Confucius Culture Center opens in Houston

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | | Updated: 2016-12-05 06:48
Confucius Culture Center opens in Houston

A jade sculpture of Confucius is unveiled by James Birney of Stone Mountain Properties (left) and China Confucius Foundation Director Li Zhi (second from right) and others attendees on Saturday in Houston. MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

A jade sculpture of Confucius was dedicated at the opening ceremony of the Confucian Culture Center Houston on Saturday, while Chinese traditional etiquette practices such as bowing, candle-lighting and poem-singing were performed throughout the ceremony.

The center, the first of its kind in the US, is a project of the International Confucian Ecological Alliance (ICEA), a non-profit society established in 2013 by Professor Weiming Du of Harvard University, China Confucius Foundation Director Li Zhi, and Yunkai Tong, dean of the Confucian Academy in Hong Kong.

ICEA has established functional organizations inBeijing, including the Advisory Committee, Academic Committee, Found Committee and Secretariat.

The center is temporarily being housed at Stone Mountain Properties on space donated by Leeshan and James Birney. The center has acquired 14.7 acres on Bellaire Boulevard in Chinatown.

It’s in the process of raisings fundsin both China and US to build a Houston Confucian Temple with multiple functions. The plan includes a cultural communication area, etiquette function area, educational affairs exhibition area, and a Chinese cultural experience area.

According to Li, the center design will combine modern elements and classic beauty with the soul of Tang Dynasty style. The center will focus on serving and attracting local Chinese as well as Americans who believe in Confucianism.

US Congressman AlGreen, recalling the recommendation of Dawn Lin, a longtime civic leader in the Chinese community, had crafted a resolution in the House to recognize Confucius as a Chinese philosopher. Confucius is not only important in Chinese culture, but also considered important in US culture. It was passed as HR 784 in 2009.

“Confucius represents unity without uniformity and promotes harmony with people. This country is a great country because you can be an American but still maintain who you are and your culture. We are better because we appreciate diversity. In presenting you the certificate of a special congressional recognition, we are recognizing the diversity that Confucius spoke of many years ago,” Green said.

Steve Le, a Houston city councilman, said that in Asian history, there are only a few figures who really changed and developed Asia’s social and cultural issues, and Confucius is one of them.

“My great grandfather was a follower of Confucius and practiced Confucianism in a temple in Vietnam. He is a great thinker and teacher; his influence reaches far and wide,” Le said.

Harris County Judge Theresa Chang said that growing up in Taiwan, she learned that Confucius was one of the greatest philosophers.

“I collected his sayings and ideas, which have become my belief and guidance. From my personal experience, I can say that it’s very fortunate for Houston to have this center,” Chang said.

State Senator Paul Bettencourt said Confucius is a treasure of both China and the US. “As a Catholic, I see that there are many interesting scriptures in the Bible. One scripture said that you should seek wisdom from many counselors. One of such counselors is Confucius.

“I look at some of Confucius’ scriptures; one that strikes me most is that will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your potential are the keys to unlock the door to personal excellence. It was said 2,500 years ago, but the concept blends well with American culture,” Bettencourt said.

Other VIPs attending the ceremony included Li Shaolin, president ofPetroChinaAmerica, and James Chen from the Texas governor’s office.

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