A San Francisco-based brand called M2Cherish Shop was founded in 2020 by two college friends, Mai and Maria. M2 is the combination of Mai and Maria's first initials, and Cherish reflects their heritage and cultures' values. Mai has tremendous love and appreciation for Asian art. She was born and raised in Malaysia, where she attended a partially government-funded public school and received Chinese education. She is the 2nd generation of Hakka descendants from China. She speaks Cantonese as her native tongue. For her early education, her parents enrolled her in a Chinese kindergarten and public primary school, where she learned Mandarin and the art of calligraphy.
Chinese Kindergarten Class Picture in Malaysia
Chinese textbooks were developed by the Chinese Educationists back in the 1960s-1970s in Malaysia. (photo credit from Facebook users)
In addition to that, she was fortunate enough to join after-school activities that taught her how to play traditional Chinese Musical Instruments such as Erhu (二胡), Pipa (琵琶), Guqin (古琴). This was mostly funded by private donors as public schools in Malaysia at the time did not offer traditional Chinese Musicals for after-school activities.
The Malaysian Ministry of Education did not operate many of these Chinese Medium Schools. Instead, Chinese schools were predominantly privately funded within their own communities. As a result, they fought tirelessly to ensure that their next generation would be able to grow up speaking the mother tongue, and even fought not to give up their names on all government documents. Generation after generation, they fought the local Malayan government to maintain their identities. Funding the school for the next generation came mostly from the charitable contributions of their Chinese community. Malaysia is one of the few countries that offers a complete Chinese Education system, apart from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. This is due to the tireless efforts of Chinese educators who sought to protect the interests of mother tongue education in China.
Currently, Mai lives in San Francisco, California. It is important to her that we acknowledge Chinese roots and historical culture regardless of where we are in the world and how we reach them. She is grateful for the efforts of the Chinese community to maintain our roots.
Childhood pictures of Maria in Vietnam and China
As for Maria, she was born in Vietnam. During the late 1970s, Vietnam was rife with anti-Chinese sentiment. Following the Sino-Vietnamese war, Vietnam's ethnic Chinese population was exiled. When she was only four years old, her family fled to Southwest China, then moved to a refugee village in Guangdong province. As a result of the war & conflict, she and her family were classified as refugees. Due to the Chinese government's tolerant policy, refugee children were allowed to attend local public schools, and this is where Maria attended her formal Chinese education. As of now, she lives in the United States where she works in the architecture field. She attributes her values to the upbringing she experienced. She is grateful that she was able to get an education in China, which shaped her into the person she is today.
Mai & Maria's paths crossed in college at the same institution where they both studied design and art, as well as their shared fascination with Asian art. Both artists' cultures are deeply ingrained in their work. Despite not being born in China, their upbringing and early education taught them the importance of traditional Chinese values.
Inspired by the efforts the Chinese Educationist community had made for them when they were growing up, they wanted to share their vision for Asian Art via M2Cherish Shop with the world, just as their ancestors had planted it in their hearts and minds.