The CYC Experience Documentary Premiere

A quick review of the premiere:

The event was held at the elegant alumni facility at the University of Maryland. It was a black tie optional event as well and I had to get out of my business-casual clothes and actually clean up for a change. There were roughly some 400 folks in attendance and I believe the fundraiser helped collect about $25,000 for the Chinese Youth Club of DC and for the scholarship fund. (I'll hopefully have more photos to post later and to make sure my stats are correct about the fund raising event).

In addition, University President Wallace Loh was also in attendance for the premiere. I thought that was nice of him. Previously, Dr. Loh was formerly provost of the University of Iowa.

The film maker, Penny Lee, had some great interviews of people involved in Chinese Youth Club (CYC), which was started by Art Ping Lee in 1939 in Washington, DC and it was pretty amazing to see how much it has grown. The sense I get out of its mission was that founder Lee’s vision was to keep the Chinese culture intact and to get kids together and participate first in volleyball and later basketball. Its evolution eventually created bonds among the participants and helped keep ties to the community with the sense of fellowship and always giving back to CYC and helping out with the community.

Moreover, since I work just less than few blocks away from DC’s Chinatown, seeing Penny’s archival photos in the documentary of Chinatown immediately gave me that sense of recognition of what was once there and how even Chinatown has evolved over the years. Sadly, a lot of establishments have gone away, either moved to the suburbs or taken over by the developers. The Verizon Center arena is located in Chinatown and sparked off an economic rejuvenation of the area when the late Abe Pollin, former owner of the Washington Bullets/Wizards basketball team decided to build an arena there; unfortunately, it forced out some of the Asian mom and pop stores and restaurants in favor of the big retail chain restaurants and stores.

Other random thoughts:

My cousin Chris (I mentioned him in the John Lenno post that Chris was the one who took that photo of John Lennon and Yoko many years ago at a DC political rally), filmed the opening and closing remarks. I knew he was attending with his wife, but I didn’t realize he would be working the event.

There was a wide range of age groups and it was great to see a part of the Chinese American community for this premiere. And when you get down to it, it’s really a family event.

My second cousin, Tom, spearheaded a lot of this premiere, organizing and helping to put this event together. In addition, he was the evening's MC. I didn’t realize to what extent he is a natural leader and organizing force for CYC. It's funny, Tom's lived up the street from me when we were growing up--one of the few Asian families in the neighborhood--and I ran into him and his brothers on occasion but I wasn't close to them. Only years later do we find out that we're related!

My aunt's family friend who attended the event mentioned to me during the reception that Dr. Loh’s wife is Caucasian but that you almost never see her in event and reception photos. She said that a university president’s wife is supposed to attend events but that she isn’t seen much. I don’t know if this is true; I just managed to find her online in photographs with Dr. Loh at events. I don’t think anyone is purposefully avoiding mentioning that his wife is white or avoiding showing her. My initial thought was, "Does someone feel threatened by an Asian guy married to a white girl? But really, who cares?" Kind of a kill joy thing to say at a good time, a little bizarre. I wish I had some beers from the bar but I was also drove some relatives to the premiere and had to stay sober. I really coulda used some beers, though.

Kudos to Penny for putting the film together. She has my respect because it's a lot of time and energy (as well as money) to put a film together.
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