Gala raises $47,000 helping Woodstock students visit China

Even though Portland Public Schools operates the Mandarin Immersion Program, see why the parents group, Shu Ren, work so hard to make this event a resounding success‚

Tom DeMeo, co chair, Amy Liu (voted “most extraordinary helper”), and co-chair Betty Brickson say this gala and auction will raise funds to help students in the Mandarin Immersion Program travel to China.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Friends and parents of students at Woodstock Elementary School’s “Mandarin Immersion Program” make fundraising fun‚ and delicious.

On April 21st, 230 supporters packed the Legin Ballroom in SE Portland for the annual Shu Ren Gala‚ a dinner and auction hosted to fund projects like student overseas travel and local programs.

We ask Betty Brickson, co-chair of Shu Ren Gala and Auction, to fill us in on “Shu Ren”.

“Shu Ren is a nonprofit organization,” Brickson tells us, “established to support the Mandarin Immersion Program at Woodstock Elementary and Hosford Middle School.”

Michelle Braulick and Cheyenne Chapman are checking to make sure no one outbid them in the silent auction.

The money raised supports the overall Mandarin language and culture program. “The funds help us buy supplies for the classroom, and provide extracurricular activities.”

A goodly portion of the money will help pay travel expenses for the 8th graders to study for two weeks in Portland’s “sister city”, Suzhou, China, during the month of May. Brickson says she hopes the event will raise $35,000; but by the end of the evening, generous patrons have donated about $47,000.

“My daughter is in seventh grade,” explains Brickson. “She’s already looking forward to her class’s trip next year. In Suzhou, they conduct a research project, all in Mandarin.”

Hundreds of Shu Ren Gala attendees enjoy course after course of Asian delicacies during their event.

Importance of Mandarin education program
We ask why Portland Public Schools sponsors a Chinese language and culture program.

“Living on the Pacific Rim,” says Brickson, “our economy is increasingly dependant on trade with Asia and China. China is becoming a huge market and international trading partner. We need to read and speak Mandarin, to be part of the global community.”

Seen here flanked by Neal Linegar and Shawn Baird, Woodstock Elementary School Principal Mary Patterson is clearly enjoying the evening.

Woodstock Elementary School’s Principal, Mary Patterson, agrees‚ adding,  “in addition to providing children the unique opportunity to learn a second language, we’re helping them become more culturally aware.” Of the 380 students at Woodstock Elementary, Patterson tells us that about half participate in the immersion program.

Next year, we learn, the program will be expanded to include Cleveland High School, allowing students to continue their Mandarin studies‚ along with typical school subjects.

Denny Sutton, auctioneer, begins the live auction.

Desserts are extra‚ in fact, they are actually auction items! EPNO director Richard Bixby (his daughter is a 7th grader at the school) wins the bid for this great chocolate cake, and shares it with the lucky diners at his table.

Shu Ren was organized in 2000, and is governed by a board of directors and supported through membership dues, grants, and fund-raising activities. For more information, see: .

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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