PAWTUCKET â€” In a spectacle of sights, sounds and colors, the â€śYear of the Dragonâ€ť was ushered in with grand style at the Tolman High School auditorium on Saturday.
Over 800 people attended the lavish Chinese New Year Celebration that featured Chinese dancers and performers. It was hosted by the Rhode Island Association of Chinese Americans, the University of Rhode Island and Bryant University.
The audience was treated to traditional and contemporary song, dance and martial arts demonstrations by performers that included Wenqin Art Troupe of Zhejiang University of China, the Chinese Folk Art Workshop of Boston, Star Chinese School, Mei Mei and Me, and the Rhode Island Kung Fu Club.
The event drew members of the Chinese Christian Church of Rhode Island, located on Roosevelt Avenue, the local Asian community and the general public from throughout the state. Several elected officials also attended, including Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Sen. Elizabeth Crowley. The deputy consul from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York also traveled to Pawtucket for the occasion.
During the event, a special honor from President Barack Obama was bestowed on two local businessmen, Louis Yip and Sunny Ng, who have long been involved in promoting Asian cultural events and goodwill through numerous community service projects.
Yip and Ng were presented with the The President's Volunteer Service Award by by Chiling Tong, of the National Advisory Council of Minority Business Enterprise, U.S. Department of Commerce. The framed letters, signed by President Obama, state the importance of volunteerism and conclude by saying, â€śThank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great nation.â€ť
â€śIt's an honor,â€ť stated Yip, following the receipt of the award. Ng, his friend and longtime business partner, agreed, noting the two have been involved in projects at the local, state and even federal level. It is at the federal level, Ng, added, where the two are now concentrating their efforts because they feel this is where they can make the most difference.
To that end, both Yip and Ng have become advisers to the International Leadership Foundation (ILF), a non-profit organization that promotes civic awareness, public service and economic effectiveness of the Asian Pacific American community. ILF has provided scholarships and leadership training for college students nationwide over the past decades.
Ng said that he and Yip are excited about the program and the chance to nominate a college sophomore from Rhode Island to take part in the leadership training. Ng noted that the more that educated young people from different parts of the world can understand and respect each other and their cultures, â€śit is better for world peace.â€ť
Also this year, Yip and Ng will be taking a trip to Taiwan to visit a school that the two helped re-build in one of the areas that was devastated by last year's earthquake. With $250,000 in fundraising that was done through the Chinese Christian Church of Rhode Island, the school in Liu Qiao has reopened and is now called, â€śThe Hope School,â€ť in honor of Rhode Island's state motto.
Yip and Ng will be heading to Taiwan in July with a group of students from Rhode Island who will be staying for two weeks and helping the students there to learn English. The two say this is just one more example of the strengthening of relationships that comes from a better understanding of cultural differences.