CUAA hosts basketball tournament in NYC

Updated: 2014-06-09 05:33

By JACK FREIFELDER in New York (China Daily USA)

In an effort to promote networking among the growing population of university graduates in the United States, one Chinese alumni organization in New York is using basketball as a means to bring people together.

The Chinese University Alumni Alliance of North America (CUAA) hosted its first basketball tournament on Sunday at New York's Madison Square Garden (MSG) - the regular season home of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) New York Knicks.

"Alumni don't really get together because everybody is so busy, and that was part of the reason that this organization was formed," said Cherry Huang, founder and president of the CUAA. "When you play ball and meet friends you become good buddies, so this is good networking and that's the purpose of having this tournament."

CUAA, founded in 2013, is a coalition of Chinese university alumni organizations. Through a series of outreach events, the group hopes to encourage its members to maintain an active relationship with their universities and one another.

As a non-profit organization with headquarters in New York, CUAA also serves as a bridge for understanding and cooperation between Chinese universities and the US.

The CUAA estimates that the population of Chinese university alumni in the New York tri-state area exceeds 50,000. And its members come from 57 different collegiate institutions, according to Huang.

"Players in the tournament were mixed up with players from other schools, and my purpose was to knock off some of the barriers between the schools," Huang said Friday in an interview with China Daily.

Close to 200 alumni - as well as other invited guests - attended the event on Sunday, which also included music and live dance performances.

Xu Yongji, counselor of education for the Consulate General of China in New York said the CUAA basketball tournament is "a good platform" to help make the group's efforts successful.

"This is a very important event because this is the first time that so many Chinese university alumni have gathered together like this," Xu said Sunday in an interview with China Daily. "I think it's a very good way to help all the alumni extend understanding and interaction between the associations."

Shang Dai, founder of New York-based law firm Dai & Associates PC, said he tries to be active in the CUAA events that "can be meaningful" for the Chinese community.

"Although everybody has intentions to try to come together to share information, network and have some fun as human beings, just making that happen is kind of tough," he said.

Shang, one of the players who took part in the tournament, is a graduate of Nankai University in the Chinese city of Tianjin. His law firm, Dai & Associates, has been sponsoring a scholarship at Nankai University since 2008 - a prize that amounts to a stipend of about $6,000 a year.

"When I was in China doing my education, you only really got a scholarship because you studied very well, and there's not football scholarship, nothing like that," Shang said. "So that means no scholars are encouraged to do sports. Sports are so important to students, so that's why I brought that idea back to China."

"Sports gives people a lot more of an incentive, and we're trying to use this [tournament] as an activity to pull people together," Shang said. "As the largest student association, I think the CUAA should be associated with something that can really head up all the people. That's something we are all proud of."

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