Keeping Culture Vibrant
Keeping culture vibrant
By Kenneth Lim
and Rhonda J. Miller Staff
February 8, 2002
If Johnny Chiang had his way, Chinese New
Year celebrations in South Florida would be more like those he enjoyed growing
up in Taiwan.
The celebrating would go on for up to 15 days, with special
activities on many days that would be tied together by visits with relatives and
Chiang of Hollywood is realistic and knows that Chinese people
living in the United States can't take two weeks off for the New Year's
"Here we just do what's convenient and celebrate the New
Year during a weekend," he said.
To give some defining recognition to
the New Year, Chiang would like to see Chinese who live in the United States
take the day of the New Year holiday off from work.
"If we don't keep the
traditions, we will lose them in 50 years," said Chiang, who is president of the
Coral Springs Chinese Culture Association.
Chiang estimates 20,000 to
30,000 Chinese live in South Florida. Like many of them, he feels an urgency to
preserve the culture for future generations.
No other tradition is as
important in this preservation effort as the New Year, which this year falls on
Groups in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties have
organized elaborate, colorful events to celebrate this New Year, which is the
Year of the Horse.
Activities will include the lion dance, music, magic,
karaoke and traditional foods. Because most Chinese must work or attend school
on Tuesday, events have been set for the next three weekends.
Year's festivities are visible proof that during the entire year, individuals,
families and community groups have been busy keeping Chinese traditions
While some Chinese go to cultural centers to meet people with a
common heritage, others get to know each other at work, then form cultural
Yegang Wu, an environmental scientist working on Everglades
restoration for the South Florida Water Management District, is president of the
Chinese Association of Science, Economy & Culture of South Florida. The
group will sponsor a New Year's celebration on Saturday at BeachPlace in Fort
Wu, who lives in Wellington, occasionally gets together for
lunch with some of the 20 other Chinese who work at his agency.
seen high-tech job opportunities draw a growing number of science and technology
professionals to Florida.
The Chinese Association of Science, Economy
& Culture, which was formed in 1994, has about 350 member families, said Ren
Xu, vice president of the group.
Xu of Pembroke Pines is a senior
scientist at the Miami offices of Beckman Coulter, a company that manufactures
"The goal of the group is to promote Chinese
culture and unite local Chinese-Americans," said Xu, who is active in keeping
his culture alive as a member of the performing arts group Blossoms.
Blossoms will bring the Chinese arts to South Florida on Saturday, with
a performance at the Palm Beach Zoo at noon.
New Year's festivals are a
binding force for Chinese residents scattered throughout South
In Palm Beach County, Chinese tradition is growing ever
stronger through the efforts of the Chinese Culture Association of South
Florida, which has offices at Sandalfoot Square, west of Boca Raton.
group, which conducts Chinese brush painting classes at its offices on Sundays,
sponsors the Chinese School of Boca Raton, which has Saturday classes in Chinese
language, culture and tai chi at Olympic Heights High School in Boca
The school has about 80 students, children and adults, Chinese and
"It's for the Chinese people living here, but it's
also a public service for the community," said Jack Chien, president of the
Chinese Culture Association.
The organization will celebrate the New
Year on Saturday with the lion dance, a traditional Chinese dinner and a folk
dance performance at Olympic Heights High School.
The celebration is a
fund-raiser to help the group meet its goal of buying a building for a Chinese
school and cultural center in south Palm Beach County in the next few
"We want to remind the second generation of their roots, that
they are Chinese, no matter what," Chien said.
Rhonda J. Miller
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Editor's Note: Our Community's Many Faces
periodically spotlights one of the dozens of nationalities conducting South
Florida celebrations of cultural and historic milestones.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida
Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel