Fujian takes spotlight at New Jersey ceremony
Dr Wei Liu (center) was with Linden High School students visiting Xiamen, Fujian, in the 2014 language and cultural exchange program. [Photo provided to China Daily]
"Education and empathy are pathways to trust, which build those relationships. The Chinese exchange program gave our students that pathway to build valued relationships with students from around the world," she added.
Modrak expressed her gratitude in remarks to Tomazic's wife, Juping Tomazic, known as "Mommy Tomazic" to many in the Linden school district. Mrs Tomazic has served as the voluntary Chinese program adviser for the Linden public schools since 2008.
In March 2022, the mayor and City Council by proclamation recognized Mrs Tomazic's significant contribution to expanding the teaching of Mandarin Chinese and her efforts in coordinating the exchange program between Linden and Fujian.
Dr Wei Liu, chairman of the Students and Scholars Association of Great New York, who helped coordinate the event, considers himself an old friend of Linden's. During the past decade, Liu has met many Linden students when they visited Xiamen and Fuzhou on their exchange trips.
"Students took a deep interest in learning about Chinese culture; they met new friends, and for them, the world got smaller," Liu told China Daily. "Once the pandemic is over, we hope exchanges of this kind would be able to return. We have a lot to do, and we have plans."
In a congratulatory letter to the event, Margaret Lam, a businesswoman and philanthropist who has tapped her family fortune to promote Chinese American causes in New Jersey for decades, said: "As Asian Americans, we want to give back to our country. One of the gifts we can give is of ourselves, our heritage, our culture, our language. We can share where we came from, who we were, and who we are now. Then, together, as a united people, we can go forward and decide who we want to be in the future."