Sunday, November 29, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: The Sunday after Thanksgiving: The post-holiday debriefing - AnnArbor.com


The Sunday after Thanksgiving: The day we pack up, gratefully drive back to our own home in our own town with our own way of doing things, and are stuck in the car together for hours and have no choice but to talk to each other. It is a time to reflect on the (peculiar) people we met and the (wacky) things that happened, and it is a chance to talk to the kids about what is really important to us as a family. I call it the post-holiday debriefing (and I recommend this in my Multicultural Toolbox workshops as one strategy for combating racism and intolerance in the extended family).

Let me preface this by saying my children attend a school named Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. They know about racism and they know about resistance. Three of the four children are strong and tough girls, so much so that Little Brother once put his head down and cried, “I don’t have any Girl Power.” Add on that their mother is a writer on multicultural issues and a civil rights activist who speaks out on behalf of others. We are not easy people to have over for dinner. (click on link for more)

The Sunday after Thanksgiving: The post-holiday debriefing - AnnArbor.com

Saturday, November 28, 2009

AML: Children's folk music duo Gemini's multicultural perspective in song coming to The Ark on Sunday - AnnArbor.com

For years, my children have started their day in different classes with different teachers at the University of Michigan Children’s Center singing the Gemini song, “Hello Hello Hello, Hi Hi Hi, Hello Hello Hello, Hi!” The song goes on to introduce different ways of saying hello in French, Chinese, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Hindi, more. The neatest thing about this song is that there are always children in the class who actually speak those languages at home, so they are not learning a foreign language so much as they are sharing their family languages with their friends. This becomes a source of pride every morning. And I can always tell when Gemini has visited the school because the children come home singing new songs in new languages—Hebrew, Swahili, Russian...

Children’s folk music duo Gemini is an Ann Arbor treasure. Twin brothers Sandor and Laszlo Slomovits perform catchy sing-along songs, interactive hand-motion songs, funny stories, cool instruments and hearty folk songs from around the world. Children and parents alike cannot help but stand up and dance. They introduce their family culture as well as a unique international (and very Ann Arbor) outlook in their witty original songs. (click on link for more)

Children's folk music duo Gemini's multicultural perspective in song coming to The Ark on Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living under attack for un-American and anti-Thanksgiving activities!

Who knew eating Thai butternut squash curry at Thanksgiving would be so controversial? I am surprised by the hostility this article engendered. I thought it was so innocent, just talking about food and how clueless I was as a child. I know these fellows are in the minority, but who knew people could feel so threatened by sticky rice stuffing? Read down to the comments.

Creating our own multicultural Thanksgiving traditions - AnnArbor.com


But in various conversations that follow, one reader writes ironically on Facebook about the sanctity of traditions: "I say we should all eat jello, green been casserole with Campbell's soup and marshmallows like the Pilgrims did, and celebrate wiping out the Wampanoag and the Pequot."

Another surprising but similar eruption of hostility after the very first article of the series, almost a year ago:

The Ann Arbor Chronicle » Column: Adventures in Multicultural Living

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Diversity at Huron High, in everyday life, at U-M Hospital - AnnArbor.com

I am standing under the arch when the bell rings dismissal time at Huron High School, and I am swept up by a sea of young faces—Hispanic American, African American, Arab American, Asian American, Caucasian American, multiracial, more. What an incredible environment in which to grow up. I see young adults of every hue, every size, every background, every religion, every culture. I hear different accents, different languages, different slang. I knew Huron High was diverse, I have studied the school’s statistics on paper, but to stand in the middle of it and let it wash over me…

I am struck, however, by the thought: Where are all these children’s parents in my life? Why do I not see them every day as I walk through this same city? Why do I not swim in a similar sea of colors and cultures? How have we segregated or stratified our adult lives through work or socio-economics or class or neighborhoods or churches so that diversity can even be an afterthought or relegated to a once-a-year show-and-tell for MLK Day? Clearly the people are here. Where are they in my life? (click on link for more)

Diversity at Huron High, in everyday life, at U-M Hospital - AnnArbor.com

AML: Creating Our Own Multicultural Thanksgiving Traditions - NAM EthnoBlog

at New America Media's Ethnoblog:

My neighbor Lisa always celebrated two Thanksgivings while growing up in Ohio, a tradition she and her siblings continue every year. First, they have a traditional “American Thanksgiving” on Thanksgiving Day with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Then, on Friday, they have “Lebanese Thanksgiving” with hummus, kibbe, fattoush, grape leaves, hashwe rice pilaf, and meat and spinach pies. That makes for a lot of cooking and a lot of food, but with five six siblings and a ton of cousins, nobody misses a beat.

At Thanksgiving time, many families are caught wondering how to celebrate this quintessential American holiday — a holiday that is as much about the food as it is about family and giving thanks. Family is easy, everyone has family, as is the idea of giving thanks — especially for families that may have come to America because of war, oppression, poverty or lack of opportunity. However, celebrating a tradition that is not your own is more complicated than it looks. (click on link for more)

Creating Our Own Multicultural Thanksgiving Traditions - NAM EthnoBlog

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slant Eye For The Round Eye: Frances Kai-Hwa Wang And Multicultural Thanksgivings

I really like the name of this blog! And that they like cute Little Brother too.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang And Multicultural Thanksgivings
Monday, November 23, 2009

There's just a nice read I wanted to post up from Frances Kai-Hwa - who's also editor at IMDiversity.com Asian American Village - down at the AnnArbor who talks about Thanksgiving and the different ways people are celebrating, and I just thought as this is the week of the Turkey (no no, not me - although thanks for the thought) it was apropos (and the picture of the cute kid hovering over a plate of Thai butternut squash curry is worth the click too).

Slant Eye For The Round Eye: Frances Kai-Hwa Wang And Multicultural Thanksgivings

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Creating our own multicultural Thanksgiving traditions - AnnArbor.com


My neighbor Lisa always celebrated two Thanksgivings while growing up in Ohio, a tradition she and her siblings continue every year. First, they have a traditional “American Thanksgiving” on Thanksgiving Day with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Then, on Friday, they have “Lebanese Thanksgiving” with hummus, kibbe, fattoush, grape leaves, hashwe rice pilaf, and meat and spinach pies. That makes for a lot of cooking and a lot of food, but with five siblings and a ton of cousins, nobody misses a beat.

At Thanksgiving time, many families are caught wondering how to celebrate this quintessential American holiday — a holiday that is as much about the food as it is about family and giving thanks. Family is easy, everyone has family, as is the idea of giving thanks — especially for families that may have come to America because of war, oppression, poverty or lack of opportunity. However, celebrating a tradition that is not your own is more complicated than it looks. (click on link for more)

Creating our own multicultural Thanksgiving traditions - AnnArbor.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Ann Arbor's Ultimate Cultural Divide: University of Michigan vs Ohio State - AnnArbor.com


There are many types of cultural differences—racial, ethnic, gender, sexual preference, religious, socio-economic, education, class—and many types of minorities struggling to have their voices heard, but there is no cultural divide in Ann Arbor so marked as that fueled by the University of Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry.

Upon arriving at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School this morning, Principal Kevin Karr was dismayed to discover this act of resistance/sabotage in the school parking lot, which prompted a blog post in which he writes: (click on link for more)

Ann Arbor's Ultimate Cultural Divide: University of Michigan vs Ohio State - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

AML: Chinese American Society of Ann Arbor (CASAA) Thanksgiving Dinner Sunday - AnnArbor.com

This is an over-simplification, but generally speaking, Chinese and Taiwanese people do not bake. There are no ovens in Chinese and Taiwanese homes. It is not their tradition. If they want a cake or pastry, they go to a bakery. If they want a roast duck or roast pork, they go to a barbequed meat store. Otherwise foods are generally steamed or boiled or fried. So here in America, every time there is a bake sale at school, someone I know comes and asks me in a panic, “What do I do?” And if you cannot find a certain pot or pan, look in the oven because that is where they are stored.

Enter Thanksgiving.

Now, I have grown up here in the States, and I have taught myself how to bake (badly) and roast (vegetables), but the thought of roasting a whole turkey is simply beyond me. Things like cranberry sauce I can manage by reading recipes, but there is something about the whole bird thing that I just cannot get my mind around. It is too foreign. (click on link for more)

Chinese American Society of Ann Arbor (CASAA) Thanksgiving Dinner Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AML: Learning from The Nuances of Tea - NAM EthnoBlog

Editor's note: Frances Kai-Hwa Wang's column "Adventures in Multicultural Living" appears every week on the EthnoBlog. This post originally appeared here, on annarbor.com.

My neighbor and I were having a quiet cup of jasmine tea in my kitchen when I noticed that she was burning her fingertips repeatedly trying to fish the floating tea leaves out of the boiling hot water in her cup. Without thinking, I gave her a spoon so she would not burn her fingers. Then I looked down at my cup and realized that I did not have a similar pile of tea leaves sitting on the side of my saucer, nor did I have any tea leaves floating on top, nor did I ever.

Then it occurred to me, “Oh, if you blow on the tea leaves while you are drinking, they will sink down to the bottom by themselves.” (click on link for more)

Learning from The Nuances of Tea - NAM EthnoBlog

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

AML: The Root Beer Summits: Conversations on Race and Ethnic Diversity Across Michigan Today - AnnArbor.com

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama invited African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Caucasian police Sergeant James Crowley to sit down at a picnic table and have a beer with him and talk casually in what has become known as the historic “Beer Summit” at the White House.

Inspired, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is hosting a series of "Root Beer Summits" today, Tuesday, November 17, 2009, across the state to also get people to sit down together in a relaxed setting with cool refreshments and talk. Times and locations available here. (click on link for more)

The Root Beer Summits: Conversations on Race and Ethnic Diversity Across Michigan Today - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Learning from the Nuances of Tea - AnnArbor.com


My neighbor and I were having a quiet cup of jasmine tea in my kitchen when I noticed that she was burning her fingertips repeatedly trying to fish the floating tea leaves out of the boiling hot water in her cup. Without thinking, I gave her a spoon so she would not burn her fingers. Then I looked down at my cup and realized that I did not have a similar pile of tea leaves sitting on the side of my saucer, nor did I have any tea leaves floating on top, nor did I ever.

Then it occurred to me, “Oh, if you blow on the tea leaves while you are drinking, they will sink down to the bottom by themselves.” (click on link for more)

Learning from the Nuances of Tea - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vistaara: UM IASA Indian American Cultural Show this Friday - AnnArbor.com


I was walking past the Michigan Theater in the evening once, years ago, trying to decide where to get a cup of tea, when I was suddenly swept up in a bustling crowd full of beautiful dark-haired women in glittering saris, handsome graying men in suits. Only a moment ago, the street had been empty, quiet, nothing but mist. Now the street and sidewalks are bursting with Indian American families—grandmas, grandpas, aunties, uncles, little cousins boys and girls—rushing (late) from all directions. Everyone is dressed up, talking excitedly, headed for the show. And as suddenly as everyone appeared, they all disappear, and it is quiet; just me again, standing alone in the mist.

“Oh! It’s the Indian American Cultural Show!” I remember too late once again to actually get tickets. It is well known in the Asian American community that UM’s Indian American Students Association (IASA) Cultural Show is one of our great cultural treasures and that this show always sells out. For years I have wanted to go. For years my Indian American friends have laughed at me for trying to find tickets only two weeks in advance. This year I discover that this 22-year-old show has moved to Hill Auditorium and tickets are still available! Tickets will even be available at the door (but will sell out the day of the show so they recommend getting tickets through the Michigan Union Ticket Office or Ticketmaster beforehand).

Check out the trailer. This is not your average student production. (click on link for more)

Vistaara: UM IASA Indian American Cultural Show this Friday - AnnArbor.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AML: Sharing day and the meaning of autumn across cultures - NAM EthnoBlog


Every Friday is Little Brother’s “Sharing Day” (Show and Tell) at school. Sharing Day is very serious business in Kindergarten, and he spends the entire week thinking about what to bring. This week, he is supposed to bring something that reminds him of autumn. He asks his sisters, who give him all the regular ideas: a leaf, a pumpkin, his sister M dressed up like the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). However, because his turn is on Friday, they are pretty sure that other kids will have already brought in all those things, so he will have to be especially creative.

Because of the work that I do, our family does not always see the world the same way as the mainstream or “normal people.” There is often a multicultural twist.

When Little Brother was supposed to bring a circle, he brought a package of Korean Nong Shim ramen noodles. When he was supposed to bring a square, he brought a package of Indian masala ramens. When he was supposed to bring a triangle, he brought musubi (Japanese rice balls made into triangle shapes).

So what does autumn mean to us? (click on link for more)

Sharing day and the meaning of autumn across cultures - NAM EthnoBlog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: comedy documentary 'Allah Made Me Funny' - AnnArbor.com

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, community activists and the ethnic media braced for an avalanche of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab American, anti-South Asian American, anti-immigrant hate crimes, discrimination, stereotyping, racial profiling, fear-mongering, and more. Across the country, anyone with slightly darker hair and skin became suspect, those with beards and turbans were really suspect, neighbors reported neighbors to the FBI, the Bush administration threatened concentration camps for Arab Americans, and “Flying While Arab” became a new crime. It was a grim and frightening time for minorities and civil rights.

One surprising thing that was also born of that time was the coming of age of Muslim-American stand-up comedians.

The documentary/concert film, Allah Made Me Funny, features three Muslim stand-up comics — one Arab American, one Asian American, one African American — who talk about their lives as Muslims and people of color in America in order to break down stereotypes and build bridges with both Muslims and non-Muslims. The film is coming Wednesday to Temple Beth Emeth/St. Clare Episcopal Church, thanks to the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. (click on link for more)

Ann Arbor hosts showing of comedy documentary 'Allah Made Me Funny' - AnnArbor.com

Reader Letter re Language Learning

Question:

"I read an article on the Internet that you had written. My children are turning 1 this week. My life goal for them is to have them speak 3 languages from the time they can speak. I speak English and Spanish. We speak both in our home. I want to know if you know anyone in Dallas area that has a Chinese daycare or language school. Thank you, C.D."


Good for you! What a great gift you are giving your children!

I would suggest that you contact your local Organization of Chinese Americans (which i know is active in your area), other Chinese American associations, your local university, your local Chinese grocery store (check the bulletin board), your local Chinese newspaper, and your local Chinese restaurant to ask about Chinese schools, Chinese daycare, Chinese babysitters, Chinese tutors. It may take some detective work to track down the right person and right situation for you, but you are starting early so that is good. Just keep asking. And start taking classes yourself.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Sunday, November 8, 2009

AML: Sharing Day and the Meaning of Autumn across Cultures - AnnArbor.com


Every Friday is Little Brother’s “Sharing Day” (Show and Tell) at school. Sharing Day is very serious business in Kindergarten, and he spends the entire week thinking about what to bring. This week, he is supposed to bring something that reminds him of autumn. He asks his sisters, who give him all the regular ideas: a leaf, a pumpkin, his sister M dressed up like the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). However, because his turn is on Friday, they are pretty sure that other kids will have already brought in all those things, so he will have to be especially creative.

Because of the work that I do, our family does not always see the world the same way as the mainstream or “normal people.” There is often a multicultural twist. When Little Brother was supposed to bring a circle, he brought a package of Korean Nong Shim ramen noodles. When he was supposed to bring a square, he brought a package of Indian masala ramens. When he was supposed to bring a triangle, he brought musubi (Japanese rice balls made into triangle shapes). So what does autumn mean to us? (click on link for more)

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Sharing Day and the Meaning of Autumn across Cultures - AnnArbor.com

Friday, November 6, 2009

UM Center for Chinese Studies link and compliment

The University of Michigan's Center for Chinese Studies called me a prominent Chinese-American community activist--neat!

"Prominent Chinese-American community activist and friend of CCS Frances Wang discusses upcoming Chinese music concert and art talks on annarbor.com."

http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/CCS/

Thursday, November 5, 2009

AML: International Adoption Documentary at AADL with "the professor of adoption films" - AnnArbor.com

I often work with organizations like Mam Non and Families with Children from China to help families who have adopted children transracially and internationally figure out strategies for raising their children with cultures and language and pride. Raising children is not easy. Adding in differences of race, country, politics, socio-economics, history, language, culture, memory, and it becomes exponentially more complicated. There is always more to learn with both the head and the heart, not just for adoptive families, but for all of us.

From the Ann Arbor District Library:

Acclaimed Documentary On International Adoption, 'Long Wait For Home' With Discussion Led By The Director, Dr. Changfu Chang, Sunday November 8, 2009: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room (click on link for more)

International Adoption Documentary at AADL this weekend - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Pipa Virtuoso Yang Wei and Chinese Art Talks this week - AnnArbor.com


Two years ago, when pipa virtuoso Yang Wei came to Ann Arbor for a week as a visiting artist in residence, he visited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School for an all-school assembly. He talked about the history and evolution of the pipa, and how it is related to both the (European) lute and the (Middle Eastern) oud. He also told funny stories about cultural misunderstandings and how hard English was for him to learn when he first came to America. The kids—many of whom have immigrant parents for whom English is a second language—laughed and laughed when he described how confused he felt when people would ask him, “What’s up?” Not understanding the question, he would look up and answer,“Clouds? Sky?”

And then he played.

From Oh Susanna ("with a pipa on my knee") to classical Chinese songs filled with the sounds of canons firing, the clash of swords, galloping hooves, and the screams of horses, the kids got it. They heard it all. One man sitting alone on a bare stage with a simple musical instrument held the attention of 450 elementary students, from kindergarten to fifth grade. (click on link for more)

Pipa Virtuoso Yang Wei and Chinese Art Talks this week - AnnArbor.com

Monday, November 2, 2009

AML- Relishing Real World Halloween Costumes - NAM EthnoBlog

Today Adventures in Multicultural Living takes that six-foot battle axe to New America Media's cool new Ethnoblog!

After spending the weeks leading up to Halloween researching horrific racist and sexist costumes, and commiserating with other Asian American activists, it was a pleasure to attend the University of Michigan Halloween Concert and see that all is still well in the real world. Those online commercial costume Web sites may be glitzy and gross, but they are for the uninspired minority.

The children and I sit in the mezzanine of Hill Auditorium in front of about three or four rows of giant bumblebees. The closest one is a big stout bumblebee with a beard, long black arms folded across his yellow-striped chest, stern expression on his face, sparkly silver antennae dangling in the air in time with the music. (click on link for more)

Relishing Real World Halloween Costumes - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Relishing Real World Halloween Costumes - AnnArbor.com



After spending the weeks leading up to Halloween researching horrific racist and sexist costumes, and commiserating with other Asian American activists, it is a pleasure to attend the University of Michigan Halloween Concert and see that all is still well in the real world. Those online commercial costume websites may be glitzy and gross, but they are for the uninspired minority.

The children and I sit in the mezzanine of Hill Auditorium in front of about three or four rows of giant bumblebees. The closest one is a big stout bumblebee with a beard, long black arms folded across his yellow-striped chest, stern expression on his face, sparkly silver antennae dangling in the air in time with the music. (click on link for more)

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Relishing Real World Halloween Costumes - AnnArbor.com
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