The Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1980, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

“Successful future as bright and beautiful as tapestry”

If you were to read the writing on the walls, you’d know what’s on their minds: “read ten thousand books and walk ten thousand miles to seek knowledge”; “to get promotion continuously/to attain eminence step by step”; “successful future as bright and beautiful as tapestry”—these are some of the words chosen by the young artists to display in this, the second annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC and the Asian Mentoring Committee’s Fundraiser. As with last year’s event the “Littles” (mentees involved in the program) created unique pieces of art under the guidance of their “Bigs” (program mentors.) This year, acclaimed author and artist Mingmei Yip taught calligraphy workshops to the pairs, instructing the Littles in the art of Chinese brushwork. To create their final piece, each Little wrote out a traditional Chinese proverb that held personal meaning. Their work was then framed and installed in the classroom of the Museum of Chinese in America. (On display through summer 2011.)

This artwork, and the efforts of BBBS of NYC and the AMC, was celebrated with a fundraiser on May 18 at MOCA. Hector Batista, Executive Director of BBBS of NYC, welcomed guests to kick-off the evening. Friends and fans mingled while enjoying food and drink. Traditional music performed by Wukun Li (Pipa), Tingting Chen (Gu Zheng) and Wen Li (Dulcimer) entertained guests, and inspiring speaker Cambao De Duong shared his life experiences.  The evening, like the proverbs promised, was a great success. We sincerely thank all of the dedicated volunteers who gave their time, as well as sponsors and partners including Fay Da Bakery, Filled with Sweets Desserts, Khao Tip Restaurant, Paleewong Trading Co., PepsiMax, Red Egg, and Taiwan Beer.

On Saturday, May 21 the Museum again welcomed Bigs, Littles and their families to an Artists’ Reception. Through their interactions, we saw first-hand how a successful one-to-one mentorship positively affects the lives surrounding our matches, as parents and siblings celebrated alongside the proud artists. This event included tasty treats from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, as well as gift bags including prizes from ChinaSprout, L’Oreal, and McDonalds.

Artist Littles pose with their pieces

The Museum of Chinese in America was proud to host both events, to witness the growth of previous participants and welcome new matches, and to once again reach out to the adult community of BBBS and AMC supporters as well as the youth and families matched through BBBS. We truly believe that the Littles will have a successful future through hard work, dedication and the support of families, friends and mentors and we look forward to future opportunities to support AMC’s efforts in “Inspiring a Future, Today!”

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A Night of Dreams inspires us all

Dreams on display in the Bloomberg Gallery

On Thursday, May 20 MOCA opened our doors to Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC and the Asian Mentoring Committee for A Night of Dreams, the first annual fundraiser for this wonderful volunteer affinity group. A long-term art project culminating in an “Adult’s-Only” Fundraiser and a family-friendly Artists’ Reception this was, as Richard Fu, dedicated Big Brother and leader of the AMC stated, a monumental occasion for everyone involved. The “Littles” (mentees involved in the program) were asked to create pieces of artwork that answered a question that is too often overlooked in young lives: “What is your dream?” Their work was then framed and installed in the Bloomberg Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Museum of Chinese in America. (On display through the end of June 2010.)

Through the artwork activity, BBBS of NYC and AMC built a dialogue between the Big/Little matches centered on their dreams and heritage, helping to build stronger, more fulfilling relationships and offering inspiration to all.  To build awareness (and raise much-needed funds), MOCA, BBBS of NYC and the AMC hosted the A Night of Dreams’ Art Showcase, attended by 85 guests and four media outlets. The event built community awareness about the support and guidance children require, recruited new volunteers, and raised over $4,000, giving the AMC a solid budgetary foundation for future events and programs. This event could not have happened without the support of dedicated volunteers and donors. We are grateful to the sponsors who helped us achieve these numbers, including support from Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation and Urban Racer, food and drink donations for the evening from Coca-Cola, Everything Frosted, Sidney Frank Importing Company, and Wild Ginger Pan-Asian Vegan Café, as well as raffle prize donations from Coty, Kittichai, Paul Pellicoro’s DanceSport, and Soie Aroma.

Little Artists celebrate their work at MOCA

On Sunday, May 23 we again welcomed the AMC community, this time for an Artists’ Reception which showcased the hard work and inspirational effort of the Littles’ hope and dreams. As Richard Fu noted, “we saw first-hand how a successful one-to-one mentorship positively affects the lives surrounding our matches”, as parents and siblings celebrated alongside the proud artists. This event was generously (and deliciously) sponsored by the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Coca Cola, Everything Frosted and Ito En Tea.

As the Museum of Chinese in America, we were proud to host both events, to reach out to supporters of BBBS of NYC and the AMC as well as the youth and families matched through BBBS of NYC, to show that there is a community of people who are proud to be Chinese American and who want to show that dreams can be achieved through hard work, dedication and the support of families, friends and mentors.  We look forward to future opportunities to support AMC’s efforts in “Inspiring a Future, Today!”

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, please visit bigsnyc.org

For more information about MOCA and to view the Dreams Project Exhibit, please visit mocanyc.org

Emily Chovanec
Visitor Services Manager

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Guest Post: We Are New York with MOCA Member Stacy Zhao

Sunday morning at MOCA.  A time typically quiet at the museum — but last Sunday, April 18, over 30 Chinese immigrants eagerly gathered at 10am to begin their first We Are New York English conversation group.  We Are NY is an Emmy-winning new TV series from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education and CUNY  created to help immigrants learn practical English, and the conversation groups are a city-wide initiative to get people together to watch the series and practice speaking with the help of volunteer facilitators.

I had the pleasure of facilitating the first conversation group at MOCA along with another MOCA member, Henry Lui, and we’ll do so once a week for the next nine weeks.  Both first time volunteers with We Are NY, we had no idea what to expect.  At training sessions we’d been told that the average size of a group would be 10-15 people — totally manageable for two facilitators.  Imagine our surprise when we opened the doors to find more than double that number of participants waiting in the museum lobby!

The participants in our group came from all corners of New York City: some walked a few blocks to get to MOCA, others came from the outer boroughs by subway, bus and ferry.  They were husband-and-wife pairs, working professionals, restaurant workers, retired grandparents, newly arrived and decade-long New Yorkers.  Everyone was there with the same goal — to practice English — and for some participants, the three hours at MOCA are the only chance they have to do so.

We got off to a slow start as people were not used to the conversation group format (I think everyone was expecting Henry and me to teach English with grammar lessons and the like), but eventually they grew a little more comfortable talking to each other in pairs or groups of three. I think it will take a few weeks for every participant to be completely comfortable speaking in a group setting, but even by the end of the first session I could see that there was progress made.

Most of the participants told me at the end of the session that they would return next Sunday.  I’ll be there too, with another episode of We Are NY for us to watch and new conversations for us to have.

Stacy Zhao
MOCA and Young Professionals Program Member

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