CEDAR CITY -- Most Utahns don't know the name Helen Foster Snow, though she was born and raised in Cedar City. But Chinese children learn what she did for their country in school.
She was a journalist in the 1930's who became a great humanitarian. She built a bridge that young people, generations later, are still crossing. SUU students and professionals from the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre in China collaborated on a production this summer called "The Dream of Helen."
It follows the life of Helen Foster, born in Cedar City in 1907. She traveled to work at the US embassy in China in 1931. There she met and married journalist Edgar Snow and while documenting the war-torn country, saw many in poverty starving to death. She created what is known as the "Gung-Ho Movement" - self-supporting cooperatives -and is credited with saving more than 1 million Chinese people.
It became something where SUU was representing our national level on an international stage, and that was thrilling.
–- Shauna Mendini, SUU College of Arts
Helen Foster Snow received 2 Nobel Peace Prize nominations and the title, "Friendship Ambassador." In November of 2009, Chinese dignitaries brought a statue of the humanitarian to Cedar City, giving it to the people there as a gesture of good-will.
Friday, SUU students and faculty shared their experiences of the production.
"It was the most amazing experience probably of my entire life." Said Bethany Hess, who played Helen. "Probably the best opportunity that I'll ever have."
The performance was a success, and its message of promoting international friendship, may soon go beyond a concert hall.
"It's very important for our students at SUU to know the concept in the 21st century," said Xun Sun, Ph.D, orchestra music director at SUU.
"We were real representatives of the United States in China through this project, so it became something where SUU was representing our national level on an international stage, and that was thrilling," said Shauna Mendini, Ph.D, dean of College of Arts at SUU.
Dean Mendini said that because the Chinese hold Helen Foster Snow so highly, SUU has already received invitations to perform in Shanghai and Beijing.