By Assunta Ng
The numbers tell us that we have conquered many mountains in 2012, even though some of them seemed impossible to beat at the beginning of the year. Like a child keeping a Christmas list, I had a wish list for the Asian Weekly’s 30th anniversary.
I wanted to celebrate this milestone with a bang. What I couldn’t predict, however, was that the first bang would ripple into endless other moments of serendipity. These are my top 10 moments of 2012, whether they are happy, exciting, surprising, or sad.
10. The Dragon Dance
We didn’t want gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna to give speeches at the Asian Weekly’s 30th Anniversary Gala, but we wanted them to attend. Anyone who organized an event with both Inslee and McKenna knows how difficult it was to negotiate with both sides behind the scenes. How could we create a win-win situation for all of us?
The solution was with a dragon, or well, with two dragons. We had both candidates open the dining room by leading two dragons to the stage. The moment the two opponents led the dragon parade into the ballroom, I was blown away. Accompanied by beautiful Chinese music (provided by Seattle Chinese Post editor Rebecca Ip), the gala’s opening was refreshing and dramatic.
Although Tony Au was the brainchild of the parade, much of the act was improvised. Dignitaries were recruited on the spot to form the dragons’ bodies. Thank you to my son John for chauffeuring the 20-foot dragons back and forth from the venue. It wasn’t a small task to bring the dragon parade to life!
A month later, the Seattle Chinese Garden copied our idea — having VIPs holding the dragon. I was thrilled.
9. “No One Will Come”
When we began to organize the 30th anniversary of the Asian Weekly’s sister paper, the Seattle Chinese Post, one Chinese man predicted, “No one will come.”
Not only did we pack the House of Hong Restaurant on April 22, with 430 people attending and 30 Chinese organizations buying tables, we managed to bring different factions of the community together. Many guests told me, “The event is well done.” The sweetness of their words still swims in my head.
8. Taking a Risk at the Westin Bellevue
Since 1996, we have never ventured into Bellevue for our Women of Color Empowered luncheons. We were afraid that if we changed venues and raised prices, no one would show up.
Our friend Dash had always begged us to use his favorite place, the Westin Bellevue Hotel, where he works as the cultural group sales manager.
I realized that sometimes we have to look beyond our bottom line and support our Asian American friends, so we dashed across the bridge to the Westin Bellevue for our women’s lunch last May. Instead of our usual $30, we charged $50 for lunch.
The facility was nice, the food was tasty, and the sound system was wonderful. We had a full house with a diverse audience, including many Bellevue folks. The committee worked very hard to make it happened. We even managed to surprise Bonnie Miller, a committee member, with a plaque for her dedication. The moment she was fooled, her sons and husband, who were hiding, jumped into the dining room. I felt that my group was amazing and did a fabulous job for the program.
7. Crisis is an Opportunity
Two crises happened to us this year: First, when our editor Stacy Nguyen resigned in March, after my dad’s passing; and second, when her successor Tiffany Ran resigned after five months on the job, four weeks before our anniversary gala.
“What lousy timing!” I sighed. But there was no time for self pity. While I focused on going back to Hong Kong for my father’s funeral and organizing our anniversary gala, Nguyen and Ran helped us to screen new job applicants.
Fortunately, the new editor Charles Lam, a 23-year-old Californian who we hired on Sept. 1, quickly learned the ropes.
Instead of one special anniversary issue for the Asian Weekly, he did two. As if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, we ran a big election issue two weeks afterwards. To my astonishment, the Asian Weekly had our best ever election advertising and full coverage of both the Democrats and Republicans. Together with Han Bui’s work, the three of us collaborated and produced some of our best issues of the year.
6. The Magical Calls
I visualized goody bags made up of several items, including Chinese sausages, for all the guests attending the Chinese Post’s 30th anniversary gala. No one in the Chinese community had gifted goody bags with such variety before.
I didn’t know then that I was being very ambitious.
I didn’t even know the owner of Ken Yen Jan, a major manufacturer of Chinese sausages. Would he hang up when I called?
When Jimmy Din heard I was with the Asian Weekly, he instantly said yes to my request. I was so happy that I danced around the room for a while.
I am grateful to all the donors, including Northwest Oriental, Dong Heng, Lam’s Seafood, Hung Lung, Fran’s chocolate, and Panda Express. These folks didn’t even require me to send a written letter. If they did, I would never have gotten everything done.
5. A Moment of Luck
Luck has always been a stranger to me. I have never won anything. Then, life surprised me when I wasn’t thinking.
At the celebration for ANA Airline’s inaugural flight from Seattle to Asia, the airline’s staff called out the winner of two plane tickets, “Asian Weekly, George Liu.” My jaw just dropped. My husband won. “What, we won?” I thought to myself.
Hey, I had to claim to be a beneficiary too — George forgot to bring his business cards, so he used mine, crossed out my name, and wrote in his. I am pretty lucky after all.
4. Mourning Our Losses
I miss many of the people who passed away in 2012, especially Jimmy Mar, a kind, generous and noble soul; and Winnie Chin, wife of the late Ark Chin, who sent me inspiring cards with beautiful Chinese characters to encourage me. I keep all her cards. And, of course, I miss my father who left this world on Feb. 14. I miss them dearly.
3. Do Good
“What’s your fundraising goal for the International District Emergency Center (IDEC)?” friends asked me before our anniversary gala.
I had no clue.
When Donnie Chin of the IDEC sent me the final number we raised from the Chinese Post and Asian Weekly’s 30th anniversary dinners, I was ecstatic.
We raised $20,000. Hooray!
2. A Blast for All
The first celebration for our new governor, attorney general and state senator in the Asian community was at our Dec. 7 Top Contributors dinner at China Harbor Restaurant.
Gathering 310 people who are willing to pay $65 each has never been easy. The Asian community holds many activities, and some of them were back-to-back with our event. Guests flew from as far as Washington D. C. and Montana for one of our honorees. The quality of our honorees was impressive.
Privately, Inslee made an interesting but golden comment, “I think we’ve got a Super Bowl team (referring to the Seahawks).” Even the bystanders didn’t believe what they had heard. Then, the Seahawks beat the 49ers just two weeks ago and are heading to the playoffs.
China Harbor owner, Hsiao Ling Sun, praised our Dec. 7 event. “Great atmosphere,” she said.
I had never seen folks mingling so much at one event. When the program ended at 8:30 p.m., many refused to leave. They hung around passing the hour.
From the program to guests’ interaction, everything clicked amazingly well. What a way for the Asian Weekly to wrap the year of 2012, a memorable night for our honorees and guests!
On Dec. 31, before the bells chime into 2013, I suddenly realized that everything I wished to accomplish in 2012, we aced.
If anyone told me at the beginning of 2012 that we would be organizing 12 events, more than any other year before, I would be hesitant to commit. As opportunities landed on our plate, my people learned to be fearless and captured them one by one. Never before have I felt so gutsy and confident that we could do it all.
Aside from the events, there were many remarkable stories and issues I am proud of, and our writers had worked tirelessly. There were also rare advertising accounts, which knocked on our doors, and our staff served them diligently.
We are so grateful to all of you who support us and see us grow over the decades! May our fighting spirit of “Yes, we can!” lead us all the way to 2013! (end)