Linda Chu Lai was a beautiful, independent, and caring woman who understood the meaning of living life to the fullest. Born in Chungking in 1939 during World War II, she grew up in Shanghai and Macau as a diplomat’s daughter. Eventually, she settled in Taipei, Taiwan with her family where she attended the prestigious Taipei First Girl's High School and went to college at the National Taiwan University, receiving a B.S. in Entomology and Plant Pathology. The summer after college, she gained an enormous appreciation for French culture and cuisine while being with her father in Vietnam. In 1961, she received the Comstock Scholarship to attend Cornell University receiving a M.S. in Entomology in 1962. At Cornell, she met her future husband Michael Lai, who was then an assistant professor at Rensselelaer Polytechnic Institute. Following a whirlwind long-distance romance, where Michael traveled from Troy NY to Ithaca NY every weekend, they were engaged less than a year later and married in December 1963. Settled into their home in Troy NY they were blessed with two children, David and Michelle. They moved to Latham NY in 1975 to be closer to Albany Medical College where Linda was a Research Associate in the Physiology Department until 1994. She moved to NYC in 1994 to join her husband who was an engineering professor at Columbia University since 1987. She loved being in NYC as her love of culture, music, and art was right at her fingertips. She often would go to museums, shows, exhibitions and operas if not already at home creating her own artistic work. In addition, she loved to travel through Europe with Mike, especially on river cruises.
Michael Lai is a senior advisor for the US-Asia Institute, but Linda was his advisor and accompanied him on Congressional staff delegations to China for the US-Asia Institute. A special fund -- the Linda Chu Lai Scholarship Fund -- was established in her memory at the US-Asia Institute. We here at the Institute are deeply honored to be entrusted with continuing Linda’s legacy.
Donzen Urubshurow was a summer intern at the US-Asia Institute between his junior and senior years at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Bethesda, Maryland. At B-CC, where he participated in the International Baccalaureate program, Donzen took Chinese language courses all four years, and Arabic, prior to graduation in 2009. During high school Donzen was a varsity athlete in five individual sports and an aspiring musician and songwriter. His interest in other cultures was rooted both in his immersion (K-Middle School) in a Spanish language program and his own ties to America’s first ethnic Mongolian community that combined to provide an early cross-cultural insight into and appreciation for diversity in human relations. In the fall semester of his junior year of college at the University of Maryland, where he majored in physics, Donzen passed away at age 22. Throughout his life Donzen positively affected the lives of a large, talented and diverse group of friends and acquaintances that span cultural, linguistic, racial and sociological divides.
The Linda Chu Lai Memorial Fund and the Donzen Urubshurow Fund provide opportunities for young people to intern with the US-Asia Institute in Washington, D.C. during the summer. This allows them to experience the intersection of public policy and international relations. Further, they will learn the importance of communication and understanding to the US-Asia relationship. These students become part of the US-Asia Institute family, just as Linda and Donzen were, and are instrumental to its efforts going forward.