How a ‘shy girl’ from Hong Kong met Xi
“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.
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.