Posted by Wesley Sim on Feb 08, 2019
Gong Xi Fa Cai (Translated: Congratulations and Wishing you prosperity)
Often used as a greeting (amongst other phrases) by Chinese in the Lunar New Year, this probably doesn't mean much to most, but I thought I should get the meaning (and correct phonetic spelling) straight into the title for future reference.  This is the Mandarin version.
Most of the English speaking world have a reputation of not caring how words (and names) in other languages should be spoken. So you would find various bits of other Asian words strung together followed by a laugh that seems to send the message "I don't care" when greeting an Chinese. I grew up in an environment a little like that, with the emphasis of English as my main language in school from the age of 7 and discouraged from speaking anything else. A boys' school can be a cruel place.  Singapore at that time was 80% Chinese but this consisted of at least 7 major Chinese dialect groups, many of whom will not understand the others.  With our newly imported "superior" culture and language (most of the population was poorly educated then), we often made fun of unfamiliar or strange sounding words and names of boys from other Chinese dialect groups.
 
Today at lunch, we shall be celebrating the Lunar New Year.  Most Chinese who grew up in a "foreign" culture, like me,would call it the Chinese New Year.  There will be many "foreign" visitors.  Apart from our guest speakers, Janne from Cambodia and Henry from Hong Kong, there will be a group of academics from West Timor and West Papua.  There will be many visitors from other Rotary Clubs and others who are attending because they support our aim at this lunch to alleviate the suffering of women in Cambodia.  
 
I have just finished reading the latest report from our District committee on the Rotary brand recognition.  After all the complex analysis of data collected and numerous reports produced over the years, I still believe the simple truth is the public sees Rotary based on what they see in each one of us. 
 
For today, I encourage you to seek out unfamiliar faces in the crowd of about 100.  Each and every visitor needs to experience the warmth and welcome of a Rotarian.  This is Rotary: Together, we promote cultural understanding, goodwill and friendships that achieve lasting peace.
 
Yours in Rotary Service,
Wesley Sim
President 2018-2019
Rotary Club of Perth
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