How a ‘shy girl’ from Hong Kong met Xi

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LINDA DENG in Seat­tle lin­dadeng@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

“I was shak­ing hands with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping twice a day!” As­sunta Ng said. “That night I told my fam­ily, ‘Don’t let me wash my hands.’ ”

Ng, pub­lisher of the Seat­tle Chi­nese Post and North­west Asian Weekly, told China Daily of her Septem­ber meet­ing with the pres­i­dent and first lady Peng Liyuan at Ng’s of­fice in Seat­tle’s Chi­na­town In­ter­na­tional Dis­trict.

Ng was the only Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can woman from Wash­ing­ton state nom­i­nated by former US am­bas­sador to China Gary Locke and ap­proved by Gover­nor Jay Inslee to join the wel­com­ing com­mit­tee of 15 gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and cor­po­rate CEOs from Wash­ing­ton state. They greeted Xi when he ar­rived in Seat­tle to start his US state visit.

Later that evening at a VIP re­cep­tion, Ng was among some 60 peo­ple to again wel­come the pres­i­dent with hand­shakes and smiles.

“I would never dream that I would have this honor and meet the pres­i­dent and Madam Peng face to face when I was a timid and shy girl in Hong Kong,” Ng said.

Born in Guangzhou, China, Ng moved to Hong Kong when she was 5 years old and raised in a tra­di­tional Chi­nese fam­ily.

“In my gen­er­a­tion, par­ents did en­cour­age girls to be out­go­ing, and the role mod­els around me were nurses, teach­ers, sec­re­taries and house­wives,” Ng said.

As the old­est, Ng had to take care of her two younger broth­ers and do a lot of house­work.

“I was so scared that I could not achieve any­thing and (would) have no con­fi­dence,” she said. “The school teacher did not even look at you if you were not a straight-A stu­dent at that time. “

In 1971, Ng sur­prised her fam­ily and friends with a bold de­ci­sion – travel to the United States to study.

“I wanted to cre­ate a new model for my­self,” Ng said. “Only in Amer­ica could a girl be free.”

She re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in in­ter­na­tional stud­ies and ed­u­ca­tion from the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton in 1974, earned a teach­ing cer­tifi­cate in 1976, and got her master’s de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion in 1979. Ng be­gan her jour­nal­ism ca­reer writ­ing for the UW Daily.

She taught so­cial stud­ies to im­mi­grants at Mercer Ju­nior High School for a few years, where she be­came in­creas­ingly aware of the lack of in­for­ma­tion avail­able to Seat­tle’s Chi­nese com­mu­nity.

“I love shar­ing a good story with peo­ple and use the news­pa­per to in­spire peo­ple and to make a dif­fer­ence,” Ng said. “And there is al­ways a bridge be­tween the Chi­nese com­mu­nity and the main­stream, be­tween the Chi­nese com­mu­nity and the Asian com­mu­nity.”

Ng said she loved teach­ing but also wanted to have more of an im­pact on the com­mu­nity. In 1982, she put down $25,000 of her sav­ings and started the

I would never dream that I would have this honor and meet the pres­i­dent and Madam Peng face to face when I was a timid and shy girl in Hong Kong.”

Seat­tle Chi­nese Post. A year later, she founded the North­west Asian Weekly, the only English­language Asian weekly in the North­west.

“Work­ing for the news­pa­per is a life­long jour­ney and keeps your brain young,” she said. “I see the news­pa­per as an­other tool to men­tor and de­velop the younger gen­er­a­tion.”

Ng works all the time. When she started the news­pa­per, she was the mother of two sons; one is 6 months old and the other is 3.

“It is hard to raise a fam­ily and to have a ca­reer, but I have a very sup­port­ive hus­band,” she said.

Ng de­votes many hours to vol­un­teer ef­forts. She es­tab­lished the Women of Color Em­pow­ered lun­cheon se­ries to show­case women of all eth­nic­i­ties.

“With our re­cent event, we reached out to dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups and em­power women by teach­ing them how to be smart with their money,” she said.

She has helped to raise mil­lions of dol­lars for many char­i­ta­ble causes, in­clud­ing those that ben­e­fit fos­ter chil­dren and vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Ng has do­nated funds to the Of­fice of Mi­nor­ity Af­fairs & Di­ver­sity’s Ed­u­ca­tional Op­por­tu­ni­ties Pro­gram at UW.

Ng has re­ceived hon­ors in­clud­ing the 2008 Wells Fargo Trail­blazer Award for women in small busi­ness, the 2006 Hil­lary Clin­ton and Maria Cantwell Women of Valor Award, the 2005 Puget Sound Busi­ness Jour­nal’s Women of In­flu­ence Award and the 1998 Mul­ti­cul­tural Alumni Part­ner­ship Dis­tin­guished Alum­nus Award.

Ng was in­ducted into the UW Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Alumni Hall of Fame in 2004 and was named a UW Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Dis­tin­guished Alumna in 2005.

In 2011, she was awarded the univer­sity’s Charles E. Ode­gaard Award for her con­tri­bu­tions to pro­mot­ing and men­tor­ing women and youth.

“As­sunta’s lead­er­ship em­bod­ies every­thing this award rep­re­sents,” said Sheila Ed­wards Lange, vice- pres­i­dent for mi­nor­ity af­fairs.

“The first thing I want to tell the young women com­ing to the United States for their dreams is ‘Don’t be afraid’ ” Ng said.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

As­sunta Ng, the Charles E. Ode­gaard Award re­cip­i­ent, pre­sented at the an­nual din­ner and schol­ar­ship fundraiser hon­ors the out­stand­ing ac­com­plish­ments of Ed­u­ca­tional Op­por­tu­nity Pro­gram (EOP) stu­dent schol­ars and rec­og­nizes 2011 Charles E. Ode­gaard Award re­cip­ien on May 5, 2011, at the Bell Har­bor In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in Seat­tle.

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