BOSTON – On the eve of the Lunar New Year, as Asian families engaged in the traditions of cleaning their homes, preparing a bounty of delicious foods and stuffing red envelopes with good luck money in anticipation of the coming year, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center gathered to welcome the year of the horse and celebrate its own diverse family of staff and patients.
Vivien Li, President of the Boston Harbor Association and member of BIDMC’s Board of Overseers welcomed guests by sharing family stories from her childhood. “Our red lanterns always made our house the envy of our northern New Jersey neighborhood,” she recalled.
Li welcomed the Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy of Malden who performed a rousing traditional lion dance. As percussionists pounded out a beat on traditional drums and cymbals, performers surprised the audience by tossing gifts of oranges and candy into the crowd.
Following the lion dance, keynote speaker Stanwood Chang, a Tai Chi instructor in BIDMC’s Cheng-Tsui Integrated Health Center discussed the health benefits of tai chi and acupuncture and demonstrated Chen style Tai Chi. Thought to be the oldest form of Tai Chi, Chen style traces back to the 1600’s in the Chen village hidden deep in China’s Henan Province.
“Tai Chi is a very wonderful holistic, whole body, whole being practice,” said Chang. “It’s generally made up of gentle movements that encourage mental calm, acute mindfulness and awareness, and it also strengthens the cardiovascular and the musculoskeletal system.”
Chang said that according to traditional Chinese medicine, the fundamental basis of both tai chi and acupuncture promotes the circulation and retention of the life force or life energy that exists in the body. “To stay healthy, we want to get more of it circulating and we want to store more of it.” He saidTai Chi and acupuncture are often used to treat a wide variety of medical issues, including depression, heart disease and infertility.
Celebration guests were also treated to a bamboo flute and jing hu (Chinese violin) duet featuring De Hua Zhen and Quengen Ke, research fellow, cardiology. A beautiful green ribbon dance by the Chu Ling Dance Academy followed, featuring Jiang He Niu, Research, and other dancers from the Chu Ling Dance Academy.
For the second year, in honor of the Lunar New Year, BIDMC employees donated bedding and toiletries to the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK). Founded in 1994, ATASK is New England’s only shelter and advocacy service for Asian women and children impacted by domestic violence. Increased access to services provided by ATASK has improved the lives of many, many survivors.
“Part of the preparation for Lunar New Year is to clean house – to wipe the cobwebs and challenges of the past year and welcome the upcoming year with family and friends,” said Eileen Hughes, Program Manager, Community Benefits and a Lunar New Year Committee member. “Those at the emergency shelter don’t have a home right now and may need to be separated from family members, so we wanted to do something that would help women and families become more comfortable.”
“We know that thousands of patients of Asian descent come to BIDMC for care and every day we strive to ensure that they are treated with respect and cultural competency. Our partnerships with South Cove Community Health Center and ATASK are a very important part of providing that care,” said Nancy Formella, RN, Chief Operating Officer. “We’re proud of everything ATASK has done and grateful for the support of our employees, but more than that, we’re very proud of the courage and resilience of the thousands of families who have benefited from services.”