By Elaine Dunn

A few members of the Chinese Heritage Foundation got together with the China Insight publisher to organize an event to celebrate Asian American Pacific Heritage Month in May 2008 at Southdale Center in Edina. The main goal of the event was to promote Chinese culture, history, geography and the arts through interactive activities. “A Passage to China” was born,

with 40-plus community organizations participating. Several thousand people attended this inaugural event.

Bolstered by the event’s success and warm reception, the organizers embarked on planning for the proverbial “bigger and better” second act to continue showcasing Chinese heritage and culture. They never looked back! A bigger venue, the Mall of America, was very receptive to the idea of hosting “Passage,” and has been a good “partner” of the event since 2009.  MOA staff estimated that 2013 “Passage “attracted more than 15,000 visitors.

The organizers of “Passage” attribute its success to the tremendous support from MOA and the more than 50 organizations that participate. Many of these organizations have been part of the event since 2008. “Passage” also would not be possible without the support of the many dedicated volunteers who generously donate their time and talent to making this event run smoothly. Some contact and work with the vendors and performers; some assist in implementing the game plan that begins almost immediately after the event. The Passage committee kicks into full gear approximately four months before the actual event. All participants get to meet each other to establish a sense of camaraderie and to work out final details at a meeting several weeks before the actual even. The two evenings prior to the event, a committed team of worker bees shows up at the MOA to transform the Rotunda and Sears Court into the festive setting that sets the mood for “Passage.” These volunteers work tirelessly into the early morning hours two nights straight!

When contacted for this article, the organizers stated that they are happy “Passage” continues to be a popular event with the greater Twin Cities community. Are they gluttons for self-abuse? Perhaps! Believe me, lugging and setting up the many props, including two life-size terracotta warrior replicas are not a piece of cake! However, each and every one of them stressed their efforts are well rewarded when they see the many attendees who return each year, and are gratified in seeing new faces too.

This year’s “Passage” event will expand into MOA’s Southeast Court, where there will be a display of ethnic Chinese clothing along with the University of Minnesota China Center’s China 100 exhibit - a display of the 100-year history of the University of Minnesota’s academic exchange program with China - along with a few other special activities.

For details about “Passage,” see page 16 or visit

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