Christina Soong

Christina Soong

Christina Soong

Christina Soong, 宋 淑 華 (Song Shuhua), was born to a displaced Chinese landowner and a beautiful, young Taiwanese woman in Taichung, Taiwan on October 6, 1960. Both parents had witnessed and suffered under the breakdowns and extremes of the prior social order. Confucian China, for which her father was trained, had come undone finally by the communist revolution of 1945-49. By virtue of her gender and her position in the order of childbirth, her mother suffered the plight of many women in traditional Taiwanese society: she was sold and exchanged for sons. They found each other, and began an independent life together. Christina was born the third of five children.

She learned from her parents the cultivated bearing and wit of a traditional aristocrat and the hard work and street-smarts of a determined, local woman. Without family connections or social rank, Taiwan can be a brutal society. Christina realized at an early age that time and things and relationships cannot be squandered. An unusually bright child, Christina was quick to help her mother and her father in their efforts to secure their family’s survival. Often, she only had a bowl of rice and some pork fat for dinner. She never complained. There was neither the time nor the energy for such waste; nobody assumed that life was fair.

By the 1960s and 70s, a new social and political emphasis on universal education in Taiwan made it possible for Christina to receive an education: first, in universal primary and middle schools and, later, at a private high school. Her parents’ modest success and her father’s progressive attitudes toward female education enabled her to attend such a school. At Ming-Dao High School, she met the children of the ranked and well-connected. It was via such relations that Christina began her Christian walk. She found in Christianity caring, sacrifice, equality and hope that appealed directly to her deepest yearnings.

Rejecting an admission offer to a national university (a rare honor at the time), she entered Christ’s College in 1979. Christ’s College was run on the old liberal arts model of Christian colleges. She received instruction in the Bible and literary classics. While she was a good student, Christina excelled at organizing students and events. She was involved in student government, drama, athletics, and outreach. She also held part-time jobs. After she graduated, she went to work for Mr. and Mrs. Varro, an elderly couple from long-time China missionary families. Christina became their office manager. She aggressively extended their mission in the mountain areas of Taiwan. She also taught English privately and at the nearby Bible College. The Varros considered her the best office manager they had ever had.

In 1987, Christina moved to Missoula, Montana and the University of Montana, where she began to study for an M.A. degree in Guidance and Counseling. She met Nick Pazderic that fall. They were married at the Missoula County Courthouse on October 7, 1988. She worked as a waitress, and she surprised her faculty supervisors with excellent practicum reviews from Hawthorne Elementary School.

Christina returned with Nick to Taiwan in 1990. She worked as the English-language coordinator for Washington American Schools. She also took private students—riding her motorcycle across the city of Taichung to different locations, where she would teach her private students.

In 1993, Christina moved to an apartment in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle with Nick, a Ph.D student in Anthropology. By way of a chance encounter, she was introduced to the Seattle Public Schools and began to work as a Family Support Worker and, later, as a School Counselor. She also began an affiliation with Faith Lutheran Church and the Mary Martha Circle which would last until she passed away. While in the Seattle Public Schools, she worked at some of the best-performing and some of the worst performing schools in the state. She treated all children the same and was equally at ease among the rich and the poor.

In 1995, Christina and Nick bought a home in Shoreline. Her career was established. During the summers, she hosted children from her family in Taiwan and from families whose children she had taught in Taiwan. She arranged excellent educational opportunities. While Nick was away doing field work or teaching, she had students stay with her for entire school years.

In 2001, she took leave from the Seattle Public Schools and returned to Washington American Schools, where she again worked as an English-program coordinator. Working with children of all ages, she was recognized for her outstanding work and educational vision. She was recruited heavily by other organizations, including the Wagor schools. For a time she worked for both WAS and Wagor until she joined Wagor as the Superintendent of their private schools. No longer did she ride motorcycles across the city; instead, she was met by a car and driver at 7 AM daily. During summer vacations and Chinese New Year holidays, Christina took groups of students and family members to Australia, New Zealand (twice), British Columbia, Oregon, and the United Kingdom. In 2006, she left the position and decided to return to Seattle with their daughter, Abbey.

For a year and a half Christina did not work in the Seattle Public Schools. Instead, she set up a magnificent house with stimulating play areas for their daughter. In 2008, she resumed her work as a School Counselor– this time at View Ridge and Bryant elementary schools. In 2010 she began work on a Principal’s Certificate.

She was diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer in 2014. At the conclusion of her treatment, she received an offer to join the Marysville School District as an Assistant Principal. While at Liberty Elementary School, she helped turn the school from a severely under-performing school to one recognized for its achievement. She worked as an Assistant Principal until 25 days before her death. She made everything and everyone she touched better. She died surrounded by colleagues, friends, and family at 6:10 PM on October 19, 2016.

Abbey and Christina at UW Campus -April 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is survived by her husband, Nick, her daughter Abbey, three siblings in Taiwan, two half-brothers in China, her sister-in-law Anna, and numerous nieces and nephews.

2 Responses to “Christina Soong”

  • Lisa Elliott says:

    I worked with Christina at Whitworth Elementary and am so saddened to hear of her passing. My condolences to her family.

  • julie leith says:

    So sorry for your loss. PRAYING you feel God’s peace surround you all during this time. Soar and be free Christina! ♡

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