Updated: May 19
By Noelle Xie (USA)
Noelle Xie is the first Chinese-American woman awarded the highest honor by France “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur”. She is a global advocate for sustainable development and a curator of contemporary art. Noelle works with the United Nations, the US Department of State and the US-China Museum Summit. She mobilizes resources and establishes public-private partnerships to support global health and education. Fluent in English, French and Chinese, Noelle is a champion of multilingualism and multiculturalism in civilization dialogue and cultural/art exchanges. She speaks worldwide on philanthropy and impact investment, fashion and women’s leadership, UN and SDGs. Graduated from Paris -Sorbonne Law School, Noelle started her career at UN, worked for UNICEF and WHO in New York, Geneva and across Africa.
For more information, please visit https://cultbytes.com/noelle-xie-awarded-legion-dhonneur/
Around March and April, several journalists in New York and Paris have interviewed me through telephone and social media about the health crisis. To be honest, I was not enthusiastic to talk about this issue since I left WHO long time ago. I am not a government official today nor a pandemic expert, I just follow daily and instant news like everybody else. One reporter has really insisted, so I said: “Well, I am not a virus specialist, I do not want to mislead the audience, maybe I can share some of my thoughts on health and immunity”. So here we are.
Noelle & President Macron @ One Planet Summit, Paris.
Amb. Delattre conferring Légion d’Honneur medal to Noelle
Recently, colleagues and friends have talked about their lockdown experiences. The health crisis in Europe and America seems to be endless. Nobody can predict the future. I rather remain optimistic, hoping that the peak of pandemic will be over soon, and the future will be brighter, perhaps another kind of future? Politician are talking about restructuring of the world and the new global order. The geopolitical situation is changing while countries are facing this unprecedented crisis. It is a war against an invisible enemy, there is no historical experience for reference. Who can predict the future? What will the world look like in 10 years or 20 years?
First I cherish the good old days, we live and work carefree, travel around the world, explore nature and environment, discover culture and civilization. In retrospective, I have been quite active for over 20 years. Going to global summits, international forums, cultural & sports events, art exhibitions & art fairs, operas & concerts, film festivals, fashion shows and the Olympics... It was great fun to meet inspiring world leaders and celebrities, I also enjoy interacting with interesting people from different walks of life... All of these suddenly stopped in 2020, human beings are forced motionless. it seems that no genius scientist has predicted, nor any government leader has warned the world in time.
Noelle @ Celebration of Francophonie with UNSG Guterres
Noelle @ Asia Society Gala, Amb. Negroponte & Dir. Zhang
The pandemic has given us more time to think and reflect. In the process of globalization, our society has become highly commercialized and materialized, capitalism has developed to the extreme. What is the real meaning of life? How does economic development translate into spiritual value and health benefit? How do human beings live in harmony with nature? While we are pursuing our purpose in life, we need to be kind to ourselves, kind to each other, and kind to the environment. When people are full of love and energy, we can be more creative, productive and magnanimous. Around end of each year, we exchange greeting and Christmas cards wishing each other happy and healthy. If Happiness and Health are the ultimate goals, is it worth to sacrifice both for economic success?
Spring in Central Park
Cute Racoon out in the daylight
Since my return to New York from Europe mid-March, the pandemic has been impacting the whole world. It has driven me to think more about health and self-immunity. I believe in the theory of herd immunity and self resistance to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. How to improve wellness and self-immunity? I can think of making my diet healthier, eating and drinking more green and organic, having a more relaxed schedule, walking the stairs instead of taking elevator, doing regular exercise as I often go strolling in Central Park these days. It is such a pleasure to discover those little corners that I never paid attention before. As my mind becoming more peaceful while rambling around Central Park, I am developing a deeper connection with the surrounding nature, I started to enjoy more the shape of trees and rocks, the color and smell of spring flowers, the movement of little animals, the rippling lakes and gurgling streams ... the world has become more beautiful in front of my eyes: humanity in harmony with environment.
With regard to the virus prevention, what can we do ? keeping social distance, wearing masks, washing hands, reducing outdoor activities, canceling meetings or parties; what else? The rest is probably beyond our control. Why worry about the outside environment and air circulation? The art of life lies in motion, each and everyone is more or less likely to come across the virus. The key is our self-immunity, building our resistance andphysical wellness to overcome the infection of all viruses and bacteria. This is a long-term effort, it is not just limited within the period of this pandemic. Another aspect is to maintain a positive and optimistic attitude, keep self healthy emotionally and spiritually. Mental health and physical health reinforce each other. Even during challenging times, we should still try to make our life happy and meaningful.
Noelle @ WHA 2017 with newly elected WHO DG Tedros
UNIADS Gala @ Art Basel with UN USG Sidibé & Mandela
How do we fulfill our life during the pandemic? Of course, our values, interests, hobbies and life experiences are different. I'd like to share some of my daily routine. I usually read international and domestic news online, watch TV including both left and right-wing media in the US, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, as well as TF1 and BBC in Europe. I follow some major figures and celebrities' social media through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, such as Trump, Macron, Putin, Johnson, Trudeau, Clintons, Guterres from the UN, WHO's Tedros, British Royals, women leaders Lagarde and Von der Leyen, and also following important artists and designers like Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Jarre, Yoko Ono, DVF, etc. That being said, I do not always agree with these personalities, but I can not neglect their power or their influence on the global scale.
I have more time to listen to classical music and opera during these quiet days, and read those books and articles that I usually ignore. It is also a good time to change some old habits to keep a more balanced schedule . I try to maintain virtual communication with few core friends. Thanks to modern technology, it facilitates our interaction with families and friends around the world. What ultimately brings us together are our common values and interests. How to reach inner peace in a stressful chaotic environment? I joined a virtual spiritual retreat with my former UN colleagues recently. It has been an enriching and interesting process. I have learned to look life as a whole and all life as one. This spiritual journey has reaffirmed my life motto “ live in the present”. It has enlightened the true purpose of my life. As the spiritual mantra illustrates: when we are motived by love, our action is in harmony with the universe, following the cosmic order, all is well and all can be done.
Noelle, Armstrong & DSL @US-China Museum Summit, New York
Noelle’s @ opening of an art show curated by herself
What about Art these days? Art is a vital part of my life. As a curator of contemporary art, I am trying to bring art to lives and bring life to art. It is a wonderful and exciting experience to discover a new creation and emerging artists, and share their artworks with the public. Especially during difficult times, we need Art more than ever. Art is not just hanging there to decorate, great art can be a mirror to reflect, and to inspire. In the history of mankind, art has played a leading role in social movement and global transform. Art has definitely made our world a better place. I hope more and more people are sharing our love and passion for art, art and artists need your enthusiasm and support.
It is hard to predict the future of art and art platforms. Hopefully museums, galleries, auction houses, and art fairs will be open soon and resume their activities. Personally, I would like to see the art and feel the art myself, it is completely a different experience to view the art online. Although there are more virtual art exhibitions and online art transactions these days, I still look forward to the grand opening day when we can all get out, to view the artworks on the spot, and have personal interaction with art and artist. Art might go on differently, but art will go on eternally.
Finally, I would like to emphasize anti-discrimination. Some negative words about the pandemic are quite worrisome and lack of scientific basis. For example, the Covid-19 will persist in the body and turn into a chronicle disease, or the virus will continue to infect other organs and spread all over human body. Some even suggest that we should avoid contact with those who have already recovered. As we know, the virus has infected many people including government leaders and celebrities. Should we ask all of them to be isolated indefinitely? I reiterate self-immunity and healthy living. When our spirit is high, our resistance is strong, we shall be able to beat all viruses. The crisis is temporary. I firmly believe that the human spirit and ability will prevail. In the near future, effective vaccines and medicine will be developed. We only live once. Let’s make the best out of it.
Noelle as Image Spokesperson @ NYFW 2019
Noelle’s TV interview @ Sinovision, New York
J. Yuan & Associates New York provides consulting services to art collectors and enthusiasts and helps them to own the art that aligns with their identity, values, and goals. Our current newsletter series encourages people in our community to remain healthy and strong and to overcome the difficult time with us together.