Stephen Siu: Fol­low the star, no mat­ter how far BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICAS - By LI NA in Toronto

Press In­ter­na­tional (UPI), mon­i­tor­ing and trans­lat­ing Ra­dio Pek­ing’s and other ma­jor Chi­nese provin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal news­casts as a part of “China Watch­ing” and get­ting first-hand in­for­ma­tion from the so-called bam­boo cur­tain. He fast be­came an ex­pert on Red China in the Cold-War era.

On his desk, he al­ways had a copy of Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China. Snow’s vivid de­scrip­tions of the Long March fas­ci­nated him. “I ad­mired his ca­reer as a war cor­re­spon­dent reporting on World War II,” Siu said.

Siu spent four years on the front­lines of news reporting, work­ing with those UPI cor­re­spon­dents and “China Hands” from the US. “I think the ex­pe­ri­ences en­dowed me with a per­spec­tive on his­tory,” he said.

In 1972, Amer­i­can pres­i­dent Richard Nixon paid his first visit to China ush­er­ing in an era of ping pong diplo­macy. When the Amer­i­can ping pong team was pass­ing through Hong Kong to pave the way for Nixon’s visit, Siu was one of the re­porters in­ter­view­ing them on­board their train.

In 1973, Stephen won a World Press In­sti­tute schol­ar­ship to fur­ther his jour­nal­ism train­ing at Ma­calester Col­lege in Min­nesota. He even­tu­ally be­came chief edi­tor of UPI’s Hong Kong bureau.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond In­doChina War, Stephen took dic­ta­tion from those war-zone cor­re­spon­dents from time to time, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the tur­moil of war, and some of his clos­est friends never came back from the bat­tle­field. In 1975, Stephen joined the Chi­nese edi­tion of Reader’s Digest mag­a­zine, the largest­cir­cu­la­tion Chi­nese monthly at the time.

Af­ter five years work­ing with chief edi­tor Lin Taiyi, daugh­ter of Chi­nese lit­er­ary leg­end Lin Yu­tang, Siu headed up Hong Kong Ur­ban Coun­cil’s cul­tural pro­mo­tions, and govern­ment in­for­ma­tion ser­vices’ pub­lic­ity, su­per­vis­ing a staff of 40 and a budget in the mil­lions from 1980 un­til 1988, when he im­mi­grated to Canada.

“If I fol­lowed the path that my life seemed to be, I would see the light at the end of the tun­nel. I try to make a dif­fer­ence and make it a chal­lenge to my­self,” Siu said, ex­plain­ing why he moved to Canada from Hong Kong, where he had lived a life of ease and en­joyed a hand­some in­come.

“My fa­vorite quote is from Man of La Man­cha: ‘To dream the im­pos­si­ble dream; to fight the un­beat­able foe; to bear with un­bear­able sorrow; to run where the brave dare not to go’, and I will fol­low that star, no mat­ter how far,” he said.

When Siu fol­lowed his star to Canada, he never dreamed he would have the same strug­gles as most new im­mi­grants. He worked a min­i­mum-wage job, but never stopped be­liev­ing that as long as he kept driv­ing for­ward, there was noth­ing to lose.

Stephen started a mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tancy and quickly es­tab­lished a net­work in Canada, which even­tu­ally led him to join­ing the HKETO in Toronto.

In 1992, the Hong Kong govern­ment set up its rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in Toronto, Stephen Siu was hired as HKETO’s pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tant, help­ing the of­fice launch the multi-month Fes­ti­val Hong Kong ’92 across 11 cities, from Vic­to­ria to Halifax, which was aimed to pro­mote the in­ter­na­tional im­age of Hong Kong.

“So far it is the largest pro­mo­tion cam­paign or­ga­nized by the Hong Kong govern­ment in Canada,” Stephen re­called.

Af­ter go­ing through the hard­ships of be­ing a new im­mi­grant, Stephen took on vol­un­teer work with char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions. “I thought I should help the new im­mi­grants in­te­grate with the com­mu­nity, and make our­selves part of the main­stream,” he said.

rough vol­un­teer­ing with var­i­ous com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, Siu has proven him­self to be a per­son of ac­tion and the com­mu­nity has ben­e­fited

STEPHEN SIU

Pres­i­dent, Yee Hong Com­mu­nity Well­ness Foun­da­tion

Age: 67 • Pres­i­dent, Yee Hong Com­mu­nity Well­ness Foun­da­tion (2013-present) • As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor, HKETO

in Toronto (2004-2013) • Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­tre of Greater Toronto (2000-2004) • Pub­lic Re­la­tions Con­sul­tant, Hong Kong Eco­nomic & Trade Of­fice (HKETO) in Toronto (1992-2000) • Headed up Hong Kong Ur­ban Coun­cil’s cul­tural pro­mo­tions (1980) • Joined the ed­i­to­rial of the Chi­nese edi­tion of the Reader’s Digest (1975) • World Press In­sti­tute, Ma­calester Col­lege, United States (1973) • Started work­ing as a re­porter with the United Press In­ter­na­tional (1969) from his skills and con­tri­bu­tions.

In 2000, Siu started a fouryear-ten­ure as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­tre of Greater Toronto (CCC), where he fo­cused on bridg­ing the Chi­nese com­mu­nity with main­stream projects with the Royal On­tario Mu­seum and other cul­tural groups. He launched a match­ing pro­gram to bring Chi­nese im­mi­grants and adop­tive fam­i­lies to­gether, shar­ing each other’s ex­pe­ri­ence and cul­ture.

Al­though he loved work­ing for CCC, Siu’s ca­reer con­tin­ued to thrive. He left CCC and re-joined to the HKETO in late 2004 to take on a more im­por­tant role as its as­sis­tant di­rec­tor.

In the nine years since, Siu has been the driv­ing force be­hind ma­jor cul­tural projects, in­clud­ing the record­set­ting China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion (CCTV) SameSong con­cert at the Rogers Cen­tre, the largest-ever per­for­mance in Canada’s Chi­nese com­mu­nity with an au­di­ence of more than 21,000 people.

“With a per­for­mance put up to­gether by 18 artists from the Chi­nese main­land, Hong Kong and Tai­wan at the Rogers Cen­tre, we en­joyed the unity over va­ri­ety and co­he­sion over di­ver­sity within the Chi­nese na­tion,” he said.

Re­gard­ing his new po­si­tion as the pres­i­dent of Yee Hong Foun­da­tion, Siu said it was a new run­way to take off from, and he would fly away in fly­ing col­ors as high as he could, with no re­grets.

Over the last 25 years, Yee Hong’s Dragon Ball has raised about $25 mil­lion for geri­atric care and ser­vices pro­grams for se­niors pro­vided by the four Yee Hong cen­ters in Greater Toronto.

“Still, our ma­jor chal­lenge is to close the gap be­tween the cost of all the ser­vices we pro­vide and the fi­nan­cial sup­port we re­ceive,” Siu said. “Gov­ern­ments can give only so much. And it’s sim­ply not enough.”

He said there are more than 4,000 se­niors wait­ing to get into Yee Hong’s nurs­ing homes, and many of Yee Hong’s com­mu­nity pro­grams are not funded by the govern­ment. Dragon Ball, to­gether with some other fundrais­ing ef­forts, have helped raise the nec­es­sary funds to sus­tain the good work of Yee Hong.

“We be­lieve that elders should be well and ad­e­quately taken care of in any civ­i­lized so­ci­ety, and we are look­ing for­ward to ini­ti­at­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with people from the main­land through com­ple­men­tary strat­egy,” Siu said.

LI NA / CHINA DAILY

Stephen Siu shows the logo of the first Dragon Ball in 1990, which has been one of the largest and most glam­orous char­ity balls in Toronto since then.

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