Around Town: Company Spends $1 Million to Help Save Stanford Cantonese Classes | News

In the latest column, news about a substantial endowment in the effort to maintain Cantonese classes at Stanford, the opening of new express lanes on U.S. Highway 101 just north of Palo Alto, and seed funding to raise the challenges of the pandemic.

CULTURAL PRESERVATION… The future of Cantonese classes at Stanford University has been in upheaval since December 2020, when the university cut the only lecturer position for the program. The decision prompted a group of students, alumni and community members to band together and form the Save Cantonese at Stanford countryside. Since then, Stanford has brought back two part-time instructor-taught Cantonese classes.

The group’s goal of providing the university with a permanent full-time lecturer position was recently bolstered by a $1 million gift from SJ Distributors Inc. The Milpitas-based wholesale company supplies vegetables, frozen meat, seafood and dry goods to the public, restaurants and chain stores. “Language is how we transmit culture. Passed down from ancient times to the modern era, Cantonese still retains much of the pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar of classical Chinese literature, proving that this language is of deep cultural significance,” said the CEO of SJ Distributors. Scott Suen said in a January 28 press release. “By providing long-term support for Cantonese lessons, we believe it paves the way for those who love the Cantonese language and culture to continue to access it.”

The leaders of Save Cantonese at Stanford were grateful for this substantial donation. “When the SJ distributors told us about their offer, we were simply floored. It’s a dream come true for the whole team,” said campaign manager Dr. Jamie Tam said in a statement. The spirit of appreciation also resonated with fellow leader Maciej Kurzynski. “We are thrilled that SJ Distributors shares our vision and that Cantonese continues to be taught as a living, modern language,” Kurzynski said.

A NECESSARY SUPPORT… As the start of the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, the challenges brought by the health crisis persist. In an effort to help address these far-reaching issues affecting San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, Stanford Office of Community Engagement announced a second round of seed funding.

A total of seven projects received additional funding based on proposals shared by university professors and leaders from area schools, public health, civic organizations and community colleges.

One of these projects is Stock futures contract, which will use the funds to bring together 14 higher education institutions in the two counties. The partnership aims to establish a regional grant-making program that addresses economic and racial inequalities.

The support allows the Stanford Children’s Health Teen Vanwhich provided COVID-19 tests and vaccines to residents, to add an additional 6 1/2 clinic days over the next six months.

“Stanford’s ties with regional partners allow us to more effectively deploy our expertise and resources to address these pressing challenges,” Megan Swezey Fogarty, the university’s associate vice president for community engagement, said in a Jan. 20 news release. “Our commitment to co-created engagement and the strength of relationships are essential to these collaborative efforts.”

GEAR SWITCH… New expressways on US Highway 101 are put into service in southern San Mateo County on Friday, February 11. The lanes extend from the Santa Clara County line in Palo Alto to Whipple Avenue in Redwood City, giving FasTrakFlex space dedicated to users of toll badges for travel.

Work on the segment, the first of two, began in March 2019 as part of Caltrans’ San Mateo 101 Expressway Project. The express lanes will be in service from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays to persons equipped with FasTrak Flex. With the tag, buses and carpools of three or more people can use the lanes for free, while travelers of two or in certain clean-air vehicles are entitled to a 50% discount when the lanes first open.

“Tolls will be adjusted during operating hours based on demand and traffic patterns, with the aim of keeping traffic flowing on the express lanes,” according to a February 1 press release from the San Mateo County Transit District. The lanes merge with the Santa Clara County Expressways.

The second segment, which covers Redwood City to Interstate Highway 380 in south San Francisco, is expected to open later this year. The project is a collaboration between Caltransthe San Mateo County Transportation Authority and the Association of City/County Governments of San Mateo County.

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