As traditional Chinese families prepared sticky cakes to keep the kitchen gods' mouths sealed from their old year reports to the heavens, Kansas Citians were already starting their traditional Lunar New Year banquet. Filling the ballroom at the InterContinental Hotel on the Country Club Plaza, 250 people gathered on Sunday evening, February 7 to celebrate Chinese culture and raise scholarship funds for young people in Shaanxi Province.
Before dinner, partygoers took the opportunity to bid on silent auction items such as jewelry and accessories, artwork, and ceramics while chatting and meeting old friends and new. A Power Point slide show by Patrick Liu, showing the past year's activities of The Society for Friendship with China, Inc. played onscreen above the stage. Our local Drum Roller troupe, led by Daniel Xue, broke into sudden rhythms telling everyone that it was time to be seated. A Lion Dance through the ballroom welcomed the Year of the Tiger.
Dion Lim, anchor reporter for KMBC-TV Channel 9 in Kansas City, and William Hodgkinson, chair of the New Year Celebration committee, then welcomed everyone to the celebration and invited everyone to enjoy the splendid meal being served. Dinner included Peking duck, ma fan sha, monk's dish, chicken with black bean sauce, Hunan beef, green beans with ground pork and double yellow faces noodles and vegetables. Lovely harp music during the supper was supplied by Michael Oshiver.
Our celebrity host, news anchor Larry Moore of KMBC-TV, began the post-dinner festivities with an auction of three major temptations. A large antique bottle painted on the inside was won by William You. Tammy Breitenbach became the owner of a Qing Dynasty (c.1644-1912 CE) wooden pillow said to bring peace to the sleeper overnight. John Phillips outbid all others for dinner for six at Princess Gardens with Larry Moore, a splendid prize. All proceeds from the live and silent auctions were directed to The Society for Friendship with China's scholarship program for three rural Shaanxi Province primary schools and for Shaanxi Normal University students. Without this help to augment government aid, these students might not be able to further their educations nor to return to raise the literacy rates in their villages.
The US-China People's Friendship Association began the entertainment with a fashion show of a sampling of the Chinese Minority folk costumes from their national organization's collection. Eighteen were represented with the assistance of lovely local models from the community as Larry Moore introduced each.
As they finished, young dancers entered in a bright red lantern parade. The Jasmine Chinese Dance Group, directed by Jinsong Zhang, and then entertained with lovely traditional and modern dances.
Mary Eisenhower, CEO of People to People International, then presented this year's Bridge of Friendship Award to Joan Horan of DST Systems. A special award was given to Jim Hill, the winner of the trip to XiĄŻan at the 2009 Dragon Boat Festival. John Phillips of Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP declared him a Special Envoy between Kansas City and our Sister City, Xi'an, China.
The keynote address of the evening was given by the Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, the honorable Mr. Huang Ping. He spoke of the similarities of our two countries and the mutual respect for our differences. He noted how his travels to this area and beyond into the state of Kansas in his role as China's representative for the Midwest region has allowed his increased participation in established and burgeoning friendships and partnerships. His remarks extended to our increasing trade in today's precarious economy to lead the world into a new age of cooperation. He also thanked Bob Chien for The Society for Friendship with China's work and encouraged future work on the dream of a Chinese Garden in Kansas City.
The honorable Mr. Huang then presented the Sponsor of the Year award for the Society to DST Systems, a ceramic horse to symbolize power, energy and success. Joan Horan of DST accepted the award.
Bill Skaggs, Mayor Pro-Tem of Kansas City, Missouri, came to the stage to thank our honored Consul General and to speak of the strides the city has made in its friendship and cooperation in doing business with China. He looks forward to an even more open atmosphere of trade.
The evening came to an end as Will Hodgkinson thanked the people who made the evening possible. DST Systems, Heartland Bank, Sprint, Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP and the Michael Newburger Foundation were noted for their sponsorship of the event. He lauded his co-chair, Joyce Cox and thanked Society President Bob Chien and his wife Teresa for their help and their spirit in moving The Society for Friendship with China, Inc. forward. All of those who made possible such a wondrous event were appreciated and all those in attendance wished a Happy New Year - Gung Hay Fat Choy!
- by Marcia Cooper