A WYO25 special feature
THE WYO CHRONICLES (1989 to 2014)
By Brian Wong, WYO Co-Founder
In 2014, the Wongs’ Youth Organization (WYO) celebrated 25 years of fun and excitement as the official youth department of the Wongs’ Association of Ontario. No one imagined that the WYO would last this long given that a new team of youth leaders and volunteers are needed every few years or so to continue organizing activities for the benefit of the Wongs’ Association and our community. The big question is; How did the WYO succeed in doing this for 25 straight years? The answer to that question depends on who you talk to. But regardless of the answer, the WYO has a long legacy of providing useful and entertaining activities each year. Some activities are conducted on an annual basis which includes the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race, Wongs’ Summer Picnic and the Wongs’ Christmas Party. However, the majority of activities tends to be special situations and uniquely focused as social, athletic and community events. There have been some years in particular that stand out in WYO history. Here is a timeline of those special moments.
- The Wongs’ Youth Organization (WYO) is started up by a group of young friends to launch a new era of social, cultural and athletic activities for the youth segment of the Wongs’ Association of Ontario.
- WYO moves into a new building in the heart of Toronto’s Downtown Chinatown (Dundas St. and Spadina Ave.area) which becomes the new headquarters of the Wongs’ Association of Ontario. We also get two seats on the Wongs’ Association Board of Directors and annual funding which continues to this day.
- The first issue of the WYO newsletter called “Youthspeak” is published to inform our youth members of all things happening at the Wongs and to get feedback, comments and suggestions. It wasn’t the prettiest looking newsletter but it got the job done.
- We raised over $ 2,500 in donations for the Toronto United Way Walkathon. This is a record amount that has not been topped since. Even more amazing, $ 2,500 back then is worth far more than $ 2,500 is worth today.
- A Chinese Summer School course is offered to youth members featuring a beginner’s course in spoken Cantonese. This course is taught by a professor from the University of Toronto (UofT) at our headquarters. The UofT becomes the source for another professor again in 2007.
- A fall food drive is organized and a group of WYO volunteers head to the local food bank for the first time to help sort and move food items for the needy. This becomes one of many such food drives to come and WYO also appears on national television during one of our Thanksgiving food drives.
- The Wongs’ Association sponsors the first unified Wongs and Engs Dragon Boat Team at the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. WYO sets up a program to recruit and train a Wongs’ Youth Dragon Boat Team and we have had at least one team paddling every year since.
- Our first ever alpine skiing event is held at Horseshoe Valley. Alpine skiing becomes a popular winter event for years to come. We still don’t know if it’s the skiing or the hot chocolate that brings our members back again and again.
- WYO organizes a summer picnic and WYO Junior Olympic games at the 100 acre site of the International Centre of the Taoist Tai Chi Centre of Canada in Orangeville, Ontario. This becomes our largest summer picnic with over 170 people from the Wongs’ Association and the Engs’ Society in attendance.
- The Wongs’ Association of Ontario hosts the 1993 National Convention of Wongs’ Associations and the WYO proudly contributes by designing the convention logo, participating in the grand parade, welcoming delegates and VIPs from around the world and writing articles for the Wongs’ National Convention magazine. Did we mention that the National Convention was a lot of fun also? Indeed, it was.
- WYO Kid’s Camp is our first summer program for kids only (age 5 to 11 years). We take the kids out for a fun time at various attractions during five different weekend dates. The kids love it.
- The Wongs’ Association and the WYO start up a Kung Fu club with training in Shaolin Bhuddist Style Fut Gar Kung Fu from Grandmaster Rong En Chen and Harry Tse. Grandmaster Chen is a direct disciple of a Shaolin monk named Leung Tin Jiu, the founder of Fut Gar Kung Fu. The Kung Fu club becomes good enough to compete at different tournaments. That’s pretty darn good.
- WYO starts up a youth networking initiative to interact with other Chinese youth groups. We successfully join an alliance of Chinese community groups called R-One Association. This alliance includes the Mon Sheong Youth Group, Organization of Chinese Professionals and other Chinese community groups for the purpose of promoting youth development and community goodwill.
- Indoor rock climbing becomes a new athletic event for our members. This becomes a fun event for all skill levels from beginner to advanced. It’s fun as long as you don’t look down. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
- A free one day investment seminar called Financial Fitness is held at the Wongs’ Association Headquarters. This WYO seminar discusses money management, global investing and asset allocation and features speakers from Leon Frazer & Associates, Templeton funds and Altamira funds. Plus we throw in a lunch and investment articles to take home.
- A WYO Constitution is drafted to outline our organizational structure and a code of conduct. After a few amendments, the final draft is approved by WYO Officers. The WYO Constitution was good, so say we all.
- The annual Christmas Party at the Wongs’ Association gets a makeover with new indoor games such as a Foosball table soccer game, table hockey game, 3-hole putting game, basketball toss game and a sumo wrestling game with two padded sumo wrestling suits. Awesome stuff, eh?
- A writing contest called the WYO Writing Competition is started up with prizes awarded to the top three compositions based upon a specific theme or topic. The Writing Competition makes writing fun for our youth members and it becomes a source of youth content for our Wongs’ Association magazine. So put down that video game and write something imaginative.
- The WYO enters the digital age by opening a group page at MSN Community called Wongs Youth Organization. Members of this community can post messages on the Message Board, post photos and send emails to us. Thus begins the age of social networking on the internet by the WYO.
- Our paper based newsletter is replaced with an email based bulletin. An internet website is also launched featuring the latest news on the WYO and the Wongs’ Association. This new website is located at www.wongs.org and it becomes our gateway to cyberspace and beyond.
- The Wongs’ Association and the WYO assemble together to walk in a Canada Day parade through downtown Chinatown. This parade is called “I Love Canada” and various groups from the Chinese Community participate. The parade becomes an annual event for us to demonstrate our national pride and unity.
- WYO celebrates the Year of the Ram by organizing a spectacular Chinese New Year Party at the Wongs’ Association of Ontario headquarters. The party features a lion dance, Chinese fan dance performance, arts & crafts, lunch and a special Chinese New Year souvenir. Wow, what a party.
- A new and improved website is launched using the latest and most advanced software available. We also add a weblink to a site called “Wongs Whos Who” which is a website containing short biographies on Wongs throughout Canada who have attained fame and success. Think of it as a national Wong Hall of Fame.
- We head out to the great outdoors for some fun horseback riding at the Wildwood Manor Ranch. In fact, we went back there again a few months later because we liked the horses so much. Horseback riding becomes another popular activity as we visit different locations and explore new terrains.
- Our project for the table centerpiece displays at the Wongs’ 42nd Anniversary Banquet in July is for the birds. Well it is and it isn’t. We actually placed a wooden birdhouse on each table. So you be the judge.
- A group of WYO members and friends head out to a Habitat for Humanity location to help build a new home for low income families. It’s a wonderful way to learn some new skills and to work as a team. Our hands also get dirty but who cares since it’s all for a good cause.
- WYO sponsors the launch of M-Club. M-Club is a social networking group comprised of post university, young career adults from the Wongs’ Association. The M-Club is the next generation group for a new millennium.
- A CPR and First Aid Basics Workshop was held at the Wongs’ Association headquarters in both English and Chinese. Each participant in the workshop received a first aid certificate, a family emergency handbook, a pen and handouts. For the curious, we used an artificial male torso for the CPR training.
- Golfing becomes a new activity for the WYO when two golfing related events are held for the first time. First up is the driving range at the prestigious Angus Glen Golf Club. We each get a bucket of golf balls and we swing away. The other event is the Nine ‘n’ Dine with nine hole golf at the Uplands Golf Course and dinner at Montana’s Bar and Grill. Sorry, no mini golf at either event.
- We enlist the services of another University of Toronto professor to teach a beginner’s course in Chinese Mandarin at the Wongs’ Association of Ontario headquarters. WYO invited all members of the Association to sign up for the 10 lesson four month course. The course was completed successfully by our members and introduced a new way of speaking Chinese at the Wongs.
- The WYO makes golfing popular again by organizing a golf clinic at the Angus Glen Golf Club. This event draws a record turnout of 78 people with golfers from different generations and skill levels participating. The golf clinic also features a few lucky draws with prizes donated by various sponsors.
- History is made in a big way as the Wongs’ Association of Ontario and the WYO host the 2011 National Convention of Wongs’ Associations in Toronto. We unite with our fellow Wongs across Canada to show the world that we believe and live by the motto “In Family. We Unite”. This motto is at the heart of a new Coat of Arms that was granted to the Wongs’ Association of Ontario by the Canadian Heraldic Authority. This becomes the first time in Canadian history that a Chinese-Canadian family association has been given the honour of a family crest, which will be used to represent Wongs across Canada. Another first was a Wongs’ cocktail challenge sponsored by Spirits Canada to determine the official Wongs’ Cocktail. The winning drink was the Sweet and Sour Wong Spirits which becomes a legendary cocktail. Is anyone getting thirsty?
- The WYO and the Wongs’ Association organize two Chinese cooking demonstrations at the Wongs’ Association headquarters. The cooking demonstrations feature classic food items such as steamed barbeque pork buns and pot sticker (wor tip) dumplings. The cooking demonstrations are a big hit because of the family recipes that were used for making these delicious goodies. These were artisanal recipes at its’ finest.
- The Wongs’ Youth Dragon Boat Team (Wongs’ Imperial Dragons) win the gold medal in the Mixed Division A championship race at the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. Our Dragon Boat Program encourages new paddlers from our Association to join the team every year and to have some serious fun.
- The WYO website is re-launched with new looks and features. You can find photos, articles, online event registrations, message boards and a contest section. But don’t take my word for it. Visit www.wongs.org and check it out.
- WYO clears the decks and transforms our old office into a new club house called WYO Central. WYO Central is equipped with a complete audio visual entertainment centre, a café station and wireless internet. All youth are welcome to drop by at Wongs’ Association headquarters and visit us at WYO Central, of course.
That’s it for now, for the most part. The current WYO Team at the Wongs’ Youth Organization will write a new chapter of WYO history in 2015 and you can be a part of it too. Have fun and help us make history by joining the current WYO Team of youth leaders and volunteers. Let’s see what the next 25 years will look like together, shall we?