CAFAM Newsletter—February 2016



News & Updates

  • The Governor and The Sneeze
  • United Way Community Survey
  • Welcome Chinese Arrivals to Maine

Upcoming Events

  • Wu Man & The Shanghai Quartet
  • The Ghost Book of China’s Misty Poets
  • Chinese Language Roundtable

Recent Events

  • Chinese New Year Celebration: Year of the Monkey


  • Karen Morency: Tai Chi Instructor
  • Michael Connelly: Tea Purveyor
  • Qi Shen: New Restaurant Owner

Language Corner

  • The Lunar Calendar & Traditional Climate Markers


Nothing to Sneeze At

Maine Governor Paul LePage

You may have seen CAFAM in the news recently due to an attempt at a joke by Governor Paul LePage while he was speaking to a group in Lewiston earlier in February.
Gov. LePage was describing his dealings with Chinese investors over potential business ventures, when he said that he calls one Chinese businessman (named Mr. Chiu) “Mister CHOO!”—making the name sound like a loud sneeze. He smiled and the audience laughed.

Reporters at the event approached CAFAM with the tape of this incident, asking for reaction. The governor is known for his poor track record of making racist and inflammatory statements—so on one hand, this “joke” was a relatively minor slight, while on the other hand, it was one more example of his insensitivity.

CAFAM president Kwok Yeung was approached by the media for comments but was en route to Hong Kong that day, so board member Cindy Han stated her reactions (attributed to her, but with her CAFAM title included), which were covered by broadcast and print media both locally and beyond—including Chinese-language press. Here’s a link to WMTW’s news coverage.

The gist of the reaction: While the governor’s joke was more juvenile than racist, it was a poor choice for him to make fun of this Chinese investor’s name in the same breath as saying he wants to build relations with China and attract investment here. It also makes the governor—and hence Maine—look parochial. Treating a Chinese name as something to joke about displays ignorance of and disrespect for other cultures.

For the record: Governor LePage maintains that he has good and friendly relations with the Chinese businessman in question, and that he was not mocking anyone’s name.

The greater community’s response to CAFAM and the Chinese community in Maine on this issue has been supportive and appreciative. Let’s all hope that our state moves forward to a place of greater multi-cultural understanding.

(Note to Gov. LePage: “Bless you!”)

United Way Conducts Survey

united way of greater portland 2The United Way of Greater Portland attended our recent Chinese New Year celebration in the hopes of collecting answers to survey questions about our greater community. They did not get many people to fill out the survey at the event, so we are asking if members would take a few minutes to do it online.

Please find the survey at:

Here is United Way’s information about the request:

This year, United Way of Greater Portland is working with the community to gather input to establish 10-year, community-wide goals in Greater Portland. We hope to have as many voices join us as we explore three important questions and help identify critical community needs and issues that affect us all:
* What kind of community do we want?
* What’s stopping us from having such a community?
* What can be done to make a difference?
The survey is anonymous and asks the 3 questions above as well as collects some demographic data. We have already collected feedback from over 800 people-—we’d love to involve the members of CAFAM and gather input from your point of view.
Thank you!
The United Way of Greater Portland

A Few More Helping Hands

Chinese students helped at the New Year event.

We are grateful for the friends and CAFAM members who responded to our request for people who are willing to help the growing number of Chinese-speaking arrivals to Maine.

CAFAM hopes to maintain a “Welcome List” of people to contact whenever we receive requests for help with language, acclimation or housing.

There are more and more people moving to Maine, whether students from China or their parents or other new residents. Sometimes they need help with language, other times they just have practical questions about the region.

If you are interested in being on our “Welcome List,” please contact Cindy Han at Chinese language ability is helpful but not necessary! We like having people in different areas of the state who are willing to give a hand.


Wu Man & The Shanghai Quartet

Wu Man

Wu Man is a renowned musical virtuoso on the pipa, an ancient Chinese string instrument. The Shanghai Quartet is one of the world’s leading chamber music ensembles. Together, their brilliant program features a suite of traditional Chinese folk songs arranged by violinist Yi-Wen Jiang, solo pipa works, one of the great string quartets of the 18th century, and a world premiere by one of China’s most renowned composers, Zhao Jiping, best known for the films “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Farewell, My Concubine.”

Also, we invite you to attend a special evening reception for Wu Man while she is in Portland:

  • Wu Man: Artist Reception
  • Sponsored by CAFAM, Fox Intercultural Consulting, and USM Confucius Institute)
  • Wednesday, March 30, 2016; Maine College of Art, approximately 6:15 pm (details to come)

We will have a special opportunity to meet Wu Man and hear about her music and her experiences, plus watch her documentary (35 min.) about her journey to discover ancient music traditions in China. Refreshments will be served. We hope many CAFAM members will come enjoy this event!

The Ghost Book of China’s Misty Poets

Poet Gu Cheng (1956-93)
Poet Gu Cheng (1956-93)

Exhibition on the “Ghost Book,” the first unauthorized publication in the People’s Republic of China. Printed on mimeograph, pasted to walls of Beijing, the pages vanish quickly, making the magazine a “Ghost Book.” An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, 1 March, 5:30 to 7:00 and will include comments by John Rosenwald, curator of the exhibition and translator of the featured poets.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a choral reading of Gu Cheng’s poem “The City” will be held at the UMF Emery Center at 7:00 pm on March 3. Link to event info here.

Chinese Language RoundtableFox logo

  • First and third Friday of the month, 12-1 pm (resuming in March)
  • 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.


Chinese New Year Celebration

Happy New Year!

CAFAM’s Chinese New Year Celebration at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center on February 6th greeted the Year of the Monkey with great energy! We are all glad the roads were cleared of snow in time for the big event.

Lion dancers Steve and Rodger Wong engaged young and old to join them in playing instruments and being part of the lion as it paraded around. Arts and crafts tables were run by many of our area Chinese students. Vendors with cultural items and books filled the gym. Visitors to the mahjong tables learned how to play the popular Chinese game.

CNYvoluntcalligrThe annual performance of CAFAM’s Chinese School dance students filled the stage with color and delight. This year’s addition of the beautiful Peacock Dance was thanks to a grant from the Maine Arts Commission for three students to learn the traditional dance from teacher Fan Luo.

Lunch this year featured the ever-popular “Dumpling Dads” and bubble tea, but also introduced the food of soon-to-open Sichuan Kitchen (Congress St., Portland), including kung pao chicken and pork buns.

CNYpeacockMany students showcased Chinese culture during the talent show, with song, dance, instrumental performances and Chinese yo-yo feats.

Visitors also had the chance to view Monkey King videos, taste Chinese tea at a workshop by Michael Connelly, and learn about pain relief through tai chi at a session led by Karen Morency.

What a full and festive day! Thank you to our co-hosts from USM’s Confucius Institute, whose well-attended table included hands-on calligraphy and painting.


Thank you to our generous sponsors, including:


Confucius Institute at the University of Southern Maine

IDEXXDennis and Patricia Shaffer

IDEXXOxfordCasino 2

Oxford Casino

Beacon Analytical Systems Inc.Beacon

  • Gold Sponsors—Sappi/Warren Release Papers, Southworth Products Co.
  • Silver Sponsors—Kumon Math and Reading Center of Falmouth, Oakhurst Dairy
  • Bronze Sponsors—Johnson Legal, Dr. Joe and Amy Yu, Richard Lu, Bob Greene, Joshua E. Milligan (Key Investment Services), Rosita Yeung

Also: A big xie xie to all of the enthusiastic helpers and volunteers. And, finally, thank you to our tireless event organizer Patti Oldmixon and our illustrious CAFAM president Kwok Yeung!

In case you missed it, here is the Portland Press-Herald article about the event

CNYconfinstchopsticks CNYconfinstpaintmonkeys CNYcymbalgirl CNYcynthiabob CNYdanceribbfly CNYgirlsatCAFAMtable CNYfoodservers CNYngdecorate CNYlittlebow CNYyoungdancersyellowoutfit CNYmahjonglearn


Year of the Monkey CelebrationsCNYmonkeykingvideo

There has been an upsurge in Chinese New Year events and celebrations around the state. Some of the wonderful events this season included:

  • The Maine China Network’s Chinese New Year festive celebration at the Bangor Mall includes a lion dance, parade and arts & crafts.
  • The Auburn Public Library’s event, hosted by Lilly Huang, who has been doing a great deal to help spread Chinese culture in the region
  • The Chinese Gospel Church of Portland held a special service and celebration to welcome the New Year
  • Many public and private schools across Maine have had an increasing interest in celebrating Chinese New Year with food, entertainment and special lessons.


People who helped make the Chinese New Year event a success:

Qi Shen: New restaurant owner who provided lunch dishes

Qi Shen will open Sichuan Kitchen in Portland soon.

I was born in Chengdu, China, and came to Maine because my husband found a job with L.L. Bean 6 years ago. We are living in Yarmouth right now. I am from a family that owned a banquet restaurant since the 1800s in Chengdu. The restaurant closed down during the 1940s for political reasons. After that, my uncle ran a successful culinary school. We liked to talk about how food can taste better when families are together.
According to my grandfather’s diaries, Chef Guohua Zeng who helped the Chinese government open the first Sichuan restaurant in New York in the 1980s, was from my grandfather’s restaurant. (Sorry for bragging.)
When we are dining out here in Maine, it’s hard to find a restaurant that serves food that has the taste and variety that we used to have in China. So I thought I should open an authentic Sichuan restaurant here. I chose Portland for the location because I think people in Portland are more sophisticated and cosmopolitan.

Qi Shen’s mother (right) helps her with authentic Sichuan cuisine.
Qi Shen’s mother (right) helps her with authentic Sichuan cuisine.

The food we are going to serve at Sichuan Kitchen on Congress Street is authentic Sichuan food. Cooking style and flavor will stay the way it’s made in China, but we will adjust spices for some dishes. Every dish has its own style, and every dish has different taste and flavor. This is a feature of Sichuan food: ” 一菜一格,百菜百味” (“One dish, one style; hundred dishes, hundred flavors”).

Our chef is from Chengdu. She worked at “Yu family restaurant” in Chengdu where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited. She worked as the cold dish (appetizer) chef there.

I attended a CAFAM meeting for the first time before the Chinese New Year event. I was very impressed by how many people are trying to make this community better.

Karen Morency: Led a workshop on “Pain Relief through Tai Chi”

CNYkarentaichihandsBack in the early 1990s, my husband wished us to take Yang Style Tai Chi together. He was relearning how to walk because he was newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and I was his chauffeur and his brain to remember the tai chi movements. A month in, tai chi proved too difficult and painful for him to “hold” the postures and his balance. He quit. The school applied his tuition credit to mine. Now I had to continue doing something I hated!

Tai chi was too slow, I was bored—and I had “ballet” hands from my years of Chinese dance training. After six months, I thought, “How much longer would it take to learn the whole form?” It took two years! Yet tai chi changed my life totally. Not at first. It was six years of practice and learning Reiki (a hands-on healing technique) before I felt the energy—”qi” or “life force”—in my tai chi practice. It was some more years when I noticed my monkey brain [worries that clutter your mind] had stopped.

CNYtaichigroupMy tai chi practice over the last 22 years has evolved, infusing energy healing elements. My acquaintance with people with MS led me to create “Water Tai Chi” 5 years ago at the Casco Bay YMCA in Freeport, and an “Adaptive Seated Tai Chi” DVD in 2015 for people in wheelchairs or who are bedridden.

Tai chi is not for everyone. Find some way to move, even if you cannot move physically, you can imagine walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga, or dance. You cannot do it wrong. Did you know that even when you socialize while you walk, you can grow new neuro-pathways in your brain? Do what works. Move those 620 muscles of yours! Remember, whether you love something or hate it—there is something in it for you. Results can be instant. It just never shows up the way you expect!

Michael Connelly: Gave a talk and tasting session on Chinese teas

CNYtwoconnellyThe Connelly family has been traveling to China for nearly 25 years, racking up more than six years in The Middle Kingdom. Everyone in the family speaks Chinese to one extent or another, and we all have considerable ties of work and association with many there.

In 2008, Martin graduated from Colby College and took his degree in Asian Studies to China to seek work.  At the time, preparations were underway for the Olympics and as a result, finding a job was a challenge. Martin returned home and said it was time to start a family tea business: We all, he said, liked and knew China; we liked tea as well. What could make more sense?

And thus it came to pass, just over three years later, that Little Red Cup Tea Co made its public debut at the CAFAM Chinese New Year’s Fair in 2012.  Since that time, the tea on offer has grown from five varieties sold in printed paper sacks to eleven kinds of tea sold in custom made tins.  What has not changed is the character of the tea: Little Red Cup Tea is only Chinese, whole leaf, always both Organic and Fair Trade Certified, of excellent quality and good value.  These self-imposed requirements have made it a challenge to source suitable tea. Indeed, it took more than three years to locate even a single, suitable oolong tea. CNYmikeconnstandtea

Entering its fifth year, the family continues to develop the company. Two distributors are now engaged in expanding the range of the tea’s availability in stores throughout New England. And recently youngest son, William, accompanied Michael to Kunming, spending three days at a tea company specializing in unusual Black and Pu-er teas, with an eye to further expanding the company’s tea varieties. The family remains excited to be developing a Chinese-centric, service-oriented, socially-focused, tea company providing exceptional and exciting products to an expanding customer base through both partner stores and online at


The Traditional Climate Markers – 中国农历节气

Having just celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year, it may be a good time to refresh our knowledge of the lunar clendar, or the Agrarian Calendar 農曆/农历, Nónglì; or Yin Calendar, 陰曆/阴历, Yīnlì.

Each month begins on the day of the dark moon (朔, Shuò) and ends on the last day before the next dark moon. The middle of the month is full moon (望, Wàng). A month with 30 days is called a big month (大月, Dàyuè), and a month with 29 days is called a small month (小月, Xiǎoyuè).

A year with 11 months is a common year (平年, Píngnián), and a year with 12 months is a leap year (闰年, Rùnnián).

There are twenty four climate terms (節氣/节气, Jiéqì) in a solar year signifying the changes in weather patterns. Here are a few major ones:

立春  Lìchūn  Spring begins. (2/4/16)Chinese-Lunar-Calendar015
雨水  Yǔshuǐ  The rains. (2/19)
惊蛰  Jīngzhé  Insects awaken. (3/5)
春分  Chūnfēn  Vernal Equinox (3/20)
清明  Qīngmíng  Clear and bright. (4/4); Also ancestral memorial day.
谷雨  Gǔyǔ  Grain rain. (4/19)
立夏  Lìxià  Summer begins. (5/5)
小满  Xiǎomǎn  Grain buds. (5/20)
芒种  Mángzhǒng  Grain in ear. (6/5)
夏至  Xiàzhì  Summer solstice. (6/20)
小暑  Xiǎoshǔ  Slight heat. (7/7)
大暑  Dàshǔ  Great heat. (7/22)
立秋  Lìqiū  Autumn begins. (8/7)
处暑  Chǔshǔ  Heat ends. (8/23)
白露  Báilù  White dews. (9/7)
秋分  Qiūfēn  Autumn Equinox. (9/22)
寒露  Hánlù  Cold dews. (10/8)
霜降  Shuāngjiàng  Hoar-frost falls. (10/23)
立冬  Lìdōng  Winter begins. (11/7)
小雪  Xiǎoxuě  Light snow. (11/22)
大雪  Dàxuě  Heavy snow. (12/7)
冬至  Dōngzhì  Winter Solstice. (12/21)
小寒  Xiǎohán  Slight cold. (1/5/17)
大寒  Dàhán  Great cold. (1/20/17)

And for those who are a little advanced in Chinese language, here is a poem that includes all twenty four 节气. Have fun!





This e-newsletter is provided to CAFAM members and is edited by Cindy Han and Connie Zhu, with technical support from Jay Collier. If you have any questions, comments or material for the newsletter, please send them to: cindyhan09 at or connie at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.