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Symposium builds bridges between cultures, opens door to the world

By Katherine Hedland '88, Photography by Chris Tumbusch

The theme of the Wang Center’s major China symposium was building bridges, but founder Peter Wang also sees the mission as opening gates and windows.

"We open gates to your heart and windows to see outside," said Wang ’60. "Once you are willing to open your heart, once you are willing to see, then can the work begin toward a more peaceful world."

The inaugural Wang symposium drew 700 people from the Asian, business, academic and other communities interested in the top-notch speakers and compelling topics at the downtown Tacoma Sheraton. It represents another major step in the development of PLU as a globally-focused university that engages every student in the task of understanding the diverse, wonderful and sometimes difficult world.

"This symposium symbolizes our commitment to educate global citizens and peace builders, and to offer PLU to this community and region as a place where global issues are studied and discussed," PLU President Loren J. Anderson said.

Peter Wang was overwhelmed by the response to the symposium from people both inside and outside of PLU.
"It’s the most gratifying experience of my life," said Wang, who with his wife, Grace, donated $4 million to start the Wang Center for International Programs. "I have never seen so much energy from our faculty, our staff and our students."

A goal of China: Bridges for a New Century was to bring together people from different sectors of both nations to find similarities and work together. Speakers say that is key to healthy relationships.

"We need to know each other. We need to know each other more," said Ambassador Wang Yunxiang, consulate general of the People’s Republic of China, who is based in San Francisco. "Both the United States and China are very important and great nations in the world."

He said the two countries complement each other, but must have mutual trust and understanding to find solutions to problems that do exist.

"Of course the United States and China are facing some difficulties –especially with two different civilizations, two different cultures – but the relations are guided by common interests," he said.

John Holden, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, said the time is right for such exploration.

"This is an opportune time for global citizens to take the time to build bridges that will ensure a peaceful future," he said. "We have never, ever been more closely interrelated."

Sidney Rittenberg, PLU’s visiting professor of Chinese studies, said he has known for decades that the two nations should work together. Rittenberg, 81, was honored with the Wang Center’s first Peace Builder Award and spoke at the symposium.

When he first went to China nearly 60 years ago, he discovered a country with the greatest population and history that was desperately in need of capital and expertise in science and technology. The U.S. had those things.

"If we could bring them together, I thought it would be one of the best things that could happen," Rittenberg said. "I decided that’s what I wanted to devote my life to."

Rittenberg pleaded for peace, saying it’s not a luxury, but a prerequisite for future generations.

"We must have peace. We live in a perilous world that has developed the weapons to destroy the Planet Earth," he said. "The U.S. and China can play a major role in securing peace for the world."

In an effort to advance knowledge and understanding, there were two packed days of seminars on topics of cultural, economic, societal and political importance. Participants also got to view and discuss the work of acclaimed Chinese film director Wu Ziniu and to see Tacoma’s Dragon Boats on the Thea Foss Waterway.

All the events brought together people from different backgrounds with a common interest.

"Now the bridge has been lowered," Wang said. "Now faculty, students, leaders, politicians and business people can walk across the bridge to another culture, look at it, study it, understand it and appreciate it."


The Chinese dragon dancers entertained the crowd during the China Symposium


Campus kicks off symposium with day dedicated to peace

"Educating for Peace Day" preceded the symposium with events for students, faculty and staff on campus. The day was designed to better equip those committed to peace with skills to solve conflicts.

It began with a rededication of PLU’s peace pole, located on the south side of Mortvedt Library. It was first dedicated in 1997 as a gift to the university from The World Peace Prayer Society of Japan. The PLU community then had the opportunity to learn about different countries at the student fair, where booths highlighted various countries. Simulations engaged students, staff and faculty in actively and dynamically dealing with conflict. Split into four groups, participants discovered ways of transforming and transcending conflict in different situations.

Recipients of last year’s Wang Center grants made presentations on their research, and this year’s recipients were named at the President’s Reception.

"It is truly an international week on our campus," President Anderson said.

Student winners of the 2003-04 Wang grants are Rosanne Christian, Chinese studies; Aaron Kyle Dennis, anthropology and German; Lindsay Smith, Spanish and global studies; and Josi Tolman, French and global studies.

The following faculty were also awarded grants: Kelly M. Goedert, psychology; Peter Grosvenor, political science; Gina Hames, history; Paul Manfredi, languages and literature; John Moritsugu, psychology; Barbara Temple-Thurston, English; Teru Toyokawa, psychology; and William Yager, business.

Presentations of first-year grants were made by Nova Schauss, Faces of Women; James Kozak, Beijing "Themes of Development:" Images of China’s Capital; Thu Nguyen, The Politics of Music in Communist Vietnam; Kimberly Andre, The Namibian Association of Norway; Amanda Kaler and Jeannie Sur, The Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange: An Opportunity to Work for Social and Environmental Justice from the Ground Up; Heidi Kyle, Theresienstadt: The Nazis’ "Model" Ghetto and the "Waiting Room" for Auschwitz; Leah Sprain, Study of Consumer Activism in Central America; Juli Miller, Creating Digital Opportunities in Africa; Jennifer Harsch, Understanding Religion and Spirituality: A Cross-Cultural Study Between the USA and Tanzania; Carlee Smith, Children: The Innocent Victims of War.



Symposium Highlights:

The symposium presented distinguished speakers on a number of topics of global importance, from business to social issues. Distinguished speakers included PLU graduates and faculty, as well as visiting scholars and experts from around the country and world.

Large group sessions were held on the following topics:

The Rise of China: Challenges to the Global Economy, Nicholas Lardy, Institute for International Economics and Andrea Riniker, Port of Tacoma.

Partnering with China on Behalf of Human Rights, Lisa Stearns, Norwegian Center for Human Rights, and Susan Dwyer-Schick, political science, PLU.

Russell EMPulse China Portrait, Andreas Udbye ’83, World Trade Center Tacoma; and Jennifer Kim and Christopher Bush, Frank Russell Company.

Youth Culture and School Reform, Chen Xiangming, Peking University, Stanley Rosen, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

China and the USA in the American Century, Warren Cohen, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; David K.Y. Tang, Preston, Gates and Ellis; Jim Pence, PLU provost.

An ambitious agenda of smaller sessions helped explain different aspects of China and its relationship with the U.S. Topics covered:


The Context for Business Relations,
Winston Zee ’76, ’78, Baker & Mckenzie, Hong Kong; Richard J. Ellings, National Bureau of Asian Research and Paul Tai, professor, University of Detroit Mercy.

Development Challenges, Priscilla A. St. Clair, economics, PLU; Gregory E. Guldin, anthropology, PLU; Wing T. Woo, University of Southern California, Davis.

Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle Study Mission, Hallock Beals, Wells Fargo Bank; Joseph Borich, State China Relations Council, John W. Ladenburg, Pierce County Executive,
Greg Youtz, Chinese studies, PLU; Juli Wilkerson, Tacoma Ecomomic Development Department.

Pacific Rim Business Perspectives, Haruo Horaguchi, Hosei University, Tokyo; Ding Lu, National University of Singapore, J. Thad Barnowe, business, PLU.

China’s Science and Technology Development in the 21st Century, Xue Lan, Tsinghua University, Bejing; Janet Rasmussen, director, Wang Center.

The Internet and E-Business, Chung Shing-Lee, PLU School of Business; Sze Chan ’85, Mirrors Group, Taipai; Xiao-Ping Chen, University of Washington; Robert Grenley, IDmicro, Tacoma; Karl Weaver, Newport Technologies; Xue Lan, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

Civic and Environmental Investment, Jimmy Chen, Cheno Marine, Tacoma; Lit Ng, business leader and philanthropist, Monterey, Calif.; Xiaoli Ding, International Marketplace, Woodinville, Wash.

Business Strategies, Joseph Borich, Washington State China Relations Council; Karen Sutter, U.S.-China Business Council; Martha Choe, Washington State Office of Trade and Economic Development.

Arts and Culture

The Arts, He Chengzhou, Nanjing University and Zhi Lin, University of Washington; Richard Moe, emeritus dean of the arts, PLU.

Contemporary Chinese Cinema, Paul Manfredi, PLU; Yingjin Zhang, University of California, San Diego; Yomi Braester, University of Washington.

Spiritual Life, Evelyn and James Whitehead, Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, University of San Francisco; Paul Ingram, religion, PLU.

China 101, Tese Wintz Neighbor, World Affairs Council.

Health Care

Dr. William Foege, ’57, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. M. Roy Schwarz ’59, president, China Medical Board of New York; Rev. John Vaswig ’80 and Dr. Donald Mott, China Partners Network.

Higher Education

Gordon Slethaug ’62, University of Hong Kong; Robert Thomas, Wayne State University; K.T. Tang, physics, PLU.

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