CAFAM Newsletter—September 2014


News & Updates

  • CAFAM Membership: Online Renewal in September
  • Request for Mandarin Translators
  • Chinese School Set to Open
  • Portland Magazine Article on Chinese Laundrymen

Upcoming Events

  • Chinese Language Roundtable
  • Mid-Autumn Festivities

Recent Events

  • Moon Festival
  • Potluck in the Park / CAFAM Board Election

Language Corner

  • Autumn Bounty


  • “Uncle 2”: A Chinese Student in Maine in the 1940s


CAFAM Membership Renewal & Donations

Have you renewed your CAFAM membership this year? Now is the time to do it! We’ve made it easy with our new online renewal system. Just click RENEW CAFAM MEMBERSHIP to pay your dues electronically, using PayPal.

From now on, we are simplifying the membership renewals so that September is always the start and end of an annual membership. That’s why you should act now and renew your CAFAM membership today!

Chinese-THANK-YOU-MFor more specific information about membership and dues, click MEMBERSHIP INFO.

Anyone who is interested in supporting our organization’s efforts to promote and support Chinese culture and language in Maine is welcome to click DONATE TO CAFAM. We thank you for any amount of support!

Please support our efforts to streamline the membership process by renewing your membership now. We are unable to spend the time and resources on postage and printing reminders, so your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

If you prefer not to renew online, please mail your payment to the address below.

Chinese and American Friendship Association of Maine

P.O. Box 10372, Portland, ME 04101

We appreciate your prompt action in support of CAFAM’s mission!

Request for Mandarin Translators

HarrietBeecherStoweElemChinese translators are needed for a group of 20 elementary school children from Zhejiang Province, China, who are visiting their sister school, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary, in Brunswick, Maine, Sept 28-Oct 3. A few volunteers are needed to help during the visit.

  • The group arrives the afternoon of September 28 and departs the morning of October 3rd.
  • We are looking for volunteers to sign up for a two-hour block during the school days and possible evening support.
  • Volunteers should be proficient in Mandarin

For more information please contact:

CAFAM Chinese School Set for School Year

DSC_0395CAFAM Chinese School starts Saturday, October 4, at the Ocean Avenue School in Portland. It runs through November 22, and then takes a break for the holidays until January 3, 2015. Classes then resume with special emphasis on rehearsals for the dance performance at the Chinese New Year Festival on February 7, 2015.

New this year are classes in the circus arts offered by Portland’s Circus Conservatory of America. Aikido of Maine is partnering with the school for martial arts and the Hyde School is partnering in the dance program.

The school is in its 18th year and welcomes toddlers to high school students for classes in Mandarin, traditional dance, martial arts, art and Chinese culture workshops. The emphasis is on fun, friendship, family and community. We welcome new students and volunteers. For more information and to register, please check the website

If you have any questions, please contact Kelli Pryor at

Portland Magazine Article on Chinese Laundrymen

Toy Len Goon in her Laundry, 1952
Toy Len Goon in her laundry, 1952

CAFAM’s treasurer Gary Libby, an amateur historian, has spent years researching the stories of Chinese who lived in Maine in years past. His article on the men behind Portland’s earliest Chinese operated laundries will be featured in Portland Magazine‘s upcoming November issue.

Excerpted from Gary’s article:

In China, Chinese men did not engage in the laundry business. In the United States, a combination of racial discrimination, need for the service, and the small capital investment necessary to start up a business resulted in a large proportion of Chinese men becoming laundrymen.

All of Portland’s Chinese laundrymen lived at their laundries which usually consisted of two rooms. The most vivid description of an early Maine Chinese laundry appeared in the Portland Daily Eastern Argus in 1889 describing the Wah Lee Laundry at 128 Center Street. There the shop’s owner and his employee lived and worked in a two-room space. The front room, where the customers were served, also functioned as the office (with an abacus, account book, camel hair brushes and India ink), ironing space, and place to store the bundles of finished laundry. The rear room functioned as the actual laundry area, the sleeping and eating area, and, occasionally, as a temple for religious services.

Look for the full article in the November issue of Portland Magazine!


Chinese Language RoundtableFox logo

  • First and third Friday of the month, starting Sept 19th, 12-1 pm
  • ThinkTank Coworking, 533 Congress St., Portland

A casual meeting of Mandarin speakers in the Portland area. Feel free to bring your lunch! Organized by Fox Intercultural Consulting.

Maine-China Network: Mid-Autumn Festivities (two-part celebration)

  • “Take Off” event: Sept 19th, 6-7:30 pmkite
  • Creative Arts Center, Brewer

6 pm: Learn to make miniature kites that fit in your pocket and can fly any time, taught by kite expert Glenn Davison
7 pm: Complimentary Chinese dinner and conversation with Glenn and friends

  • “Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival”: Sept 20th, 10 am-3 pm
  • Indian Trail Park, Brewer

Crafts, lion dances, learn to make moon cakes and paper kites, and watch Glenn fly some wonderful kites.


Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is a time for gathering with family and friends—and eating mooncakes. CAFAM did just that on Sept 13th at the Woodfords Church in Portland.

We had a record turnout, with a wide range of ages filling the rooms, including many Chinese students who are attending local schools. The buffet tables were overflowing with delicious foods and desserts, and we ran out of servingware for the many enthusiastic guests.

Performances throughout the evening were lively and varied, from poetry readings by CAFAM’s own Amy Yu and Bob Greene to numerous students sharing their talents in music, dance and poetry. There was even a pair of young men rapping in Cantonese. Moon-appreciation songs were also led by CAFAM’s Craig Dietrich and Cynthia Setchell. CAFAM vice president, Kwok Yeung, performed his emcee duties smoothly throughout the evening.

University of Southern Maine’s Confucius Institute contributed greatly to making the event festive, including providing food, decorations, cultural items and many of the evening’s wonderful performers. Many thanks!

We hope that many of you were able to see the moon on the actual date of this year’s Moon Festival (Sept 8). It was truly as bright and full as can be!

CAFAMMoonFestsep14 ConfInstGirlsSingCAFAMsept14 BobAmyCAFAMsept14 BoysSingCAFAMsept14 MoonFestGirlsPoetry MoonFestConfInst

Potluck in the Park / CAFAM Board Elections

We spent a pleasant Maine summer day at CAFAM’s Picnic in the Park, held in June at lovely Winslow Park in Freeport. Some new friends (and some dogs) were there, a few Frisbees were tossed, and picnic foods were enjoyed by all.

We also took a few minutes to conduct CAFAM business, electing our board of directors.

This year’s CAFAM officers are: Robert Rovner, President; Kwok Yeung, Vice President; Michael Connelly, Secretary; and Gary W. Libby, Treasurer (and membership coordinator).

The Board of Directors are: Meilin Brodeur, Martin Connelly, Michael Connelly, Bob Greene, Cindy Han, Gary Libby, Susan Lieberman, Joseph McDonnell, Ah-Kau Ng, Sally Ng, Patti Oldmixon, Robert Rovner, Fran Sayers, Cynthia Setchell, Amanda Szala, Mary Tennant, Marilyn Thomas, Kwok Yeung and Amy Yu.

Thank you to all those who served CAFAM so well in the past year!

PicnicMartinBaby PotluckNgsCraig



Autumn Bounty

By Connie Zhu

南瓜粥/ nánguāzhōu/pumpkin porridge

Chinese believe in the medicinal qualities in food and vary their diet according to the change of the four seasons. Here is a list of recommended grains and vegetables for the fall that are mostly available in Maine, so try to incorporate them into your fall meals.

Enjoy and stay healthy! 祝您健康!

糯米/nuòmǐ /sticky rice/benefiting the spleen and the stomach

黄豆/huángdòu/yellow soybean/benefiting spleen, the stomach and large intestines

茄子/qiézi/eggplant/benefiting the stomach and large intestines

白菜/báicài/Chinese cabbage/benefiting the stomach and the spleen

南瓜/nánguā/pumpkin/benefiting the stomach and large intestines

糯米蒸莲藕/ nuòmǐ zhēngl ián’ǒu/steamed lotus

荸荠/ bíjì/water chestnut/benefiting the stomach

胡萝卜/ húluóbo/carrot/benefiting the lungs, the spleen and the stomach

白萝卜/ báiluóbo/turnip/benefiting the lungs and the spleen

莲藕/ lián’ǒu/lotus root/benefiting the heart, the lungs, and the spleen

番薯/ fānshǔ/sweet potato/benefiting the liver and the spleen



“Uncle Two” Remembers Maine: A Chinese Student in Orono in the 1940s

Photo of Hsu Chingyuin around 1950, shortly after he left Maine for Taiwan

By Cindy Han

My oldest uncle, Hsu Chingyuin—who we call Er Bo Bo or “Uncle 2,”—has experienced plenty during his 92 years of life, including growing up in Wuxi, China, experiencing wartime throughout his teens and 20s, and leaving the mainland for Taiwan as a college student. Soon after, he made an even bigger move, pursuing his chemical engineering studies across the globe, coming to the United States—all the way up to University of Maine in Orono. There he pursued a master’s degree (1948-49), applying his chemical engineering expertise to the field of pulp and paper. Maine, of course, was the place to be to learn about trees and paper.

Later on, after leaving Maine, he worked for the Taiwan Paper Co. and became the leading expert on paper technology in Taiwan. He also established a department at the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan, which served as an important training ground for other paper engineers in Taiwan and China.

My uncle has now come full circle, moving back to Wuxi, China, his hometown, where he enjoys relatively good health for his advanced age. To this day, he has clear—and fond—recollections of the time he spent in Maine, where he was one of the very few Chinese residents. He recently shared his memories in a taped conversation . The transcript of that interview is now part of the Maine Historical Society’s archives, thanks to the work that CAFAM’s Gary Libby has done to ensure that stories of Chinese living in Maine are held in their records. Here are some translated excerpts from that interview:

When did you go to Maine?
I was in Maine in 1948, I arrived in August, when school started. I lived in Orono on the University of Maine campus dorm. That dorm was not the regular dorm—it was the wartime military training center housing. It was quite simple.

Why did you choose to go to Maine?
At that time, in the U.S., the paper industry developed three centers: one was New England, one was the Great Lakes area, one was the West Coast (Washington State). A lot of the paper mills in China had people who were trained in Maine.

Was it difficult for you to live in America?
I had no problems—where I went, there was no discrimination toward foreign students. They were all very polite. In fact, during the spring vacation at the end of my stay, one student’s parents knew of me and invited me to their home in Bar Harbor. It’s along the coast of Maine and it’s very beautiful. I got to eat lobster and eat crab there. I lived there several days.

At that time were there many Chinese people in Maine?
There were not many. One portion of them were the Chinese people who, in order to get their citizenship, served in the military. That group was an entirely different group from ours—we were all students.

What memories do you have of Maine?
When I went, there wasn’t much time to play or relax, but I did visit many paper mills. As for that, for those of us studying the paper industry, they treated us well in Maine. Especially the department chairman; he was especially nice. As soon I got there, he interviewed me and asked me: “How long will you study here?” I said, “I plan to study for one year.” He looked at my transcript, and he said, “You should have no problem finishing in one year. But you should get started right away—tomorrow.” And he said, “Today or tomorrow, someone from my machine shop will drive you into the forest and get wood samples.”

In the forest, there were all kinds of wood, most were broadleaf trees. It was already snowy—it was only the end of August or beginning of September and there was already snow. They brought me some snowshoes—you know what they are? They look like tennis racquets. They taught me how to walk with them on the snow.

And then the machine shop helped me cut small pieces of wood samples. And that’s what I used to do my experiments. The research facility was quite good. Later when I was in Taiwan, I replicated that kind of facility for people to use.

What else do you recall about Maine?
Most of what I remember is about school. At that time, we were about half an hour outside of the city of Bangor. Bangor was originally a small Air Force base, used to train many people during wartime. The people in school had a different way of looking at things because of that.

And in the city, there were very few Chinese. I remember there were only two Chinese families. One was running a small grocery store. I had whatever I needed available at school, so I very seldom went out to buy anything. The school food was very good. In fact, at that time, all the state schools had the same cafeteria food. Every week, the cafeteria served one or two Chinese dishes. But their Chinese “food” was chop suey (laughs).

But were there a lot of Chinese students? Why did they make Chinese food?
No there weren’t many. It’s just that the state food menu added in Chinese food at some point in the week—to let there be a wider variety of choices.

I remember I went to visit one place that made paper for money—it was in the Midwest. It was managed by a Maine alumnus. The manager said, “You know we don’t usually let foreigners in—we don’t even usually let Americans in.” But he told his colleagues that I was an exception, because of our Maine alumni connection. And when I was in China, I was the one making the paper for money. He used to work in China making paper for money as well. In fact, he said I don’t need to show you around, because when you’re in a paper mill, you won’t get lost.

I went around the mill that day, and when the people in the plant saw me, they pretended not to see me. I saw a lot. I got to see many things, even the roller that was used to make the watermark on Chinese currency.

Why did you leave Maine to go back to China?
When I left Maine, I had already lined up an arrangement with the paper mill in China. But the University of Maine department chair said, “If you go back to that paper mill, you might have problems. That region is already under Communist control. You can’t enter China without permission, and permission is very difficult to acquire.” Everyone was scared, and even the Wuxi friends and relatives did not dare to sponsor me.

So the chairman in Maine wrote two letters: One was to a paper mill in Guangzhou; another letter was to the biggest paper mill in Taiwan. He consulted with the head of the paper mill to see if they wanted to take me. So from Hong Kong to Taiwan, I went to see him. He said, “I’m not sure. Before, it would have been no problem, but now the business with China has left. Our business is bad. We have concerns.” But the next day, he said he had talked to his CEO and he said, “We welcome you. Because in our paper mill, we need to update the facilities. So if we have someone like you, it will be very useful.”

Big Wilson Old Growth Forest


The CAFAM newsletter is produced by Cindy Han and Connie Zhu with web support from Jay Collier. If you have any questions, comments or material for the newsletter, please send them to: cindyhan09 at

4 thoughts on “CAFAM Newsletter—September 2014

  1. Thank you all so much! Connie and Cindy did great jobs with the “Bounty” and the “1948 Chinese UM-O Student”.

    Additional kudos for the fine shot of Martin and his lovely little Juniper! He doesn’t look proud, does he?

    Our best wishes to your leaders and your membership while we have been largely “out of the loop”

    Sincerely; Fred (Fan Cen), Angela (Zhang Li), and Colin FAGIN (Fan Wei-Cheng)
    Coopers Mills, Maine, 04341

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