1989 / 2月
Lin Yung-ching /photos courtesy of Lin Yung-ching /tr. by Phil Newell
During the recent thirteen-day trip to Central America, Premier Yu Kuohwa was constantly busy with diplomatic activities. Mrs. Yu, Toong Metsung, aside from accompanying the premier on formal occasions, was also busy with a different kind of diplomacy: exchanging views with the first ladies in the countries visited and visiting local charitable institutions.
The second day after reaching the Bahamas, Mrs. Yu launched her diplomatic activities. She visited Mrs. Pindling, discussing issues ranging from social welfare work to education and job opportunities for women. She also donated US$20,000 to a Bahamian charitable institution. This event was broadcast on TV there, so that even the tourists knew.
While in the Bahamas, Mrs. Yu accepted an invitation to attend Adastra Gardens, a bird park. At the park appeared a snake charmer. He wrapped the snake around his body and invited Mrs. Yu and Mrs. Pindling, the wife of the Bahamian Prime Minister, to pet the snake and pose for a photo. The latter refused, but Mrs. Yu accepted without a trace of fear. Responding to reporters' curiosity, Mrs. Yu explained that she had had a similar experience with a huge snake while in India, so that this snake was really "nothing to be afraid of."
Mrs. Yu also took time to visit a school for the deaf and an orphanage, where many kids took commemorative photos. Students at the school for the deaf used sign language to welcome Mrs. Yu; she immediately learned and signed back her thanks. Though for these kids the ROC is a somewhat distant, unfamiliar place, on that day distance disappeared.
In the Dominican Republic Mrs. Yu made a special call on the president of the Foundation for Development and Peace, Mrs. Vallojo, sister of the Dominican President. The foundation undertakes social welfare duties. To express her respect for their work, Mrs. Yu made a 100,000 peso (about US$15,000) donation. It also expressed Mrs. Yu's concerns for the local poor.
In Guatemala, Mrs. Yu met with the wives of the President and Vice President. The first lady, Mrs. Cerezo, studied law, a point in which Mrs. Yu expressed great interest. The two women discussed the problems of education, employment, and social status for women. Mrs. Yu made a donation of about US$7,000 to a social welfare institution sponsored by Mrs. Cerezo.
Fluent in English and able to communicate in Spanish, Mrs. Yu was able to employ her language skills on this visit to the English-speaking Bahamas and Spanish-speaking Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Her fluency in language, graceful manner of speaking, and kind and charitable nature were central skills in Mrs. Yu's role of "Goodwill Ambassador."
Aside from her articulateness and bearing, Mrs. Yu's appearance also left a deep impression. She wore a series of sky-blue traditional style ch'i-p'ao, medium length during the day and full length in the evenings, which made for a widely praised stately style. The Dominican Foreign Minister suggested that Mrs. Yu's graceful, traditional Chinese style was a model for women in many countries. Mrs. Yu opined that there was much to be learned from the civility and nobility of the women of Central America.
Mrs. Yu's deepest impressions were of the Bahamas, because of its cleanliness and the politeness of the people. Mrs. Yu noted that Premier Pindling credited the Bahamas' pollution free environment to the love of the people for their beautiful land, so that they could not bear to drop even a piece of paper carelessly. Mrs. Yu's point is food for thought indeed.
Toong Metsung, wife of the Premier, was an ambassadress of mercy on this trip, making visits and donations to charitable organizations in each of the three nations.
In Guatemala, Premier and Mrs. Yu found some time to visit the ancient city of Antigua.