Two new kindergartens named after Ruth Mulan Chu Chao opened in Qili and Siyang, within China’s Lai’an county, Anhui province, on October 15, 2015. The Chao Family Foundations donated more than USD$1 million to the kindergartens, where approximately 1,000 new students will learn and be inspired by the legacy of Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.
The dedication ceremony was a joyful event attended by members of the Chu Chao family, as well as the community’s many happy parents, grateful for the opportunity given to their children through the generosity of the Chao family. Joining the Chao family patriarch, Dr. James S.C. Chao, were his daughters: former US Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao, and Deputy Chair of the Foremost Group, Angela Chao. Secretary Chao lamented that since her mother’s passing in August, 2007, not a day has gone by that she has not been missed. She said that even though many years had passed, her mother’s attachment to Anhui province, where she was born, never diminished: “…she never forgot the land of her birth and her roots.”
Ruth Mulan Chu Chao was born in 1930 in Anhui. She received her secondary education at Ming-Teh Girls’ High School, located in Nanjing. She joined a select group of girls who were privileged to receive a formal education in those days. Wars and other events interrupted her studies, but her commitment to education never wavered and at the age of 53, she obtained her Master’s degree in Asian Literature and History from New York’s St. John’s University. She and her husband Dr. James S. C. Chao, founder of the Foremost Group, devoted their lives to philanthropic endeavors, especially those that would enrich educational opportunities for students in the U.S. and China. These two kindergartens in her native land are a recent example of the Chao family’s belief that education is the ultimate route to achieving success in life.
Secretary Chao spoke about her mother’s emphasis on education. “My mother always believed in the Chinese people’s philosophy that education is a key factor in survival and development.” In fact, she noted that her parents faced many challenges upon their arrival to America—a foreign culture and land, but with optimism, determination, hard work, fearlessness and a loving attitude, they forged ahead, building a new home, raising a large family, founding a successful international business, and becoming ambassadors and philanthropists.
Angela Chao said that she hopes that the children attending the new kindergartens will feel her mother’s spirit, be inspired and also strive to succeed, each in his or her own way. She hopes that later in life they will make contributions to the world at large and follow in the path of her mother, who was devoted to educational achievement and stewardship of the world.
Ruth Mulan Chu Chao’s love for education, enthusiasm for her homeland and the fulfillment of her life’s purpose made it only fitting that the Chao Family Foundations should make a donation to open these two kindergartens, to carry forward her name and light the torch to be carried by the next generation of Chinese students.