“FRIENDSHIPOLOGY OF A NATION” by Patrick Yau – November 2020

Patrick Yau

In the late 1970’s China was at a critical crossroads whether to open door after 30 years of self-containment. The nation was suspicious of western motives and intervention, and its people would look at westerners with strange curious eyes. Yet every Chinese would happily welcome foreigners (Laowai) once they landed in China, apparently coming from a tradition that “有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎”“it’s a pleasure to receive friends from afar”. This Chinese friendship tradition turned out to have underpinned the turnaround of US-China relations since late 1970’s.

Imagine US and China back in the late 1970’s. The two countries and their peoples were so diametrically opposed — in political ideology, government system; in traditions, values, philosophy; in spiritual and religious beliefs; in social and economic structures; in business system and practices, and in people’s living conditions, styles and standards. But when the two peoples started to engage in exchanges of friendship, good feelings develop, and the gulfs were almost miraculously bridged with both sides making compromises and accommodations, even both nations remained struggling in many arenas and trying to seek stable long-term relations.

I personally witnessed and took part in this FRIENDSHIP POWER at work. I had actually served as a catalyst through dedicating my career to my US-China business. How did it happen? Here’s the backdrop: Back in 1978 all I had was the will since childhood to prepare myself so one day I might help in China’s economic revival and reform (much like what Yugoslavia’s Tito had earlier attempted). At college I studied Economics and served as president of the student union. I then came to New York to pursue graduate studies in public administration. I decided to stay in the U.S. for an MBA at Columbia University with the thought of gaining management experience and at some future time owning my business that could help China. So when news came out that China planned to open its door in 1978, I immediately set up a U.S. company and, through a connection I had fostered with the Chairman of China Resources in Hong Kong with my father’s help, got an official invitation to visit Beijing with a few trade and factory-building proposals in hand for immediate action by the Ministry of Foreign Trade. By the end the trip I was offered to work with China International Travel Services (CITS) under the Tourism Department, and allotted a group visa to bring 34 Americans to do a sightseeing itinerary of 4-5 cities opened to foreigners at the time. Group sightseeing was the only travel form allowed then in China.

If ping-pong players in the early 1970’s was pivotal in reviving the diplomatic relations of the two nations, then American travel starting 1979 was responsible for generating such great people feelings and friendships between the two peoples that formed a foundation for the two countries to build strong relations in the 30 years that followed.

By the end of 1979 I succeeded in obtaining 3 group visas to bring 100 Americans to see China. That year only 1000 visas in sightseeing groups for the whole USA were approved by China. Visiting Americans were so warmly received as friends from afar rather than as tourists, that returning Americans only had great feeling of Chinese people’s warm and personable reception, despite their backwardness, limited food and beverage and extremely poor facilities. But friendship was the main Chinese theme at the time, not profit. Even stores selling handicrafts and clothing and groceries exclusively to foreigners were named “Friendship Stores”.

So I became a pioneer in China travel, but a travel business with 100 customers a year was nothing to live on, but I saw it as a path forward to achieve my life goal to serve my mother country and at the same time connecting with America my father land. I quitted my VP job at Citibank in 1980, against advice of my father and even our friendly Chinese officials in Hong Kong, since China’s open door was not a sure policy yet and its future faced perceivably insurmountable challenges.  

Fortunately, China’s economic reform continued to evolve with greater opening for foreign participation. Bro. I.M. Pei ( FF Fraternity Brother ) was invited to build the first modern hotel completed in 1981 located in Fragrant Hill, wholly owned and managed by Beijing municipality. In 1983 Bro. C.B. Sung completed the first 5-star Great Wall Hotel, the first joint venture given foreign ownership (albeit 49%). As to myself I grew in a few years to be a top American wholesale operator of China travel bringing thousands of Americans every year to see China.

Upon reflection now, the power of genuine friendship and service was a critical factor behind my personal success. The just-opening China had almost no tourism resources. Rigid Chinese officials, policies and practices were extremely difficult to say the least. But I worked with them as friends with respect, understanding and patience, unlike others who looked down upon Communist Chinese with suspicion and contempt at the time. My genuine friendship building with people at all levels from bureau heads, general managers to tour guides, and my personal motivation to serve and do good for the country rather than to make more profit, apparently touched the tough Chinese officials. I was approved more tour visas and allocated more hard-to-get hotel rooms and air and train tickets, despite the fact that I was a banker turned travel operator. By mid-1980’s my company arranged over 10,000 American tourists each year to China with liaison in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong and tour sales offices in eight major US cities grossing over $40 million.

To give back and to help Chinese officials to gain knowledge of western thinking and practices, and to promote friendship between Chinese and American professionals in travel and hospitality, I invited, at my expense, groups of Chinese officials (about 100) every year in the 1980’s to fly over to visit major American cities, and organized seminars and visitations for their exposure and training from tourism development, hotel and airlines management to tour guiding skills.  Invitees requiring both central Beijing approval and U.S. consulate visa check included provincial governors, tourism bureau heads, travel service/hotel/airline managers, staff and tour guides. It was their first time venturing outside China, an eye-opening trip of a lifetime to see America’s modern infrastructure and management and, no less importantly, how people worked and went about their daily life. Friendship and good feelings with the American people blossomed from the trip’s intensive people exchanges.  In those days American people would look at visiting Chinese unassumingly dressed with strange eyes, but almost always extended warm welcome despite language obstacle. Attached is a picture of “one of the earliest groups of Chinese tourism and airline officials visiting the U.S. in mid-1980’s at an U.S. airline ticketing office”.  

“In Beijing: Biannual U.S.-China Tourism Conference in mid-1980’s with U.S. delegates on the left led by Undersecretary of Commerce Donna Tuttle at center next to Mr. Han, Director of China National Tourism Administration. –Patrick standing fourth at left.
“One of the earliest groups of Chinese tourism and airline officials visited the U.S. in mid-1980’s at an U.S. airline ticketing office in.” Patrick standing 4th at left.

A key area in early 1980’s for the U.S. and Chinese governments to maintain official cooperation for development was a Bi-annual Tourism Conference held alternately in each country. A great deal of friendship was built between top U.S and Chinese government officials. Some of the issues involved were higher quota for Americans to enter China and airlines landing rights. As a member of the U.S. delegation, I served effectively given my friendship with Chinese officials.  Attached is a picture “In Beijing, Biannual U.S.-China Tourism Conference in mid-1980’s with U.S. delegates on the left led by Undersecretary of Commerce Donna Tuttle at center next to Mr. Han, Director of China National Tourism Administration, on the left with Chinese delegates”.

By the mid-1980’s I started to develop with CITS other forms of travel for Americans including international conferences, professional exchanges, student and individual travel heretofore not allowed for foreigners. These programs further expanded the spheres and depth of friendship building between the two peoples.

Efforts to form U.S.-China sister cities were welcome as people friendship started to take hold in the 1980’s before the Tiananmen Square massacre struck relations between the two governments to a standstill, but not between the peoples. Before the turn of 1990’s more sister relations were officiated involving not just major cities, but also Chinese and American towns and counties. My wife at the time working under New York’s Westchester County Executive Andrew O’Rourke linked the county with Jinzhou city.

By the turn of the century as China and its citizens accumulated wealth, more and more Chinese started to come to the U.S. for higher education, and more American students attended premier Chinese universities. This young people friendship was further expanded with the introduction in 2004 of Confucius Institutes which grew to over 100 at its height in 2017 mostly on campus across America. Friendship power reached new height when exchange programs were organized between high schools in major American and Chinese cities. My son Bro. Garrick had been running such student programs in conjunction with Columbia Teachers College for years until current Trump’s policy and Covid-19 pandemic.   

Recent historical development of U.S.-China relations is a great example of the POWER of FRIENDSHIP AND GOOD FEELINGS between two NATIONS OF PEOPLE. This friendship state has benefited both peoples immensely in terms of world peace and economic development. China has been able to lift more than 850 million people out of extreme poverty with poverty rate down from 88% in 1981 to 7% in 2015. Americans have been able to enjoy low-cost quality goods manufactured in China with little inflation.

But all these for over 30 years are being threatened as China became the second largest economy by mid-2010’s with expansionist ambitions in trade (one belt one road), technology (lead in 5G, etc.) and military reach (South China Sea control). Friendship and good feelings are under destruction by wars on trade and technology in the name of national security. All forms of exchanges that feed friendship are being reduced. In its place bad feelings are being sewn every day. It brings out one key principle of friendshipology: “relations between nations is based on interest, interest and interest”, said to me by a Chinese ambassador friend. Friendship is a means to an end, sad to say. But one traditional core value of the Chinese people remains : Rites and Friendship “禮義” – whenever and wherever it should be practiced.


Patrick Yau was born in Canton, China and grew up in Hong Kong where he attended New Asia College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Economics. He has been a New Yorker since arriving in 1970 for a Master of Public Administration at SUNY at Albany and an MBA at Columbia University. He has retired since 2016.

Patrick began his career at First National City Bank (now Citibank) in 1973 rising to Vice President for Regional Marketing. While at Citibank he was recruited in 1974 by Bro. Clifton Chang to join FF Fraternity, a Chinese fraternity founded in 1910. Patrick has been active every year for almost 50 years, having served in virtually all Lodge and Chapter officer positions up to Chapter Vice Chair.

In 1978 he founded two companies to pioneer US-China business as a way to engage in China’s economic development as it emerged poor and backward from over 30 years of self-containment. By mid-1980’s his China tour operation grew to be the largest in the U.S. arranging over 10,000 Americans to visit China for sightseeing, business, conferences and professional exchanges. He also sponsored Chinese officials in government, tourism, hotel and airlines management to visit the U.S. to gain first-hand knowledge and exposure to western ways of business and daily life. By late 1980’s his China operations grossed over $40 million with liaison staff in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai and sales offices in eight major U.S. cities.

Patrick also started his other company to organize international industrial exhibitions for China, since China had little foreign exchange nor knowhow to go overseas. In 1986 the first Beijing International Book Fair was held participated by virtually all major publishers from the U.S, Europe and Asia, and attended by then Ambassador Winston Lord. A host of other international exhibitions were held every year covering many industries that China needed for its advancement from agricultural to machinery to television and radio equipment. His company was also appointed official contractor under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and facilitated China in importing turnkey production machinery and other technical assistance.

In 1999 Patrick co-founded First American International Bank, an ethnic minority community bank with the mission of serving the Chinese American community in New York City to provide home mortgages, personal credit cards and small commercial mortgages. These credit services were not offered at the time by any American bank branches in Chinatown that only took deposits from the community. In recognition of the Bank’s contribution to community economic development, the Bank was certified by the US Treasury Department as an official Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), the first and only one for Chinese Americans in the country. The Bank became a highly respected champion in New York’s Chinese American community. Patrick was also responsible for successfully built from the ground up the Bank’s highly profitable fee-based business in China wire transfer, home mortgage origination/servicing, and wealth management.

During his career at the Bank Patrick was a dedicated community banker. He played a pivotal role in the formation of Chinatown Business Improvement District (BID) in 2012 working with other community leaders and public officials. After his retirement he continues to serve on both governing boards of BID and Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp. (CPLDC). Both have been recognized to officially represent all segments of Chinatown. Patrick served as the Bank’s Executive Vice President for 18 years.


Billy’s Comments : Patrick should be highly commended for his dedication to Friendship Building between China and U.S. – with his admirable Non Sibi Spirit. If Nations can abandon SELF INTEREST ONLY and focus on COMMON INTERESTS and WIN WIN STRATEGIES, True Friendship can still be attained.


“SHARING IDEAS ON FRIENDSHIPOLOGY” Bill Shilstone and Billy Lee – November 2020

Tennis Buddies: Shilstone ( back row center) – Lee ( front center) We hit balls back and forth a lot.

Billy to his tennis Buddies on Nov. 9th:

I need friends to help promote FRIENDSHIPOLOGY.

See special edition of Youth Uniting Nations attached. Few friends around the world are already helping.

But I really need good articles by friends like you.

Please consider writing something meaningful

for this website: <https://friendshipology.net>

Bill Shilstone responded on Nov. 10th :

I recommend that you suggest a few possible topics

Here are some ideas for starters:

  • What did your mother or father teach you about friendships?
  • Who is your best friend, and why?
  • When did you stand up for a friend?
  • Think of a friend of yours. When did you realize he/she was a friend?
  • What is important to you in a friendship?

Shilstone sent Billy another note on Nov. 11th:

Here’s a Veterans Day Thought for Billy’s World

Some of my best and longest-lasting friendships were formed during my 3.5 years in the U.S. Navy. Training in the U.S. and deployment in the Western Pacific brought me into contact with people of all shapes, sizes, colors and behaviors. A young person could not have a better education – and get paid for it.

I’m not advocating reinstatement of the military draft, but I agree with those who think some kind of mandatory public service (say 18 months abroad, in the inner city or on Native American reservations), would pay dividends in promoting human understanding.

Call it a Friendship Draft, and let Billy Lee be the first to go!

–Bill Shilstone


“A FRIEND” by Shona Hammond Boys – November 2020

Shona and Billy met at ICAF’s World Children’s Festival, Washington D.C. – July 4th weekend 2015


How brave friends are to sift through all our conversations and keep only the good. When life ends only the good rises up. Time and time again only the good lasts. The effort we made to support others, the times we visited when there were problems, the way we held the ground for others. Good survives and reigns.

Friendship is Art, Art is friendship. I have just written a eulogy for Ngawai Te Hinga Mc Intyre who was 88 years old. A beautiful Maori woman who lived as a monk. What was it about our friendship?

After a day of note taking and sorting pictures of many events, I put the video together and tomorrow it will be used in the service for her.

She was tiny and had a huge spirit. She was multicultural and held a world view on everything.

She had a black belt as her defence and she went to court to prisons, to councils, supporting her whanau`s legal problems. She meant no harm to anyone. She had trained as a minister of the church, one woman amongst 35 men. She then married a wealthy man and travelled the world. When that marriage ended, she became kuia to the New Zealand Children`s Art House around the country.

She got lost in the world of children and danced and sang with them. Now everyone remembers her smile, her joy, her laughter.At 60 she looked 40. At 80 she looked 60. She was forever young.

I am left thinking of her self- dignity, her discipline and her friendship to me. She made me feel I was her bestie, and I know that everyone felt like that. Her best friend. Dismissing complaints, shame pain, blame and the culture of complaint, Nagwai turned tables on so many people with her warmth and smile. Ngawai served humanity without complaint.

I send you her recent picture and her story as a friendship token for your FRIENDSHIP & FRIENDSHIPOLOGY work.


About Shona <www.shonahammondboys.com>

           I am a New Zealander. I was born at the end of the war, in Te Kuiti, in the King Country and my earliest days were spent in Pureora forest. I grew up on a farm in Kio Kio near a marae.  It was on the border of the King Country and the Waikato. I attended school in the predominantly Maori village of Kihikihi.  In my earliest years in Hairini, I was educated in Maori history and I understand the bond with the environment that runs deep in Maori.

That same bond is very deep within me. I am passionate about my native land. I love the stories about the legendary inhabitants of the bush wrapped in cloaks of flax and fern and having sometimes extraordinary powers to meddle for good or for evil in the affairs of humankind. I was lucky enough to be a first scholar at Waikato University and Teachers Training College and developed strong associations with Marae and Schools across New Zealand.  I have travelled and taught around the world but New Zealand is my home.

I went to USA for the first time in 1963-1964 on an American Field Service Scholarship. This cemented the significance of the Maori people in my life because I saw many different cultural groups and studied the different races living in New York.

In New Zealand I qualified with distinction as a teacher in 1967 and later in 1989 as an artist majoring in Figurative studies and portraiture. I held the appointed Government position for the Northern Regional Arts Council of the Queen Elizabeth Arts Council and as an artist, I was invited to go to Waitangi to make many sketches of the diverse Maori groups there for the 1990 ceremonies held for the commemoration of the 150 years since the Treaty of Waitangi signing. This was a government commission.

Pirimi’s World, a series of five readers by Shona Hammond Boys QSM, results from her studies of gifted and talented children in The New Zealand Children`s Art Houses of which she is National Director and Founder.  Shona was awarded the Inaugural World Children Award 2015, by International Child Art Foundation for her services to children`s art worldwide. Shona`s CV is available on her website and these books are also on line at www.shonahammondboys.com The books are filmed and set to music by He Tangata Digital Media Systems Limited www.htdm.maori.nz with Laban Freeman as voice over.

  1. PIRIMI`S HOMEWORK:  Pirimi`s kapahaka whanua is a collection of portraits of his family. He draws this for homework instead of writing and essay. It shows relationships and an extended family life.
  2. PIRIMI`S PEOPLE:  A collection of portraits about Pirimi`s neighbours who come from all walks of life and the globe.It includes a map of the neighbourhood and where they all live.
  3. PIRIMI`S NATURE STUDIES: The natural life around him is a subject of great interest  to Pirimi. He shares his knowledge of the local animals and creatures in his immediate environment.
  4. PIRIMI`S EXHIBITION: Pirimi`s solo exhibition is to raise money for a Children`s Art House. He puts up 80 portraits of friends and family .He uses his talents to advocate for others.
  5. PIRIMI`S GARDEN AND THE BEES: This reveals Pirimi`s true concern for the environment, the global future and shows how our attitude to the environment matters. Pirimi has a bee hive and advises everyone to stop using sprays and chemicals and to look after the bees.


Billy’s Comments: I met Shona at the 2015 World Children’s Festival sponsored by International Child Art Foundation in Washington D.C. . She was the first person who approached me and inquired if I belonged to a Friendshipology Organization. I answered “No, but how about we explore together to create one ?” We thus became “Bosom Friends”. Indeed, I feel most inspired by Shona’s dedication to Art and the KINDNESS she has practised, taught, and promoted around the world.


“TALKING ABOUT FRIENDSHIP” by James Wei – October 2020

James Wei – few years ago

Dear Bill:

We first met seventy years ago, at the home of my Uncle Jack at 
Bronxville, New York.  It is incredible that we stayed in touch all 
these years through happy youth, prosperous adulthood, and quiet senior 
citizenship.  Confucius used to say that “It is rare to reach the age of 
seventy”.  But we managed to survive to ninety.  May the next ninety 
year be even more prosperous.

Jim Wei


Vita:  James Wei received his Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952, M.S. and Sc.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 1954 and 1955 (with a minor in Fine Arts from Harvard).  He also has a degree in Advanced Management from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1969.  He began his career as a Research Chemical Engineer for Mobil Oil Research in 1955, and advanced to Manager of Long-Range Analysis by 1969.  He was Visiting Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Princeton University in 1962-1963, Visiting Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology in 1965, and Sherman M. Fairchild Distinguished Scholar in 1977.  From 1971-1977, he was the Allan P. Colburn Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware.  He joined MIT in 1977 where he served as Department Head of Chemical Engineering until 1988, and was the Warren K. Lewis Professor from 1977-1991.  Between 1991 and 2002, he was Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University.  Since 1991, he was also Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical Engineering at Princeton University.  

            Dr. Wei has published more than 130 research papers on chemical kinetics, catalysis, reaction engineering, and cancer chemotherapy.  He has co-authored seven books, including “The Structure of Chemical Processing Industries” with McGraw-Hill in 1978, and “Product Engineering: Molecular Structure and Properties”, Oxford University Press in 2007.   Professor Wei has been editor of several book series and journals including:  Chemical Technology, member of the Executive Board, 1971-1979; Consulting Editor for McGraw-Hill Book Series of Chemical Engineering from 1964-1992; and Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Chemical Engineering, since 1982, responsible for Volumes 12-24.  He served as the president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1988. He is currently a trustee of Smith College and the American University of Beirut.

            Among Dr. Wei’s awards are:  Award in Petroleum Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, 1966; Professional Progress Award from American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1970; Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 1978; William H. Walker Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1980; Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1982; Member of Academia Sinica, 1982.  He was designated one of thirty “Eminent Chemical Engineers,” at the AIChE Diamond Jubilee Meeting, 1983; and Founders Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for contributions to the profession, 1990.   He was chosen as one of “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era”, at the Centennial Celebration of the AIChE in 2008


BILLY’S COMMENTS: Jim and I met when we were young college students enthusiastic to befriend others who share similar high aspirations. Uncle Jack’s home was friendly and relaxed. The elders truly encouraged us to strive and to connect. During the past 70+ years, we did not meet that often, but we kept up with each other’s good progress and shared miscellaneoous news of mutual interest. We indeed focused mainly on sustaining “Good Feelings” . We have a GOOD and BEAUTIFUL Friendship, indeed ! Thank you, Jim !


“LISTEN UP and LEARN SOMETHING” by Emilie Spaulding – October 2020

Emilie Spaulding’s first book, Red Clay Girl is the heartbreaking, hilarious, and tenacious story of a middle child’s journey from small town Georgia to New York City and beyond. When she reaches her unplanned destination, self-acceptance, you’ll shout hallelujah! (Red Clay Girl is available at indie bookstores and on Amazon.com)

Listen Up and Learn Something

In the 1950s, I left the southern United States where neighbors were of English, Scottish, or Irish descent. We followed the same unwritten rules on how to dress, what to eat, and how to behave. As years have passed, wanting to find out more, I began introducing myself to strangers, asking them questions, and they told their life stories. The abbreviated stories below are part of my current project called, Listen Up.

Billy Ming Sing Lee, young Chinese Architect and John Viano, old New Hampshire native collaborated together on our modern house in New Hampshire decades ago. Billy used ancient feng shui techniques to snug in our house among trees, boulders, and mountains at the edge of a lake. Even today, strangers paddling by will stop and exclaim and compliment the beauty of Billy’s and John’s work. Billy, as you know, has graduated from building houses to building friendships among nations.   

Maya Angelo, a stranger, famous poet and guest speaker at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in New York graciously shared with me how she gets the attention of a distracted noisy group of a hundred or so well-to-do guests at a Sleepy Hollow Country Club, New York benefit.  In a change of pace, she tells us how to get others to listen to us.   

Jean Royer, called the blueberry man in Moultonborough, NH, went from being a lonely only child to becoming a pioneer computer wizard with his own company. In his next adventure, he owns a PYO (pick your own) blueberry farm.  With the help of his wife Jeannine he uses opportunity to befriend dozens of strangers from all walks of life as they pick berries in his fields.  

Ken, Supervisor of a Recycling Center in New Hampshire, fondly called the Dump, spreads his cheer talking to hundreds of people daily, even though all seem in a hurry to get on with their lives. He listens to complaints and suggestions and helps out in a myriad of ways. Oh the stories Ken knows…

Dave, a Ship’s Captain in Alaska has a glamorous job where he gives equal attention to the whales, guests, and crew. This debonair man’s loyalty to his childhood sweetheart, now his wife, was touching, and inspiring. Captain Dave listens to port officials, crew members, and ship guests as if they were family.

Sharon Jones, renowned singer from Portsmouth, New Hampshire was often the only Black child in her class. She tells how her mother, her dog, and a doll given her by her teacher helped her get through being ignored by the other kids. She has found her magic singing to people all over the world. Having courage, being entertaining, and caring about strangers are her trademarks.

Edwin, a car salesman in North Carolina got his start selling vacuum systems. He convinced a wizard of the KKK who originally tried to turn him away because of his race, to buy a vacuum cleaning system from him. Edwin has built trust, friendship, and respect with all of his customers – former strangers – but now friends. He works his magic by acts of kindness, thoughtful gifts, and staying in touch.   

Elaine, daughter of the painter portraying Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, speaks of her, her mother’s, and sisters’ regrets of not being allowed to participate in racial protests and activities. Afraid their father might lose his job, they could only listen, not talk. Their frustration lasted for decades. They have taught me to feel fortunate I have been able to freely communicate and hear other viewpoints.

Conclusion:  Asking, listening, and respecting strangers has changed my life. Before I started this project Listen Up, when I saw an unknown person sitting alone at a party and felt sorry for them, I rushed over to make them feel welcome. I thought I was doing them a favor. Now I know better. Today when I rush over to talk to a stranger, it is to listen to their story, understand them better, and marvel at what I can learn.     


Billy’s Comments: Emilie wrote me a week ago:  “My second book which I’m 3/4 of the way through is about how much one can learn from listening to strangers who are different from you. Especially the thought that wouldn’t this be a better place if we strangers talked and listened to each other.”  Emilie and husband Dick Spaulding were my architectural clients at first. We are now Dear Old Friends. Dick, btw, lured Emilie from Georgia to New York City. Dick, while at Scholarslic Magazine, also discovered and introduced Harry Potter to the world.


‘AN ESSAY FOR BILLY’s WEBSITE’ by Cynthia English – October 2020

Cynthia and her young friends

FOUNDER – CEO – Chief Happiness Cheerleader GLOBAL SCRIBES : YOUTH UNITING NATIONS® TECHNOLOGY FOR POSITIVE YOUTH IMPACT Support: Youth Uniting Nations® Leveraging innovative technology for positive youth impact, our Scribers develop enlightened respect for humanity and its diversity while discovering their own talents and passions. Our ‘For Youth, By Youth, ALL Youth’ platform, Scribers WorldTM – The Creative Hub for Global Youth – augments formal education and spurs meaningful communication to Create. Connect. Collaborate. inspiring our global youth to become empowered global citizens.


Forgive me for being late with my submission… the beauty & depth of so many of your stories in Billy’s blog took me to faraway lands in times I will never know but wish to hold in my heart to feel what I just might be able to understand. A different time, different countries, and yet, stories of movement & change, fear & finally, fraternity…stories which continue to occur each day all around our world.  

There is nothing I love more than diverse people, their cultures & our world filled with sights & sounds, smells & textures of ‘different’ mixed in with the clarity of ‘similarities’. Spending my life living, working & traveling across our globe looking through rose-colored glasses since childhood, it was a disjointed moment when I felt a chill of change walking through the Helsinki airport in 2013. I was in one of the safest cities in the world, yet the sense of unease I felt was palpable– perhaps the culmination of a series of borders crossed.  Either way,  It was then I was struck with a vision to help re-direct what I suddenly saw as a backward trajectory to chaos & re-entrenchment happening around the world. With finite space, finite natural resources already stressed in so many places, changing climes (since the beginning of time) and migration for work or safety a continuum, the skills of listening and compromise seemed to be lost or breaking–for a global citizen, ‘regression’ was a sirens call. Compromise must find a way back into global discourse not be discarded. One world perspective needs to find a place. 

The world needs more than a bandaid–we need a long-term solution. I began asking myself questions like, ‘How can we really make ‘unity’ happen?’  ‘Can global peace really ever come to be?’ There are countless organizations working on solutions, indeed, the United Nations has been striving for peace for years. But there is a difference between talking and doing. And, as we all know, trying to change adults is nigh impossible. We are a tough group, non? So, I started thinking about what the world is doing today & where we are going… if my goal is to give more people the opportunity to understand that we are all just people with more similarities than differences…and open doors of possibility…where do we start to build global trust? In my opinion, having global friendships is the beginning of building cross border trust. Breaking generational fears of ‘other’, of ‘different’.  I chose to focus on our global youth. If our future Stewards of Humanity & our Planet can go through life with friends from around the world, they just might pave the way as Youth Uniting Nations toward global care and unity. And when THEY are our household, community, corporate, country and even global leaders, they will bring with them a perspective too few people share today. 

Next question, ‘How do I reach them?’ Technology. In my day as a youth, we had teddy bears, today, that phone in their hand?– their ‘teddy bear’. The thing that gives them a sense of security has a lot of power. 

Then next, ‘What is the foundation of friendship?’ Similar Interests. Working together on projects. Laughter. Empathy. Understanding. Trust. If we remove those elements of adult life which can cause huge rifts between families and countries, we will give the kids a chance to have fun building solid friendships. Then one day, with the security of a solid friendship, the ability to listen and discuss, knowing they can agree to disagree and their friendship will remain strong, subjects like religion and politics can be introduced. 

‘What can we build that will interest 8 – 21 year olds?’ Giving them their own community where ALL youth are invited to participate. No religion. No politics. No segregation. of any kind. A community ‘for youth, by youth, all youth’. No (or few) older adults.
& ‘keep their attention?  It needed to be inline with gaming & FUN!, with the added ability to provide a sense of accomplishment .

 In June of 2014 I founded Global Scribes: Youth Uniting Nations®– Create. Connect. Collaborate. www.globalscribes.org click on GSIM radio their own radio station Scribers built, their YouTube Channel, their Instagram & so much more… See two of our Scribers from Turkey & Qatar on the TEDx red carpet, see their award-winning film ‘Ocean Eyes’ for the Blue Ocean Film Festival, see their interviews & so much more…  With a concept of HAPPINESS, we moved from concept camp to a prototype build out in Jordan, from 16 kids to youth from 46+ countries with no formal marketing. Over 5 steps, ‘Scribers’ (the kids named themselves) write poetry, music lyrics, creative stories or narratives or share their artwork in their native language and in English (the best they can); they prepare ‘selfie’ videos describing their stories or storytelling or play their composition; they create a short film called, ‘The Life I Lead’; they join GSYUN Teams like Science & Nature, Finance, Green Entrepreneur, Newsletter, Bon Appetit & more to discover their own talents & passions & build their self-esteem & efficacy, & lastly; they join a weekly video call to finally meet one another in real time. It is an honour to say we have Scribers who have been participating for 3 – 5+ years– they call GSYUN their ‘second family’.  The place they feel safe. Some have graduated from high school and are in University now. Some are looking for their first job. Some say they never in their lives thought they would know someone from that country, would never have a friend from there, & never in their lives did they know that maybe one day they would travel there. Most say they are happier. They know there is always a Scriber there to listen to them without judgement, to share their fears, tears, failures, triumphs & success. Positive mental health is a keen necessity in these times. They have learned they can do anything by walking through an opened door of possibility.

‘Just an idea’ began to flourish so much I had to pull it back so we can get the next phase of technology in place so we may touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of global youth. The prototype of our Y.U.N. App is built, we need only the last funding to build out the entire App. For Youth, By Youth, ALL Youth. Adding new layers to a simple idea of global friendships. 
Friendshipology is a thriving concept–  I feel so blessed to have met Billy at Stanford when I was there as a GES+ winner…as you might imagine, we have an unbreakable bond. I so hope to meet you all one day… in the meantime, if you would like to know more about GSYUN or how you might help us move forward in connecting our global youth in a safe, healthy & positive way, please connect with me! cynthia@globalscribes.org




VITA: Founder and Visionary, Cynthia English spent the first 22 years of her diverse career in the fashion industry traveling worldwide sourcing vendors, managing manufacturing, shopping stores for inspiration and overseeing product design, as well as buying for retail stores, on behalf of some of the largest global fashion brands. She has been responsible for businesses ranging in $volume from $4.0m to $86.0m in sales and/or inventory value. Both a passionate writer at heart-having written her first book at age 8, “Ralph the Mouse”-and an entrepreneur since the age of 21, her creative spirit began to take hold after leaving the corporate world behind. She opened a small interior design company and created great dates™, a concept focused on building closer relationships through shared experience, which targeted multiple platforms including print, television and the internet. great dates™ was picked up by the Hallmark Channel and then subsequently dropped when Crown Media shifted their opening strategy to classic re.runs. Cynthia’s life continues to evolve as she explores cultural interchange in every corner of the globe- from climbing the pyramids of Tikal, Guatemala to inspecting vanilla vines in Bali to being a volunteer in Zambia for Habitat for Humanity to trekking over 800 km solo from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, across El Camino, St. James’ Way. In an about-face from her high-glamour fashion roots, she learned how to survive with one change of clothing, the shoes on her feet (and her pink flip-flops), thus opening doors to an entirely new world of adventure brimming with freedom, more privilege, and everyday miracles. Cynthia graduated from the Marshall School, University of Southern California, with a degree in International Finance and Duke University’s Non-Profit Management School. Fortunate to attend the Aspen Writer’s Conference, and Oxford University’s School of Continuing Education for Creative Writing, she learned to champion criticism, stay unique, and to keep striving to be better. Taking inspiration from her many and widely varied adventures, she has had articles published in the United States and Europe, her first thriller novel was published in the United States in 2010 and she is now pursuing her childhood passion-writing and outreach. Cynthia heeds the impassioned plea of a young woman named Honig, whom she met on a train between Budapest and Bucharest–”please, never stop delivering world adventure to those unable to make the journeys themselves.” And to this end, embracing the human dynamics and cultural riches she has known, she perseveres through life’s lessons to provide powerful messages of love, acceptance of different and distinct lives, and preservation of free spirit in all humanity, regardless of origin and culture through the current scaling of Global Scribes: Youth Uniting Nations® the App & web-portal,  Y.U.N. or Scribers World™️  is planned to launch in collaboration with SAP Next Gen and global academic and corporate partners as soon as final funding is found.



John MY Lee

John Ming Yee Lee is my younger brother by six years. We are both retired Architects and graduates from Yale School of Architecture. He is well known internationally for his design of Citizens’ Center and China Merchants Bank Tower in Shenzen, China. While working with Edward L. Barnes Architects, he designed the IBM Office Tower in NYC and introduced the famous Bamboo Pavilion. The elegant Thurgood Marshall Federal Building in Washington DC bears the Architects names Barnes and Lee, after he became a full partner. John has two sons and two grand daughters. He now resides at Rossmore, a fancy retirement community north of San Francisco.


‘I want to call your name, but the word dies in my throat. Oh, my friend, my friend.’Those were the final two tear jerking lines in ‘The Friend’ a novel by Sigrid Nunez. The story is about a lady writer who inherited a Great Dane that belonged to her ex-lover who had committed suicide. Early on, it served as a reminder of memories with him. Despite the difficult condition of having another large living body in a tiny NYC studio apartment, the two developed a friendship that she treasured more than the one with her ex-lover. It was not simply  because of the loyalty as expected of a dog. It was its lack of ego and demands and its quick sensitivity to her moods and feelings. A Great Dane’s life span is relatively short as I understand with most large dogs. The dog passed away when they were briefly staying near a beach in the summer to escape the hassles of the Big Apple. 

I finished that novel a short time before Billy asked me to contribute an essay for his Friendship website. I first decided to google the subject. That was a mistake. I was totally intimidated. There are dozens of books dedicated to friends and friendship. I ended up reading only a selection of quotes. 

‘The only way to have a friend is to be one’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson’Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses…’ – Michelle Obama. (That applies to men as well.) 

‘A single rose can be my garden,.. a single friend, my world.’ – Leo Buscaglia’I may not always be there with you, but I will always be there for you.’ – Unknown
An overwhelming majority of the quotes seem to imply that friendship is limited to between humans. But I believe that most of our experiences are otherwise.

I now live in a senior community where many would not survive without their bond with their pet friends. And there are so many true touching stories we hear.The retired laborer who lives by himself next to the rocky coast. He found a distressed penguin one day and nursed it back to health. It was released back to the ocean after a few months. Next year around the same time, he was surprised to find the penguin wobbling up to his shack and it was so happy to see the old man. The penguin stayed for a period and went back out to sea. That visit now happens every year. 

On BBC News last week, it showcased a lady living in a high rise befriending a bird. During the lockdown, the lady noticed a bird on and off resting on the window sill. She tried to feed it by hand but it would fly away. So the lady decided to leave the crumbs on the sill. The bird would come and feed on them. After a few days, the lady tried again to feed it with the crumbs in her hand. This time it took. Now that bird would come every day and the lady would pat it on the head and the bird would affectionately peck at her finger in response.

We of course all know about Jane Goodall and her chimpanzee family. 

Of course I am not belittling human friendship. I would not be here today without their help and mentoring. As Ming Wang pointed out in her essay, there are many levels of friendship. But human friendship can also be fickle. My friend Art told me about an incident when he was young and full of himself. He had a crush on a lovely lady and they got together on and off. One day, they went for a drive in his old convertible. With her long hair flowing in the wind, Art was totally entranced. Words poured out of his mouth how he had a crush on her and how absolutely gorgeous she was. She stayed quiet throughout with a slight smile. When they got back, she turned and told him that she would not ever want to see him again!

At any rate I am writing this because I believe that far too often we have forgotten that we too are part of the animal world. There can be rewarding bonding not limited between humans.


“KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS” by Yuelin Yang – October 2020

Yuelin Yang

Mr Yang has been with IMC since 1995 and has held various senior appointments. Prior to joining IMC, Mr Yang was a member of Office of the Chairman Stan Shih and Associate General Counsel at Acer Computers in San Jose, California and Taipei, Taiwan. He started his career practising law in Silicon Valley at the Cooley Godward and Brobeck Phleger law firms.

Mr Yang is on the board of Directors for the Asian investment company of Verlinvest, NUS (National University of Singapore) Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions & Organisations.  He also is on the Council of Asian Corporate Governance Association (Hong Kong), and

Mr Yang received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a JD from Stanford Law School.


Born in New York City, I grew up in Davis, California.  I then lived in the Bay Area for several years attending university and law school and then practicing law.  In 1995, I moved to Hong Kong and then to Singapore after I met and married my wife there.   I work in a family business which was founded by my grandfather and does shipping & logistics.

I was honoured by Billy to ask to write this for his blog.  I first met Billy in 1984 on the tennis courts (where else would he be! ) when I was in law school.  His hearty laugh and fun loving nature enticed me to join FF Fraternity where Billy is active and one of the most respected senior brothers.

Needless to say, the year 2020 has been full of surprises.  COVID.  Black Lives Matters.  California forest fires.  The Presidential election. 

From Singapore, I try to follow what is going on in the USA both for work and personal interest. 

My working hypothesis is that the COVID virus has exposed and in some cases accelerated systemic issues and trends developed over the last 30 – 40 years of:

·   a rise in inequality in terms of race, income and opportunity

·   over indebtedness

·   short-termism

·   climate change

·   digital economy

·   an increasingly polarized population, and

·   the shift from West to East which is impacting geopolitics

With staying at home more these days, there is a lot more time to think about these topics. Whether turning on the TV,  listening to webinars and reading the newspapers, it can be information overload and lead to feelings of negative emotions and uncertainty as to what is real or fake news.

For the situation in the USA, I have been away from the USA since 1995.   Although I do go back a few times a year until this year, I still feel not as in touch.  The America today seems very different than the one back in 1995.  What has helped me a lot in the last 6 months has been frequent calls with friends and relatives in the USA.

When Black lives matters protests in Minneapolis first happened, a cousin in the Bay Area told me that there were similar protests in small towns across America.  That told me it was really widespread.  Then there was the reporting on the protests in Portland.  I spoke with a college friend who is from there and whose parents and adult children live there.  He said the protests were taking place in an area of a few blocks by few blocks and not so widespread.  Very different than what I saw or read in some of the media.

With time at home to read more, I started paying much more attention to climate change.  To understand it better, I had calls with a friend from FF Fraternity who has been active in climate change for over a decade.  I told him I wish I had the foresight like he did.  Not only does climate change affect our business but one of the California fires this summer got to Vacaville which is only 20 miles from Davis where my mother, brother and his wife are.

I have regular weekly calls with a group of friends from a non-profit organization where we have been active for 20+ years.   The group covers the political spectrum.  We have good discussions especially on the US Presidential election.  Amongst friends, we are able to discuss and respect each other’s opinions even though we sometimes have to agree to disagree.   Though we have known each other for 20+ years meeting a few times a year, I feel we have gotten to know each other more during these calls.  A silver lining to sheltering at home.

I speak weekly with my roommate from law school.  He is very well-read and stays on top of current events.  He also is a full-time arbitrator so makes his living by listening to both sides and then making the call.  Putting aside his political leanings, he is able to get to the heart of the matters and explain both sides to me in a much more objective say than FOX and CNN.

I speak regularly with some college friends.  This really helps to uplift my emotions as we remember the good old days including on my last trip to the USA last October.  And to look forward to more in the future when we can travel again.  Our conversations range from politics to college and professional sports. 

I also speak frequently with a friend who is a former law firm colleague.  We were both young associates together back in the day.    We bonded over that experience as well as playing basketball and sports in general.   I have always valued his opinion as he calls it like it is.   He and his wife are both very civic minded so we also talk about what is happening in US society.

The FF Fraternity that Billy recruited me into has regular zoom get togethers.  Some of it is social where its great to see familiar faces on Hollywood Squares on the zoom screen.  And others cover serious topics where there are particular brothers who are subject matter experts.  One of them was why there are so few Asian-American CEO’s at US companies.  With the current US-China situation, it is a very sensitive time for Asian-Americans.  I do not feel it living in Singapore but learn a lot about this from my FF brothers.

The virus has prevented seeing friends in person.  But now that many of us are staying at home more, including not going on business trips, I have found more opportunities to talk more and more deeply with friends.  They have been a real intellectual and emotional support.   Still, I cannot wait to be able to travel to the USA and see them in person again.


Billy’s Comments: Yuelin is one of my favorite younger friends, for indeed he nurtures our Friendship by visiting me and Lucille every time he comes back to the Silicon Valley for business. Yuelin, Lucille and I deeply appreciate that ! Thank you for Keeping In Touch!


Voo Ming Hsien Responded to Billy w/ Thoughts on Friendship – Oct. 5, 2020

Voo Ming Hsien 武明賢 married Wang Yung thus became Ming Wang

Rumor had it that Voo Family in Ting Hai,  定海  (the small island right off  NingPo 寧波) is descendant of  Wu/Voo Zetian 武則天.  Empress Voo was known for her nepotism.  When she died, members of her family were thrown out; one branch got exiled as far South as Ting Hai 定海, where land ends at the ocean.  
Descendants of families in NingPo 寧波, Zhoushan City 舟山市, and Ting Hai,  定海 ; all seem to have done OK.

MW 2012 Wang family Holidaycards  reduced 2020.jpg
Hello Billy,

I’ve been thinking a lot about Friendship; much thought but not knowing how to put into words.
After reading the recitations on your website, I am much enlightened by others who have put into words so eloquently and effectively of my many wanderings.

Amy Chua (author of Tiger Mother) wrote on “Political Tribes”.  She reminds me that those of us who left our own countries, but carry with us much of our tribalism; myself indeed.  I always remember the Chinese folktale of how men become life long “bosom buddies”,“知友” (zhī yǒu),  enjoying glass of wine in a pavilion, writing poetry, or jumping to the rescue of his friend in need.  Such friendship is to be worshipped and treasured.  Did we, in China, have resentment towards “gay”?   I wonder?  Also, was such “bosom buddies” experiences enjoyed by men ONLY?  

At my advancing age, I look back and find friends of many levels – acquaintances, business associates, casual friends and bosom buddies.   A bosom buddy “知友” (zhī yǒu), is someone of kindred spirit. Someone you can exchange ideas, agree-to-disagree dialogs in gaining new perspectives, and such.  

Upon reviewing several definitions of friendship,  “Respect” pops up to me as a very significant element. For me, my bosom buddies do not relate to age, wealth, nor profession.  In my younger days, my friends were older and related to me more like my mentors, guiding me, helping me to understand without being preachy. 

I used to believe “知友” (zhī yǒu) is more of an Asian heritage.  Fortunate for me, aside from a Chinese couple who took on the role of mentors when I first came to NY,  I had a Jewish business partner/friend for some 30 years.  At some business negotiation, the opposite side asked him why he worked so hard obviously defending and guiding me. My partner answered: she is my sister.  His wife was also my bosom friend, helped and guided me every step along the way with my bringing up an Autistic child.  He died of a heart attack in his 50’s, and she died 8 years ago.  

My next business partner/friend for some 20 years was an Irish lawyer.  Again, we were able to have exchanges of intellectual as well as trivial discourses.  He passed away a few years ago.

From that era, I have remaining “知友” (zhī yǒu) – John Lee; Billy’s brother, who was at Yale Architecture School the same time with my husband Yung and myself.  Although we are now thousands of miles apart, we are in touch via internet.  He is also friend of Yung, but he and I exchange emails more often, on subjects from international affairs to cats and dogs.  We are friends of some 60+ years and continuing.

Yung teases me of being a “busy body”, others labeled me a “people person”.

Now I have friends of younger age.  I thrive at how they share willingly with me their dreams and goals.   I respect their intellect, creativity, and fantasies.   They accept my “2 cents” worth knowledge and advices.  They keep me feeling alive. 

At my age, I horde my friends as my treasures.

By the way, Billy, am I the 1st woman participant for your web page?    Best,   Ming 武明賢

p.s.  A brief auto-bio – Came to US before I graduated from McTyeire high school in Shanghai. Graduated with BA from U of Wisc.  Came to NYC – worked as assistant to Vogue Feature Editor Allene Talmey;  attended Cooper Union arch. evening school; attended & graduated from Yale Arch 1962.  After Yale, form Hsien Inc. as president, in real estate; and maintained independent arch practice.  Now, retired with son & daughter, grand son and grand daughter; and dogs and cat, and shamelessly bragging about having all my kids under the same roof – a typical, Chinese family compound.

p.p.s.  Your brother John lived here with us for a few years too