendary Spice Chinese Restaurant for a reception with organizers and performers from “The Greatest Spirit,” which would be presenting its overseas premiere. During the reception, representatives from various organizations along with a few political dignitaries, including the Deputy Consul General from the Consulate General of The People's Republic of China in Chicago provided some brief remarks followed by refreshments, including spirits.
Then it was onward to Northrup Auditorium to watch the show. Several speakers welcomed the gathering.
True to its advance billing, “The Greatest Spirit” presented poetry, music and dance in mural-like story scenes, telling the tale of the Chinese spirits (liquor) culture, and highlights the grandeur of traditional Chinese operas, the exquisite beauty of the costumes of past Chinese dynasties and the unique styles of Chinese ancient architecture.
While the show visually lived up to its advance billing, the full impact may have been lost on those that could not read Chinese since most of the 11 different performances was accompanied by an explanation in Chinese that was projected onto the stage. It would have been helpful if this were also provided in English, as in the program booklet. Providing the English translation would have enabled the entire audience to understand and appreciate the show much more while viewing an artistic production that demonstrated Chinese traditional rituals and etiquettes of spirits -- spirits and famous individuals, spirits and poetry, and spirits and philosophy in an artistic, poetic and dramatic manner.
The enthusiastic audience gave the performers a standing ovation.
The organizers of this event have pledged to donate all the proceeds to support the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society.
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Those who attended Paul Kwok’s exhibit “In and Out of Tradition” on opening night got a bonus: a reception that was not lacking for food and beverages. Kwok’s approach to his landscape watercolors combine the eastern aesthetic with that of the west. As noted by Robert Jacobsen, chair, Asian Art, curator of Chinese Art, emeritus, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, “Paul Kwok produces extraordinary abstract landscapes that encompass not only quest for artistic identity but also display a synthesis of eastern and western pictorial values, namely traditional Chinese ink painting and authentic self-expression." Over forty paintings are on display. In addition to enjoying the great company of all in attendance, great refreshments and food, the group included members of the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends who also celebrated a milestone birthday for Kwok’s partner, Pat Hui. The exhibit continues until Sept. 28 at his gallery, Traffic Zone Center for Visual Arts, Studio 120, 250 Third Avenue North, Minneapolis, and is free and open to the public.Add a comment
While the seeds for a Chinese garden were planted back in the year 2000 by the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association -MN Chapter, resulting in the formation of The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society (MCFGS), much cultivating has taken place over the years. The actual groundbreaking ceremony took place during the annual Dragon Festival at Saint Paul’s Lake Phalen Park in July. For a more complete chronology of the garden’s evolution, visit www.mnchinagarden.org.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, the official name of the Garden, The St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden of Whispering Willows and Flowing Waters, was announced. Built on a 1.2-acre site at Phalen Park, this sister-city collaboration was initiated by MCFGS with the City of St. Paul and its Parks & Rec Department, St. Paul’s District 5 Planning Council, the City of Changsha, Hunan Province, the Changsha People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and the Changsha Yanghu Wetland Park (Phalen Park’s sister park) in China. Changsha has been the sister-city to the City of St. Paul since 1988.Add a comment