Amid a spike in hate crimes targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, officials and dignitaries including Dr. Henry Lee cut the ribbon at the New England Asian American Cultural Center in Milford on Friday.
The 6,600 square foot facility, which has 5,000 square feet of open space for martial arts, physical training and special events, is jointly operated by Wu Dang Kung Fu Academy and Aiping Tai Chi.
“It’s so important to us,” said Aiping Tai Chi director Shirley Chock. “We really wanted a place where people can come together to learn about similarities and culture. We wanted to have a place where… people can celebrate their culture and share their culture with their friends.
The speakers all underlined the importance of the centre; Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz noted that Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing racial or ethnic groups in the state.
“Asian Americans have accounted for more than half of our state’s population growth over the past 10 years,” she said, noting that about 5% of Connecticut’s population is of Native American descent. Asian. “In Connecticut, we embrace this beautiful diversity.”
Connecticut is the first state in the nation to mandate the teaching of AAPI history in its public schools.
“Unfortunately, in our state and our country, we have seen an increase in hate crimes over the past two years and some of these crimes have been committed against Asian Americans,” she said. “Now more than ever, it is important to increase the visibility of our diverse community of Asian American Pacific Islanders, especially our wonderful entrepreneurs so that we uplift everyone in our state. We are so grateful for community centers like this.
Qian Jin, China’s vice consul general in New York, noted Connecticut’s atmosphere of inclusion.
“Inclusiveness brings creativity,” he said. “And cooperation will bring results.”
He acknowledged that China-US relations “are encountering some difficulties” and that the two countries are “great countries, great nations”.
He said the two countries could get along through “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence” and cooperation.
Aiping Tai Chi opened in 1996, Chock said, and the kung fu academy opened in 2006, in Orange. The companies formed the NEAACC and moved to Milford in April, she said. At their peak, before COVID, Aiping Tai Chi and the kung fu academy had hundreds of students, Chock said, adding that they were rebuilding their base.
“We appreciate all the support from our guests and friends,” said Master Jack Guo, who leads the Wu Dang Kung Fu Academy.