|RP honors China dignitaries at tai chi class in Senior Center
Rohnert Park's Senior Center was the tai chi center of attention Monday afternoon when a delegation of dignitaries from China dropped in (and participated) at Joanne Stubblefield's tai chi class. So did Mayor Gina Belforte and former Mayor Pam Stafford.
Heading the dignitaries were two women, Min Xaio, vice-president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Xiaochong Zeng, vice-director general of the Sports Administration of Guandong Province and Yi Wang, a professor at a university in Beijing.
Translator and emcee for their visit was Shu Dong Li, president of the USA National Tai Chi Wellness Foundation, based in Cupertino.
With Li translating, Ms. Min Xaio said the delegation's visit was not connected with the Chinese president Hu Jintao's visit to the White House. "We're a separate group. We're here for a cultural visit emphasizing sports and fitness," she said.
"We support all athletics and believers in community exercise programs like tai chi."
The delegation arrived in San Francisco just a few days before their visit to RP. Knowing their first stop would be to Sonoma County's Wine Country, they made a brief stop in a Sonoma winery.
You can credit JoAnne Stubblefield of Petaluma for this occasion, a widely known tai chi teacher in the North Bay.
"A few years ago I was in Singapore and I visited a tai chi class taught by Li. We got to talking and he said he'd like to emigrate to the United States and teach tai chi," said Stubblefield. "I said I'd help him and he arrived later with his wife and family and settled in Petaluma.
"He started teaching classes in Santa Rosa and other cities and later moved to Cupertino. It has a large Asian population and good tai chi facilities. We've been working together ever since."
Stubblefield was born in Alabama and raised in Tennessee. She's an English teacher, specializing in English as a second language class. She lives in Petaluma with her husband, Gary, and they have three grown children.
Monday's session in the senior center included many exchanges of gifts from both countries, a demonstration of tai chi from two green-garbed experts, brief talks, posing for pictures and a full room of tai chi class members joining in a session led by the two visiting professionals.
With a visit to Rohnert Park as their first stop after settling in a San Francisco hotel, their next destination, said Min Xaio, is San Jose and Stanford University before heading for New York and Washington.