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The Char Asian-Pacific Study Room: About

General Information about the Char Room

Char Room ViewThe Char Asian-Pacific Study Room was established on the second floor of the library in April 1992, with a donation of five hundred books and journals from Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane Char. Their generous gift of personal collection and endowment formed the core of a unique library collection on local ethnic history of Asia and the Pacific.

The Char Study Room serves as the focal point for research on Asia and the Pacific, and as a sponsor for programs and activities to heighten community awareness of the Asian and Pacific issues. Many of activities are part of the College's Asian Pacific Emphasis. This cross-curricular emphasis is coordinated by the Honda International Center.

The Char Room is the most unique place on KCC campus. Special care has been given to create a serene and refined atmosphere. The College Administration is very proud of this room, and as a result of the mission and plans for the Char Room, we coordinate the full schedule of Asian-Pacific activities co-sponsored by the Library, community groups, and international agencies and institutions.

Mr. and Mrs. Tin-Yuke Char: A Biography

A Picture of Mr. and Mrs. Tin-Yuke CharThe late Tin-Yuke Char was a prominent Honolulu businessman, scholar, and local historian. During their life together, Tin-Yuke and his wife Wai Jane produced numerous books and studies documenting the history of the Chinese in Hawaii. Some of them are recognized as classics: The Bamboo Path; Sandalwood Mountains; Origin of the Hakka; and the Chinese Historic Sites and Pioneer Families series that included Kauai, rural Oahu, and the island of Hawai`i. In the foreword of Tin-Yuke's autobiographical The Bamboo Path, Irma Tam Soong wrote,

Tin-Yuke Char...can rightfully deserve to be called the "Historian of the Chinese in Hawaii." While many excellent works by other authors have provided stimulus and background for his literary contributions, Tin-Yuke Char has been the most singularly persistent and devoted researcher in this specialized field of Chinese-American studies.

Tin-Yuke's parents emigrated from China in the late 1890s. Tin-Yuke was born in Honolulu in 1905. He attended McKinley High School and was a student at the University of Hawai`i for a year. Then he traveled to China with a youth group on a goodwill tour to ease the resentment in Asia over the United States' Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924.

While there, he became enthralled with Yenching University and its faculty. He transferred from UH to Yenching and graduated with honors in 1928. Although he could speak the Chungshan and Hakka dialects when he arrived in Beijing, he needed help from his classmates to learn Mandarin. In The Bamboo Path, he wrote,

I had found a unique way to improve my Chinese. Every weekend, I attended the Peking Opera. Bringing along a Chinese text of the opera, I sat in the front row and listened to the arias...Besides the entertainment, I was getting my money's worth in language study. (24)

After graduation, Tin-Yuke was invited to teach Western History and English at the highly respected Nankai Middle School in Tientsin. He then was invited to return to UH and teach Chinese part-time while he worked toward his master's degree, which he received in 1932. He wrote,

In one of my Chinese classes at the University of Hawaii, I had noticed a girl sitting in the front row. She had an intelligent face, and had graduated from Punahou second in her class. Soon I was taking out Wai Jane Chun in my old Chevrolet coupe. Her mother made deviled egg and string bean sandwiches for us to take along to the beach. (33)

Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane were married in January 1934. Later that year they traveled to New York where Tin-Yuke began his doctoral program at Columbia. It was during the Great Depression, however, and no financial grants were available for him to continue his program, so they returned to Hawaii where Tin-Yuke taught at the University for another year.

In 1936, he became the Registrar and Director of Admissions at Lingnan University. In his resignation letter to UH President David Crawford, he wrote, "This new an opportunity for me to contribute in some small way to the reconstruction of China" (35). In addition to being Registrar and Director of Admissions Tin-Yuke, also taught Chinese civilization and history. But in 1938 he, Wai Jane, and their infant son David, evacuated China, one jump ahead of the invading Japanese army.

Back in Hawaii, Tin-Yuke began a successful insurance business. Wai Jane became a pioneer in shipping orchids and other Hawaiian flowers by air. Tin Yuke writes, "I had often said to my wife and others that if I had not chosen teaching as a career, I would like working in the insurance field. I considered it a form of service of great benefit to others. It could mean satisfying contacts with many individuals, usually friends I cared about" (45).

Over time, Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane became world-class local historians. They were traveling companions, research partners, and collaborators. Writing alone or together, they each established fine reputations.

The Chars' association with Kapi`olani Community College began many years ago when they almost single-handedly transformed neighborhood resistance into community support for the construction of the College's new campus on the gentle north slope of Diamond Head crater.

The Chars realized that Hawai`i's rich ethnic mix was a great asset. And although they concentrated on the local history of the Chinese in Hawaii, they wanted to encourage and promote local history of all Asian-Pacific peoples.

The Chars also wanted to leave an enduring legacy to the people of Hawaii. So before their passing, they donated much of their personal reference collection to the Kapi`olani Library, and founded an endowment to establish the Char Asian-Pacific Study Room in the new library building. The Chars, however, did not want the Room to be simply a quiet place to study. They wanted the Room to sponsor lectures, presentations, forums, workshops, exhibits, cultural events, studies, and other dynamic activities to focus community attention on Asian-Pacific affairs and on Hawaii's role in Pacific history and development.

To help implement Char Room programs, the library assembled a committee of distinguished advisors that includes the Chief Justice of Hawaii's Supreme Court, Hawaii's Attorney General, and other prominent community members, business leaders, and educators. Diplomatic representatives from Asian nations serve as honorary members. Guided by this group, the library has sponsored notable events, including museum-quality historical exhibits, international art shows, speakers' series, cultural events, concerts, and other activities.

The Chars' donation has become the focal point of an internationalization project at Kapi`olani Library. Since the Char donation, the library has attracted several significant book donations to the library's Asian collections. The Char Room has also been the venue for establishing the College's agreements with a number of Asian colleges and universities, including Beijing Union University, Peking University, Baewha College in Seoul, Inha University in Incheon, and others. The agreement with Peking University is particularly fitting because it is located on the campus formerly occupied by Yenching University where Tin-Yuke completed his studies.

The Char Room has also hosted receptions for noted dignitaries, artists, scholars, and educators. It is also a meeting place for the Char Board of advisors.

The Char's gift to the Kapi`olani Library also included an endowment that provides revenues for adding books and other materials to the library's Asian-Pacific collections. Materials purchased through the Chars' endowment become part of the Char Collection.

Mr. Char passed away in June 1990. Mrs. Char followed him one year later in June 1991. Sadly, neither were able to see the finished Char Study Room, which opened in the newly completed library on March 17, 1992. But the values they exemplified--the thoroughness of study and preparation, the lucidity of expression, the caring approach to human experience--will continue to exert their influence through the Char Room.

The Char Room is not a room one might expect to find in a community college library. Despite all the activity and learning the Room generates, there is a tranquility and balance in its overall form. But then the one leads naturally to the other. Knowledge and understanding lead to refinement. And that describes Mr. and Mrs. Char quite well.

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board of the Char Asian-Pacific Study Room is composed of distinguished members of the community. The Board was formed in 1992 and has the responsibility to foster cultural and academic exchange between Asia and Pacific regions and our community, to steer the development of a collection of pertinent books and other materials, and to guide the activities of the forum.

Kendall C. S. Wong

Kendall C.S. Wong is Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane Char Asian-Pacific Study Room. He is an attorney specializing in immigration law since 1979. He served as General Attorney for the United States Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, from 1979 to 1981. From 1976 to 1979, he was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. He was recently appointed by the Governor of Hawaii to the Hawaii State Board of Medical Examiners, serving a term from 1995 to 1999. Mr. Wong was also appointed as a Court-Annexed Arbitrator by the Hawaii State Supreme Court, 1985 to present. He is Chairman of the Immigration and Naturalization Law Section of the Hawaii State Bar Association, past president of the United Chinese Society of Hawaii, and Chairman of the Aloha Reception Committee for Chinese Governmental Officials, 1995 to present.

Edward G. H. Au

Edward G.H. Au was born in Honolulu and spent his early years in China and Hong Kong. He returned to Hawaii shortly before World War II, and began a productive career that included founding a firm that became the largest mechanical contracting company in the Pacific area. He was appointed by the Governor of Hawaii to the State Contractor License Board, and is a member of the General Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Hawaii, and the Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Hawaii. He is a past President and Trustee of the United Chinese Society, and past President and current Emeritus Director of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. He has served on the board of directors of the Palolo Chinese Home, the Mun Lun School Alumni, and the Sheong Gar Hong Tong Society, and is a member of the See Dai Doo Society and the Shop 17 Oldtimers.

Margery S. Bronster

Peter C. P. Char

Peter C. P. Char (1943-2003) was the second son of Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane Char. He served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane Char Asian-Pacific Study Room from 1991 until his untimely passing in 2003.

A partner in the law firm Char, Hamilton, Campbell & Thom, Mr. Char practiced medical law in Hawaii for more than 35 years, representing doctors, nurses, and medical institutions, and providing legal counsel in health-law matters. He also served on the board of directors and was former president of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.

In recent years, Mr. Char served as an adviser to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, was deputy treasurer of Harris' 2000 mayoral re-election campaign, and headed two nonprofit groups: Friends of the City and County of Honolulu and the Environmental Foundation, which raised money for city environmental conferences.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Mr. Char attended school in Honolulu through high school. College and law school were on the Mainland at Yale University and Northwestern University. After law school, he returned to Hawaii, where his first job was as a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Hawaii. He also taught at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and Kapi`olani Community College Legal Education Program.

Outside activities included service on local lawyer committees and organizations, travel, fishing, and cooking.

Wallace S. J. Ching

Portrait of Wallace S. J. Ching

Wallace S.J. Ching is President and Director of SJ Investments, Ltd. He attended the University of Southern California, Northwestern University School of Law, and Harvard Business School. He serves in several non-profit and charitable organizations, including the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation (Trustee, 1984-present), Kukui Gardens Corporation (Director, 1984-present), Marianist Center of Hawaii (Director, 1985-present), United Chinese Society (President and Trustee, 1994), Honolulu Symphony Society (Director, 1985-1990), Bishop Museum (Director, 1988-1990).

Mr. Ching was a member of the Guangdong Province Special Exchange Program Advisory Committee (1987-1991) and the Zoning Board of Appeals (1985-1988; Chairman, 1988-89), and was Vice-Chairman of the Governor's Advisory Council of Housing and Construction Industry (1977-1981) and the Mayor's County Building Industry Advisory Council (1979-1980). He has also served on numerous civic and trade organizations, and is a member of the Hawaii Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Harold M. Fong

Portrait of Harold M. Fong

Harold M. Fong (1938-1995) served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Tin-Yuke and Wai Jane Char Asian-Pacific Study Room from 1991 until his untimely passing in 1995.

For over twenty years, he was a powerful presence in the federal courts, first in the U.S. Attorney's Office from 1969 to 1978, and then as a judge, beginning in 1982 after four years in private practice, until 1995. He was chief judge of the U.S. District Court from 1984-1991. As a prosecutor or judge, he was involved in several famous federal court cases in Hawaii.

Judge Fong graduated ftom the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan Law School. He clerked for the State Supreme Court, and was a deputy city prosecutor before beginning his federal legal career.

Judge Fong's father was a Chinese laundryman who, with only an eighth-grade education, transformed his earnings from a laundry in Honolulu's Chinatown into a position of respect and influence in Hawaii's financial and insurance industries. In 1973, "60 Minutes" featured Judge Fong and his father as examples of successful Chinese-Americans of immigrant ancestry.

Highly regarded by his peers as tough but fair, and a man to whom the Char Board looked for counsel and guidance, Judge Fong is sorely missed.

Ramona Sachiko Harris

Portrait of Ramona Sachiko Harris

An ethnic blend of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Rican and Indian ancestry, Mrs. Harris has a tremendous appreciation for the cultural diversity and sharing that has become a way of life here in Hawaii. She was raised in Kailua on the windward side of Oahu. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration and continues her life-long learning at Kapiolani Community College studying American Sign Language. Besides the responsibilities associated with her role as the Mayor's wife, she has been involved in a number of community activities and organizations that include the Hawaii Deaf Celebration, Salvation Army, Adult Friends for Youth, American Heart Association, Japanese Women's Society, Honolulu Symphony Associates, Easter Seals, Life Foundation, Domestic Violence Clearing House and Legal Hotline, American Diabetes Association, and projects with the Lions and Lioness Clubs of Honolulu. Recently, Ramona Harris has been devoting much of her time and attention to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community on Oahu, learning about their history, language, and culture.

Walter T. Y. Lau

Portrait of Walter T. Y. Lau

Walter T.Y. Lau has been a Public Accountant since 1951, and is accredited in Accountancy and Taxation by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation. He is also enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. He is currently the Executive Secretary of the United Chinese Society, of which he is also a past president. Formerly, he was Vice President and Treasurer of Tongg Publishing Company, Ltd. He has been a member and chairman of the Hawaii State Board of Accountancy, and has held several offices in the Hawaii Association of Public Accountants, including President (1982). He has also held several notable positions in the National Society of Public Accountants, including President (1989) and member of the Executive Committee (1990-1992). In 1994, he was appointed to the Financial Management Review Committee.

Mr. Lau has also been active in numerous church and civic organizations, including St. Pius Catholic Church (Lector), Damien Memorial High School (Member, Long-Range Planning Committee), Sacred Hearts Academy (Member, Board of Managers), Buck Toy Club (Property Management and Accountant), and others.

Ernest Loo

Bernice C. Loui

Portrait of Bernice C. Loui

Bernice C. Loui is a sister of Tin-Yuke Char. She was associated with the International Travel Service, a firm that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1995. After 40 years she retired, and sold her interest in the business following the death of her husband. She presently does volunteer work at the East-West Center and also for the Hawaii Film Festival. She still travels when she has the time, and has circled the world four times.

Ronald T. Y. Moon

Portrait of Ronald T. Y. Moon

Ronald T. Y. Moon Ronald T.Y. Moon was sworn-in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii on March 31, 1993, after having served as an associate justice for three years. Prior to his appointment to the Hawaii Supreme Court, Chief Justice Moon served as a circuit court judge for eight years.

Chief Justice Moon is a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Law. He served a one-year term as law clerk for then-Chief Judge Martin Pence at the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, and was subsequently employed with the prosecutor's office from 1966 to 1968. After four years as an associate, Chief Justice Moon became a partner in the law firm of Libkuman, Ventura, Moon, and Ayabe. He left private practice in 1982 upon his appointment to the circuit court bench.

Chief Justice Moon has served as an adjunct professor of Pretrial Litigation for the University of Hawaii's Richardson School of Law, as National Secretary of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and as President of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Chief Justice Moon is a third-generation Korean-American. His grandparents were among the first wave of Korean immigrants who arrived in Hawaii in the early 1900s.

Wendell Pang

Carol S. L. Saito

Portrait of Carol S. L. Saito

Carol S.L. Saito was the personal assistant to the Library Director at Kapi`olani Community College until June 2003. She was educated at Kapi`olani Community College and the University of Hawaii. She serves as a director of the Legacy Foundation, which works to preserve the history of WWII soldiers of Japanese American ancestry. She is also president of the Kalani High School Parent Teacher Association and an active participant in its School-Community Based Management program. Ms. Saito is a third-generation Chinese American. Born in Honolulu, she attended middle school and high school in California. She is particularly interested in preserving the history of Asian Americans in Hawaii.

Frances Tsui

Joyce S. Tsunoda

Portrait of Joyce S. Tsunoda

Dr. Joyce S. Tsunoda is senior Vice President and Chancellor for Community Colleges in the University of Hawaii system. Born in Osaka, Japan, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Hawaii. Dr. Tsunoda is a former provost at Kapi`olani Community College, past associate dean for special programs and community services at Leeward Community College, and began her career as a research associate with the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Hawaii.

Active nationally, she is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commission on the Future of Community Colleges and chairperson of the AACC's American Council on International Intercultural Education. She is also a member of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Education in Foreign Languages and International Studies of the American Council on Education, the Pacific Regional Education Program, and the Pacific Post Secondary Education Commission.

Her numerous honors include being named the 1988 Person of the Year by the Western Region of the National Council of Community Service Directors, the Distinguished Alumna by the University of Hawaii Alumni Association, and Outstanding Individual in Education by the YWCA in Hawaii.

Dr. Tsunoda serves on the board of directors for one of Hawaii's leading firms, as well as the Foundation of the Kuakini Medical Center, and is a board member of many local government and community organizations.

Terry D. Webb

Puanani Woo

Portrait of Puanani Woo

Mrs. Puanani Woo is an educator. She served on the professional staff at the Kamehameha Schools for 30 years as a teacher, registrar, counselor, and continuing education specialist from 1958 through 1988, and chose early retirement to enter the real estate profession. After a successful stint in the business in Honolulu and Hilo, she returned to teaching and at Waiakea High School in Hilo, in 1992, and retired June of 2004, devoting 12 years at this large public school.

She headed the Hawaii Chinese History Center as president from 1977-1984 and executive director from 1985-1989, and within those years focused the Center to attract and support researchers and authors, which resulted in the production of 10 of the Center's 17 major publications on the topic of the Chinese in Hawaii.

Her abiding interest in the Chinese in Hawaii stems from her Chinese mother, second generation in Hawaii, who grew up in the rural sugar plantation villages of Waiohinu and Naalehu on the island of Hawaii.

Wai Chee Yee

Portrait of Wai Chee Yee

Wai Chee (Chun) Yee (Mrs. Jewett C. Y. Yee ) is a retired librarian of the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, where she also served as the Library Ombudsman of the University Libraries. She is a graduate of Punahou School, the University of Hawaii, and the School of Library Services of Columbia University. A former Secretary of the Hawaii Library Association, a past member of the Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ, Judd Street, a member of the Hawaii Chinese History Center and the Associated Chinese University Women, Mrs. Yee is a sister of the late Wai Jane Char.

Francis Yim