The power of cultural diversity to unite and intrigue is something Mei Hung has spent a lifetime pondering. Raised in rural Taiwan, she arrived in the United States because of a voracious appetite to learn about the world. Over the years, this hunger that she describes as “like wanting to swallow the entire dictionary in one gulp,” has inspired her work as executive director of the Chinese Culture Connection.
The Chinese Culture Connection, an important presence in Malden for the growing Chinese-speaking community, offers experiential programming that includes mentorship, performances, East-Meets-West lectures and dialogues. And yet, more than bridging East to West and West to East, Mei’s mission is to invite all of Malden to join a parade of humanity, sharing culture along the way. For though the differences may pose challenges of communication, tradition, and perspective, the presence of differences, combined with a spirit of curiosity and exchange, builds community that is based on the universal questions surrounding what it means to be human.
From a small office on the fourth floor of the YMCA, Hung meets with volunteers, plans educational programs, coordinates arts events, and supports the many Chinese-speaking residents who live in and around Malden. Despite scant resources, she is able to carry off high-impact occasions such as the annual Chinese Culture Connection Gala, recent film screening of the award-winning “My Life in China” documentary Produced by Kenneth Eng, and the plethora of East-Meets West lectures and discussion groups.
An avid collaborator with many cultural and civic organizations in Greater Boston, Hung is a kind of catalyst for cultural engagement among the Chinese-speaking immigrants she helps, the youth she supports, and the communities she serves.
All this is possible first and foremost because she herself is curious and eager to learn about other cultures and to share about her own. She is also very aware of how “encountering cultural differences helps to hone one’s own sense of cultural identity.” In a community as diverse as Malden, Mei’s drive to use culture as a bridge of human connection and atunement can benefit our community greatly.