Whether she is taking trips to her native country or meeting fellow Chinese-Americans around Westchester, Rose Tan is always looking for ways to connect with her heritage.
Another way she has done that is through her contribution to the Organization of Chinese Americans’ Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter, for which she and her husband, William Kaung, have each served as president. On their watch, signature events, like the annual Asian-American Heritage Festival at Kensico Dam in Valhalla, have become a local tradition.
“There were ethnic festivals going on already, but no Asian festival,” said the White Plains resident. “When the county asked us to be a sponsor, we said yes.”
This year’s Asian-American Heritage Festival was May 19, and featured family entertainment, live musical performances and ethnic foods.
With Tan's help the Organization of Chinese Americans has also made strides in its youth outreach programming. Three outstanding high school students who have demonstrated commitment to the Asian-American community are honored with the Student Leadership Award each year.
The Organization of Chinese Americans' Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter also has an endowed scholarship fund at Westchester Community College, which it continues to raise funds for each year.
Helping young Chinese-American students succeed is not Tan’s only mission, though. She wants to help all students succeed. Having taught mathematics at Westchester Community College for the past 35 years, she said her passion for teaching has not wavered.
“I love it,” Tan said. “I officially retired in 2010, but I have continued to teach one or two courses every semester after that.”
She also sings with the Viking Voices, a faculty-student choral group there.
Tan and her husband recently explored their roots a bit further on a trip to China, where they visited a silk factory, pearl facility and experienced the country’s scenic attractions.
“We’re planning another trip to China soon,” she said. “It’s so beautiful.”