Build resilience and diversity for a winning year

The popular Lantern Festival takes place today to celebrate the first full moon night on this 15th day of Lunar New Year. It’s a tradition that started over 2000 years ago for the family reunion and harmony importance. Along with Yuanxiao, the small sweet rice balls in round shape are eaten as a typical holiday food on the day for family gathering time. On the same time, the full snow moon occurs this weekend as the Moon of Purification and Renewal to spark the Year of the Ox with peace and blessings.

   full moonlucky lanterns

Lantern Festival is known as a treasured occasion to enjoy folk dances, popular folklore and illuminating fun within families and social gatherings. Lighting and appreciation of lanterns are main festivities for the holiday celebration. Beautiful and colorful, the red paper lanterns are symbols of good luck, hope and love for a brighter year and future. Being a wonderful art of lights, the lantern has an important meaning to help lead the way forward and push aside the darkness towards the future. Throughout the long history, the lantern has been used not only as a source of light or simple paper decoration, but also a modern form of celebration and worship. From the ancient age to the legend, the lantern has become a cultural icon and national pride in many Asian countries including China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam etc. There are Chinese painted paper lanterns, glowing sky lanterns in southeast Asia and floating water lanterns in Japan…whichever are at homes or in public spaces, all has the significations of honoring deceased ancestors and best wishes for family reunion and joy, living reconciliation as well as the return of spring.

Watch the glorious full moon shinning in night sky with the dazzling lights and joyful colors of memorable Lantern Festival, what do you wish for an amazing holiday and the year to come? This year, Chinese New year celebration has started at new moon on February 12 to mark the beginning of the Year of the Ox. In many cultures, the Ox is a faithful animal and lucky symbol with many good values including health, strength, courage and perseverance. According to the 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar, it’s the Year of the Metal Ox which represents positive movements of booming life and prosperous business. Nowadays, the Lunar New Year aka Spring Festival is celebrated across Asian communities such as China, South Korean and Vietnam…The entire festival celebration lasts 15 days in some Asian nations with the highlight of ancient Lantern Festival on the last day. After having experienced the past year full of challenging and hardship, many people are more than happy to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Ox for change and move forward for a healthy and strong year ahead.

Traditions, families and Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed February full of holidays and love, now we get into the month of March as spring time with a lot of natural activities and global movements on the way.

Leadership for change

March is Women’s History Month, time to commemorate and celebrate the achievements of women throughout our history and culture. By highlighting International Women’s Day on March 8, the annual month-long event focuses on the important contribution and vital role of women in all aspects of our life and society to recognize the countless women making an impact in their communities, their nation, and the world. As the global recovery is starting slowly from the devastating pandemic, this year’s International Women’s Day is like no other with the theme of Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.

Women’s rights are human rights. These are the rights about making moves for gender justice and a call to action for accelerating gender parity, such as to live free from violence and discrimination, to access the quality healthcare, to be educated and have the equal pay, to vote and get the equal opportunity of leadership in political and business worlds. Today, women remain concentrated in the lowest paid jobs across the world, they are nearly twice as likely than men to lose their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, and the pandemic has dramatically increased the women’s poverty rate and widened the gap with men…The economic security and independence are necessary for women to engage more deeply in the decision makings for the change, there’s still a long way to work on historic obstacles and social economic barriers, gender inequality and lack of female leadership positions. For instance, women are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 per cent of national parliamentarians are women. In only 14 countries where 50% or more of government cabinet members are women, just over 1 in 4 managers across all sectors are women globally……It’s the time to demand change and make a commitment to women everywhere to stand up for human rights and join the fight for an equal future. Change laws, take action, transform gender relations and challenge discriminatory norms, the generation equality can rise in the way we lead, talk, support, question and think to make sure that resources and power are more equitably distributed for women.

Women are the active members of the global community with valuable social, economic, cultural and political accomplishments, they want and deserve a freedom with equal rights and opportunities for all. Being a woman, we are capable to wear many different hats from home to public life: girlfriend, wife, daughter, sister, mother, grandma, aunt, granddaughter, babysitter, cook, baker, gardener, driver, teacher, student, warrior, nurse, doctor, mentor, handywoman, engineer, technician, lawyer, judge, filmmaker, artist, entrepreneur, volunteer and leader……On this global day, every woman needs to be appreciated for her hard working inside and outside of family and empowered by a world of possibilities to follow her dreams. We need women to build a better world together, we thank all women from bottom of the heart for all things you do, support women’s rights and leadership in all areas of life.

Resilience for strength

Loyalty, intelligence, strength, determination and confidence, women have many admirable qualities and they have the power of game changing to inspire people and shape the world. From the past to present, from the East to the West, some legendary women warriors like Mulan and Joan of Arc made the history with their inspiring stories and willingness to fight.

Mulan who is female hero in Chinese ancient era, she dresses and acts as a military man to go to war instead of her aged father, fights along with other male soldiers for the country against the northern invaders. A symbol of loyal, brave and family devotion, she’s one of the most popular Chinese hero as an honored woman warrior who protects her family and defends the homeland as well. The recent Disney’s drama feature and its earlier animated movie are the adaption based on the Chinese poem titled the Ballad of Mulan, it’s a very beautiful folk song which was created several thousands years ago and shows a female fighter with strong and independent spirits:

(The sound of creaking)
Mulan sits in the doorway in front of her loom.
When the loom grows silent, We can only hear the sound of her sighs.
Girl, who are you thinking about?
 Girl… who do you long for?
(Mulan replies)

“There is only one man I think about
, There is only one man I long for
Last night I saw the conscription notice, The Khan is issuing a great draft –
A dozen volumes of battle rolls, 
Each one with my father’s name.
My father has no son old enough to take his place, I, Mulan, have no elder brother.
I’m willing to buy a horse and saddle, 
I will take my father’s place in battle.”
(Mulan went to war)
She buys a fine steed at the east market; 

A saddle and blanket at the west market;
A bridle at the south market; 
And a long whip at the north market.
At dawn, she leaves her parents’ home, and camps beside the Yellow River before dusk.
From far away, she cannot hear the sounds of her parents calling for her
Only the rushing waters of the Yellow River.
She leaves the Yellow River at dawn, 
And reaches reach Black Mountain before dusk.
From far away, she cannot hear the sounds of her parents calling for her
Only the cries of the enemy cavalry in the Yàn hills.
She traveled ten thousand li, 
She flew over mountains and through mountain passes
The sound of a war gong pierces the air, 
The winter sun shines brightly on her coat of steel.
The general dead after a hundred battles, 
The warriors return after ten years.
They return to see the Son of Heaven, 
Sitting in the royal court
He unrolls the scroll of merit a dozen times
, Giving hundreds and thousands of rewards
(Mulan was rewarded)
The Khan asks Mulan what she desires

(Mulan replies)
I have no need to be promoted to a prominent position
I only ask for a camel that can travel a thousand li
, That can take me back to my hometown
(Mulan returned home)
Her parents hear that their daughter has returned, 

They welcome her at the entrance to the town.
When Elder Sister hears of Mulan’s return,
 she stands in the doorway wearing a beautiful dress
When Little Brother hears that his sister has returned, 
He sharpens his knife to slaughter a pig and a lamb.
(Mulan speaks)
“I open the door to my eastern chamber, 
And sit on the bed of my western chamber. I take off my military robes
And put on my old clothes. I sit in front of the window as I comb my long flowing hair
, And look into the mirror as I apply makeup, I go outside to see my comrades
, They are all shocked and astounded.
“We traveled together for twelve years,” (they say),
 “But we never suspected that Mulan was a woman!”
(Mulan’s rabbit couple)
Most people tell the gender of a rabbit by its movement:
The male runs quickly, while the female often keeps her eyes shut.
But when the two rabbits run side by side, 
Can you really discern whether I am a he or a she?

Mulan

feature movie and animation by Disney Movies

As a national heroine of France, Joan d’Arc was a peasant girl living in medieval France, believed that God had chosen her to fight against the Anglo forces. She led the French army during the 100 Years’ War with England and achieved a momentous victory, then she was captured by the enemy and died at the age of 19. She was canonized lately as the Maid of Orléans and had been considered one of history’s greatest saints, an enduring symbol of French unity and nationalism. Being a village teenage girl, Joan d’Arc rose prominence with divine guidance to challenge the Royal power and legitimate of war. Even faced with death by fire, she followed her belief and voices from God to be a fighter against the darkness.

Joan d'Arc

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc by UniFrance

Women are strong, women are power. The legacy of heroines is not only the memory of great names and also the inheritance of a great examples and inspirational figures over centuries. Hardship and difficulties can never stop the fearless fighters to keep following their passion and dreams, pushing for things to get better. From icon of popular nationalism to creator of change and peace, fighters don’t stop asking why, they’re naturally inspiring and courageous, often idealistic, driven by a desire to make the world a better place. When there’s fighting spirit on women, there’s resilience and strength to the leadership.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day…
–Justice Ginsburg, The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover

Diversity on the rise

American lawyer and jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg who served as an associate justice of the Supreme court of the United States until her death last year. She was the first Jewish female justice and second woman to serve on the Court. She spent a lifetime flourishing in the face of adversity before being appointed a Supreme Court justice, where she successfully fought against gender discrimination in some male-dominated fields. By being named one of 100 most powerful women, one of 100 most influential people by Time magazine, and a lifelong trailblazer for human rights and gender equality, she was recognized for having profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world with the ideas and law credits.

Justice Ginsburg

Justice Ginsburg, credit to CNN

From voting rights and stop discriminatory changes, to combating racial and gender-based discrimination, Ginsburg contributed much of her legal career as an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights, presenting a strong voice in favor of equal education and fair pay, action on policies of exclusion and inclusion, interest in diversity. She expressed her support for the Me Too movement, which encourages women to speak up about victim experience of sexual harassment. With her own experiences with gender discrimination and sexual harassment, she said that it’s about time. For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it, but now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment and that’s a good thing.

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.
— Justice Ginsburg

Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in of all areas of life drives progress for everyone. So how to break down systematic barriers, speak up for more women decision makers and build an equatable future for a generation equality? Around the world, some of the most efficient covid responses have been led by women including diverse and inclusive movements online and on the streets for social justice, climate change and equality in all parts of the world. They are also at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, as healthcare workers, scientists, doctors and caregivers all over the communities. Now let’s call to action to provide support to all women on the front lines of the fight against this pandemic, promoting flexible working arrangements, prioritizing services to prevent gender-based domestic violence, and building a future that’s sustainable and peaceful for all.

It takes a village to raise a child, it takes the world to work on the generation equality and everyone can mobilize to bring changes. Leaders, visionaries, activists and artists everywhere, virtually or not, have pushed for transformative and lasting change for generations to come. Recently UN Women launched a global call to creatives and their original artwork that visualizes and celebrates artivism for gender equality. Creative women are part of the diverse world, they have passion for the arts, drive to experiment, courage to change and make the history together.

We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.
— Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director

The 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards just happened last month and it’s a historic year for female directing and leading film production. For the first time in the organization of HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association), 3 women directors were nominated in the category of Best Director Motion Picture including Chloe Zhao for Nomadland by starring of Frances McDormand, Regina King for One Night in Miami and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman. Chloe Zhao won the prize as the first woman of Asian descent and made a history about diversity. She’s also the second woman ever to win the directing prize at the Globes.

Nomadland, her movie is also won the award for Best Picture Drama. It’s a beautiful story about life on the road, discovering and exploring the own way of living with freedom and connection to the nature: After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. The film has heart of diversity to show a special group of people and their different lives in the authentic and realistic ways, just like the spirit of road life: never says goodbye, only see you down the road.

Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart to heart bonding. Your pain is my pain. It’s mingled and shared between us. Now, this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories. Because it gives us a chance to laugh and cry together, and it gives us a chance to learn from each other, and to have more compassion for each other. — Chloe Zhao

Women create, women direct, women lead, women change and women make the history. When women lead, we see positive results. Pandemic is a turning point for people’s life and also for the world too, something has changed and many changes are on the way. It cannot simply return to the world we had before, we need to do things differently for women and generation equality. Strong ox, lucky lion dance and rising women’s power, this year has started with many blessings and hope to make a winning year of healthy life, so people can control the pandemic and finally live coronavirus-free. It is also a winning year to build resilience and diversity for a more equal, more inclusive and more sustainable future with the power of women’s leadership. On the occasion of many celebrations from lunar year of the ox to global movements, we’re committed to supporting diversity and generation equality for a strong and thriving community filled with goodness and warmth, wish you all health and happiness,  success and prosperity in the years ahead.

Doing business with cultural diversity

May is one of the most busy and beautiful months of the year. Mother’s day, World Press Freedom day, Endangered Species day and International Day for Biological Diversity, a long list of important days can be found throughout the month of May, there’s also the ongoing month-long celebration like the following one.

The Asian Pacific Heritage celebration is a time to honor and appreciate Asian heritage and contributions to the growing and prosperous communities within North America. This is an opportunity for people to celebrate the multicultural heritage and explore Pan Asian history and traditions in Arts, culture and business. People like May as the month of sunshine and flowers, in UK it’s National Smile Month, and it’s commemorative month of Asian Pacific Heritage across North America, in the US it’s called Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, in Canada it’s simply called Asian Heritage Month.

Culture matters

When we say Asia, what comes to your mind firstly? Panda, green tea or lotus…Check out some Asian cultural icons and find out their meanings in oriental traditions and philosophy. Many Asian people see green tea as green mindset. Tea culture has thousands years of history in Asia. Over a thousand varieties of tea can be found in Eastern Asia and beyond, one of the main types is green tea. With mild smell and light taste in general, green tea has spread across the oceans from Asia to the world. Behind its popularity and health benefits of drinking, people really enjoy the oriental culture and traditions such as mindfulness, meditation, peace and harmony.

Be like a lotus, let the beauty of your heart speak, be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light.
~ Amit Ray, Indian author and spiritual master

Everything in nature has a spirit, and lotus is one of the most spiritual symbols with profound cultural meanings. The lotus is to the East, as the rose is to the West.¹ Lotus is a summer flower that rises from the muddy water and blooms gracefully like a pure beauty. In Eastern cultures, people love lotus for its purity and serenity with long and deep roots in the mud. Live like the lotus flower, be enlightened by peace and harmony: the deeper root you have, the stronger growing you are.

Culture connects us

Every culture has its profound identity and deep root through the generations, it connects people, enriches our life and defines our communities from historical footprints to cultural milestones. From Asian people to Asian community, we have seen many success stories coming from this diverse, vibrant and growing community in all aspects of life.

With the importance of transmitting culture and heritage across generations, Asian descendants and immigrants contribute actively their talent to the thriving and diverse society. To emphasize the valuable contributions by women of Asian descent, here are some notable Asian figures who have made a significant impact in different fields of arts, culture, sports, entrepreneurship and business.

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
–Mahatma Gandhi

Since 3 decades, Asian American writer Amy Tan has written some stories about Chinese immigrants and how they embraced Chinese heritage. Her best seller The Joy Luck Club explores Chinese American experience, Chinese culture and family relationships between two generations. As the former Governor General of Canada, Asian Canadian Adrienne Clarkson, has played an active role in multicultural environment with a long and successful career in broadcasting from journalist to arts show producer.

The award-winning geneticist and broadcaster David Suzuki is widely recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology and environmental protection. He has received numerous honors and awards throughout the lifetime, his work, documentaries and books about nature and the environment are inspiring others “to find the ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that does sustain us.”

CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai grew up in India, studied at Stanford University, and has worked at Google to the top is a remarkable personal journey and success story to inspire many people. The professional basketball player Jeremy Lin is one of the few Asian Americans to play in the NBA with impressive athletic achievements through the years. Talented and humble, he represents a younger generation of Asian descent with higher education background and influential public image today.

David        Jeremy Lin

From the East to the West

The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people, and the beauty of life is in living it with different traditions and cultures. Open, pacific and colorful, Asian culture is well characterized by the peaceful mindset and vibrant spirit. As one of Asian culture icons, Asian food is extremely popular across North America. Noodles, General Tso’s Chicken, sushi and fortune cookies…have a look at some famous Asian food and learn more about Eastern cuisine and culture in good smells!

General Tso’s chicken is sweet and deep-fried chicken dish and almost universally available in North American Chinese restaurants. It’s named after a Chinese military leader in the history, and the origin of the dish can be traced back to over 200 years ago with the stories connecting to Chinese traditions and history. The making of dish replicates traditional Chinese cuisine of Hunan province, it’s lightly battered and covered in a mildly spicy sweet & sour sauce in a way that adapts the recipe to fit the western taste. No doubt this chicken dish represents a typical Asian American experience about cultural connections and integration.

IMG_1636       IMG_2656

Healthy and fresh, sushi is another typical Asian food combined with a variety of ingredients such as cooked rice, seaweed, seafood, vegetables and more. As many other Asian cuisine, the sushi culture is rooted in Eastern traditions and Japanese lifestyle. Traditionally, sushi is served on wooden platter along with soy sauce, pickled and sliced ginger, wasabi and chopsticks. With a colorful presentation and aesthetic style, making sushi is more like crafting a work of art with different combinations and recipes. In North America, the western-style sushi has evolved to become something completely different from its Japanese origins. By inventing some new types like brown rice sushi and latin flavored sushi burritos, sushi art has become more and more interesting and creative with mixed cultural influences.

How can we talk about Asian cuisine without noodles? Unlike Italian pasta, Asian noodles are typically handmade from fresh dough which is stretched, extruded, rolled and cut into a long and thin shape. As a staple food originated in China, noodle is a symbolic cuisine of representing Chinese culture and traditions everywhere. In the animated movie series of Kung Fu Panda, Panda Po had a dream about noodles but finally becomes a Kung Fu warrior, and his father Mr. Ping is master of noodles having a secret ingredient to make noodles and run the shop…From movies to real life, making noodles is an art of perfection with passion and inspiration behind its long history and culture.

Fortune cookies are another staple of Chinese cuisine in Chinese restaurants within North America, they’re crispy and sugary wafers and folded around a small slop of paper written with a so-called lucky message. People love cracking it to open one of them at the end of a meal, be delighted or surprised to read the words: good things come in invisible packages, accept the next proposition you hear….whatever is wisdom quote, Confucius phrase or vague expression, it’s fun and entertaining by the end. Now this bite-sized dessert has become an iconic symbol in North American culture, inspiring many businesses and cross-cultural communication between the East and the West.

Cultural diversity in business

Over the last 2 centuries, immigrants have journeyed to North America from all parts of Asia, they bring in a rich cultural heritage of many languages, ethnicities and traditions. Now more than 200 million people of Asian decent are living on this land, mainly Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesians and Mongolian etc. Like many diverse communities out there, Asian Pacific communities have a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that continues to grow and strengthen local economy.

Natural diversity is essential for a healthy ecosystem, and cultural diversity is in the lifeblood of vibrant economy. By integrating into local communities, the emigrated Asian Pacific Islander people have made various achievements in every aspect of life including entrepreneurship and business. In the US alone, there are 1.5 million Asian American Pacific Islander – owned businesses, with more than 500 billion of sales and 2.8 million workers, they are certainly fueling job creation and strengthening local communities and American economy.

Cultural differences makes the world more complex and interesting, especially when it comes to some differences between Eastern and Western cultures. Eastern culture is deeply rooted in its long history of traditions and based on a wide variety of concepts and philosophies from Confucianism, Tai Chi to Yin and Yang. Extremely complicated and profound, it emphasizes the balance of Yin-Yang and highlights the harmony through the energy movements in tranquility of Tai Chi.

Western culture has its roots in Christianity and European civilization, it has developed many themes and traditions in arts, humanities, philosophies and scientific evolutions. Based on logical and rational concepts, it focuses on the values of legal system and innovative creation through technological revolutions and discoveries along the way. Physically and culturally, Asian descendants and immigrants are different and identified with oriental colors, Asian traditions and pacific culture, but we all represent the big image of multicultural heritage, belong to the culturally diverse and prosperous communities.

The East is East and the West is West, neither is better nor worse than the other. In global community and digital age, the cultural integration and diversity are more important than ever, a good understanding of both cultures is truly practical and valuable in doing business effectively. Diversity is colorful, beautiful and powerful with the strength to broaden our mind, create the opportunity and encourage people to reach their full potential and participate positively in all aspects of life from communities to business.

Culture connects us, it brings people together to celebrate our rich and cultural heritage and promote the harmony in our communities.

To the end, culture is a tool of communication by all measures, it’s a great way of learning from each other and understand the world. Identity, language, tradition and heritage…culture is everywhere, it enriches and enlightens people’s lives from hearts to souls. In the multicultural environment, cross-cultural communication is effective for people to collaborate and grow together since it’s a creative process to interact and share with different perspectives through an open and dynamic conversation. Culture inspires people, it reminds us that we always have the power to change ourselves and make the world a better place.