Sunday, May 30, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Why are people not more upset about the achievement gap than the field trip? - AnnArbor.com

When Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, Costa Rican-American astronaut, came to the University of Michigan for Space Day many years ago, I took my children to hear him speak.

With a name like Chang-Diaz, I was pretty sure he must be part Chinese, and I wanted my children to meet a multiracial Chinese-American astronaut so that they could see with their own eyes that it was possible.

A little embarrassed to be asking something so personal, we waited until after the Q&A, but he smiled when we asked, and he told us the story of how his grandfather had come to Costa Rica from China. There was something very sweet and intimate about that moment and, not surprisingly, his message to my children—third-generation, multiracial, bilingual, and part-Chinese like himself—was different than his message to everyone else. He emphasized the importance of understanding different cultures and languages when one is in space working with astronauts from other countries.

When Dr. Sally Ride came to town for her great Sally Ride Science Festival for Girls, we also went to meet her. Again, simply to let the children see with their own eyes that women could be astronauts if they wished, to hear a woman talk about the importance of math and science—and then let their imaginations take it from there.

I have been slow to respond to the Dicken Elementary School field trip controversy because I have been so perplexed by the anger in people’s reactions. Reading through the comments after every article about it has been so painful, so personal, that I can only read a few at a time. (click on link for more)

Why are people not more upset about the achievement gap than the field trip? - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Avant-garde postwar public art in Japan on display at University of Michigan Museum of Art - AnnArbor.com

Our last opportunity to go on a docent guided tour of the Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950-1970 exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art is at 2 p.m. Sunday. The exhibit is only up until June 6, so we do not have much time left to see this fascinating exhibit of avant-garde postwar public art in Japan. (click on link for more)

Avant-garde postwar public art in Japan on display at University of Michigan Museum of Art - AnnArbor.com

Adventures in Multicultural Living: "Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think" documentary film Thursday at Michigan Theater - AnnArbor.com

"Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think", the last film of The University of Michigan’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies’ (CMENAS) weeklong Global Islam Film Series, will be shown from 7-8 p.m. tonight, at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor.

The week started with the hysterical Muslim-American stand-up comic concert film, "Allah Made Me Funny", then delved into American perceptions of Muslims with "The Letter: An American Town and “The Somali Invasion,” and Professor Akbar Ahmed’s cross-country ethnographic study, "Journey into America."

Tonight’s film is a documentary by Gallup researchers investigating how Muslims around the world view Americans. (click on link for more)

"Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think" documentary film Thursday at Michigan Theater - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Creating music and community together at Picnic Pops - AnnArbor.com

What is it about Picnic Pops that makes it so much fun?

I thought it was the sunshine, but even in pouring rain, it was still fun. I thought it was the carnival games, but the kids are now old enough to play the games by themselves, and it was still fun. It obviously must be the music, but I have heard all these bands play before, and this concert is a lot more fun.

The children and I have been going to Picnic Pops since my oldest were 1 and 2. My friend Susan’s daughter was playing in the Pioneer High School band that year. I remember pushing a big blue double stroller through the mud (some things do not change), not knowing anyone, yet enjoying the sunshine and feeling of community while being enveloped by the cheerful marches and big band sound.

This year, M not only had her first solo—which floated beautifully over the melody line—she also worked a shift in one of the game booths. She is growing up. H milled about with all her friends, and according to Facebook, bought $5 of cotton candy for them. She also is growing up. I sat with a friend whose high school daughter was so happy to be invited back to sit in with her old middle school band, the green Huron High shirts punctuating the white-clad Clague Middle School ranks. It was also neat to see the Huron High Schoolers all rush over to check out the Tappan Middle School band (and then mutter indignantly) when they recognized the music as a piece they were also playing. (click on link for more)

Creating music and community together at Picnic Pops - AnnArbor.com

Saturday, May 22, 2010

AML: Buddah's Birthday celebration at Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple - AnnArbor.com

One of my fondest memories is singing songs all night with friends along the banks of the Bagmati River in southern Nepal on Buddah Jayanti (Buddah’s birthday) and sending small clay oil lamps with whispered prayers down the river to join the holiest river Ganges. I can still see the tiny flickering lights floating slowly down the wide dark river, then going around the bend and disappearing from sight.

Buddah’s birthday is celebrated in many ways by many different types of Buddhists. One long standing Ann Arbor tradition is the Buddah’s Birthday celebration at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple on 1214 Packard Street, which takes place this weekend. Celebrations include a children's service, bathing the baby Buddah, poetry, a peace parade, talks, chanting, meditation, song (Joe Reilly!), and a beautiful Korean lotus lantern lighting service. Drop in for part or all of the weekend. (click on link for more)

Buddah's Birthday celebration at Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple - AnnArbor.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Speaking today at Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan

I will be speaking today at Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan's high school class, talking about Asian Pacific American History--Resistance and Heroes. With a side of pop culture. Will be showing the Falling for Grace trailer and the Soy Sauce clip from Joy Luck Club. Fun!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Speaking today at US Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit

I'll be speaking today on diversity in the workplace with Roland Hwang at an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Luncheon at the US Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

AML: Explore tradition, history of Shigaraki at ceramics demonstration at University of Michigan Museum of Art - AnnArbor.com

A few years ago, I helped a Shigaraki potter set up for a short demonstration at the University of Michigan, but all I could think about that day were tables and tarps. I did not notice the connection between Shigaraki and Shiga Prefecture, Michigan’s sister state in Japan, nor did I remember that Ann Arbor’s sister city, Hikone, is also in Shiga Prefecture. Shigaraki is renowned for its long, 1,250-year history of ceramics, and Shigaraki ware has been designated one of Japan’s traditional handicrafts.

This weekend, we have an opportunity to explore this art, history and tradition more deeply at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), in conjunction with the new exhibition, Turning Point: Japanese Studio Ceramics in the Mid-20th Century. From the UMMA: (click on link for more)

Explore tradition, history of Shigaraki at ceramics demonstration at University of Michigan Museum of Art - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Dexter High School student wins Michigan Japanese Speech Contest, heading to nationals - AnnArbor.com

The Japanese teachers were all abuzz at last month’s Michigan 2010 Japanese Language Speech Contest because two of the nine finalists were from Dexter High School.

When did Dexter High School start a Japanese Language Program? The truth is that Dexter does not have a Japanese Language Program, but two of its determined students have found a way to pursue Japanese as their foreign language anyways—one studies with Kaori Ohara of Ohara Language Institute and one studies with Kayo Nakamura at Emerson School. Both schools are in Ann Arbor.

The really funny thing is that the two students did not even know each other. They met at the competition in Novi. (click on link for more)

Dexter High School student wins Michigan Japanese Speech Contest, heading to nationals - AnnArbor.com

Voices of Adoption RainbowKids.com: AML: A different kind of Mother's Day gift: watching kids compete at Chinese speech tournament

May 16, 2010/ Frances Kai-Hwa Wang/ Voices of Adoption RainbowKids.com/ Adventures in Multicultural Living

My daughter Hao Hao was once a timid child who cried at every little thing. She even got kicked out of sports camp because she dissolved into a flood of tears every time she got "out" in softball or tag. Once when she was at Leslie Science Center, she cried on a hike through the woods because she was afraid of the spider webs on the trail. Instead of giving in to her tears as the teachers and moms at Chinese School tended to do, the Leslie Science Center instructor simply handed her a butterfly net to empower her to wave away the spider webs as she marched down the trail, head and butterfly net held up high.

In that transformative moment, I realized that I had to figure out how to select the best from each of the many cultures we had before us, rather than all of one or the other, and that I had to prepare my children for their future lives as adults in America, sometimes even mainstream America.

click on link for more: Adventures in Multicultural Living: A different kind of Mother's Day gift: watching kids compete at Chinese speech tournament

Thursday, May 13, 2010

AML: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month event showcases richness of cultures - AnnArbor.com

Asian Pacific American performing arts groups from across the state will be coming together Friday night to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at the Council of Asian Pacific Americans’ (CAPA’s) annual cultural show, Splendor of the East, at the Ford Community Center for the Performing Arts in Dearborn.

This year’s theme, Tales of the Enchanted Lands - Myths & Legends, showcases the richness of Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, and other Asian and non-Asian cultures in America while exploring the diversity of myths, legends, fairy tales and folklore that bring us all together in a spirit of unity. Tickets are available for purchase online and at the door. The event starts at 7 p.m. (click on link for more)

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month event showcases richness of cultures - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Speaking today at Brighton District Library

I will be speaking today at Brighton District Library on Asian Pacific American Identity in the Midwest--Identity, Culture, Community, and Food. Part of their Comfort Food Series. I'll be showing that clip from "Eat Drink Man Woman." Yum. There will be food.

AML: Learn about kimonos at University of Michigan Museum of Art demonstration, exhibit - AnnArbor.com

Every summer when the children and I attend the Japanese Obon Festival—where the little girls are so adorable in their curled and beribboned ringlets and seersucker Hello Kitty kimonos tied with big fluffy red bows, the older ladies so elegant in their matching dance school kimonos and elaborate obis and clacking getta, and the young men so funny with cool shades and many pagers and cell phones clipped to their kimono pockets while they dance—there are always three or four people who attend wearing bathrobes, with chopsticks in their hair.

I know that bathrobes are not kimonos, and that chopsticks are for eating, but it was not until I had the opportunity to watch a King School mom actually dress two second-grade girls in kimonos (a 20-minute process, and she was going fast) that I realized how complicated it was, with many unseen layers and conventions, and that I had no way to “read” the kimono because I did not understand the language of what the details meant. (click on link for more)

Learn about kimonos at University of Michigan Museum of Art demonstration, exhibit - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: A different kind of Mother's Day gift: watching kids compete at Chinese speech tournament - AnnArbor.com

My daughter Hao Hao was once a timid child who cried at every little thing. She even got kicked out of sports camp because she dissolved into a flood of tears every time she got "out" in softball or tag. Once when she was at Leslie Science Center, she cried on a hike through the woods because she was afraid of the spider webs on the trail. Instead of giving in to her tears as the teachers and moms at Chinese School tended to do, the Leslie Science Center instructor simply handed her a butterfly net to empower her to wave away the spider webs as she marched down the trail, head and butterfly net held up high.

In that transformative moment, I realized that I had to figure out how to select the best from each of the many cultures we had before us, rather than all of one or the other, and that I had to prepare my children for their future lives as adults in America, sometimes even mainstream America.

Many cultures, not just Asian ones, reward the “good girl” who is nice and quiet and obedient. As a parent, it can be a huge pain to have intelligent, articulate girls who question everything you say (I know, I have three), but in the long run, I know those are characteristics that are critical to their success in America. They need to be able to think independently, speak their mind, articulate their reasoning, and back it all up with research and evidence. So they are not really “talking back” (for which I used to be scolded), they are “practicing” or developing their public speaking skills. (When I cannot take it anymore, I try to get them to speak up more in school rather than home—just kidding, teachers!) (click on link for more)

A different kind of Mother's Day gift: watching kids compete at Chinese speech tournament - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, May 6, 2010

AML: The Genesis of Chinese Writing and the Art of Chinese Calligraphy at UMMA Saturday - AnnArbor.com

On Valentine’s Day a year and a half ago, I heard Michigan State University (MSU) Emeritus Professor SuiWah Chan enchant a group of teachers by talking about the Chinese character for the word, ai or “love.” Most people who talk about how Chinese characters have meaning built into them will point out that the word “heart” is at the center of the word “love,” and leave it at that. However, Professor Chan went on to show how on either side of the word “heart” was a “hand”—one hand offering one’s heart and another hand receiving that gift. So in Chinese, the word “love” has the notion of relationship physically built into the word. Since it was Valentine’s Day, all the teachers swooned, of course.

All I could think was that this was so unlike Aristotle’s notion of love, which is strictly one way—with the lover who adores the beloved. Both words are translated into English as “love,” but the thinking behind each one is so radically different. I wonder how much of that background affects how we in the modern age think about these things? How much is transmitted when many of us no longer know the historical background to these words and concepts? What about those of us who are bilingual? (click on link for more)

The Genesis of Chinese Writing and the Art of Chinese Calligraphy at UMMA Saturday - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

AML: Taiwanese artisans coming for MiTAI Taiwanese American Heritage Week Cultural Fair - AnnArbor.com

Michigan Taiwanese American Organization bringing Taiwanese artisans for Taiwanese American Heritage Week
The Michigan Taiwanese American Organization’s (MiTAI’s) amazing Tzywen Gong has once again brought an incredible cultural gift to our community. She and the folks at MiTAI have arranged for a team of renowned Taiwanese artisans to come to Michigan to share and teach traditional Taiwanese art forms. Many of these art forms are not commonly seen in Taiwan anymore, let alone America. Many of these artisans are starting to get a little bit older, too. The Taiwanese American community is really excited to meet and learn from these artisans. What a great opportunity for all of us in the community to join. Hands-on activities available for children and adults. A rare opportunity not to be missed. From MiTAI.org: (click on link for more)

Taiwanese artisans coming for MiTAI Taiwanese American Heritage Week Cultural Fair - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Believing in the election of President Obama and hope lost and found - AnnArbor.com

My parents always emphasized that although I was ethnically Chinese, my citizenship was American because I was born in America, “You can even be president someday—unlike us—because you are a natural-born citizen.”

In school, we learned the three requirements to become president of the United States were to be a natural-born citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and have resided in the United States for the past fourteen years. Although thirty-five seemed sooooo old, my friends Gregory, Tony, and I—dreamers and idealists—began to make plans for the 2000 presidential elections before we even graduated from high school. (click on link for more)

Believing in the election of President Obama and hope lost and found - AnnArbor.com

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Obama in Ann Arbor, images from the campaign to reform immigration for America march - AnnArbor.com

The marchers in support of immigration reform were easy to spot, dressed in white shirts and carrying American flags. The procession of about 1000 marchers stretched out over a mile, from South Industrial Blvd., snaking up the hill and across the bridge, over to the University of Michigan Stadium, where inside, President Barack Obama was to address the graduating class of 2010.

At least fifteen busses were lined up around Frizinger Park, where an immigration reform rally was held in the morning. According to The Campaign to Reform Immigration for America, a national coalition of individuals and grassroots organizations to build support for workable comprehensive immigration reform, these buses came filled with supporters from Detroit, Pontiac, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, East Lansing, Westland, Ypsilanti, and New Haven, to join the hundreds of Ann Arbor attendees. The Campaign to Reform Immigration for America also notes that after labor and faith leaders spoke, the "Avenue of Dreams" youth who walked from Detroit to Ann Arbor to publicize the DREAM Act were celebrated and given a DREAM Act graduation ceremony to honor those who cannot attend college due to immigration status.

Hundreds of marches were held across the country Saturday, but because of Obama's presence at the University of Michigan commencement, the Ann Arbor march took on additional significance. Chanting at times “Si se puede! Yes we can!” and “Hey Obama, don’t deport my mama!” the mood was light, festive, and fun as people of all generations and races walked together in what was planned as a positive and peaceful rally in support of immigration reform and the bipartisan DREAM Act to give undocumented students who have grown up in America a chance to go to college and a path to citizenship. These issues suddenly feel all the more pressing after the recent passage of Arizona’s controversial new immigration enforcement law SB1070, which dangerously opens the door to racial profiling and discrimination against all people of color, and which several states (including neighbor Ohio) are poised to copy. (click on link for more)

Obama in Ann Arbor, images from the campaign to reform immigration for America march - AnnArbor.com
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