From Chengdu, with love: Chinese language metropolis thanks Western Pa. for help | Native information
Shortly after a performance group in Chengdu, China returned home from the Pittsburgh area in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing.
In the summer, Sichuan Province, whose capital is Chengdu, was hit by an earthquake that left three dead and damaged thousands of homes.
In western Pennsylvania, the problems did not go unnoticed.
“The Chinese community here has mobilized and donated 20,000 masks to the city of Chengdu,” reported Kwun Kwong Kai.
With Sherry Kai, his daughter, who served as translator, he welcomed the guests to dinner at Sichuan Gourmet in Squirrel Hill. As a representative of the Chengdu Foreign Affairs Office, Kwun expressed his gratitude by moderating the event and giving gifts to those present.
He particularly thanked two South Hills women for their continued service on behalf of the area’s residents of his country: Pier Lee of Bethel Park, Director Emeritus of the Peters Township Public Library and Organization of Chinese Americans Pittsburgh, Honorary Chairperson for 2019, and Susan Chang of Upper St. Clair, chairman of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology.
Among others attending the November 19 event, which kicked off the Pittsburgh Chinese Restaurant Association’s Sichuan Cuisine Week, were Rich Fitzgerald, executive director of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
“The growth within the Chinese community in southwestern Pennsylvania is due to the fact that so many people come here to use their wits,” said Peduto. “You come here as doctors and engineers. You come here to work in the tech community. “
He recognized the role of the restaurant association in adapting to the new environment.
“They stay here because they find food and a culture that reminds them of their home country,” said the mayor. “Thank you for creating this welcoming atmosphere and making it possible for people to call Pittsburgh home.”
In January 2020, Chengdu artists visited the area to demonstrate the art of Bian Lian, a creative use of masks also known as a face alteration, during a Chinese New Year Spring Festival at North Allegheny High School in McCandless.
Other cast members were from Wuhan, a partner with the Sister Cities Association of Pittsburgh and the reported place of origin for COVID-19. Just a week after the festival, Peduto was overseeing a care package of personal protective equipment that was shipped to the capital of the Chinese province of Hubei.
The appreciation gifts presented by Kwun Kwong Kai included Sichuan flavors – “I hope you guys like it spicy,” said his daughter – and small, giant stuffed pandas. The rare black and white bears are only found in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Shanxi and Gansu, and Chengdu is home to a research base for giant panda breeding and a public panda reserve.
“As soon as the pandemic is over,” suggested Kwun, “we will organize a trip to see them.”
Pittsburgh Sichuan Cuisine Week runs through November 28th. Participating restaurants are Sichuan Gourmet and Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill, Jade Grille in Mt. Lebanon, Szechuan Spice in Shadyside, and Little Asia in North Oakland.