China-US / People

Angela Chao: Upholding Chinese tradition

By Li JING (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-10-09 11:19

Angela Chao: Upholding Chinese tradition

Dr James Si-Cheng Chao and Angela Chao speak at a recent ship-naming ceremony at the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipyard. Angela Chao is the youngest of six children and the only one involved in the family's shipping business.

Chao has a passion for the arts and music and considered majoring in art history in college.

"My parents said 'That's fine, you can love art and music,' but as first-generation immigrants to this country, they understandably still wanted me to study something that could help me find gainful employment so that I would be able to support myself after graduation!

"So I concentrated in economics, but the arts are an important interest of mine that I have kept up and continue to be interested and active in," she said. "The arts and music help you think about things from different perspectives. One of the things I love about art and music is how it helps me think creatively and from different perspectives, which is invaluable to my work and our business."

Chao's interest in art and music also led her to the board of the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center's Global China Advisory Council. She works to support more cultural exchanges between the US and China and to have more Chinese performances come to the US and vice-versa.

"Cultural dialogues help people-to-people exchanges and promote better understanding and friendship," she said. "Once Americans and other non-Chinese understand or learn about the long history of China, they cannot help but to admit it is incredible!"

This month, Chao will go to China to visit a kindergarten in the Jiading District outside Shanghai for its 20th anniversary.

"The kindergarten is named after my grandfather, who was an education reformer and believed that for China to be strong, it needed to educate more of its rural population. He basically created and organized his own school in Jiading to offer free education for rural families."

She will also visit her mother's hometown of Laian county in Anhui province where two new kindergartens named after her mother, the late Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, will be opened.

In 1984, Dr Chao and his wife established the Mulan Foundation to provide scholarships to help students in the US and China access higher education and to promote US-China cultural exchanges.

In September, Angela Chao established a scholarship for undergraduates of Chinese heritage at Harvard College. The scholarship is in addition to the one her family created in 2012 at Harvard Business School, which sponsors four to six students of Chinese descent from anywhere in the world to attend Harvard Business School.

The establishment of the scholarship also was in conjunction with the first building to be named after anyone of Chinese descent on Harvard's campus - the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center. It also is the first building named after a woman on the Harvard Business School campus.

"It is important for people, especially young people, to understand both sides and build bridges, so that the relations between the two countries will always remain stable and on the right path that is essential for our world," she said.





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