Asia Society Honors Asia Game Changers at 10th Anniversary All-Star Awards
NEW YORK; October 28, 2023 – The Asia Society honored eight outstanding individuals and organizations for their extraordinary work strengthening bonds between Asia and the world, at the 10th anniversary Asia Game Changer All-Stars, marking the tenth iteration of its annual Asia Game Changer Awards.
The awards ceremony and gala dinner was held at Cipriani in lower Manhattan on Thursday, October 26. The evening, held in partnership with Founding Partner Citi, was emceed by Ida Liu, Global Head of Citi Private Bank.
In addition to the awardees, notable in-person attendees included Asia Society Board Co-Chair Amb. Chan Heng Chee, Madam Aiping Zhang, Special Advisor to the NYC Mayor and Director of Asian Affairs Winne Greco, Charles and Emily Rockefeller, and a number of Asia Society Trustees, supporters, and friends.
Additionally, past Asia Game Changer awardees in attendance included Wang Shi, founder of China Vanke; Alibaba’s Joe Tsai and his partner Clara Tsai, Nanette Medved-Po, founder and chairperson of HOPE and PCX Groups; and Kikka Hanazawa, co-founder of Fashion Girls for Humanity.
Guests enjoyed musical interludes from The Children’s Orchestra Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1962 by Dr. Hiao-Tsiun Ma, father of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a 2020 Asia Game Changer. Ma’s sister, Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma, Executive Director of the Children’s Orchestra Society, was among the special guests in attendance.
The Asia Game Changer Awards are bestowed to individuals, organizations, and movements that have inspired, enlightened, and shown true leadership in areas that reflect Asia Society’s three core pillars: policy and business, arts and culture, and education.
Celebrating the strength of Asia and Asians across the world and from all walks of life who have created transformational change, they are designed to fill a glaring gap: a lack of recognition of individuals and institutions that have the greatest impact across Asia and the Asian diaspora.
Below is the list of honorees and key quotes from their acceptance speeches.
Shabana Basij-Rasikh; Founder, School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA)
For her unswerving dedication to educating the world's most vulnerable children
“First, there are two things that cannot be contained by borders. One is the threat of terrorism - and we know that no borders can contain that. But there is also another thing that cannot be contained by borders, and that is the benefit of investment in girls education. My dream is for us girls and women of Afghanistan to be like everyone else.”
Yayoi Kusama; avant-garde artist and novelist
For her wild imagination that has spun worlds inspiring to so many
James Kondo, Co-Chair of Asia Society Japan Center, read a message on behalf of Kusama, who could not attend in-person: “This fabulous prize encourages me as someone who has been fighting to create my art every day. It is my hope that life all over the world will hear my heartful message. Although the wars and conflicts continue to occur in the world, humanity wants to live with love. I continue to paint my wishes for peace.”
Josie Natori; CEO and Founder, The Natori Company
For her leadership and bold vision that built a global brand bridging East and West
“I came to this amazing country at the age of 17 to get an education. I never imagined or dreamed that I would one day at age 76 be bestowed with this incredible honor of being called an Asia Game Changer. It is a recognition that will surely be one of the highlights in my life.”
The Philadelphia Orchestra
On the 50th Anniversary of their game-changing trip to China
In 1973, the Philadelphia Orchestra was the first American orchestra to perform in the People’s Republic of China.
On hand to introduce the orchestra were Ambassador Huang Ping, Consul General for China in New York, and Asia Society President Emeritus Ambassador Nicholas Platt, who accompanied President Nixon on his historic trip to China and served in the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing at the time of the orchestra’s visit. Platt said: “The Philadelphia Orchestra was the first to establish a systemic series of exchanges in 2013, which emphasized a two-way street that would enable Chinese orchestras to travel to the United States and provide the opportunity to bring their music here. Although our government-to-government relationships are tense, this exchange continues to flourish thanks to the love of music on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.”
Matias Tarnopolsky, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization, said: “Music is often the only language that persists in hard times and often the only language that tells the truth. To this day, we’re told frequently when we are there and when we meet with both American and Chinese diplomats, ‘Please keep doing what you’re doing!’”
Yao Chen; award-winning actress, philanthropist and filmmaker
For using her enormous talent and platform to draw attention to refugee issues
“Over the past two decades, I have endeavored in the film industry to show the resilience of women in facing challenges. In my performances, I also hope to give strength to women across the world. My sincere thanks to the Asia Society. This esteemed honor has reinforced my belief even the smallest positive change in our world can be game changing.”
Dr. Stephen Riady; Executive Chairman and Group CEO, OUE
For his commitment to youth education and empowerment
“My father always often reminded me to give back to the place you leave. The people of Papua, Indonesia deserve our attention and support to live a better life and not be left behind, to be part of growth in Southeast Asia. With this in mind, our family has spent more than 20 years in Papua and other remote areas of Indonesia to uplift them in education and healthcare. Our work in Papua is not a matter of money, but of commitment, passion and perseverance.”
Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki; philanthropists
For their unflagging support for the promotion of Asian culture
Joe Tsai, Co-Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group, introduced the couple along with his wife Clara Wu Tsai by saying: “I've been friends with Jerry for 25 years. As the founder of Yahoo!, Jerry inspired an entire generation of technology entrepreneurs in school, including what was back then a wide-eyed Jack Ma and the rest of us at Alibaba. But Jerry did not stop at his successful business career. He and Akiko have made a huge impact on the love on the lives of others through their philanthropy in higher education, arts and culture, and conservation.”
Akiko Yamazaki said: “The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco was my labor of love for six years as chairman....and it's really been an amazing journey for me to see its transformation. I'm really here to accept this honor on behalf of everybody that has worked so hard on the campaign, because, as you all know, nothing gets done without a team.”
Jerry Yang said: “Giving back was something that Akiko and I talked about doing when we were just getting married, and it’s been an extremely rewarding journey. People talk about giving as something altruistic, but for us it's actually really just selfish, because we really have gotten more out of being associated with great people and part of institutions that have existed before us and will exist after us, and we have learned so much. I've learned so much from working with Joe on the Asian-American Foundation and with Clara at Stanford University that every day feels like I am being rewarded. We can all do more by giving, but we also can give more by doing.”
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