In the latest column, news about a substantial endowment in the effort to keep Cantonese language classes at Stanford, new express lanes opening on U.S. Highway 101 just north of Palo Alto and seed funding to address pandemic-related challenges.
CULTURAL PRESERVATION ... The future of Cantonese language classes at Stanford University has been in turmoil since December 2020, when the university cut the only lecturer position for the program. The decision propelled a group of students, alumni and community members to band together and form the Save Cantonese at Stanford campaign. Since then, Stanford has brought back two Cantonese courses taught by a part-time instructor.
The group's goal of endowing a permanent, full-time lectureship at the university was recently boosted with a $1 million gift from S.J. Distributors Inc. The Milpitas-based wholesale company provides vegetables, frozen meat, seafood and dry goods for the public, restaurants and chain stores. "Language is how we transmit culture. Handed down from ancient times to the modern age, Cantonese still retains much of the pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar of Classical Chinese literature, which proves that this language is of profound cultural importance," S.J. Distributors CEO Scott Suen said in a Jan. 28 press release. "By providing long-term support for Cantonese classes, we believe this opens a channel for those who love Cantonese language and culture to continue to access them."
Save Cantonese at Stanford's leaders were grateful for the substantial donation. "When S.J. Distributors reached out to us with their offer, we were simply floored. This is a dream come true for the entire team," campaign leader Dr. Jamie Tam said in a statement. The spirit of appreciation also resonated with fellow leader Maciej Kurzynski. "We are thrilled that S.J. Distributors shares our vision and that Cantonese continues to be taught as a modern, living language," Kurzynski said.
MUCH-NEEDED SUPPORT ... As the start of the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic draws near, the challenges brought by the health crisis persist. In an effort to help address these wide-ranging issues impacting San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, Stanford's Office of Community Engagement has announced a second round of seed funding.
A total of seven projects received additional funds based on shared proposals by university faculty and leaders in area schools, public health, civic organizations and community colleges.
One of those projects is Equity Forward, which will use the funds to bring together 14 higher education institutions in both counties. The partnership aims to set up a regional grant-making program that addresses economic and racial inequality.
The support allows the Stanford Children's Health Teen Van, which has provided COVID-19 tests and vaccines to locals, to add 6 1/2 more clinic days over the next six months.
"Stanford's ties with regional partners allow us to more effectively deploy our expertise and resources to address these urgent challenges," Megan Swezey Fogarty, the university's associate vice president for community engagement, said in a Jan. 20 press release. "Our commitment to co-created engagement and the strength of relationships are key to these collaborative efforts."
SHIFTING GEARS ... New express lanes on U.S. Highway 101 are set to go live in southern San Mateo County on Friday, Feb. 11. The lanes span from the Santa Clara County line in Palo Alto to Whipple Avenue in Redwood City, giving FasTrak Flex toll tag users dedicated space to travel.
Work on the segment, the first of two, started in March 2019 as part of Caltrans' San Mateo 101 Express Lanes Project. The express lanes will be in operation from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays to people with FasTrak Flex. With the tag, buses and carpools of three or more people can use the lanes for free, while travelers of two or in certain clean-air vehicles are eligible for a 50% discount when the lanes first open.
"Tolls will be adjusted during operating hours depending on demand and traffic patterns, with the goal of keeping the express lanes traffic flowing smoothly," according to a Feb. 1 press release from the San Mateo County Transit District. The lanes merge with express lanes in Santa Clara County.
The second segment, which covers Redwood City to Interstate Highway 380 in South San Francisco, is expected to open later this year. The project is a collaboration between Caltrans, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County.
For more details, visit 101express.com.