Gung Hey Fat Choy (Happy Chinese New Year)! This was actually the most celebrated of holidays in my household growing up. Each year, my father would plan feasts for the restaurant I grew up in. Anyone who came to dine at Wong’s restaurant in Chinatown got the privilege of the abundance of holiday foods that my father prepared to celebrate the new lunar year. We ourselves would feast with friends throughout the day in a variety of neighborhood celebrations. Of course as a child I looked forward to the firecrackers and the Lion Dance. On some Chinese New Year’s I remember we travelled to Hong Kong, San Francisco (Chinatown) and New York (Chinatown). To tell you the truth they all resembled each other, as a child I could not tell one apart from the other. But to this day the right smells of the best cooked authentic Chinese Food will waft me down memory lane and right back to these special occasions with my father.
This year I was honored to be included in the 2015 Class of 20 For the Next 20 by Hawaii Business Magazine. What struck me most about this recognition was the fact that I suddenly was pondering what the next 20 years might include for me. And quite honestly I was just happy that people recognized that I would be around and making some serious headway in the next twenty years. You see, this year also brought a milestone birthday for me. One that I had not really come to terms with yet, until I saw my name and age printed in Hawaii Business Magazine! There it was for the whole world to see: Dean Wong, Age 50. BOOM.
This milestone birthday caused me to reflect on what I’ve accomplished, goals I had hoped to reach and successes. It also causes one to think about what lies ahead and what will be the next big endeavor. Or at least is has for me. I can’t help but reflected on my father. When I was born my father was already 65 years old and he was just starting to gain momentum and see real successes in his life. At 65 years of age, he had a new priority, something to work and strive towards, raising his son. And in the same universal thread of life, this too has become my priority, and because I tend to think globally, I think not only of the child that I have brought into the world but of universal concerns for Early Childhood Development, Early Intervention, and Early Education. The opportunities that I want for my own son, I want for every son and daughter. The civil and equal rights I want for my family, I want for every family. As these concerns grow in my heart, I find myself being afforded opportunities to make a difference, to stand for inclusion, humanity and justice for all children.
This next month Imua Family Services moved into its new location, its own building. It’s an enormous step forward for Imua. In Hawaii a “sense of place” holds significance. Our specially designed space that considers every aspect of the work and services that Imua Family Services provides to Maui children and families. We’ve created a space where children’s lives will be influenced, where early childhood professionals will exercise their skills and training and development will occur to ultimately strengthen our community for years to come. I feel such a tremendous honor to have been a part of all this to have helped facilitate this process and growth for an organization that I believe so deeply in.
This year, my family celebrated Chinese New Year very meagerly as I was on Oahu for work purposes. I did not live up to the importance of the day and my own families sense of tradition, I felt like I let my son down a little. Moving into a new building, fundraising and other events coming together, I was too pooped to party! I was too tired to apply myself to the kitchen and spend that time that was so important to my father and our time together. I won’t let that happen again, next year I will be more on top of it. I did take the measly moments to make Valentino some noodles, which of course he loves. As we ate them together I reminded him, “Long Noodle – Long Life” to which he replied, “well let’s find the longest noodle and eat it together.” He ate from one end and I ate from the other until our lips met and we kissed. I realized right there that everything in my life has led to this moment. While I hope that I have a very long life, what I hope for even more is that his life will be as full and miraculous as mine has been and still continues to be.
So here I am, Dean Wong, Age 50 – and just getting started.