Home, history & heritage with Hongxia Liu

 

Hongxia Liu is a former Associate Vice Chancellor at NYU Shanghai and a former Meridian trustee. For Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage month, we’re excited to bring you her perspective on home, history and heritage.

 

What does AAPI Month mean to you?

For me, AAPI Month means to take time to reflect on the history and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) across our Nation, and also to ruminate on our shared challenges and opportunities in furthering the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

 

Given the heightened injustices against the AAPI community in the last year, why is this AAPI month particularly important?

This AAPI Month can help to educate the general public about our Nation’s history, so citizens are empowered to discern the root of exclusion, discrimination, racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans. Ultimately, AAPI Month can help citizens in all walks of life relate to a larger outlook of diversity as a true virtue of this unique Nation.

 

At Meridian we believe that a diversity of perspectives brings better ideas and outcomes. Can you talk about how you strive to infuse inclusion and diversity into your daily life and work?

Inclusion and diversity for me starts at home. Mine is an international family. I accepted and welcomed wholeheartedly my two adult children making their own choices of life partners – and their partners are bringing into my family additional heritages other than that of Chinese Americans and additional perspectives and ideas along the way.

My life has become richer and more meaningful because of the inclusion and diversity at home.

In my workplace at Sannam S4 Corp where I serve as a Non-Executive Director, I strive to present the best of my Chinese American heritages to my colleagues who come from various countries. We believe deeply in cosmopolitanism and world citizenship – ideals that are based on inclusion and diversity.

Back in 2004, I had the privilege to contribute an article titled Court Gazing to the Journal of the American Judges Association on the very topic of inclusion and diversity, as reflected on the United States Supreme Court Building. That article was inspired by my first lecture as a docent in the courtroom. I was deeply touched to see that on the friezes are 18 great lawgivers from around the world, including Confucius of my own heritage. I decided then and there to investigate such a great story of inclusion and diversity as depicted on the walls of the highest court. I spent several days digging and reading archive files and the outcome was that article, which has been cited by readers from different parts of the world since its publication and contributed to their esteem towards the United States.

 

How has your identity has shaped your experience in your field, if at all?

As a Chinese American, I have lived and worked in several countries – in Georgia, Italy, Australia, China and the United States which I call home. I have found both my Chinese heritage and my American upbringing to be valuable assets.

In leadership roles in corporate, non-profit and community settings at home or abroad, I often think of the early Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in mid-19th century, including my own extended family, who built railways and vineyards and labored in mines and fields. They exemplified resilience, diligence and sacrifice.

On the other hand, I also think of Americans like Anson Burlingame, the first American envoy to China, and John L. Stuart, the first President of Yenching University in Peking and later the American ambassador. These two Americans – mainstream Americans as some would say – stood out and exemplified cross-cultural leadership at its very best, utilizing collaboration, compromise and diplomacy. I shall continue to tip my hat each time passing the town of Burlingame near the San Francisco airport. I will do the same when I next visit the beautiful campus of my alma mater, Peking University, on the old campus of Yenching University.