FJU Office of Public Affairs Press    2009/10/29   
Former US Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao Lectured at Fu Jen


Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, Honorary Doctor of Laws, came to Fu Jen Catholic University together with her father, Dr. James S.C. Chao, on October 29.  Elaine Chao delivered a one-hour speech on "Chinese Heart, American Mind, World Harmony", sharing her experience of family background and immigration to the States. She also expressed her views regarding the value of Chinese culture, the characteristics of American culture and the future development of the world.  His Eminence, Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-Hsi, S.J., and President of Fu Jen Catholic University, Bernard Chien-Chiu Li, were present at the meeting. Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Lucia S.L. Lin, introduced the honorable visitors.

Elaine Chao has a unique memory about FJU. At the age of 16, eight years after leaving Taiwan, she came back as a member of a Youth Delegation of America and Canada and lived in the student dormitory on Fu Jen campus. In the 2003, His Eminence Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-Hsi, S.J. and former President of Fu Jen Catholic University, John Ning-Yuean Lee, conferred on her the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws. Therefore, she was pleased to meet the Fu Jen faculty and students again.

Elaine Chao is of the opinion that American culture has eight characteristics.  Americans are open-minded and show great generosity to different cultures, races, and viewpoints. Earlier, Asians constituted less than 1% of Americans and now one-third of Americans are non-Caucasian. There is no need to be afraid of being part of a multi-racial society. Effective communication and language is very important. Elaine Chao emphasized, "Don't expect others to guess what you want in America. You must learn to speak out and make your request clearly. Otherwise, you won't get what you want for ever."

Elaine Chao pointed out that the States is a country of equality. They value encouragement and independent learning, communication and expression, as well as team work. Many companies evaluate their employees according to team performance. So it is more important to nurture team-spirit than to have good relationship with the supervisor.  The United States is a country of vitality and its people have passion for their work.  We Chinese believe practice makes perfect, whereas Americans respect merits. Taking Maths, for example, many American students do not study it as hard as we Chinese do.  American culture values "recognition" very much and the people love to affirm others without reservation, to trust a lot in people. Exchange is based on mutual trust.

Elaine Chao attributed her success to her parents. Her mother was the most important support of their family. As a member of the crew, her father had to be away from home for a long period. Her mother took such good care of the family that her father was free of worries. Her father worked very hard. He secured the number one rank in the National Seaman Examination in 1958 and gained an opportunity to leave for the United States. At that time, they were going to have their third child. Knowing that sacrifice would mean a bright future for the family, her mother did not hesitate to encourage her father to go to the United States. Her father had three jobs. After a three-year separation, her father was finally able to bring them to America.

She also shared with the audience a special publication entitled, The Pillars of Our Family. It recorded her interview with an American press, in which she talked about her family and shared the experiences of her parents. By doing so, she emphasized, I am not trying to bring your attention to my family, but to remind you of the great traditions in the Chinese community. Even though we no longer live in our native land, my parents never forget their Chinese roots; thus Chinese philosophical thoughts, values and morals are key to our family education. And these in turn contribute to our formation and development in the American society. To conclude her lecture, Elaine Chao encouraged young students to be active and engaging, while at the same cultivate a sense of teamwork so that they can stand firm in the wave of globalization.      

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