This entry was previously published in the Seattle Chinese Post’s May 5 issue. Join us for the Northwest Asian Weekly’s 30th Anniversary Gala on Oct. 5 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.
By Assunta Ng
I am not really superstitious. When we sold 40 tables for our anniversary gala, however, I stopped pushing for more. One friend said, “You can’t have 40. You can’t have 44 either.” The number four in Japan and China and the number 10 in China carry the same homonym as the word for death. The numbers are considered unlucky. To avoid 44, I turned down latecomers. Also, we added seats to some tables to have the seating at 11, instead of 10. So OK, I admit I am slightly superstitious when it comes to organizing important events.
The last thing I expected was thieves at our event. We made sure that there were gift bags for every single guest. During the cocktail hour, a few guests grumbled that their gift bags disappeared while they were away talking to friends. Apparently, some greedy folks took more than one bag.
“You tried to do too much in one night by giving out so many awards,” said a reader who has known us for 30 years. “You shouldn’t end the event so early (at 8:35 p.m). I didn’t like to be rushed at the dinner. I wanted to have time to watch all the performers and applaud for all the award winners.” You can tell the reader has been out of touch with our community for a long time. “One more thing,” the reader said. “Why didn’t you hire a professional singer to entertain us?”
I wish I had the money to do so! After all, we charged only $39.99 per person.
“What you tried to do in your 30th anniversary dinner is to embrace the young and old. You gathered new and old friends from over the past three decades in one room,” said a business owner who enjoyed the evening. Another guest, also an event planner, said, “It looked easy, a well-packaged evening complete with programs and an awards presentation. It actually requires a lot of organization, thought, and work. It took a lot of experience to run the evening so smoothly.”
Though we gave out 25 awards, not every Chinese organization received recognition. Those who were present but were not honored were disappointed. But not to worry, the Northwest Asian Weekly gives out many awards each year. If not this year, it will be their turn in the future.
I have volunteered as an auctioneer for many events. When doing so, I never know if I’ll receive any bids. So when I announced the starting bid, throwing out $1,000 dollars to support the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), there were initially no bids among the primarily Chinese audience. Suddenly, someone moved to the center of the room, and I noticed that she motioned with one finger. That person was Ellen Ferguson, co-chair of the The Wing’s board. Bless her heart! She was the only donor who gave $1,000 to IDEC. Her act inspired others to follow with $500 donations.
“Should I or should I not?” one guest thought while considering if she should raise her hand to contribute to IDEC. Asian cultures have taught us to be humble.
“It would be embarrassing [to show off],” she assumed.
Later, she quietly handed me a check for $300. I understand. Her behavior sometimes mirrors mine. I have deliberately chosen not to participate in some “call to action” moments for fear that others might perceive me as out of place.
“I want to donate to IDEC, but you don’t have to print it in the paper,” one guest said. “I’m doing this from my heart, and it will make me happy to do the right thing. I am not doing it for the sake of letting others know.” Her sweet words delighted me. They exemplified the best of human nature.
Master Hong Yijiao bought the first table for the 30th anniversary after seeing the Chinese Post ad. I was also moved by an act of generosity from Kwong Louie, an elderly member of the Soo Yuen Benevolent Association.
“What do you want us to do?” Louie responded after I told him about our 30th anniversary.
“Buy two tables,” I said.
“Sure,” he said.
“We’ve got no suits,” said a few men who wanted to attend but were concerned by our invitation, which requested that our guests dress in suits and formal wear. What I don’t understand is that women never complain about this. In fact, the female guests were ecstatic for the opportunity to dress up. My solution for these men was for them to go shopping. (end)