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Albert Cheng 鄭國和
Albert Cheng 鄭國和, a mentor and advisor to the Friends of Roots 尋根之友, is a fourth generation American of Chinese descent, renown for his 40 plus years of community involvement. In 1988, at the age of 40, he traveled to China for the first time, searching for, finding, and visiting his ancestral village of Sanxiang Wushi 三鄉烏石村, a hamlet in the Zhongshan County 中山縣 of Guangdong Province 廣東省 where the Cheng family 鄭族has lived for more than 26 generations, since 1044. The powerful emotional journey motivated Cheng to merge his passion for genealogy, love of education, and strong belief in the importance of family history as an aspect of identity.
Soon after in 1989, he and the late renowned Chinese American historian Him Mark Lai 麥禮謙 spearheaded and participated in a family history and genealogy conference sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) 美國華人歷史學會 and Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco (CCF) 舊金山中華文化基金會. From that conference came the idea for a program to guide Chinese American young people to research their roots in America and visit their ancestral villages in Guangdong Province, China. And in 1991, Him Mark Lai and Cheng founded and became the coordinators of the In Search of Roots program, that is co-sponsored by the CHSA, CCF, and the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Guangdong Province 廣東省人民政府橋務辦公室.
For 25 years, Cheng has led hundreds of Chinese Americans back to China to search for and visit their ancestral villages. In 2001, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Guangdong Province awarded Cheng the title, "Searching for Chinese Roots Pioneer" 尋根引路者. And in 2006 KQED Public Television recognized him as a local San Francisco Bay Area hero. In 2012, Cheng received the "Grand Charity/Humanitarian Award 2012 南方·华人慈善盛典" from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Guangdong Province, China. He is also endearingly referred to as “寻根之父," the father of searching for Chinese roots.
Today, Cheng continues to volunteer for the Friends of Roots Him Mark Lai Family History Project 麥禮謙尋根項目, and lead several groups back to China.
As an educator of over 30 years, Cheng believes that strong roots build strong character, strong character creates strong communities, and strong communities give us a strong country...subsequently the world will be a more peaceful place. He is guided by the Chinese saying, 飲水思源 yinshui siyuan, "when drinking water,