By Greg Hugh
Prior to the curtain raising at Northrup Auditorium, a small group of invited guests gathered at Legendary Spice Chinese Restaurant for a reception with organizers and performers from “The Greatest Spirit,” which would be presenting its overseas premiere. During the reception, representatives from various organizations along with a few political dignitaries, including the Deputy Consul General from the Consulate General of The People's Republic of China in Chicago provided some brief remarks followed by refreshments, including spirits.
Then it was onward to Northrup Auditorium to watch the show. Several speakers welcomed the gathering.
True to its advance billing, “The Greatest Spirit” presented poetry, music and dance in mural-like story scenes, telling the tale of the Chinese spirits (liquor) culture, and highlights the grandeur of traditional Chinese operas, the exquisite beauty of the costumes of past Chinese dynasties and the unique styles of Chinese ancient architecture.
While the show visually lived up to its advance billing, the full impact may have been lost on those that could not read Chinese since most of the 11 different performances was accompanied by an explanation in Chinese that was projected onto the stage. It would have been helpful if this were also provided in English, as in the program booklet. Providing the English translation would have enabled the entire audience to understand and appreciate the show much more while viewing an artistic production that demonstrated Chinese traditional rituals and etiquettes of spirits -- spirits and famous individuals, spirits and poetry, and spirits and philosophy in an artistic, poetic and dramatic manner.
The enthusiastic audience gave the performers a standing ovation.
The organizers of this event have pledged to donate all the proceeds to support the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society.
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[ST. PAUL, MN], Sept. 27. 2018 – Hosted by Governor Mark Dayton today at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence, Taiwanese trade officials and business leaders signed a letter of intent to purchase millions of metric tons of soybeans from farmers in Minnesota and Iowa over the next two years. The Taiwanese Agricultural Trade Goodwill delegation plans to purchase up to $1.56 billion of Midwestern soybeans in 2018 and 2019. Taiwan is Minnesota's sixth-largest export market, and a key trading partner for the state's agricultural products.
"Minnesota's trade relations with countries around the world, including Taiwan, are critical to helping our farmers sell their products in the global marketplace,” said Governor Dayton. “With the USDA predicting the largest U.S. soybean crop ever, these export opportunities are vitally important.”
The Taiwanese delegation, led by Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association Chairman Mr. Yau-Kuen Hung, plans to purchase between 3.2 million and 3.9 million metric tons of soybeans between 2018 and 2019, valued at an estimated pledged maximum of $1.56 billion. Taiwan is a growing consumer of vegetable oils. Soybean oil accounts for more than 50 percent of the overall vegetable oil market.
"The U.S remains one of Taiwan
's largest trade partners for agricultural products,” said Chairman Hung. “The Goodwill Mission plays an important role in strengthening the trade relations between our countries and ensuring Taiwan is able to purchase high quality soybeans grown in Minnesota.”
“We have worked hard to establish relationships with the people of Taiwan,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Those relationships are paying off in the form of market opportunities for Minnesota’s farmers which are critically important given our current ag economy.”
This afternoon’s visit is the result of a recent trade mission by Minnesota agriculture officials to Taiwan last month, and meetings with Chairman Mr. Yau-Kuen Hung.
Taiwan and Minnesota have a strong history of agricultural trade agreements. In January 2013, Commissioner Frederickson led a mission to Taiwan to personally extend an invitation to the 2013 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to visit Minnesota and sign letters of intent to purchase soybeans. Goodwill Missions have been organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1998.
By Pat Welsh, contributor
This language corner is a new series designed for people who are interested in learning Mandarin. In China it is called “Putonghua” (The “common language”) of China. Before the 1950s, the terms “Kuoyü” and “Guanhua” were used to identify this national language.
Since the early 19th century Chinese has been classified as one of the many Sino-Tibetan languages. My own experience tells me that that this is really a catch-all grouping. Tibetan, Burmese and related minority languages are nothing at all like any Chinese dialect. Not only are there vast vocabulary differences, there are also significant differences in sentence structure and grammar.
Before I delve further into the language itself, perhaps a little introduction to China’s overall language situation is in order. In 1970 I began to earn a Master’s degree in Oriental Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas. My first class was Readings in Chinese Political Writings. I arrived early to the classroom and greeted my professor Chichou Huang, who was unknown to me. I greeted him with the word “Zao” thinking that it meant “Good Morning.” He winced and invited me to take a seat. I was a little perplexed. What I did not realize was that in Beijing Mandarin, my version of the word “zao” sounded much like the Beijing version of the F-word. The tones between the Beijing and Chngqing subdialects were very different.
Those who attended Paul Kwok’s exhibit “In and Out of Tradition” on opening night got a bonus: a reception that was not lacking for food and beverages. Kwok’s approach to his landscape watercolors combine the eastern aesthetic with that of the west. As noted by Robert Jacobsen, chair, Asian Art, curator of Chinese Art, emeritus, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, “Paul Kwok produces extraordinary abstract landscapes that encompass not only quest for artistic identity but also display a synthesis of eastern and western pictorial values, namely traditional Chinese ink painting and authentic self-expression." Over forty paintings are on display. In addition to enjoying the great company of all in attendance, great refreshments and food, the group included members of the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends who also celebrated a milestone birthday for Kwok’s partner, Pat Hui. The exhibit continues until Sept. 28 at his gallery, Traffic Zone Center for Visual Arts, Studio 120, 250 Third Avenue North, Minneapolis, and is free and open to the public.Add a comment
Join in the celebration of the construction of the St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden at Phalen Park. Three structures fabricated in Changsha, the Xiang Jiang Pavilion, the Hmong Heritage Wall, and the West Entrance Arch, will arrive around June 30. On July 10, twelve artisans will arrive from Changsha to supervise the installation of the Xiang Jiang Pavilion, the sister-city gift from Changsha. Come and celebrate the official Ceremonial Groundbreaking and Sister-city 30-year Anniversary on July 14, immediately following the opening ceremony of the Dragon Festival at 10:30. Join the lion dancers parade at the Dragon Boat area along Phalen Lake to the construction site to see the progress and take photos of Mayor Melvin Carter and other dignitaries breaking ground. This will be followed by a celebration at the Amphitheater next to Changsha Master Lei Yixin’s "Meditation" sculpture of cultural performances and making new friends. Follow: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofthePhalenParkChinaFriendshipGarden/
Website: http://mnchinagarden.org/Add a comment
by Greg Hugh
In the spirit of full disclosure and complete transparency, I am letting you know that I am writing this as a proud grandfather By Greg Hugh
after several staff writers had schedule conflicts. This is an article about Lauren Hugh’s career development and ultimately decided that I was actually the most qualified to write about her. Naturally, I need to refrain from being overly biased in reporting the facts here since there is a good possibility that some of this material may make it into a future issue of Playbill!
Lauren’s first exposure in the spotlight occurred when she was only 2 years old -- she appeared in an ad for Huggies Diapers (See front page) and ironically, she was posed sitting at a piano, an instrument she learned to play later. Her grandmother Linda (my wife), had heard about a casting call for models, so Lauren’s mother, Patty, took her for an audition and she was selected. Did Kimberly-Clark have a premonition of Lauren’s future?
Looking back on her childhood, Lauren along with her older sister Megan, loved to put on shows and perform since they always had a captive audience, their family. While she may have enjoyed an average childhood raised in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, she managed to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do classes she took with her father, Brian. Because she loved to sing, her mother decided to enroll her into the Chanhassen Dinner Theater (CDT) summer musical theatre camp when she was only 8 years old. At first, Lauren resisted; but now admits that had she not gone to those camps, she would probably not be in theatre today.
The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society announced that the respective gifts between the sister cities of Saint Paul and Changsha, China, have been shipped and will soon be installed in their permanent homes in Saint Paul’s Phalen Regional Park and Changsha’s Yanghu Wetland Parks.
Phalen Regional Park in Saint Paul will be receiving a replica of the famous Aiwan Pavilion in Changsha’s Yanghu Wetlands Park in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the St. Paul-Changsha sister city relationship. Chinese artisans will travel to Saint Paul later this summer to install the pavilion designed in the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty.
In exchange, Saint Paul is sending five Peanuts characters to Changsha’s park with artwork by Hmong artist Kao Lee Thao, Chinese artist Yudong Shen and TivoliToo, the company that has made hundreds of the statues around Saint Paul. Statues sent to China include Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus and Snoopy’s Dog House with Minnesota state symbols such as a loon, lady slipper, pine and butterfly. Shen painted the dog house.Add a comment
By Greg Hugh
At the end of this year, the Chinese Exclusion Act would have been repealed for 75 years. TPT will be broadcasting a series, “The Chinese Exclusion Act: American Experience” that asks “What it means to be American? What makes you American?” Check your local TPT station for dates and times when The Chinese Exclusion Act will be shown.
The Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act of 1882) was a U. S. federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the U.S.-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 with the Geary Act and made permanent in 1902. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first and only law implemented to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States. It was repealed by the Magnuson Act on Dec. 17, 1943.
From today’s perspective, it is difficult to believe that once upon a time in America, Chinese were considered heathens and subjected to widespread persecution and violence. The earlier hostile attitude toward Chinese is very different from the contemporary esteem for them as a "model minority" to be emulated by others.
While in a desperate attempt to “clean house” before Chinese New Year, an old book purchased decades ago revealed itself. It was as if it the gods were telling me that perhaps the house needs more than a mere “cleaning.” However, since remodeling is not in my stars at the moment, I figured leafing through an encyclopedia of feng shui wouldn’t hurt!
Nope, my house will not be transformed into “house beautiful” any time soon, but following are some tips that might help in planning for it.
For the uninitiated, feng shui is the age-old Chinese system for arranging one’s surroundings to achieve harmony and balance. “Feng” is “wind,” and “shui” is “water.” The practice of feng shui is based on three principles: chi (life force of all animate objects), Tao (the way to order our lives to live in harmony with nature) and the yin and yang (the positive and negative forces that are in constant motion to gain dominance).
A basic tool used by feng shui practitioners is the bagua, the octagon chart that maps out the areas of the house to determine optimal placement of furniture and the use of colors. Incorrect placement will have a negative impact on the nine areas of the residents’ lives: power and wealth, reputation, relationships, creativity, compassion, career, knowledge, family and balance.
To complicate matters,there is more than one bagua. A novice asked the following question on a feng shui forum: I am totally confused about the bagua. If I apply the Western bagua, my career is at the main door. If I apply the classical Chinese bagua, my career is in the bathroom! Which bagua works better?
Members of the Minnesota Hmong and Chinese communities along with many city and state government representatives recently attended a special unveiling ceremony for Nkauj Hmong Lucy as guests of the Hmong Cultural Plaza Advisory Group held at the Community School of Excellence in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Nkauj Hmong Lucy is one of five Peanuts characters that will be sent to the City of Changsha, Hunan Province, China this spring as part of the Saint Paul-Changsha Sister City gift-exchange project established by the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society to coincide with the 30-year sister-city celebration in 2018.
The program included cultural performances and presentations from leaders from the Hmong community, local and state officials and the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society. It also included comments from Kao Lee Thao, the artist who painted Hmong Lucy.Add a comment
Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law are names well-known to Hong Kong democracy activists, the HK Police and, probably, Beijing. As of January 31, they were also officially “introduced” to the Nobel Foundation, thanks to 12 U.S. congressmen from both sides of the aisle.
In a move that may create more tension to an already tense U.S.-China relation, the 12 nominated Wong, Chow and Law for the Nobel Peace Prize for the trio’s efforts and leadership roles during the mostly peaceful 2014 Umbrella Revolution -- the largest pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong’s history. The three were sentenced and served prison sentences for their 2014 pro-democracy activities.
The congressmen’s letter of nomination stated, “Wong, Law and Chow and the entire ‘umbrella movement’ embody the peaceful aspirations of the people of Hong Kong who yearn to see their autonomy and way of life protected and their democratic aspirations fulfilled.”
The Nobel Peace Prize nomination is a first for Hong Kong and it could not have come at a more serendipitous time!
Beijing has been encroaching on Hong Kong affairs increasingly. Under Hong Kong’s “Basic Law,” (its constitution), Hong Kongers are guaranteed freedom of speech, assembly and demonstrations. However, it is clear the rights of the three student activists were infringed upon because their activities were not acceptable to Beijing and its agenda for Hong Kong.