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FCC Spotlight: FCC- Arizona

Note from Editor, Iris Culp: I had a recent opportunity to visit with FCC Arizona Treasurer, Julie Sander about the activity and functions of the chapter.   Below are excerpted highlights of that interview.

 Iris: Tell me about your children and your involvement in the FCC chapter.   

Julie: I have a 3 year old girl adopted from China and a 2 year old girls adopted from Vietnam.  I serve as the treasurer of the chapter and have been on the board for only a year and a half. Our chapter just recently invited the families from Vietnam to join our chapter, so it’s really a blend of both groups.

That is wonderful.  Are most members of the combined group families with younger children?

Julie: Yes, mostly the active members have under age ten or so. As a board, we are in transition. Parents with older children have moved on to other activities with their children and have been less FCC/FCV focused.

I know most chapters have the big CNY celebrations, can you tell me about yours?

Julie:  We offer adult’s activities and children’s activities.  Well, we have recently changed venues for that event and it is at a great space in Tempe Park.  We have a professional stage and 4 hours of events for the families and kids.  We have crafts for the kids, t-shirt paining, coloring. For the older kids we have beading bracelets or necklaces and we have this most wonderful gentleman, Ed Chen, who is a master balloon designer. He donates his time and the work he does is really outstanding; he donates a basket for his services. We have a face painter there – there are lots of Jupiter jumps.  There is sand volleyball with buckets and hula hoops and such.  It is a lot of fun – and a really great event!

Iris: What other activities and offerings does your chapter do during other times of the year?

Julie: The other most popular activity is the “Mommy and Me” luncheon we organize.  It is a huge hit and very well attended.  All the moms enjoy it immensely and look forward to it as special time with our kids and other like families.

We also have a wonderful heritage center here called the COFCO Chinese Cultural Center of Phoenix.  To build it, they brought workers over from China, and it was built with traditional methods, some which had to be redone to meet current building code.  It is a wonderful place there – it has an Asian market, a number of Asian restaurants and offers traditional dance and language classes.  We are fortunate to have a lot of affiliations within the ethnic community here.  We are invited to participate in the larger version of Chinese New Year that the Cultural Center puts on – it’s really a rich resource.   

Also we partner with the Southern AZ chapter and offer a dual culture camp weekend.  There are adult activities and kids programs and we are able to bring a number of resources together for the combined event. The feedback from the event is very positive.
And, the Chandler school system in Southern Arizona offers Mandarin classes in conjunction with that chapter – that’s a great opportunity for families.

Iris: What are the new plans on the horizon?  

Julie:  Well, we as a board decided to “go green” this year and are not doing anymore mailings. We decided to put the money into our website and are doing online registrations now for our events.   It just makes more sense that way.

Iris: What has been the greatest benefit for your family to be involved in the group in your opinion?

Julie:  Well, I think just the relationships are most important. When we get together --and the kids see each other there—you get to see the joy on the kids faces – it’s just so worth the effort.  We have a dance class every Monday night and it is such as joy to see the friends and relationships grow and develop. 

I sense that being around others that look like them is important.  I have one daughter from China and one daughter from Vietnam.  Before my youngest joined the family, my husband, myself and oldest daughter were in Hawaii, vacationing together.  While the native Hawaii’s are not Chinese, there is a similar ethnic appearance, and it seemed to make an impact on my daughter.  I asked our daughter who was 3 at the time, “Do you like being around people who look like you? – I fully anticipated she wouldn’t quite grasp it with the meaning. She looked at me with serious studious eyes and said, “Oh yes, I do like it, very much.’  She was very emphatic and the way she spoke it, told us a lot. I guess it made more of an impact than we would have guessed at that point.  Even at that young age, she totally “got it” – that she had different skin color.  It made us realize even to a greater degree the importance of these friendships and connections for her that we are committed to cultivate. 

Iris:  Yes, the awareness does start at an early age.  It’s good to realize it, and support that cultural connection and awareness. 

Julie:  Well, yes, it is one reason we are doing what we do with our active involvement in FCC/FCV chapters here. We want our kids to grow up with that positive impact.

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