HOLMDEL, N.J. - Happy New Year!

Come on out Holmdel residents, February 3, at 1:30 pm at the Holmdel High School. You will enjoy the festive Chinese New Year Celebration for the Year of the Dog!  Many may think New Year's celebrations have already passed us by but this is not the case. February 16th marks the date of the Chinese New Year. This marks the Lunar New Year, compared to the Gregorian Solar New Year. People from around the world come together in the grand hope of a future with prosperity and peace. The Chinese New Year is symbolized by the Chinese Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac has a 12 year cycle and each year is represented by an animal. The 12 animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 

In Holmdel, a great deal of planning is going into the Chinese New Year Celebration by the Jersey Shore Chinese School (JSCS). According to their website, the Jersey Shore Chinese School (新海中文學校) is a non-profit organization, which is open to the public. JSCS was founded in 1979, with the objective of promoting an understanding of Chinese language, culture and arts. JSCS has been located at William R. Satz School of Holmdel since 1989. The school offers various classes in the Chinese language. This will come in quite handy at the upcoming celebration. The event will include entertaining performances with colorful costumes, fabulous folk art, the traditional feeding of the dragons, activities for the children and food for the guests.

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The 2018 Chinese New Year Celebration Event will be held on February 3, starting promptly at 1:30 PM. There will be raffle tickets for sale and they can be purchased in front of the Satz library and HHS Commons after 12:00p.m. The invitation is extended to everyone in the Holmdel community and surrounding area, to enjoy the unique language, culture and events of a Chinese New Year Celebration-- The Year of the Dog!  It will be quite exciting to see the results of so much practice and caring attention from community members and students who will be participating. In addition to the language classes at JSCS,  students are provided with a variety of cultural programs such as Tai-Chi, Chinese painting and calligraphy, Chinese folk dance, Chinese Arts & Craft , Multi-Media Painting, Chinese Yo-Yo, Chinese chess, Ping-pong, Fun Sports Club, Pami Kol Self Defense Martial Arts, lion dance, and Chinese instruments like Er-Hu and bamboo flute. Many of these talents will be on display for the honored guests in attendance on this day. 

Such an extensive organization is no accident. It takes vision, talent, dedication and love. Success, when nurtured, grows over time. That is where a very special person to JSCS comes in. Juliet Chu along with other passionately dedicated individuals, was a co-founder of JSCS in 1979.  

TAPinto Holmdel and Colts Neck had an opportunity to sit down with Juliet Chu. She shared with us her own incredible story and what drives her forward to serve others and make such a difference in the world community. She came to America after working for Northwest In-Flight Services and earned a discounted ticket to visit for a short while. Chu says, "I began my love for America and at the same time found ways to teach Americans about the importance of China and the deep and rich culture there." In her public biography, she earned her MA Degree in Bilingual Education from Seton Hall University,  Upon graduating it was close to the time that Holmdel Public Schools welcomed the Chinese language as a new part of their world language program.  Chu was then chosen to begin a Chinese Language Program for the Holmdel Public School System in 1996 when the Holmdel Schools implemented the Chinese Language within the school's world language program. That is when Chu began her 20 year career teaching the Chinese language at Holmdel Schools, until retiring in 2016.

Her  life story is far more complex, however, with a history deep in culture and understanding that is not very common. Chu is a world traveler. She has lived in a multicultural fashion in Taiwan, Japan, Germany and Yugoslavia. Her husband, Captain Fred Chu worked with Merchants Marine Design and Supervision Engineering Consultant firm. In 1972 they were in Hiroshima, Japan Mitsubishi Shipyard and in 1975-1976 they were in Bremen, Germany.  "In 1973, we were at 3 major shipyards in Rejika, Yugoslavia. I participated in the launch of 3 ships with my husband Captain Fred Chu's supervision in new construction." said Chu. She worked with the United Nations as a tour guide and developed a keen sense for people and their unique characteristics that brought success to her students and also to her career in the real estate field (currently she works at Diane Turton, Realtors, in Holmdel).

She enjoys teaching the Chinese language and has shared the Chinese Culture and History with her students throughout her teaching career. She also traveled with her students to Shanghai for Summer Studies and Planned China Tours for them during School's Spring Break for many years. Says Chu, "It is always in my mind that Children are the Future of Our Nation." They settled in Old Bridge for ten years and then moved to Holmdel for the schools system in 1982. Chu and her husband built and resided in a home in Holmdel for 35 years where they raised 3 children. They now live in Point Pleasant. 

"Our children all graduated from Holmdel." said Chu. It was during the years when her children had a regular school schedule that Chu went back to school this time Chu attended Seton Hall on educational scholarships and grant funding from the Johnson Administration. "The President felt that Americans needed more bilingual education," said Chu. She graduated with her Masters in 1979 in bilingual language. "I had a responsibility. I'm one of the founders of JSCS. I believe that I have to pay back and do what I am supposed to do to help others," said Chu. She is a dedicated force. Not only did she design six levels of Chinese Language Curriculum for Holmdel School System, from intro-Chinese to Advanced Placement Chinese.  Chu in the school and taught for over 20 years, but also in 2010 Chu was asked to assist in raising money for a language lab for Holmdel Schools. The amount needed to build the Language Lab was approximately $120,000. The project needed about $30,000 to reach the $120,000 goal to complete the project. Quickly Chu worked to organize a fundraiser dinner and karaoke party.  In little time with the money raised at the karaoke party and personal donations from families who did not attend the fundraiser but wrote checks in support. With Chu at the helm, they raised the $30,000 plus more and together with the money previously raised Holmdel schools were able to more than reach the $120,000 necessary to build the lab which starting benefiting students in 2011. 

In a world where dedication can be hard to come by, Chu has regularly traveled with students to Beijing where they become immersed in Chinese language and culture. "I don't believe you have to learn a language in a box. It's so important to learn the history of the language and immerse yourself in the culture. I tell the children, you are the future of America that is the reason I came here, we are a great country. I tell my students whatever you gain from society please pay back. China is a great country too and it is important to understand the history and culture." Chu started an award in honor of her mother Lucy who passed when Chu was only 13, and every year one student is chosen to receive the Lucy Tang Chang Educational Award, in memory of Chu's mother. 

Chu continues, "So many residents in Holmdel want their children to learn Chinese. My thanks go to the parents of my students parents. I am a good teacher thanks to my students because every student teaches something to the teacher. I make a personal connection to each student to make sure I understand how to teach them best individually and then i learn from them too." Chu uses so many of her life experiences in helping to educate the next generation. Especially her experience with her husband's work and helping to launch three ships. "I always share my launching stories with my students. I tell them their attitude and hard work in school everyday is just like building a ship step by step, until they are graduating from their University - that day is the same as the new ship being launched." said Chu.