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David Lam volunteering at A Passage to China at Southdale Mall in 2008
 
David Lam, a frequent volunteer of the Chinese Heritage Foundation (CHF), passed away on April 7 from complications from lung cancer.  

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David Lam volunteering at A Passage to China at Southdale Mall in 2008
 
David Lam, a frequent volunteer of the Chinese Heritage Foundation (CHF), passed away on April 7 from complications from lung cancer.

David emigrated from Hong Kong, where he had enjoyed a successful career as a business executive, to the Twin Cities in 1993.   Immediately upon arriving he set about realizing a lifelong dream: attending a liberal arts college.  Disrupted by World War II in his youth, he had obtained his postwar diploma in accounting by correspondence and had never experienced college life.
 
Attending first Normandale Community College and then the University of Minnesota, David graduated, at age 69, magna cum laude, from the College of Liberal Arts with a major in religious studies.  In between classes he continued his lifelong passion of volunteering.  He volunteered for the Chinese Senior Citizens Society, Asian American Renaissance Festival (forerunner of Dragon Festival), and, later on, Chinese Heritage Foundation.
 
At CHF, David was the driving force behind the calligraphy team.  This team goes all over the metropolitan area to do name translations, at public and private schools, business corporations, nonprofit organizations, and citywide multicultural festivals, including Dragon Festival. David was the chief translator of the team and, eschewing easy phonetic translations that often don’t make sense in Chinese, he worked hard to translate English names into authentic Chinese ones, complete with a popular or prestigious Chinese last name and a given name that incorporated traditional Chinese values and aspirations, including the admonitions that Chinese fathers so often place upon their children.  David did this quickly.  On a busy day, the calligraphy team has done 200 names in three hours. 
 
In addition to name translation David also delivered presentations on different aspects of Chinese culture on behalf of CHF.  A gifted public speaker, he was at ease whether he was talking to professionals at Target Headquarters or to a grade school class in St. Paul.  Mixing humor with facts, he charmed his audiences on topics ranging from ancient Chinese pictographs to origins of dragon boat racing to common practices during Chinese New Year, always leaving them hungry for more.
 
David had received much recognition during his life for his volunteerism. 1991 he and his wife, Joyce, were invited to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.  More recently he received the Model Senior Award from the Chinese Senior Citizens Society in 2006 and the Volunteer of the Year Award from CHF in 2009.  He is survived by Joyce, three children and four grandchildren.  

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CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

CHINAINSIGHT is the only English-language American newspaper to focus exclusively on connections between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Our goal is to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and business environments and to foster U.S.-China cultural and business harmony.