There’s still a role for lead­ers in lo­cal Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - Chang Jun Con­tact the writer at junechang@chi­nadai­

Ear­lier this year, an anony­mous tweet ti­tled “Do we still need so-called com­mu­nity lead­ers?” caused a stir among Chi­nese Amer­i­cans. The au­thor claimed that “com­mu­nity leader” is an out­dated con­cept, and we don’t need to follow the leader any more.

Sup­port­ers be­lieve com­mu­nity lead­ers used to play an im­por­tant role in guid­ing the off-the-boat im­mi­grants to bet­ter as­sim­i­late to the new en­vi­ron­ment.

Sev­eral decades ago, re­sources were lim­ited, and many of the im­mi­grants had to start from scratch as la­bor­ers to sur­vive.

Now, a ma­jor­ity of the im­mi­grants are well-ed­u­cated in­di­vid­u­als who are more in­de­pen­dent and cher­ish the value of crit­i­cal think­ing. They don’t need any­one to tell them to do any­thing in the name of com­pa­tri­o­tism and eth­ni­cal bonds.

How­ever, op­po­nents of this claim said that in or­der to unite over­seas Chi­nese, some­one must take the ini­tia­tive to or­ga­nize ac­tiv­i­ties, spon­sor events and raise aware­ness so that they main­tain ac­cess to their Chi­nese her­itage.

Ul­ti­mately, they would be more likely to ap­pre­ci­ate Chi­nese cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion and feel proud of their an­ces­tors and roots.

He Konghua is such an ini­tia­tor and com­mu­nity leader. Like many grass­roots Chi­nese Amer­i­can com­mu­nity lead­ers, He be­lieves over­seas Chi­nese Amer­i­cans should help re­fine the China-US re­la­tion­ship and pro­mote bi­lat­eral un­der­stand­ing be­tween peo­ples of the two world’s largest economies on sev­eral fronts — China-US cul­tural ex­changes, the Cross-Straits re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Chi­nese main­land and Tai­wan, and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes.

The chair­woman of the Greater China Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion, a board mem­ber of the All-China Fed­er­a­tion of Re­turned Over­seas Chi­nese and a found­ing mem­ber and vice-pres­i­dent of Chi­nese for Peace­ful Uni­fi­ca­tion-North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, He for 20 years has been or­ches­trat­ing “China Night”, a va­ri­ety show cel­e­brat­ing China’s Na­tional Day Hol­i­day on Oct 1, in the Bay Area.

This year, she and her team of vol­un­teers spent four months putting to­gether a three-hour pro­gram and pre­sented it on Sun­day at the Vis­ual and Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter at Chabot Col­lege in Hayward.

At 7 pm, the lights faded as the cur­tains opened. The au­di­ence waited in si­lence. When a young girl about 10 years old in a red dress fin­ished her last note of a Chi­nese clas­sic lyric, Ode to the Red Flag, the crowd of 1,500 broke into thun­der­ous ap­plause.

In a turquoise suit, He walked onto the stage to give her heart­felt thanks to the au­di­ences and her sup­port­ers.

“It’s not an easy job to con­tin­u­ously or­ga­nize an an­nual event on this scale for 20 years,” He said. “How­ever, I’m prompted by the in­ner urge, as a Chi­nese im­mi­grant to the US, that I should take this op­por­tu­nity and use the Chi­nese Na­tional Day as a topic to help boost the China-US friend­ship and un­der­stand­ing.”

Through the China Night plat­form, over­seas Chi­nese can ac­tively in­te­grate into Amer­i­can main­stream so­ci­ety, learn to re­spect lo­cal cus­toms and get along with peo­ple of other races.

“We ac­tu­ally show­case our ca­pac­ity to pro­mote the so­cial and eco­nomic devel­op­ment of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

With outreach to other com­mu­ni­ties, “we not only pop­u­lar­ize the Chi­nese cul­ture, deepen Amer­i­can peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing about China, but also help con­sol­i­date pub­lic sup­port for the China-US re­la­tion­ship”, He said.

Luo Lin­quan, Chi­nese con­sul gen­eral in San Fran­cisco, ap­plauded the con­tri­bu­tions the China Night team has made.

“The China-US re­la­tion­ship is one of the most im­por­tant bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in the world, and each and every over­seas Chi­nese should help sus­tain the strong bi­lat­eral mo­men­tum,” the am­bas­sador said in his speech. “May the China-US tree of friend­ship [be] ever­green!”

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