Grand Lodge, the national organization of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, held the 2003 annual National Essay Contest on Saturday, March 1. Senior high school students of Chinese descent were invited to participate in this contest. The National Essay Contest is one of the important programs of the Grand Lodge encouraging and developing our Chinese and Chinese American youth. The goal is to build leadership skills for these young community leaders of tomorrow by refining good English writing skills while demonstrating the ability to present clear, logical thinking on an issue of current national relevance. Applicants are expected to prepare and write a 500 word English theme within two hours on a topic given at the beginning of the contest. Judging is conducted by a national board of Judges organized by Grand Lodge. Top essays are evaluated for originality, clarity of thought and expression, and correctness of grammar and spelling.

ESSAY TOPIC: "New Chinese immigrants and first generation Chinese families are part of the large influx of newcomers to the United States. What responsibilities, if any, do Chinese Americans whose families have been in this country for several generations owe new immigrant or first generation families? How can dialogue and interaction between the groups benefit both?"

National awards include
  • $1000 and a Certificate of Recognition for the Best 2001 essay,
  • $800 and a Certificate for Second,
  • $500 and a Certificate for Third.
  • There are a maximum of 14 additional Awards of Merit, each including a $100 award and a Certificate. Merit Awards will be called "National or "Regional" depending on the national ranking of the winning participant.

The National results can be found by going to the CACA National Web Site. Click on "Links" at the Left Margin.

Locally, the Salinas Lodge is pleased to announce that Andrew Shing have been awarded National Certificate of Merit for their essay entries. He received $100 award. Below is his winning entry.

Chinese American Citizens Alliance Year 2003 National Essay Contest

Andrew Shing

7th place Nationally 1st place Locally

As a Chinese American, I feel that I have a responsibility to help the people of my family's origins. Although we aren't directly related, there is a certain bond between people who are of the same cultural background; it makes them almost as good as family. Being able to speak Cantonese myself, it's quite refreshing to hear the language spoken somewhere other than my home. Helping new immigrants also benefits myself because they bring with them a renewal of our culture. Being born in America, enjoying Chinese traditions first-hand is something I haven't had the fortune to do.

Both of my parents are first generation Chinese Americans, and although some may be ashamed of that fact, I'm proud of it. It's true that sometimes we have a cultural clash, but those disagreements don't matter when I think of how my parents have helped me appreciate my heritage. New immigrants help continue my appreciation when they join the Chinese communities and bring the Chinese traditions. They enrich the communities with the celebration of Chinese festivals. Many offer classes in Chinese calligraphy and artwork. The older generations retell myths and legends they heard as children. New immigrants give me things I otherwise wouldn't have received because I have not lived in China.

Entering a new land and a new culture can be quite difficult, yet neither having friends nor being able to speak the native language can make one feel completely isolated. Chinese Americans have a responsibility to help introduce new immigrants to this culture. They can translate for the immigrants and break down the language barrier (especially for the more elderly who don't wish to learn the English language). Those who have connections could help immigrants find jobs. It's also good just to support them. We live in an uncaring world and we may be the closest thing to a friendly face.

The interaction benefits both sides. As one helps them assimilate in America, one can learn more about one's Chinese language. I often pity those people who know the names of their cultural backgrounds, but that is all. They can't relate or be proud of their heritage because they know nothing about it. The Chinese are quite fortunate to have a constant flow of new Chinese to the United States. Besides keeping the culture alive, they have helped create a sub-culture in America. Keeping to semi-traditional ways of raising children (i.e., strict obedience and reverence to the elders) has created a generation of youths who can remember their culture while enjoying the benefits of living in America.

This world is hard enough to live in without having people isolate one another. Having the comfort of a common origin should bring people together. Why not take advantage of this good fortune of cultural revival if the opportunity presents itself? We need to do our part to keep Chinese culture alive. Otherwise it will all be lost in the shuffle, just a thing of the past.