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As we headed into our seventh presentation of A Passage to China at Mall of America we were excited to have a small corps of young volunteers staffing some of our activities table: a new initiative for us. Who better to interact with children than someone their own age or slightly older? Ten-year-old Chris was eager to show his peers how to mold heads of terra cotta warriors. Recently arrived from China, he interacted easily with children from all cultural backgrounds (Asian Indian, African Somalis, Hispanics, and native Minnesotans and all), no English proficiency needed. Ninth-grader Zoe and tenth-grader Summer were so busy working at the print table (this year’s most popular activity) that they barely had time to greet each other before children descended on their table. For the next three hours they were individually so busy helping an endless stream of children that they never had a chance to chat. This printing activity, the first to highlight the fact that printing was first invented in China, showcased, with the aid of a Gelli printing plate, many of the quintessential emblems in Chinese art: the horse (this being the Year of the Horse), the ginkgo leaf (integral part of Chinese herbal medicine), or the bamboo stand (the Chinese painter’s perennial goal.)

In the meantime, Zoe’s younger sisters, Lydia and Anna, saw to it that the tables in the eating area were kept in good order. Across the Rotunda, thirteen-year-old Caroline handled the role of mentor with the ease of a veteran. To the Passage Committee, the lesson from these young volunteers is clear: they are our future leaders. Provide youngsters with an engaging environment and they will thrive. Encourage them in volunteerism and they will give back ten fold. Offer them a chance to be the ambassadors of their own culture and they will shine. We have seen our future and it is them.

This year Passage also expanded into a new space in the Southeast Court of the Mall. We showcased two exciting and informative exhibits. The first one, created by China Center at the University of Minnesota, consisted of 10 panels commemorating 100 years of Chinese students at the University. The second one, curated by our very own style maker, Yin Simpson, displayed court costumes, as well as costumes of citizens and ethnic minorities, in China in the last two centuries. They were graciously loaned to us by Minesota Chinese Dance Theatre, U MN Chinese Scholars and Students Association, Margaret Wong, and Yin Simpson.  Gracefully draped on versatile stands, these costumes enticed visitors into the exhibit space and linger. This fashion exhibit also caught the eye of the local TV stations: three of them featured our fashions in the three days leading up to our opening! You can catch them here:




Over in Sears Court various cultural performances held sway throughout the two days of Passage. Many more school children (another good sign) participated than before. Nothing warmed the hearts of the elders more than to see young children merrily singing away in Chinese, or dancing traditional Chinese dances. It was the nonchalant ease with which they performed that brought a smile to an elder’s face. And as always, the drums of the lion dancers got everyone’s attention and put everyone into a festive mood. They are truly the Chinese equivalent of a trumpet fanfare.

The multi-faceted nature of our offerings and our annual residency at Mall of America had helped to generate anticipation and excitement among festivalgoers.  Each morning they were lined up outside our gates waiting patiently for us to open, and many lingered inside long after we were officially closed at 5 o’clock in the evening.

Passage, a volunteer-driven festival, owes its success to the participation of 54 organizations, a hard working Planning Committee and an army of volunteers. We send a heart felt thank you to you all and see you the first weekend in April in 2015!

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Passage Committee

Ken Lau
Gary Lee
Greg Hugh
Yin Simpson
Zhen Zou
Margaret Wong
Pearl Bergad
Ming Li Tchou
Paul Chen
Cari Lee
Michelle Cao
Henry Han
Ben Torell
Whitney Clark
Mary Yee
Michelle Lee
Will Ahern
J.C. Wang

Arts Subcommittee

Gary Erickson
Ying Liang
Angie Brain

Participating Organizations

Asian Creations
Breck School
CAAM Chinese Dance Theater
Carleton College Chinese Music Ensemble
Carleton College Singers
ChinaSprout Inc.
Chinese American Academic and Professional Association in Minnesota 
Chinese American Association of Minnesota (CAAM)
Chinese American Ballroom Dance Association and Dance With Us America
Chinese Musical Gallery 
Chinese Social Service Center
CIAC Travel Inc.
Concordia Language Villages
David Fong’s Lion Dance Team
Dragon Festival
Dragon Gate School of Tai Chi Chuan
Families with Children from Asia
Gary Erickson
Golden Leopard Martial Arts Center
Green Dragon Kung Fu
Ha Family Entertainment and Family Troupe
Hongde Lion Dance Association
Hopkins Xin Xing Academy
Hui’s Lucky Dragon Dance
Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion Academy
Legacy Adult Day Care Chorus
Legacy Performing Art Studio
Little Swan Dance Studio
Mandarin Links LLC (student performance)
Mingzhou Hua Xia School
Minhua Chorus
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Minneapolis Plum Blossom Kung Fu School
Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society
Minnesota Chinese Dance Theater
Minnesota Minghua Central School
Minnetonka Public Schools
MN Historical Society
Muzi Youth Chorus/Li Lei Music Studio
Pak Mei Athletic Association
Panda Express
Stages Theatre
Tea Garden
Ting James Kong Studio
Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center
Twin Cities Go Club
U MN China Center
U MN Confucius Institute 
US China Business Connections
US-China People’s Friendship Association, MNChapter
Wei Ming Chiang Studio
Xu Qian Studio
Yang Ye Tai Chi
Yinghua Academy



Demi Madison           

Mary Chen     

Summer Ahern

Will Ahern

Luke Audette

Cindy Bai

Heather Ball

Danling Cai

Audrey Chan

Ivy Chang

Carmen Chen

Jing Chen

Ye Cheng


Wenyun Dong

Christina Erickson

Todd Erickson

Bernice Folz

Walter  Graff

Katy Guo

Jill Huang

Henry Han

Jijun He

John Ho

Eric Hsu

Jo Hui

Marlene Hui

Yin Jiang

Kaishan Kong


Ida Lano


Hung-ying Liu

Ana Ly


Maya Maddaus

Anjali Maddock

Jane Mahowold

Stephen Mao


Stella McKinney

Matt McMillan

Sofie Mirviss

Robin Monty

Paula Moy

Brad Navarro

Sarah Penman

Duncan Phelps

Henry Phelps

Natalie Roberts

Qinyun Shao

Pei Shen

Liying  Shi

Foley Simons

Scott Simpson

Yin Simpson

Anna Suiter

Lydia Suiter

Yue-him Tam

Steve Tsai

Priscilla Van Sloun

Fion Wang

Jingbo Wang

Mary Warpeha

Elliott Weiler

Elizabeth Wilcox

Nathalie Wilson

Dominic Wong



Amanda Wooden

Kim Wu

Maureen Wu

Tian Xia

Bingwen Yan

Flora Yang

James Yang

Lu Yang

Lijuan  You

Maddi Youngdale

May Yue

Demi Zhang

John Zhang

Mary Zhang

Patty Zhao


Tianxiao Zhu

Yin Jiang


Catherine Wong