Grand Lodge, the national organization of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, held the 2004 annual National Essay Contest on Saturday, March 6th. 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.

Contest topic: ŗWhat enduring negative stereotypes about Chinese Americans are most offensive and harmful? Unpleasant as it may be to acknowledge, are any of these stereotypes based on truth? What can Chinese Americans do to eliminate the sources of these views?˛

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 Caleb Ng 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 2004 National Essay Contest

Caleb Ng

12th place Nationally 1st place Locally

Of all the civilizations in world history, the Chinese people share the oldest and richest past. Despite obstacles such as Japanese occupation during World War II and Mao Ze Dongšs cultural revolution, the Chinese people maintained their rich traditions. In todayšs world, the Chinese number some two billion people around the globe. In the United States, Chinese Americans have developed from immigrant railroad workers and manual laborers into a prosperous minority. However, the clash of American and Chinese ideals in the United States has developed into stereotypes of the Chinese. Some of the most prevalent stereotypes include the belief that Chinese are materialistic, perfectionists, and manipulative.

America has always been considered the land of freedom and equality. This belief has lured many desolate Chinese to immigrate to America in search of a better life. An improved life for many Chinese meant to thrive financially. As a result, the Chinese developed the characteristic of materialism. What most American misunderstood was that Chinese materialism grew not out of greed, but out of a deep insecurity from poverty.

Furthermore, the Chinese became generalized as a manipulative people due to the peoplešs desire for money. The Chinese are very cunning. Therefore, many Americans felt cheated in their business transactions with the Chinese. As a result, a serious resentment developed. Americans began to generalize that any way to gain more wealth was the preferred way for the Chinese.

The American stereotype that Chinese are perfectionists stemmed from the Chinese peoplešs drive to excel continuously. The Chinese peoplešs seemingly necessary need to succeed can be explained by two factors. Being a minority in a country, the Chinese felt that perhaps a way to gain acceptance in a culture so different from theirs was to thrive in it. Also, the Chinese people work so hard to excel because they desire to escape poverty or dream of allowing their children a life free of the disadvantages of being poor.

The American stereotypes of the Chinese people can be explained through the substantial gap in culture. Whereas, the Americans have enjoyed decades of prosperity, the Chinese endured under the suppressive communist government of China. It is extremely difficult to advise Chinese Americans to eliminate American stereotypes because the Chinese people feel that they are simply a hard working people. The truth is that American stereotypes are simply misconceptions of Chinese insecurities. As Chinese Americans assimilate more into American culture with each passing decade, generalizations about the Chinese will gradually disappear. Meanwhile, the best advice for a Chinese American is to handle him or herself in an honorable and dignified manner, bringing respect to Chinese Americans everywhere and chipping away at the wall of Chinese stereotypes.