Taiwanese officials paid respects at the Tree of Life building during a visit to Pittsburgh last week. The delegation, which included Hsin-hsing Wu, minister of the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China, and Ambassador Lily L.W. Hsu, paused for silence, placed flowers and left 11 stones in the shape of a heart near the building’s Zittrain Gardens on April 18.
“Today we are coming here to give our condolences on behalf of the Taiwanese community to those victims last year,” said Wu.
“We don’t like hatred. Especially I know here in Pittsburgh, the Jewish community, is such a big strong community and the ethnic Chinese community also have a very close relationship with them and so we really feel that kind of solidarity at this time of great grief and time of trial,” echoed Hsu.
The officials strongly condemned the shooting, which they found shocking.
“We disagree with this kind of behavior. We think that the United States is a civilized society. People should respect each other and understand each other, and to use this kind of violence on other people, on people in the community, we feel sorry about that,” remarked Wu.
“The thing we all feel in this very ever-changing, very turbulent time,” added Hsu, “is we need to learn how to live with differences, to try to understand and bridge those differences and try to have a dialogue, try to go back to what these cities are about — a multiple ethnic kind, maybe not a melting pot, but a mosaic kind of way, a very beautiful diversified society. And that is what this country is all about,” said Hsu.
Marian Lien, Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition executive director, guided the officials throughout their three-day Pittsburgh stay. Offering condolences was an essential portion of the trip, she explained. Prior to their arrival, the officials told Lien that between the fact that “Dor Hadash was so involved in refugee and immigrant populations” and that Pittsburgh’s Jewish community has demonstrated such an embrace of the Taiwanese-American community, “they wanted to come and pay respects,” said Lien.
Hsu is based in New York and noted her Squirrel Hill visit will be of use moving forward.
“Coming here for the first time to see the things personally, and thinking about how many people have been paying respect and sympathies to the event and showing their solidarity with the Jewish community here, is really very touching,” she said. “New York, that is another big mosaic kind of society, and I think this kind of personal witness will help me to really share with my community back home, or back in New York, that we need to learn from this lesson.”
After visiting Tree of Life, the delegation walked down Shady Avenue before heading toward Forbes and Murray avenues. The group admired the diversity of Squirrel Hill’s stores, and commented to Lien “how interesting it was to see this [mix] of some Jewish businesses sprinkled with Asian business sprinkled with Mediterranean businesses.”
Lien noted, “This is a true slice of what harmonious existence in the United States should be looking like.”
During their stay, the delegation also visited local universities and executives in hopes of identifying new means for economic and intellectual growth, explained Lien.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald tweeted a photograph of his meeting with the visiting cohort, and wrote, “We are excited about the opportunities for collaboration & cooperation.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.