Virginia Chapter

Summer Lunch Gathering

(from Cathy Roberts, Treasurer)
Maria Yang, President of the Virginia Chapter, organized a summer lunch gathering and kindly treated the chapter lifetime members to a delicious Dim Sun luncheon. It was held on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the Vinh Kee Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia. Fourteen members and two spouses attended the event.
We enjoyed the delicious dishes and each other’s company. We laughed, chatted, and shared our COVID-19 lockdown stories. One of our members came back to the area from Charlotte, North Carolina to join us, and another brought an old picture which was taken 19 years ago at another get-together to share our memories. Looking at the photo, we were surprised and could not avoid saying, “Wow, we were so young!”
The lunch ended with laughter and reminded us that we should get together again soon. Thanks to Maria for her generosity and for organizing such a wonderful outing.

Book Reading/Storytelling

(from Cathy Roberts, Treasurer – with additional details provided by Maria Yang)

On Saturday, May 7, 2022, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna, Virginia invited author Pu-Chin Waide to share short stories and memories with community residents.  Pu-Chin is a lifetime member of the OCAW Virginia Chapter.  Chapter members Rosemary Hsu Brooks, Maria Yang, and Cathy Roberts attended the Book Reading/Storytelling event along with Cathy’s husband Dick.

The room was full of attendees, and several had to stand.  After the introduction, Pu-Chin presented her first story, “The Chicken Soup,” from her book, Fantasies, Imaging and Memories.  In the story, one night, an artist came home drunk and hungry, and he found a pot and cooked a big pot of soup.  The next day, he invited his friends to share the soup for dinner.  They enjoyed it and wanted to know what kind of soup it was and why it was so white.  Did he use milk or Tofu paste?  One guest asked what kind of meat it was, one said that it had a lot of bone, and one complained that he did not find any meat in it.  Finally, his best friend’s daughter, a little girl, said, “Uncle, Uncle, why did you use only chicken neck?”  (Do you know what they were eating?)

The next story was “The Girl with the Golden Voice” from Pu-Chin’s book, Memories to Fantasies.  It was a story about an Indian family eager to marry off their 26-year-old, Stanford-educated son during his vacation home.  He resisted their pressure.  Finally they got him to agree to meet Indian girls and found that he was attracted to a beautiful girl who had a golden voice.  However, she would only sing for him “behind a screen.”  The son was smitten and agreed to marry the singer.  But on their wedding night, there was a shocking surprise!  (You will have to read the book to learn the ending of this story.)

Everyone enjoyed the book reading.  Pu-Chin is a skillful writer and a masterful storyteller.  She recently completed two collections of short stories.  Her stories give glimpses into the places in Asia and elsewhere in which she had lived.

National Shrine Tour Washington, D.C.

(from Maria Yang)

On Saturday, May 21, 2022, members and friends of OCAW-VA visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.  I did not know of this place until I started to teach the Chinese language at The Catholic University of America last year.

The Basilica is just at the entrance of the university campus and is a place of pilgrimage and prayer visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually.  This majestic church is not only renowned for its beautiful sacred art, but also for its unique architecture and richness in Catholic and American culture.  We spent a few hours inside the Basilica with a tour group and were impressed by the magnificent designs and spiritual atmosphere.

The following passages about the history of the shrine are quotations from the tour booklet:

“In 1847, at the petition of the bishops of the United States, Pope Pius IX named the Blessed Virgin Mary patroness of the United States under her title of the Immaculate Conception.  In 1910, Bishop Thomas J. Shahan, rector of The Catholic University of America, suggested building a national shrine to honor Mary.  Bishop Shahan presented his plan to Pope Pius X in 1913 and received not only the enthusiastic support of the Pontiff but also a personal contribution…The Crypt Church inside the Basilica was completed in 1926 and the Crypt level in 1931.  During the Marian Year 1953-54, the American Catholic bishops renewed the effort to complete the national shrine, and Catholics throughout the United States responded enthusiastically to the fundraising effort.  On November 20, 1959, the National Shrine was dedicated.  Pope John Paul II elevated the National Shrine to the rank of a minor basilica on October 12, 1990.

Project opportunities

(from Maria Yang, President)

FAPAC-USDA Lunch

On Saturday, February 5, 2022, I participated in a lunch by the U.S. Department of Agriculture chapter of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) to celebrate the Lunar New Year at Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, Virginia.  During the lunch, I had a chance to meet some members who are working at USDA, and discussed with the President of FAPAC-USDA, Fred Cheng, the possibility of the OCAW Virginia Chapter participating in some activities sponsored by FAPAC.

Maria Yang (President of OCAW-VA), 3rd from right Fred Cheng (President of FAPAC-USDA), 4th from right

I have been involved with FAPAC since I first became the President of OCAW-VA in 2014.  I feel deeply grateful that I received guidance and examples from FAPAC to design the flyers and banners for OCAW’s National 40th Anniversary Conference and Celebration in 2017, and arranged activities for OCAW-VA during 2014-2017.  FAPAC-USDA President Cheng has been helping OCAW-VA to co-sponsor its lecture activity at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  I enjoyed the special Chinese New Year food with some members of the FAPAC-USDA chapter at the restaurant that day, which was our first meeting in person since before 2020.  I also appreciated receiving a free treat of roast duck from the Peking Gourmet Inn paid for by the USDA chapter.

Virtual Activities

The virtual activities in February 2022 for OCAW-VA:

  • The members and friends of OCAW-VA were invited by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) to join in the Lunar New Year virtual gathering to celebrate the Year of the Tiger with games, prizes, and networking on Saturday, February 12 from 12 to 1 p.m.
  • On Thursday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m., the members and friends of OCAW-VA had the opportunity to view the “Visiting Filmmakers Series” online at George Mason University.  The Series was hosting an engaging online conversation between filmmakers S. Leo Chiang and Laura Nix as they discussed Chiang’s documentary film, Our Time Machine.

MGM National Harbor Lunch

(from Amy Lee)

On Thursday, March 24, 2022, members of the OCAW Virginia Chapter and spouses gathered for lunch at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.  The get-together stemmed from the fact that I missed seeing my OCAW sisters – plus, in my opinion, MGM National Harbor is one of the most gorgeously decorated hotel casinos.  So I matched up the two ideas, and we had a wonderful time catching up and enjoying good food.

I hope this is the start of a new tradition of combining great company and good food on a more regular basis.

The Orange Ribbon

Used to raise awareness for racial tolerance.

The orange ribbon in our Solidarity Against AAPI Hate logo is used to raise awareness for racial tolerance. The United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Australia’s Harmony Day also use the ribbon for racial harmony. Maryland and Virginia Chapter members Camilla Ng and Veronica Li attended the National Day of Solidarity Against AAPI Hate rally held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 31,. 2021. Hundreds of people voiced against the widespread hate crimes against Asian Americans, and made demands for justice and inclusion. This was one of 20 such rallies across the country on Memorial Day. This movement is supported by about 50 diverse advocacy and community groups, including the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates), Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA), 1882 Foundation, APIAVote, Council of Korean Americans, Arab American Institute, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), and NAACP.

Jason Fong, Evelyn Moy, Lee Wong, Jennings Wong (holding flag), Alex Chan, Amy Lee and Alfred Lam (sang the National Anthem)

A prominent lineup of speakers took the stage. They were of diverse ethnic backgrounds and religions, but all spoke to the same message. They celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, honored the Asian American soldiers and veterans, denounced the recent spate of hate crimes against Asian Americans, and pledged solidarity to combat this injustice. “Any attack against one is an attack against us all” became the battle cry.
The speakers included state and county officials in the area, such as Justin Fairfax, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, and our own Christina Wong Poy, former OCAW Maryland president. As the Administrative Director of the Maryland Governor’s Commissions on APA Affairs and South Asian Affairs, Christina delivered a message from Maryland’s First Lady, Yumi Hogan.
Other speakers were individuals and groups from all over the country. Members of Asian Frontliners, a grassroots group created to protect and patrol the streets of Oakland Chinatown in California, marched on stage and made a formidable show of force.

Speaker Christina Wong Poy, delivering a speech on behalf of Maryland First Lady, Yumi Hogan

Regina Aquino, the first Filipino to win a Leading Performer Helen Hayes Award, told a moving story about how she discovered that she wasn’t “broken,” but was whole and fulfilled in her Filipino heritage.

Speaker Lee Wong, an elected official of West Chester, Ohio, and an Army veteran. “Is this patriotic enough?” Fed up with people questioning his patriotism because he is Asian American, Wong lifted up his shirt to reveal scars from injuries he had suffered while in the U.S. Army, during a speech against racism at a recent town meeting.

Speaker Lee Wong, an elected official of West Chester, Ohio, and an Army veteran.

Speaker Jay B, founder of Asian Frontliners, with Asians with Attitude, volunteer street patrols of Oakland and Stockton, CA, holding flags of Laos and Cambodia. A 38-year-old Laotian American truck driver Jimmy Bounphengsy, who goes by Jay B, became an activist driven by the increasing anti-Asian attacks. Jay B drove 40 miles after work each day from San Jose to Oakland Chinatown, to walk the streets to provide unofficial security to stores and escort elderly citizens home safely.

Yellow Whistle

Yellow whistles with wrist bands were given out at the rally. Sponsored by The Yellow WhistleTM, the “Yellow Whistle is a symbol of self-protection and solidarity in the fight against historical discrimination and anti-Asian violence. It is a simple gadget with a universal purpose – to signal alarm and call for help for all Americans. We shall not remain silent, because we belong.” To obtain your Yellow Whistle, go to the THE YELLOW WHISTLE website. The rally was closed with a powerful soulful protest song, No More by KHA, a Vietnamese-American pop soul singer and songwriter, born and raised in the DC area. The lyrics of this beautiful song capture the history of the contributions of Asian Americans and their struggle against discrimination and injustice. It may become the national anthem for the Asian Americans. Ctrl-Click on the link below for this song. NO MORE – Original by KHA – Bing video All in all, it was a colorful, entertaining, and inspiring rally. The message was loud and clear: We belong and we will be silent no more. About Solidarity Against AAPI Hate (SAAH) SAAH is the brainchild of the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, created in direct response to the Atlanta shootings and the rise of anti-Asian violence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its goal is to amplify the AAPI voice, educate, inspire action, and affect change. Ctrl-Click on the link below for more information. Take Action – National Day of Solidarity Against Hate (solidarityagainstaapihate.org) (Photos taken by Camilla Ng) (Editor’s Note: It is Camilla’s personal hope that more Asian Americans will come out to support our communities under attack.)