Sunday, December 31, 2006

<<世界日报>> 采访文章1 (from the World Journal)

【本報記者徐敏子柏克萊 - 德拉瓦電話採訪】本月 31日吳仙標就要卸下他 80-20 促進會主席的職務、交棒給新主席杜潔靈了,他於 28 日接受本報訪問時表示,十分感謝擔任兩屆主席為大家服務的機會,並強調「還是董事會成員,還可以繼續服務」。

吳仙標是成立於 1998 年的 80-20 促進會的六位創會人之一,也是這一號稱有 75 萬網上支持者的全美最大的亞裔參政團體的靈魂人物,這位退休後以每周 50-70 小時的熱忱獻身改變亞裔政治地位的亞裔參政先行者,原本卻是一位大學物理教授。

上海出生的吳仙標來美前曾先後在香港、台灣生活,在華盛頓大學獲得物理博士後,於 1966 年進入德拉瓦大學教授物理直到 2001 年時「因為促進會的工作太多需要更多時間」而退休,前後 35 年。

吳仙標於 1983 年以一位物理教授身分競選德拉瓦州副州長一舉成功而成為當時全美職位最高的華裔民選官員,但其後接連競選聯邦參議員和聯邦眾議員失利令他下決心遠離政壇,並在其後以促進會草根性參政教育的形式,為自己找到施展政治抱負的另類途徑。

吳仙標說,他為有機會幫助亞裔社區「感到榮幸」,但同時因為作得不夠「感到慚愧」;他同時表示,羅馬不是一天建成的,要徹底改變亞裔在美國二等公民的地位,需要大家的繼續努力。

在過去八年中,吳仙標身體力行,為了達成改變亞裔政治地位的目標,他除了付出大量時間外,還捐獻了近七萬美元,除了自己的積蓄,他把每次外出演說的酬勞全部捐入促進會的基金會中。

吳仙標說,人生的意義在於能夠作「別人不敢作或不願作但值得作而自己想作的事情」,從事促進會的工作雖然有形的付出不少,但無形的收穫更多,那收穫就是來自「作值得作的事情」而換來的心理滿足感。

吳仙標亦指出,亞裔在爭取平等權益的同時,也要改變自己,這包括亞裔要團結以凝聚政治力量、亞裔要認同自己的美國人身分而不是仍然將自己視為中國人、亞裔要了解美國政治遊戲規則而不要墨守華人傳統成規。

吳仙標曾是德拉瓦大學教授談判團創會主席及首席發言人暨首席談判代表、由州長任命的德拉瓦大學校董、哈佛大學甘迺迪政府學院學者,也曾擔任過美華協會全國主席。華府史密斯松尼博物館的美國歷史館內陳列有吳仙標的真人大小的相片。

English Version (translated by Helen Wang)
Interview by Minzi Xu, World Journal correspondent, via telephone

On the 31st of December 2006, S.B. Woo will be retiring as the chairman of 80-20 Initiative, as a new chairperson succeeds him. During a December 28th interview, Dr. Woo expressed his whole-hearted gratitude at having had the opportunity to serve as chairman for two terms. He also emphasized that, despite his retirement, “. . . I’m still an acting Board member, who can still help out.”

S.B. Woo is one of six major founders who established 80-20 Initiative in 1998. Since then, 80-20 Initiative now has 750,000 supporters online and is the largest Asian American political organization in the US. Dr. Woo has long been recognized as the driving force behind 80-20. Although originally a physics professor, Dr. Woo, after retiring from teaching, worked fifty to seventy hours a week as a pioneer of Asian American politics.

A native of Shanghai, Dr. Woo lived in Hong Kong and Taiwan before coming to the States. Here, he studied at the University of Washington and earned a doctorate in physics before joining the faculty of the University of Delaware in 1966. In 2001, he retired from his teaching post after thirty-five years, because “. . . the time-consuming activities of a political movement needed more of my attention.”

In 1983, Dr. Woo was elected as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Delaware. At that time, he held the highest elected position an Asian American had ever attained in the US. However, after Dr. Woo’s attempts in the House of Representatives and the Senate were defeated, he resolved to steer clear of the political theatre, and to concentrate on a grassroots political movement of a more educational nature. In this manner, S.B. Woo has continued to pursue his political ambition through a different route.

Dr. Woo expressed that he felt honored to have the opportunity to support the Asian American community, yet felt “some regret” that he had not done enough. He also stated that “Rome was not built overnight,” and that to change the “second-class citizenship” of Asian Americans would require a united effort by all.

For the past eight years, S.B. Woo has actively taken steps out of his own effort to improve the political stature of Asian Americans. Aside from giving much of his personal time, Dr. Woo has donated nearly $70,000 dollars to 80-20 from his own savings and speaking honorariums.

Dr. Woo stated that meaningful purpose in life “consists in doing that which is valuable and which one desires to do, which others might not dare or desire to pursue.” He reflected that although the visible costs of starting a political movement have been substantial, the “invisible” benefits have been greater. Part of those benefits have come from the satisfaction of having done something meaningful and worth doing.

He also pointed out that Asian Americans, when struggling for political equality in the US, must change themselves. This includes cooperating and uniting as a team for political power, and also viewing themselves as Americans, not only as Chinese. Dr. Woo stressed that Asian Americans must understand the workings of the American political game, and not only adhere to traditional Chinese rules and customs.

Dr. Woo’s past experiences include being the Founding President of the Faculty Bargaining Unit at the University of Delaware, its Chief Spokesman and Chief Negotiator; a Trustee of the University of Delaware; an Institute Fellow at the Institute of Politics, the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; and serving as the National President of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA). A life-sized picture of him is displayed in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D C.
 

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