September 27, 2009

Speech for Salinas Libraries Centennial Celebrations and Read-In Reunion

Kathy Richman translates Teresa LeYung Ryan's speech into Spanish

Kathy Richman translates Teresa LeYung Ryan's speech into Spanish

Greetings.  I am Teresa LeYung Ryan, the author of Love Made of Heart.  The title of my book describes the Chinese character for “love.”  Inside the character “love” is the word “heart.”

It is a story about an immigrant-mother’s love and sacrifices; it’s about her daughter who ultimately finds self-forgiveness.

Today I’m here to wish Salinas Public Libraries a happy birthday and another hundred years of “open doors for open minds!”   The California Writers Club is also celebrating their centennial birthday this year!   I give a shout, out to all the branches of CWC!

To honor today’s celebrations, I have written a letter to my mom, who died of metastasized breast cancer in 2000.

Dear MaMa,
Guess where I am today?  In Salinas, California, the birthplace of your mother.

4 years ago, Lyle and I packed our tent and sleeping bags to join library advocates at the 24-Hour Emergency Read-In.

Kathy Richman helped me read a mother-daughter scene from my novel.  The reading was fun, so was camping out, but, we all knew what would happen if our beloved libraries were going to be shut down.

It is 4 years late.  The Salinas libraries are thriving because of community love and support.  Three weeks ago, when I opened Patti Fashing’s email about a re-union, I ran to check my calendar.

So, this time, instead of packing sleeping bags, Lyle packed a canopy.  We carpooled with Patrick Camacho of Save-the-Libraries.

You see, MaMa, public libraries have a special place in my heart.  Remember when I used to tell you?: “I won’t be home after school, I’m going to the library.”

Well, that’s where I really went.  I wrote all my book reports there. Even though I could have brought home the books and read them in our apartment, I chose to read and write in my quiet and safe place. The library was my sanctuary.

All those years, I never thanked you and Father for the great sacrifices you both made—packing up your lives, leaving Hong Kong, so that your 3 children would get an education.

Here in the U.S.A. we the children gained the power of reading and writing while you struggled with a new language in a new world.

I thank you now, for having the wisdom to let me spend many hours at my quiet and safe place. Those days I was a scared little girl and felt that I had nothing to say.  But how I loved writing book reports.

These days I am speaking out for libraries—at city council meetings; through letters to editors; through emails; on my blog and other blogs.

Also, I am using the gift of reading and writing to honor immigrant-stories; to advocate compassion for mental illness; to help survivors of family violence find their own voices; to encourage parents and grown-children to speak from the heart.

Today I celebrate libraries, librarians, patrons, and everyone involved in organizing this lovely party. I celebrate California Writers Club.  I celebrate you, MaMa. You are all love made of heart.


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One Response to “Happy Centennial Birthday, Salinas Libraries in California!”

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