San Yu Alumni Association
Benjamin Giang, Abel Leung, and Marie Char, 2015
Name: The official registered name of San Yu Alumni Association is "North America San Yu Alumni Association", which is abbreviated NASYAA. However, the association itself is a world-wide association. Therefore the reference to "North America" is dropped in the title here.
Founded: 1988, though an unofficial newsletter was started in the 1960's
Current President: Marie Char
Current NASYAA Board Chairperson: Benjamin Giang
Official corresponding Address: P.O. Bos 994, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA
Official Publication: North America San Yu alumni Association Newsletter, published twice a year
The North America San-Yu Alumni Association (NASYAA) is an all-volunteer non-profit organization registered with the Secretary of State of California. The membership of this association is open to all former faculty members and students of the schools operated by the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in China, Hong Kong-Macao, Taiwan, and South-East Asia. This article outlines the history and outlook of North America San-Yu Alumni Association.
Our Alma Maters:
When the first missionaries sent by the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church arrived in China in 1902, they found an ancient civilization in turmoil. Knowing how the populace emphasizes education for their youth from the early years, these pioneers started a school in the city of Canton (Guang Zhou) in addition to carrying on evangelism and medical work. Since it was strictly forbidden to have male and female students sharing the same classroom, the missionaries wisely decided to operate this as a school for girls. Later, a school for boys was also founded in Canton. When Dr. Sun Yat Sen overthrew the imperial government and established the republican government in 1912, the Chinese Adventist church was already operating a college, and several primary and secondary schools. Shortly after, all schools became co-educational and the term “San Yu” was incorporated into their Chinese names. “San Yu” means “the three phases of Christian education”, namely spiritual, intellectual, and physical.
As the gospel message reached to more remote areas, the secondary schools and the college also needed to build dormitories for students whose homes were far away from the campuses. Industries were established in order to provide vocational trainings. During the summers, many students did canvassing introducing books and magazines published by the church to the general public. Dormitory life, work-study program, a balanced education to ensure spiritual, intellectual, and physical growth, and practical work experience became the trade-mark of Adventist education in China. Before all San Yu schools of China were closed in 1951, the Adventist church was operating one junior college, half a dozen nursing schools, 17 secondary schools and numerous elementary schools throughout China. Since then, more San Yu schools were established in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Singapore.
There were numerous regional and major military conflicts affecting all parts of China during the first half of 20th century. Quite often our students found it impossible to go home because of various political situations. During WWII many students never went home until the war ended. School became their home, and faculty members were their other parents. Strong bonds of loyalties were built to each other as well as to the school. Many graduates from these Adventist schools were employed by the church in various capacities. Thus, friendship developed during the school days became life-long relationship as they became colleagues in the spreading of the gospel.
San Yu alumni in North America
Graduates of San Yu started to arrive at North America during the 1920’s, some as immigrants sponsored by family members, some as exchange scholars because of their expertise in a special field, and many as students advancing their studies. The number increased significantly after WWII. By 1960’s, many felt it was time to create a channel of communication in order for all graduates of San Yu to share news with each other. Dorothy Zane of Loma Linda started a newsletter in 1965. After collecting the information from her network of “correspondents”, she would edit and print the newsletter, then distributed it by mail. Selections of news items were translated by Dr. W. C. So into Chinese and were published in the official church organ “The Last Day Shepherd’s Call” in Taiwan. Thus news about the San Yu alumni in North America were quickly transmitted to the Chinese Adventist believers worldwide.
In 1985, graduates of the Shanghai Sanitarium and Hospital Nursing School organized a reunion at Loma Linda. Shortly after, alumni of Taiwan San Yu Christian College (Taiwan Adventist College in English, or TAC) in Canada and the U. S. organized an alumni association promoting the building of a church at the former site of the college at Shin Dien.
The founding of the North America San Yu Alumni Association.
When the organizers of the TAC were making plans for a reunion, they were asked by alumni of other San Yu schools to have the reunion open to former students of all San Yu schools. An informal meeting was called during the Thanksgiving weekend of 1987 at the Los Angeles Chinese Church. An ad hoc committee with Ben Giang as chairman and Joseph Yang as secretary was appointed to organize such a reunion for former faculty and students of all San Yu schools. The committee went to work at once and decided to hold the reunion during the weekend of July 2, 1988. Programs were planned, a mailing list was prepared, and invitations were extended. A special invitation was prepared to alumni living in countries who need to have a visa in order to enter into the United States. James Tsai was asked to be the director of the reunion choir assisted by Winna Tan. James Chen and Abel Leung were asked to be in charge of the finance for the reunion.
After months of preparation, the first phase of the reunion finally took place on Friday evening, July 1, 1988 at the Loma Linda Chinese Church. Over 200 alumni from the four corners of the world were present at the vesper celebrating this first reunion. A warm welcome was extended to alumni who made their way from China in order to be present that weekend. Wallace Chan, Joseph Hwang, Jia Tai Yuan, M. D. Lee, James Tsao, Daniel Liu, and Yang Zhong Pei spoke at the vesper recounting campus lives at the various San Yu campuses throughout China and Southeast Asia.
The second phase of the reunion took place on Sabbath morning at the Los Angeles Chinese Church. Over 400 people were present for the Sabbath School and the 11 o’clock worship service. Highlight of the Sabbath School included a parade of alumni in costumes reflecting the change in Chinese fashion during the 20th century as well as representing the various nationalities among the student body at the campuses of San Yu schools. Herbert Liu preached at the divine service. Lunch was provided by the reunion committee. A musical program featuring the reunion choir was presented in the afternoon.
The third phase of the reunion took place on Saturday evening at the social hall of the Los Angeles Chinese Church. A memorial volume edited by the alumni of China Training Institute, “Memories of Chiao Tou Tseng”, was handed to everyone. The alumni present at this session voted to organize an alumni association for former faculty and students of all San Yu schools. They also elected the following individuals as members of the alumni board: Paul Hwang, Joseph Yang, Ben Giang, Stanley Chan, Dorothy Zane, Daniel Lee, Paul Lee, Lily Yeung, Philip Law, Peggy Lian, Lana Lui, Bert Chow, and M. D. Lee. The reunion banquet was held at a large restaurant after the vesper and photo session.
The Alumni Board met during that weekend and elected Paul Hwang, Joseph Yang, Ben Giang as chairman, vice chairman, and secretary of the board. The board also appointed Paul Hwang as the president of the alumni association, Joseph Yang and Dorothy Zane as vice-president, Paul Lee as secretary, Abel Leung and James Chen as treasurers, Joseph Hwang, Xie Hwang Chun, and Xu Ze Da as editors for the alumni newsletter, David Shen, Daniel Liu, and Samuel Young to be in charge of recruitment.
Two weeks after the 1988 reunion, many of the alumni also attended the Chinese SDA camp-meeting held on the campus of Monterey Bay Academy. It was as if the first North America San Yu reunion was a half-month celebration taking place at three different locations.
Members of the 1988 alumni board assisted by the officers of the alumni association started the newsletter “San Yu Chun Chiu”, encouraging the formation of local chapters as well as chapters for the various campuses, enlarged the initial mailing list into a directory of over 600 names, and drafted the by-law. A sequel to the memorial volume “Memories of Chiao Tou Tseng” was planned and this volume was to be “Memories of South China”. The new volume was ready for handing out at the 1991 reunion.
Over 600 alumni present at the 1991 reunion listened to David Lin’s Sabbath morning sermon entitled “Enjoying Jesus”. They elected to expand the membership of the alumni board to 18. The presidents of the various chapters would also serve as official members of the alumni board. Six of such chapters were organized at the reunion weekend.
Paul Hwang continued as the chairman of the alumni board. Joseph Yang was appointed by the alumni board to be the president. Tang Chung Huen became the editor-in-chief of the publication department. Under him, the newsletter “San Yu Chun Chiu” started to be published on a regular basis.
The 1994 reunion was held during the July 4th weekend on the campus of Kingsway College in Willowdale, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto Chapter hosted the event. Participants coming from outside of the Greater Toronto area filled the rooms of the dormitories. All meals were served by the cafeteria staff. The Class of 1954 of the Taiwan Adventist Hospital Nursing School also celebrated their 40th anniversary during this reunion. Mildred Tsao, Timothy Lo, and Roddy Wong spoke at the Friday evening vesper sharing their Christian experience with everyone. M. D. Lee preached during the Sabbath worship service. Richard Liu came all the way from Hong Kong to report on the Gospel Work in China with emphasis on the role played by the alumni of San Yu schools. A third and fourth memorial volumes entitled “Memories of Song Bao” and “Memories of Shin Dien” recalling campus lives at the war-time Chunking campus and the former Shin Dien campus of the Taiwan Adventist College were handed out.
The reunion concluded on Sunday morning with the triennial business meeting. M. D. Lee was elected as the chairman of the alumni board. He was to be re-elected again in 1997 and served a total of six years in that capacity. Abel Leung likewise served during those six years as the president of the alumni association.
After the 1994 reunion, the Toronto Chapter arranged a three-day coach tour of Ontario and Quebec provinces. Over 120 alumni participated and had a memorable trip visiting the Niagara Falls, Thousand Islands, Montreal, and Ottawa. After the 1997 reunion, another three-day coach tour of Arizona and Nevada with over 120 participants was conducted. The itinerary included Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, etc.
The education foundation fund was founded in 1995 after registration with the State of California was completed. About 100 thousand U.S. dollars were raised by the 1997 reunion. As of 2007, approximately 690 thousand U.S. dollars were raised. Until 2007, the yield from the investment of this fund was used for scholarship for San Yu alumni attending the Adventist universities and colleges in North America. Beginning in 2008, all students pursuing a degree in ministry in an Adventist seminary may also apply. Since 1997, more than 20 recipients have been awarded for one to three years during their academic years. James Tsai, Marie Char, Abel Leung, Ben Giang, Lana Lui, and representatives from the major donor families are the officers of the education foundation fund.
A biennial Chinese composition contest was initiated in 1994 for all students attending San Yu schools in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Singapore. The purpose is to encourage students in these schools to improve their writing skill. A contest committee consisted of alumni from North America would organized the event. Abel Leung, Leung Wai Hong, Gou Wan Hing, and Tang Chung Huen are the current members of this committee. Principals and teachers of Chinese Literature in each of the schools were notified; they would collect the submissions and mail them to the contest committee. All of the entries were adjudicated by judges invited by the contest committee, monetary awards to the winners in each category were provided by NASYAA. Fourteen winners were awarded during the most recent contest in 2006.
The 2000 reunion was held during the September 2nd weekend on the campus of Mountain View Academy in Mountain View, California. The Northern California Chapter (NCC) hosted the event. Participants coming from outside of the Bay Area were housed at a large hotel nearby. Special weekend rate was secured by the NCC at a fraction of the regular rate. With the hotel providing breakfast and NCC supplying all other meals, the participants enjoyed a weekend of fellowship. The hospitality of the Northern California Chapter was much appreciated in hosting this reunion. Timothy Lo, Sylvia Giang, Lam Chun Fung, Paul Jiao, and Lora Ngo spoke at the Friday evening vesper sharing the valleys and peaks of their Christian experience with fellow alumni. Samuel Young preached during the Sabbath divine service. The highlight of the Sabbath afternoon activities included a musical program organized by Marie Char. Milton Hwang spoke at the vesper.
The reunion concluded on Sunday morning with the triennial business meeting. Abel Leung was elected as the chairman of the alumni board. He was to be re-elected again in 2003 during another reunion at Loma Linda and served a total of six years. Albert Chang was appointed as the president of the alumni association. Benson Shiu became the secretary of the alumni association and editor-in-chief of all alumni association’s publications. In a short time, Benson applied modern publication software to all of our publications. The quality of the printing improved, photos in our newsletter “San Yu Chun Chiu” started to appear in color. These improvements were much appreciated.
After the conclusion of the business meeting, participants of the post-reunion tour were taken to the San Jose International Airport for their flight to Salt Lake City. The six-day post-reunion tour took the participants to Grand Teton National Park, Yellow Stone National Park, Devil’s Tower National Park, Mount Rushmore National Park, and finally back to Salt Lake City for return flights to various home destinations.
A large fund-raising effort was organized on May 6, 2001 at the Grand Ball Room of the Hilton Hotel at Universal City. Hong Kong Adventist College Foundation and NASYAA Educational Foundation were the co-sponsors of this event. Members of the Organizing Committee for this event were Georgiana Wu (Chair-person), Nancy Boksberger, Albert Chang, Jacob Chang, Abel Leung and Dorothy Zane. Shortly after this event, Albert was diagnosed with lung cancer. His premature passing in 2002 was mourned by everyone who knew him well.
The 2001 fund raising effort elevated the recognition of the Educational Foundation as an organization for providing scholarships to San Yu alumni attending Adventist colleges and universities in North America. Both the number of donors and amount of donation increased significantly after this highly successful event.
The organizational effort for the 2006 reunion began during the summer of 2004. The beautiful camp site of Camp Hope located approximately 100 miles east of Vancouver, British Columbia was the site chosen for this reunion. British Columbia Conference Executive Committee member Bunjee Choi presented our application to the conference and was quickly granted. The reunion was held with the biennial North America Chinese SDA camp-meeting. The newsletter, San Yu Chun Chiu, announced the news of the reunion to alumni around the globe.
The Vancouver Chapter of the alumni association and the Vancouver Chinese SDA Church co-hosted this memorable event. They dedicated their efforts to assure the success of this large gathering taken place during the weekend of June 24, 2006. A number of the alumni and church members opened their homes to early arrivals to the gathering. Milton and Lillian Hwang had 18 people staying with them in their spacious four bed-room house. Milton and Ida Wu hosted alumni who wished to stay in Vancouver after the reunion and even after the cruise. The organizing committee made arrangements for the transportation of all participants everyday during the gathering at Camp Hope.
In addition to Canada and the US, participants came from as far as Australia, China, England, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and other parts of the world. Several groups of alumni also organized reunions for specific groups during the weekend. Examples are Classes of 1951, 1954, and 1961 from the Clear Water Bay campus, a group from the Happy Valley campus, and a group from the Kowloon Boundary Street campus. Mei Mei Chu was the feature speaker for the weekend gathering. The theme for her Friday vesper and Sabbath divine service was “Working together to do Good”. The New Stream Choral and the Reunion Choir under the direction of Marie Char performed during several services. Stephen Hwang accompanied by Sheila Hwang sang “If I Can Help Somebody” during a memorial segment of the Divine service Sabbath morning. A reunion/ camp-meeting group photo was taken at the end of the Sabbath morning services.
The alumni association triennial business meeting was held after the end of the Sabbath vesper. The following were elected to serve on the executive board: Ben Giang (Chairman), Marie Char (President), James Tsai (Vice President and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee), Peter Young (Vice President), Lana Lui (Treasurer), Jenny Hung (Secretary), Benson Shiu (Editor-in-Chief), Abel Leung (Advisor), Tang Chung Huen(Advisor), M. D. Lee (Advisor), Samuel Young (Advisor), Stanley Chan, and Charles Kan (Board Members). Lomina Chan, Leung Wai Hong, Gou Wan Hing, and Daniel Hung were added as officers in the publication and Chinese composition-contest committees. During the Sunday morning business meeting, the participants recommended the 2009 reunion be held in Southern California. The post-reunion tour arranged by Virginia Giang was a seven-day cruise to Alaska onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Norwegian Wind”. Ninety six alumni and family members enjoyed fellowship with each other. Many listened to the informal seminars conducted by Benjamin Lau, retired professor of the medical school at Loma Linda University. Sabbath morning worship was conducted at the large 12th floor lounge overlooking the bow of the ship. Participants enjoyed the hour-long hymn singing, Bible reading, and prayer session. When the participants disembarked at the Vancouver ocean-ship terminal on Sunday morning, buses were waiting to take them to the airport. Everyone had a memorable time.
In the subsequent alumni board meetings, the board has set the following goals for the next few years.
Strengthen the communication with our alumni. Alumni are encouraged to use the journal San Yu Chun Chiu to share news about them. All local chapters are encouraged to conduct activities annually. A 60th anniversary of the relocation of Hong Kong Adventist College from her war-time campus in Lao Long to Guangzhou was celebrated at the Loma Linda Chinese Church in 2007. Following the example of the Taiwan San Yu alumni, a Lunar New Year luncheon was organized in 2008 for alumni living in Southern California. There are plans to organize Youth Camp or other activities for the younger generation.
Broaden the function of the scholarship fund. Scholarship specifically for young people who are committed to be trained as ministers for serving the Chinese churches has been set up. In 2008 such scholarships were awarded to a candidate studying at Andrew University and another at La Sierra University.
Increase our connection with our alma mater and establish an active relationship with all San Yu schools in Hong Kong and Macau, Singapore, and Taiwan.
In her first message as the president of the alumni association, Marie Char expressed the sentiment San Yu alumni shared about the Christian education they have enjoyed during their youth: “You and I are considered as the end-product of San Yu educational system. We have learned a great deal through the guidance and role modeling of our teachers in San Yu, and many of them continue to advice and support us till this day. From San Yu schools, we have learned to fear God and care for others. Under San Yu’s highly structured schedule, we have developed traits of punctuality, team-spirit, discipline, and sense of responsibility. These traits have laid the foundation of our success in life”. She also invites everyone to be active, “As we establish ourselves in our professions and raise our families in different cities and states, now is the time for us to contribute more to North America San Yu Alumni Association”. Therein may be the secret for the success of this all-volunteer organization.