By Judy Hohmann, contributor

Cmty ChineseGarden RibbonCuttingThe first-ever Chinese Garden in Minnesota opened officially to great international fanfare and a watery welcome on Sept. 18, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.

Amidst mild rain showers, the “Garden of Harmonious Beauty” showcased a blend of Chinese cultural elements of architecture, rocks, water and plants — integrating artistry with nature.  The new Chinese Garden celebrated the completion of Phase 2 design and construction with global partners, donors and supporters from the Arboretum and Chinese-American community.  Guests previewed a customized pond and garden path, gated viewing platform, moon gate entry, peony pavilion, peony and plants garden, and trio of Qinling Mountain rocks from Shaanxi Provincial Government in central China.

 Dignitaries included University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, who spoke of the long-standing sister state relationship between Shannxi Province and the State of Minnesota.  In fact, Kaler stated  the 103-year relationship of China and the University of Minnesota — with the Pan brothers and friend from Shanghai, who made their way in 1914, from the land of terra cotta soldiers to the land of 10,000 lakes — to study engineering and mining technology at the U.  Currently, there are more than 5,000 alumni living in China, and, over the years, more than 8,000 students from China have earned University of Minnesota degrees.  Right now, nearly 3,000 Chinese students are on campus.

Cmty ChineseGarden Pavilion

Shi Chengjun, deputy director general of the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government spoke on behalf of the Shaanxi Friendship Delegation; and Liu Jun, Deputy Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, Ill., also shared remarks about the continuing garden partnership with the Arboretum garden and University.

From the Chinese-American community, Hoyt Hsiao provided a donor’s perspective on behalf of his family’s lead donor role for the Chinese garden path, named for his parents, Fred and Jennie Hsiao.  Kaimay Yuen Terry, who with her husband Dr Joseph Terry, funded the moon gate, recognized the Chinese American Association of Minnesota and the many community supporters of the Chinese Garden.  Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation President Todd Wagner then invited the event guests to join in a toast and ribbon cutting, and to explore the new garden.

Cmty ChineseGarden Rocks

Closing the program was a performance by the Shaanxi Provincial Folk Orchestra playing traditional Chinese musical instruments.  A “family photo” of the extremely talented musicians, dignitaries and community supporters was taken at the conclusion, representing the community brought together by the new Chinese Garden.  The Chinese Garden opened to all Arboretum members and visitors in late September.


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Community Arboretum ConstructionWith the start of more spring-like weather, Phase 2 of the Chinese Garden at the Arboretum is moving forward, following the successful installation of the Phase 1 Chinese Garden Pathway and viewing area, and Asian-inspired plantings in fall, 2016.  In early May, construction of the Moon Gate that will grace the entry into the Chinese Garden and Walk commenced. 

A special design feature is the Chinese calligraphy that will accompany the Moon Gate.  The calligraphy, created by Hong Zhang, international artist and master calligrapher, and faculty member at the University of Minnesota.  Zhang serves on the community advisory committee for the Chinese Garden & Walk.  The inscription for the moon gate translates to “Garden of Harmonious Beauty.”

Other Phase 2 elements planned for the Chinese Garden include teak benches for family memorials and tributes, in Asian-inspired designs.  (Memorial benches are also offered at other display and specialty gardens.)

A dedication ceremony for the newest Phase 2 features of the Chinese Garden is planned for September.


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James McGregorIt was obvious that this topic was of interest to many who attended the 16th Annual Bob and Kim Griffin Building U.S.-China Bridges lecture held recently at McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota.  The speaker was James McGregor, author and Greater China chair for APCO Worldwide, an international PR firm.

Prior to the lecture, Joan Brezinski, executive director of the China Center and Confucius Institute, introduced Robert Kudrie, Orville & Jane Freeman chair in International Trade & Investment Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  In his introductory remarks, Kudrie noted that trade is the central cause of pain for the U.S. and more than 6 million jobs have been lost from 2000-2010 while output still managed to increase.  As he introduced McGregor, Kudrie stated that the lecture would be about the future and not the past, and what the options are for now.

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CAAM Chinese Dance Theater celebrates 25 years of bringing the finest Chinese dance to St. Paul, the Twin Cities and the Midwest with one of its most dazzling shows to date: “Keepsakes: A Chinese Love Story” on 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29 at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul.

Artistic director and celebrated choreographer Lili Teng works her magic once again in this world premiere of an original dance drama that invites audiences to enter a world of Chinese rituals, celebrations and matchmaking, where romantic love is pitted against ancient tradition.

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Visiting Minnesota for the first time, Hong Lei, consul general of the Consulate General of The People's Republic of China in Chicago, spent several days here recently.  His schedule included diverse schedule of events: a luncheon with the business community, a meeting with the University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, a reception with 70 Chinese visiting scholars, a campus lecture primarily for Chinese students and a dinner reception at Mall of America. 

More than 250 students from China currently attending the University and other invited guests attended Hong’s speech, “Let History be Guidance to Future: Jointly Building A New Type of Major Country Relationship between China and US is the Historic Trend,” was delivered in English at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. 

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