Thursday, October 29, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Halloween with the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments -

Trick or Treat this Halloween with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments…in the belfry of Burton Tower?

From the Stearns website:

“Holding over 2500 pieces of historical and contemporary musical instruments from all over the world, the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments is one of the largest accumulations of such artifacts housed in a North American university. Known internationally as a unique collection, it is not only a precious heritage from the past, but also a rich resource for musical, educational, and cultural needs of the present and future.” (click on link for more)

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Halloween with the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments -

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Zombies! Brandywine Cemetary -

Four-year-old Little Brother starts to get nervous when his older sister Hao Hao reads the fluorescent green sign: "Chicken Exit" (left arrow) and "Certain Doom" (right arrow). But he is riding on my back, so there is no getting off this ride. (click on link for more)

Zombies! -

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Ode to Halloween Costumes, Plus Warning - NAM EthnoBlog

Here is Adventures in Multicultural Living Ode to Halloween costumes again, but this time in the New America Media Ethnoblog--i am sooo excited to be a part of New America Media! Check out the coolest voices in new ethnic media! Click on link to see article.

Ode to Halloween Costumes, Plus Warning - NAM EthnoBlog

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Body Music -

I received an email from the University of Michigan Arts on Earth program about Keith Terry and the Body Music Residency as part of their Arts and Bodies programming this fall. Executive Director Theresa Reid writes: “I thought you might be interested, because body music is a universal form - practiced in every culture from the dawn of humanity - which has distinct cultural variations… I’d love for more families in Ann Arbor to know about body music as well, because it’s so joyful and accessible, and it links us all.”

The Arts on Earth website explains more:

“Body music has emerged all over the world, from Inuit vocal games to Balinese kecak (or monkey) chant and dance, from Flamenco Palmas to Sumatran Saman and Ethiopian armpit music. ‘Gumboot’ was developed in the gold mines of South Africa by enslaved workers who were forbidden to speak. ‘Hambone’ was developed by African slaves in America when their owners confiscated their drums.” (click on link for more)

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Body Music -

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living--Ode to Halloween Costumes, Plus Warning -

As I child, observing the world as it was presented to me by the mainstream, I often decided to shut doors myself before anyone actually told me to. Growing up in the age of Farrah Fawcett, I knew that one had to be blond in order to be beautiful, by definition. My horseback riding friends and I knew from statistics that at ten years old we were already too tall to ever become jockeys. Common sense told me that I could never become a country-western singer, no matter how many pairs of cowboy boots I owned. Even school assignments like, “If you could live anywhere in time, where would it be?” were problematic because I knew that as a girl, and as a Chinese girl, I would not be able to just “drop in” anywhere in history.

However, once a year, I could be whatever I wanted to be, construct whatever image or story I wanted for myself, travel backwards and forwards in history and literature, creatively cross over any social barriers. It was also a chance to pretend to be pretty and show off how smart I could be.

One night a year—Halloween. (click on link for more)

Adventures in Multicultural Living--Ode to Halloween Costumes, Plus Warning -

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living - UN Day, International Hetalia Day and a Korean folk music performance -

Did you catch the Hikone kids when they were here a few weeks ago? Their hurly-burly energy as they poured into Sweetwaters Café that Sunday afternoon was invigorating. Any language barrier between the middle schoolers was crossed when one Ann Arbor girl dragged a skinny, sullen, ginger-haired boy over to the Japanese group and pointed, “Boyfriend.” “AH!!! BOYFRIENDO!” Screams, gasps, half a dozen camera flashes. The international interests of middle schoolers.

Speaking of which, Saturday is United Nations Day, the birthday of the United Nations, which was founded at the end of World War II on Oct. 24, 1945. It is usually observed around the world by serious meetings, discussions, and exhibits on the goals and achievements of the United Nations.

Area teens, however, will be marking the occasion by celebrating International Hetalia Day, cosplaying as their favorite characters from the popular manga and anime series, Hetalia: Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya, which depicts historic events of the World War II era as satiric social and romantic interactions between comic characters who are personifications of the countries of the world. From (click on link for more)

UN javascript:void(0)Day, International Hetalia Day and a Korean folk music performance -

Harvey's Back - Latest hijinks -

The swarms of maize-clad football fans weren't the only ones stopping traffic around Michigan Stadium after the U-M's win over Western Michigan in September. Ann Arbor's most notorious photographer, Harvey Drouillard, was at it again--photographing nude models for his new book, Mission Skinpossible. (click on link for more)

Harvey's Back -

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living--Nigerian Gele Headwrapping Workshop at AADL Traverwood -

I have one good winter hat that I picked up in a Wisconsin hat shop in 1991. This is the one hat that I have worn every day of every winter ever since. I love this hat, but how safe. How dull. My daughter is currently trying to figure out how to re-create a traditional Turkish turban/hat to cosplay as a character from the manga, Hetalia. I keep telling her that it is more complicated than it looks, that there is a technique to it, that you have to have a certain touch, and I find myself quietly eyeing the many patkas and dastaars I see in town and wondering, "How is it done?" Here is an opportunity to put our hands on the fabric and make the motions and develop the touch...and adorn ourselves in a beautiful new way. The Ann Arbor District Library is hosting a Nigerian Gele Headwrapping Workshop this Saturday: (click on link for more)

Nigerian Gele headwrapping workshop at AADL Traverwood -

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living--Ganesha, Diwali, and Ravi Shankar too -

I was at the University of Michigan Art Museum (UMMA) a few weeks ago when a museum staff member perched up high on the fourth floor where she could monitor many levels of the museum barked out at a family on the second floor not to touch. I turn to see a South Asian family showing their two young daughters, about 3 and 5 years old, an 11th century Ganesha carved out of volcanic rock.

Chastened, they back away. Curious, I go take a closer look.

The face is almost completely worn away from centuries of people touching and anointing the deity's forehead with tikka powder and oil, but he is still unmistakably Ganesha, with his elephant's head and round belly... (click on link for more)

Ganesha, Diwali, and Ravi Shankar too -

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living--MiTAI Taiwanese Music Festival Honors Concert -

This Saturday, a rare opportunity to hear contemporary Taiwanese compositions performed by some of Ann Arbor's most promising young musicians on piano and strings, solo and ensembles. One young musician was warned that although the notes might look easy on the page, to not underestimate the challenge of interpreting music from such a different tradition--and by the way the composer is coming to hear you play his work.

Every year, the Michigan Taiwanese American Association (MiTAI) Taiwanese Music Festival Honors Concert celebrates contemporary Taiwanese music by giving young musicians--who have to qualify through two rounds of competition over several months--the opportunity to learn and then perform contemporary Taiwanese compositions....

More information available on the MiTAI website: (click on link for more)

MiTAI Taiwanese Music Festival Honors Concert -

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Adventures in Multicultural Living--Ravi Shankar and daughter Anoushka coming to Ann Arbor -

An email from my girlfriend, Sujata: Diwali is coming, and Ravi Shankar and daughter Anoushka, too.

What else is there to say? Even 9-year-old Niu Niu knows she wants to go.

University Musical Society (UMS) has all the details, including additional performances of Indian music and dance, classical and fusion, in the community. This Thursday, October 15: (click on link for more)

Ravi Shankar and daughter Anoushka coming to Ann Arbor -

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Reader Letter--Hawaiian Kisses

Rescued from the SPAM Folder: Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 3:37 AM

Aloha Frances,

I saw an article you wrote on line back in March of this year. I was wondering if I could ask you about this Hawaiian kiss. I just moved to Oahu the end of September. I am a women who's currently working on a construction job site at the marine base in Kaneohe Bay, HI. I really love being here but a lot of men when I go to shake their hand also kiss me on the cheek. Growing up in the mainland, I'm completely not used to this. Could you tell me what I'm supposed to be doing while they kiss my cheek? Am I supposed to be kissing their cheek too? It feels so awkward and I don't want to make the people I meet feel awkward. Any advice you give me will be helpful. Much Muhalo.


Yes, you kiss back! :) if not the cheek, then at least the air next to the cheek. Don't worry, you get used to it, and then it becomes fun!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living--Mooncakes and Yo-Yos -

We were going to have an moonlit picnic at the park--teriyaki chicken musubi, steamed little dragon buns, a thermos of hot jasmine tea, and of course, plenty of mooncakes. Thirteen-year-old Hao Hao had already written up a grocery list (which suspiciously includes "Pocky--1,000,000 boxes"). We had four pink and green paper lanterns and candles from Vietnam, one for each of the kids. It was going to be a rare Saturday night with everyone together, just to sit and eat as a family and look at the beautiful full moon, the Harvest Moon, while composing a poem or two for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (basically, Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean Thanksgiving or Oktoberfest...but without the beer).

But then rain was forecast.... (click on link for more)

Mooncakes and Yo-Yos -

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living--Persian Family Culture Celebration at Downtown Library Sunday October 11 -

At the GenAPA cultural show, put on by the Asian Pacific American student groups at the University of Michigan last spring at Power Center, I was completely blown away by the dancing of the Persian Students Association. It was sleek, stylish, sexy, and thoroughly thoroughly modern. It reminded me how little I really know about other cultures, how I really only pick up snippets from here and there, and how it is so easy to forget that cultures do not stay the same as they were two thousand years ago, but continue to change with time. When I told my Persian friend, Siamak, about the dance, he said, "Oh, was it like this?" and made a few bobbing dance gestures indicating some (dorky) "traditional dance" he probably had to learn as a boy. No. It was not. It was amazing. To see it and feel it and get a sense of it... (click on link for more)

Persian Family Culture Celebration at Downtown Library Sunday October 11 -

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Adventures in Multicultural Living--Washtenaw Community College hosts World Cultural Celebration Saturday -

When my daughters were learning Chinese dance at the Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan, they participated in all the "International Night" type events in the area. It was a great opportunity for them to perform and educate others about their culture, to develop a sense of pride in their heritage as they were rewarded with gifts and applause (and thereby realized that others also valued it), and to learn about other cultures by watching other performances and participating in activities from other cultures... (click on link for more)

Washtenaw Community College hosts World Cultural Celebration Saturday -

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living Launch at

My column, Adventures in Multicultural Living, has just celebrated its one-year anniversary, shifted to a weekly format, and moved to (formerly The Ann Arbor News). I’ll also be blogging twice a week about upcoming multicultural activities in the community. They may also reprint these columns in the Sunday paper—on paper—so look for it! Thanks for posting your comments and forwarding the link on to your friends.

Join me as I explore Ann Arbor through a cross-cultural lens -

When I first came to Ann Arbor from California for graduate school oh so many years ago, I felt out of place, conspicuous, like a foreigner, like I was not wanted and I did not belong. Without a feeling of safety and understanding, it was difficult for me to maintain my footing, and I planned to graduate and run away as soon as possible.

But on my way out of town, I met a handsome man who laughed at my jokes and convinced me to stay just a little longer. Slowly, I managed to find a place for myself and my young family, to create the kind of community in which I wanted to raise my children, strong and proud in their own skin. Without any sort of multicultural What to Expect book, I had to write my own...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Adventures in Multicultural Living" one year anniversary today

I just realized that today is the one year anniversary of "Adventures in Multicultural Living," so I'm celebrating with huge writers block as it moves to a weekly format and moves to See how it all started at Think where we can go. Writing the first new column today.