Heart of gold

Updated: 2013-11-28 11:05

By Mike Peters (China Daily)

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Liang was captivated by exhibits showing the history of flight. She was even more impressed by pilots, some active and some retired, who eagerly showed tourists around the museum and combined a history lesson with their own passion and experiences. "They gave themselves so freely, it was just wonderful," she says.

She remembered that spirit later when she was hired as Oriental sales manager for a grocery distributor. Her job was to sell fruits and vegetables to about 140 Asian restaurants - Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. Her boss considered the Asians a headache: "He said they were always complaining, always paid late."

Heart of gold

Turtle power propels Qinzhou 

Heart of gold

Aspirational artist 

Liang collected the money and managed the complaints. She also built her share of the business from about $50,000 to $210,000 in her first year.

"There were language and culture issues previously that I could smooth out," she says. "Plus, I really cared about them and their families and their workers - I even helped the workers get a lawyer for free when they had legal problems and couldn't pay."

She relished other community work as well, launching community groups for youth and for seniors, and enticing young American-born Chinese to participate in the Dayton Opera House production of Turandot.

Liang has been back in China since 2002, and her current work - whether she needs to organize shifts of library volunteers or a big charity dinner - has the benefit of local government support.

But the most useful lesson of her life is still one she learned as a young organizer in the US: Be brave.

She remembers how she once collected two Chinese professors who missed a connecting flight and arrived at Dayton's airport - where no one was still waiting to pick them up.

A friend in the community alerted her, and Liang went to meet them herself around midnight. She found the men feeling adrift in the strange country where no one spoke their language. They were reluctant to go to an American hotel, and didn't know how they would get to Columbus the next day.

"So I made them relax and I took them home with me," she says. "Later people said, 'You were so brave!'

"OK, actually they said 'Huilin, are you crazy - taking two strangers to your home?' My husband was away, but I was there with my three daughters, and everything was fine. And today I am still in touch with those two professors - we are good friends.

"That's what I am all about," she says.

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