Spring Cheng, co-founder of Resonance Path Institute, shares her story at Bellevue’s Cultural Conversations on Tuesday. Raechel Dawson/staff photo

Spring Cheng, co-founder of Resonance Path Institute, shares her story at Bellevue’s Cultural Conversations on Tuesday. Raechel Dawson/staff photo

Cheng discusses importance of “I” and “We” cultures at Bellevue-based Cultural Conversations

Spring Cheng was caught between two cultures.

One was the “We” culture she grew up knowing in China until age 22, when she immigrated to the United States.

And the other was the “I” culture she would become accustomed to as she assimilated into Americanism.

Cheng, a co-founder of Resonance Path Institute, partnered with the city of Bellevue and Cultural Conversations, a Bellevue-based women’s discussion group, to share her story on Tuesday.

As part of Bellevue’s celebration of Welcoming Week, Cheng told a group of about 70 women how growing up in China, 25 years after the Republic of China dissolved, shaped her. From China’s struggle under colonial force and 100 years of war, hunger and devastation, China’s “wounded lion” rebounded to find a new source of power, as many Chinese felt their ancestors had betrayed them. This cultural shift crept its way into Cheng’s life as she pursued a science career not because it was her passion but because she was “good at fulfilling outside expectations.”

In 1995 as a molecular biology graduate student in Iowa, Cheng recalled a question from her PhD adviser that would change her life. While working in the labs, her adviser asked what she wanted to do. Her response, “Whatever labs you ask me to do,” shocked her adviser.

He responded, “Science is hard and is only worth doing if it’s something you want to do.”

But Cheng had never been asked what she wanted to do. It was the first time someone in her life was genuinely concerned over what she wanted, she said. The question haunted, yet resonated, with her and she moved to Seattle.

In her search of finding out what exactly she wanted to do with her one life, she found a passion in mountain climbing to ease her “long oppressed individualistic expression.”

Her ascents, summits and victories fed her spirit, but her “climbing self” became insatiable. She wanted more and turned her attention to other mountains outside of Washington. During this time, her family questioned her climbing.

“The activity of mountain climbing is a selfish thing to do,” she said, adding that her family wanted her to settle down.

Her competitive nature led her to seek higher mountains, specifically near the Himalayas.

Cheng all of a sudden found herself on a bus that would take weeks to get to her climbing destination. She was surrounded by the Tibetan culture, surrounded by vibrant people who lived in poor villages.

“My interest in climbing declined,” she said.

The void that she thought summits would fill was slowly being replenished by the return of the “We” culture she experienced in the Tibetan area.

Cheng would visit the villages for three years in search of that deeper connection. When she returned to Seattle, she quit her job, went to school to study Taoism and delved into the book, “I Ching,” an ancient Chinese book known as the Classic of Changes or Book of Changes.

Cheng realized she needed a balance of both “We” culture and “I” culture. She reinvented “I Ching” to be easily read by all and ended up meeting her life partner and co-founder of her organization, Resonance Path Institute.

After 10 years of searching, she realized she was starting a new story.

Having now lived in the United States for about 20 years, Cheng values both cultures and compares them to the tree of humanity. “We” culture acts as the interconnected roots at the base of a tree while “I” culture stems from that base and blossoms from each individual branch.

“Together, it is one system,” she said. “It’s all part of one. In order for life to flourish, we need to grow upwards and reach downwards.”

Cultural Conversations has just begun its seventh season after a pilot program in 2009. The next conversation will take place Oct. 31 at the Crossroads Community Center. For more information, visit the city’s website and search “Cultural Conversations.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Chinese police credentials used in scam case. (courtesy of Bellevue Police Department)
Police announce uptick of scammers posing as foreign officials in Bellevue

One case involved the use of Chinese police credentials to intimidate victims.

File photo
Brief history of rats in the Puget Sound region – and the problem they present

Local exterminator noticed big change in rats over the past 40 years.

Sponsor of the motion to establish guidelines for the removal of encampments, Councilmember Reagan Dunn (courtesy of King County Council)
King County Council discusses policy for removal of homeless encampments

Still unclear what the standards will be, who will enforce it, and how jurisdictions will interact.

Design rendering of new development (Courtesy of Runberg Architecture Group)
Vulcan purchases 1.4-acre property in Bellevue next to future light rail station

The real estate developer says the eight-story development will have about 250 units of housing.

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Supreme Court rules officers can be compelled to testify about killings

In a joint lawsuit against King County, the Washington State Supreme Court… Continue reading

Stock photo
Face coverings again recommended for indoor public settings

Regardless of vaccination status, says Public Health – Seattle & King County

t
Firearm violence in King County on upward trend

King County prosecutors note a backlog in court cases, point to the pandemic as the reason why.

infographic created by Coltura
Study suggests that the top 10 percent of gasoline-using drivers consume one-third of all the gas

Researchers believe converting “gasoline superusers” is an important factor in meeting climate goals

King County Logo
County property purchased in Bellevue for Eastside supportive and affordable housing

The $186 million project is expected to be finished by 2023.

Most Read