Secretary Elaine Chao


Celebration of the 20th year anniversary of Yiren Kindergarten, Unveiling of Bronze statue of Mr. Yiren Chao & Dr. James S. C. Chao, Inauguration of new Mulan Tower on campus Jiading, Shanghai, China Remarks by The Honorable Elaine L. Chao 24th U. S. Secretary of Labor (2001-2009) Chairman, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Foundation

Dear honored guests, teachers, administration, family, friends, and students:

It is wonderful to be back in Yiren Kindergarten to celebrate its 20th anniversary with the unveiling of this beautiful bronze statue of my grandfather Yiren Chao (赵以仁 先生) and an eight year old James S. C. Chao (赵锡成 博士) at the entrance of this kindergarten! 

What a milestone this is!  I remember what a wonderful day it was when this kindergarten was first opened 20 years ago.  It was a beautiful sunny day!  My beloved parents, Dr. James S. C. Chao and Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, my sister Christine Chao (赵小甫 女士) and her husband, and I were all here to celebrate its opening!  All the children, teachers, parents were so excited! 

In the years since its opening, whenever my father, mother or some member of our family visited China, we would visit the Kindergarten School.  The young students have performed wonderful skits, songs for us to watch.  The teachers have all worked so hard to educate the children. 

Today,  I am so glad that my father, Dr. James S. C. Chao (赵锡成 博士), sister, Ms. Angela Chao (赵安吉 女士) , brother-in-law Mr. Jim Breyer and I are able attend this auspicious ceremony.  It is a rare occasion for the four of us to be together in public.  In fact, this is the FIRST time that the four of us are in public together in China. 

Since the kindergarten’s opening, my mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, has left us on August 2, 2007.  She was the foundation of our family.  Her absence has been deeply felt every single day.

Seeing this sculpture brings back many poignant memories for my father, Dr. James S. C. Chao.  This kindergarten is named after my grandfather, Mr. Yiren Chao (赵以仁 先生), an educator in rural China - in Malu outside Shanghai.  He and my father’s mother, Mrs. Yu Chin Hsu Chao, (许月琴 女士), believed in the value of education in cultivating a better person for society.  Even though my father was able to obtain scholarships to go to school, money was never sufficient to fund his living expenses.  So, every Fall, my grandfather would go to his family and friends trying to borrow whatever meager funds people possessed to send my father to school. 

While we were growing up, my parents always emphasized Chinese values, traditions, heritage, and philosophical thinking.  “Ren” is the first virtue in Confucian philosophy.  “YiRen” is my grandfather’s given name.  Few exemplified “YiRen” more or better than my grandfather. 

Having experienced how difficult it was for him to attain an education, my father wanted to contribute to his home district, memorialize the life and legacy of his father, Zhao, Yiren, his beloved wife, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, and help successive generations access early childhood education to build a strong foundation for these children’s future. 

As many of you know, after my parents moved to America, they endured many challenges and difficulties before achieving great success!  Despite all the adversities they faced and the sacrifices they made as they built a new life in America, they always emphasized the importance of family and education.

Believing in the Chinese philosophy that education is the key to advancement, my parents always credited their education to their ability to survive and excel in a world of constant change. 

As China takes on a larger leadership role in the world stage, it is important that more of its citizens have access to good education, especially in the formative years of childhood so they can more successfully interact with the rest of the world in an increasingly connected global world. 

To commemorate my grandfather’s emphasis on education, his generous and enthusiastic spirit to always help other people and my beloved mother’s spirit of hope, optimism, perseverance, and altruism, it is very fitting that my father has made this significant contribution to help the children of Malu County access early education for the benefit of society.  We hope the children and their families will study the life and legacy of my grandfather, Zhao Yiren and my mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.  We hope they will be inspired by their spirit to persevere in the face of great adversity in their own lives and emulate their magnanimous spirit to always help others.

Thank you for your recognition of a pioneer educator who believed in the transformational power of education and a leading son of Malu Commune, Jiading District in Shanghai, Zhao Yiren.  And, thank you for commemorating the life and legacy of a daughter of China, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.