By Greg Hugh
The Harbin Municipal People’s Government of China recently held the 2019 An Appointment with Winter in Harbin to celebrate over 40 years of sister-city relationships established with more than 36 cities in 28 countries. A 12-member delegation representing the City of Minneapolis (Sister City of Harbin since 1992). The delegation included Minneapolis City Council members Kevin Reich and Steven Fletcher; members of Meet Minneapolis, Mark Andrew, Melvin Tennant, William Deef and Courtney Ries; Leah Wong, Minneapolis Downtown Council; Ken Lau, US-China Peoples Friendship Association-MN Chapter; Jill and Sky Li Griffiths, China Champions Program-University of Minnesota; Greg and Linda Hugh, China Insight.
Living up to its theme, 2019 An Appointment with Winter in Harbin, many sister-city conference-related events were held and since it also took place during the 35th Harbin China International Ice and Snow Festival, delegates also had the opportunity to visit many festival events during the sister-cities conference.
Upon arrival in Harbin, our delegation was greeted at midnight by Robert Song, chief liaison officer for Harbin’s foreign office department, along with two college student volunteers, Abby and April, who would be our tour guide and interpreters during the conference with whom the group bonded during our three-day visit. A personal transportation van for our group was also provided. Fortunately, our delegation was staying at The Songbei Shangri-La Hotel was the conference headquarters and we were glad to be checked in after the long flight. Later we learned that some of the other 400 other delegates from other cities from all over the world were staying at three other hotels in Harbin.Add a comment
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.Add a comment
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