VISIONS OF CHINA EXHIBITIONS
A sizeable collection, officially recognized as the earliest color photographs ever taken in China, was recently donated to AACF by the family of Dr. Gregg Millett, son of the original photographer, Dr. Clinton Millett. An Army doctor, stationed near Kunming, China, during World War II, Dr. Millett used some of the earliest Kodak color film sent by his family to take pictures of the Burma Road theatre during 1943-1945. In doing so, he captured a window in time and history. AACF will be organizing partnerships with universities and public groups to exhibit this collection as widely as possible in the future. Interested parties should contact Helen Kim for details in project planning.
A Global Education Project
AACF believes the best way to promote “Unity in Diversity” is through educating Alabama’s youth about the cultures, histories, and arts of Asia. As our state becomes more globally focused and more diverse as people come to the state, especially from Asian countries, it is imperative that Alabama’s youth are better able to understand the different cultural and historic backgrounds that guide perceptions, decisions, and actions of newcomers. Global education will have the added benefit of making young people more understanding, welcoming, culturally perceptive, and historically knowledgeable.
The Foundation would like to develop a “suitcase” of free, hands-on materials and provide teacher workshops that will prepare educators to teach about the arts, culture, economics, and history of different Asian countries. In researching “best practices”, we identified a successful 10-year program from North Carolina that shares our goals and will serve as our model. Go to to see a general overview, and teachers may wish to go to to see some of the materials offered. If you wish to be involved email
SUPPORT OUR PROGRESS
As the Foundation Board begins seeking grants and donations to help support development of the Travelling Suitcases project, we wish to announces the appointment of an Executive Committee that will steer materials writing groups, develop teacher training programs, and help identify and obtain materials that will go into each suitcase. We need funding dedicated to obtaining items, buying suitcases, leasing storage and work space, and funding stipends for those who work with the committees. Another way FOR THE PUBLIC to help is for those who regularly travel to Asia who might purchase items of cultural, artistic, historical, or geographic significance and make a tax deductible donation to the Foundation dedicated to the Alabama Travelling Suitcases of Asia program. Be reminded the Foundation is hoping to provide training and materials to K-12 participating teachers at no charge.
Vision of an Asian Cultures Complex
The Alabama Asian Cultures Foundation’s vision consists of a classical Chinese Garden, a unique complex of buildings housing an Asian Cultural Education Center, and an International Friendship & World Peace Plaza.
The Alabama Classical Chinese Garden
The Alabama Classical Chinese Garden was inspired by a desire to honor one of Birmingham’s earliest Chinese entrepreneurs, Mr. Joe Wing Soon, whose family opened Joy Young Restaurant in 1919, and visited Oregon’s Portland Classical Chinese Garden in 2003.
Designed by a world-renowned Chinese garden landscape architectural team from Suzhou, China, in 2007, the garden is intended to be a place of beauty located in metro-Birmingham, Alabama. It is designed to cover approximately four-plus acres.
The Asian Cultural Center of Alabama
The Asian Cultural Education Center of Alabama is intended to provide Asian communities in metro-Birmingham and the state a venue to host artistic/cultural/educational events for themselves as well as the greater Birmingham community and state.
The Asian Culture Center of Alabama would operate as a cooperative of participating Asian communities where they could present programs, courses, and events that represent their unique arts, cultural expressions, and histories. The Center would offer these communities office space for program development by their representative Arts and Culture Program Committees. Each Committee would be free from fundraising and facilities management concerns, so that they could focus on planning, developing, and presenting the best and most authentic artistic and cultural programming and courses possible. The administrative staff would include a full-time grants writer/fundraiser and a full-time events coordinator/marketing manager. The Board of Directors is envisioned as consisting of two members from each Asian Community’s Arts and Culture Program Committee, plus four non-Asian members, appointed by majority vote of the board from outside nominations and recommended as qualified by the Executive Director.
Imagine visiting artists/scholars/artisans spending up to a year “in residence” at the Center teaching and working on projects. The Asian Cultural Center would offer Asian students and students of Asian cultures from all over Alabama and beyond a “cultural immersion” zone to visit; offer Birmingham residents entertainment and educational opportunities in Asian cultures, arts, and customs; and offer opportunities for all to foster inter-community cooperation, understanding, and friendship in the name of world peace. The Center’s motto, reflecting this cooperative spirit, will be “Unity in Diversity!”
The Asian Cultural Education Center of Alabama will ideally offer the following facilities, many of which will be multi-functional, to accommodate the activities and programs to be offered within the Center, all of which will be available for rental to the public subject to availability: a “Great Hall” able to accommodate 1500; a 500 seat banquet hall with adjoining catering kitchen; multiple classrooms for lectures and courses that are divisible; music practice rooms; dance studios; art studios for painting, pottery, textiles; an Asian library; computer room; and offices for the Arts and Culture Program Committees and Center staff.
The Mohandas Karamanchand Gandhi International Friendship and World Peace Plaza
The Mohandas Karamanchand Gandhi International Friendship and World Peace Plaza will symbolize the cooperative nature of local Asian communities working together to complete the entire project and mirror the motto of the Asian Center, “Unity in Diversity”.
The Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi International Friendship and World Peace Plaza would be a monument to “Unity in Diversity”. It should, when completed, reflect this motto through its design. One proposal calls for a central, multi-faced obelisk, where each face represents one of the partnering Asian communities. An inscription of a poem or other writing on the subject of cooperation, friendship, or world peace is placed on one face by each Birmingham Asian community participating in the Cultural Center. The faces represent pride in the individual culture of that community, but the obelisk holding them represents the unity, friendship, and cooperation of the communities reflected in the building and operation of the Asian Cultural Education Center of Alabama. There would be a paved plaza surrounding the obelisk using the same pavers to be used in the Garden, and having seats for visitors’ rest and meditation. This will be surrounded in turn by grassy areas of flower beds and low plantings. On the outer edges would be objects d’art in the theme of international friendship, understanding and cooperation among peoples, or peace among nations. It would offer an opportunity for the embassy for each community/culture/nation represented on the obelisk to donate a piece of art to symbolize its support for these ideals.
Serve as a venue for programs and events promoting world peace, individual freedom of expression, and international friendship and cooperation
Illustrate how “Unity in Diversity” can achieve results in a community like Birmingham and a state like Alabama
Display art that expresses visions of world peace and understanding from the perspective of local Asian communities partnering in the Asian Cultural Education Center of Alabama
Provide a meditative perspective through art and a mix of manmade and natural beauty