CAFAM Newsletter—March 2017



News & Updates

  • Welcome New Citizens: Naturalization Ceremony
  • Maine Memory Network: New Mainers Online Exhibit
  • Journal Publishes History of Chinese in Maine
  • New Book on Women Artists from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan

Upcoming Events

  • Bill Lascher Book Signing and Talk
  • Golden Dragon Acrobats
  • CAFAM Lecture Series: Chinese Artist

Recent Events

  • Chinese New Year Celebration: Year of the Rooster


  • Viveca Kwan

Language Corner

  • Poem by Li Qingzhao


Naturalization Ceremony Welcomes New Citizens

img_4108Fifty-four Americans representing dozens of different countries—ranging from China and Thailand to Syria and Somalia—took their oath of citizenship at the University of Southern Maine (USM) 0n March 3rd.

The naturalization ceremony means that these Maine residents are now officially Americans, although many have lived here for several years already. About 1,200 Mainers become new citizens each year.

USM President Glenn Cummings welcomed them, saying: “A university can’t live without diversity, innovation, new ideas and new people.”

Keynote speaker Reza Jalali said to the group, as well as the many family members, friends and students attending the ceremony: “Starting today, you have the freedom to be who you wanted to be.” Jalali teaches a course on “Global Migration and the Refugee Experience” at USM, and his students were involved with organizing the event. “America is much larger than fear and hatred,” said Jalali.

Maine Memory Network: Stories of New Mainers

Clara Soule, Director of Portland’s Americanization program, with her Chinese students from the Oriental Restaurant in 1925 (L-R): Han Tong, Chee Wong, Henry Wong, Philip Dong, Dan Wong and George Wong.
Timwah Luk, Ph.D., electrical engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor and founder of Chinese Gospel Church of Portland.

The Maine Historical Society maintains the “Maine Memory Network,” a digital museum and repository of Maine stories. They are now featuring the exhibit 400 Years of New Mainers online. It includes a fascinating compilation of history and stories of those who have populated Maine from elsewhere over the centuries, demonstrating how immigrants have helped to mold the economic, cultural, and social character of Maine.

You can visit the online exhibit at Maine Memory Network.


Chinese History in Maine Featured in Journal

An article by CAFAM board member Gary Libby has been published in a scholarly journal. Gary’s article, “Historical Notes on Some of Maine’s Chinese Hand Laundries and Laundrymen” is featured in 2016 Chinese America: History & Perspectives. Gary summarizes the article:

The article followed the history of Maine’s Chinese laundries from the first one in 1877 in Portland to the closure of the one in Bangor in 1977. Chinese men did not do laundry work in China but a combination of racial discrimination, a 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 in America.

Sam Lee, a 14-year-old boy, opened Maine’s first Chinese laundry on Congress Street in Portland in 1877. After that there was a quick influx of Chinese immigrants who opened laundries all over Maine. The years immediately following WWI were the height of Maine’s Chinese laundries. In Portland there were nearly 30 and there were Chinese laundries in 30 Maine municipalities. There were even two of them in the tiny town of Cherryfield in Washington County.

Due to the Chinese Exclusion laws, very few laundrymen were able to bring their families to America. Also, other than in the larger cities, Maine’s Chinese laundrymen lived isolated bachelor society lives many miles from any other Chinese people. As a result there was a constant turnover of laundry owners and workers most of whom would move away to places like Boston where there were Chinese communities or would return to China.

Maine’s Chinese laundries began to fade away shortly after the end of WWII largely as a result of the development of small electric motors that let people buy affordable electric washing machines and the introduction of coin operated laundromats.

My article looked at the types of crimes committed by and against Chinese laundrymen, attempts by the outside community to attempt to assimilate them, a comparison to non-Chinese owned laundries, the physical condition of the buildings where Chinese laundries operated, a detailed look at the Goon family laundry in Portland which was operated by the 1952 American Mother of the Year, and the end of the Chinese laundry business.

Gary has another article that will be published in the same journal—“Marriage and Family Life Among Maine’s Earliest Chinese Residents”—to be featured in our next newsletter.

Creating Across Cultures

On March 8, International Women’s Day, Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau is set to launch at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

The book is the brainchild of editor Michelle Vosper, an American who ran the Hong Kong chapter of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) for 25 years. ACC is one of the most important arts bodies in the region, and when I worked as a young arts writer at the South China Morning Post newspaper, I would continually keep my eye on their work. They had an uncanny ability to spot the most interesting young artists from Greater China and send them to New York for residencies. In 2014, Michelle reached out to see if I would join 11 other writers and contribute three chapters to the book she was creating. It would be telling the stories of some of China’s most trailblazing female creative icons—from the eminent writer Nieh Hualing (聶華苓), to dance pioneer Yang Meiqi (楊美琦) and contemporary artists Yin Xiuzhen (尹秀珍) and Lulu Hou (侯淑姿)—in English for the first time.

I spent that year deep in Skype interviews with the young Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong (莊梅岩), the veteran installation artist Choi Yan Chi (蔡仞姿), and the dynamic visual artist Jaffa Lam (林嵐). It was a chance to study the collective memories of Hong Kong and each woman’s creative practices. As I’ve been poring over the final text of the book this winter, I have been utterly moved to read these histories—or perhaps I should say, “herstories”—and how three generations of history can be startlingly revealed through the prism of individual experience.

Of all the book reviews that have so far come in, these words from the American poet Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, seems to crystallize the unusual power behind this book. He calls it: “An indispensable resource for anyone seeking to understand the dynamism underpinning what some are calling the Chinese Century. In these portraits of sixteen extraordinary women, whose achievements in art, dance, literature, music, and theater have profoundly shaped contemporary aesthetic, cultural, and social discourses, we glimpse worlds upon worlds, any one of which may change the very ways in which we make meaning of our time on earth. This is a treasure.”

American readers can expect to purchase the book through Columbia University Press after its U.S. launch in June.

By Clare Tyrrell-Morin, writer and editor with a focus on cross-cultural shifts and cultural hybridity, currently living in Freeport, Maine.

You may also hear Clare discussing this book on Ba Yin Box, the Chinese music show on WMPG/90.9FM, on Monday, March 13, 10:30-noon. The show will sample music by artists featured in the book.


Eve of a Hundred Midnights

Author Bill Lascher offered a talk and book signing to discuss his book, Eve of a Hundred Midnights. It’s the story of a pair of newly married journalists who covered conflicts in China and the Philippines during World War II. Lascher is from “the other Portland,” in Oregon, but he attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies (in the real Portland), graduating in 2002.

Golden Dragon Acrobats

Click the image to view a video montage.

Regular Performance:

  • Thursday, April 6, 2017; 7 pm
  • Merrill Auditorium, Portland
  • Tickets: $32, $40, $46; students $15.
  • CAFAM members receive a discounted price of $15 by entering the code “Residency” at the box office or by phone: (207) 842-0800.

School-Time Performance (Recommended for Gr. 3-12):

  • Thursday, April 6, 2017; 10 am
  • Merrill Auditorium, Portland
  • Tickets: $8.50 performance only; $13 performance & in-class workshop

The Golden Dragon Acrobats present award-winning acrobatics, traditional dance, spectacular costumes, ancient and contemporary music and theatrical techniques.

CAFAM Lecture Series

  • In the works: A talk by a Chinese artist to share knowledge of traditional and contemporary Chinese art
  • Please look for upcoming email with more details

CAFAM is continuing to plan and present lectures by a variety of speakers throughout the year, from academicians to artists to others whose work is related to Chinese culture and issues.


Chinese New Year Celebration

Dragon chases the pearl
Dragon chases the pearl

Something to Crow About!

The Chinese New Year celebration at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center was a big success, much thanks to a whole team of organizers, volunteers and students. We rang in the Year of the Rooster with the wonderful Chinese School dance students, lion dancers, a variety of arts & crafts, including calligraphy “couplets,” delicious food from Panda Garden as well as dumplings and tang yuan rice balls, vendors, and long list of speakers presenting topics ranging from tea to travel to Chinese pop music to U.S.-China relations.

Thank you to our co-hosts from

USM’s Confucius Institute!

Many thanks for our generous sponsors:





  • Gold SponsorsBeacon Analytical Systems, Sappi/Warren Release Papers, Southworth International
  • Silver SponsorsFalmouth Kumon Math Center, Oakhurst Dairy
  • Bronze Sponsors—Jay Collier, Bob Greene, Joshua Milligan, Ah Kau & Sally Ng, Rosita Yeung, Amy C. & Joseph Yu


Viveca Kwan

Viveca and her father Charles Tung.

Viveca Kwan moved to Maine with her husband and two children in 1999 and has been an enthusiastic teacher of Chinese language and culture to the Greater Portland community. She has taught at Cape Elizabeth High School, North Yarmouth Academy and Cheverus High School in Portland. She has been on the faculty of the Language Exchange since 2011, providing classes “both instructional and fun” to individuals and groups, “engaging students of all ages in interactive activities that appeal to various learning styles.”

Viveca and her family.

Born in New York City, Viveca grew up mostly in the town of Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson River. Her father from Haimen (海门), just north of Shanghai, and her mother from Hong Kong came to the United States to attend college in the late 1940s. They spoke Mandarin at home and exposed their children to New York’s Chinese community and the traditional culture they had brought with them. Later, Viveca studied Chinese language at Brown University and embraced her identity as an Asian American. “When growing up in a small town that was mostly white, I had the dual identity of being a Chinese and an American,” Viveca recalls. “My mother used to encourage us to be proud of our heritage.”

After moving to Maine, Viveca took a break from practicing law to spend more time with her daughters. She became involved with CAFAM and started teaching at the CAFAM Chinese School. She helped with the student dance performances for the Chinese New Year celebrations and even participated in a dance performance herself one year.

Having traveled extensively throughout East Asia (including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan), Europe and Mexico, Viveca now enjoys southern Maine for its great outdoors, friendly people and easy living. Her father has also moved here and attends CAFAM events often. Viveca hopes that CAFAM will organize more social gatherings where community members can learn about culture and history and engage in intellectual discussions. She has enjoyed the Mandarin Roundtable and thinks the CAFAM lecture series is a good addition.


Li Qingzhao 李清照

March is Women’s History Month, so it is only appropriate to celebrate Li Qingzhao, hailed as the greatest woman poet in Chinese history. Do you know that two impact craters are named after her? Li Ch’ing-Chao on planet Mercury and Li Qingzhao on planet Venus.

Li Qingzhao was born in 1084 to a prominent scholar-official family in what is now Shandong Province. She was highly acclaimed in the art of ci 词, a form of lyrical poetry written to different sets of meters (i.e, named tunes, 词牌), using lines of varying lengths, unlike shi, which uses fixed-length lines.

Li Qingzhao’s early poems portray her protected, cultured life as a carefree maiden and the wife of a scholar specializing in epigraphy. Her later poems darkened significantly as her life was disrupted by the fall of Northern Song Dynasty, the resettlement to southern China, and the death of her husband soon afterwards. She lived to the age of approximately 71, with no definitive date of death, after spending her final years in desolation, but continuing to work on her husband’s book on calligraphy and to write poetry. Only 100 of her poems, a fraction of her prolific writing, have been preserved.

The following poem belongs to her early period. Enjoy the brisk rhythm and the vivid imagery!

<如梦令>              Rúmènglìng (Tune Name)   Literal translation for reference:

常记溪亭日暮      cháng jì xī tíng rì mù          Often remember brook pavilion at dusk

沉醉不知归路      chén zuì bù zhī guī lù         Heavily intoxicated not knew return route

兴尽晚回舟          xīng jìn wǎn huí zhōu         Pleasure all spent late rowed back boat

误入藕花深处      wù rù ǒu huā shēn chǔ      Strayed into lotus flowers deep

争渡 争渡             zhēng dù zhēng dù              Struggled to get through, struggled to get through

惊起一滩鸥鹭      jīng qǐ yī tān ōu lù              Startled and aroused a shoal of herons and gulls


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 czh012 at


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