Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to Raise Strong and Confident Asian Pacific American Daughters | InCultureParent

Thanks to InCultureParent.com for featuring this article!

A few years ago, I took a seminar called, “Raising Strong and Confident Daughters.” My husband laughed at me. “Could our daughters be any stronger or more confident?”

The class was an eye-opener for me, not just in how to raise my girls, but also in understanding my own Chinese-American childhood. I had no memory of dealing with a lot of the issues the instructor talked about as being so important to pre-adolescent girls, such as friendship and physical appearance.

click on link for more: How to Raise Strong and Confident Asian Pacific American Daughters | InCultureParent

Friday, December 23, 2011

Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics-Adventures in Multicultural Living - NAM EthnoBlog

Asian American journalist Lisa Ling once said onThe View that as a child she thought Santa liked Caucasian children better than Chinese children because he always left much better and bigger gifts, like stereos, for her Caucasian friends, whereas he only left small gifts, like batteries and toothbrushes, in her stocking. When I heard that, it was as if I was hearing silver bells. I always got batteries and toothbrushes in my stocking, too. I had grown up thinking that gifts from Santa always had to be small in order to fit inside the stocking.

It was not until I was in my 30’s that I discovered that some people received gifts from Santa that not only spilled out of their stockings, but covered the floor and piled up as high as the Christmas tree. Some people did not even bother hanging up stockings by the chimney with care, as they knew their gifts would be bigger than that. Is that allowed?

click on link for more: Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics-Adventures in Multicultural Living - NAM EthnoBlog

Monday, December 5, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Racism in the Extended Family on the Holidays | InCultureParent

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).

click on link for more: Racism in the Extended Family on the Holidays | InCultureParent

Friday, November 18, 2011

LifeLong Learning @ WCC ›› Writing & Literature

Teaching two writing classes at Washtenaw Community College next term: Writing Ethical Wills--a Love Letter to your Family, and Writing with Style--Finding your Voice. Full descriptions and Registration information here: LifeLong Learning @ WCC › Browse All Classes › Writing & Literature

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Distant Relatives versus Nearby Friends on Thanksgiving - NAM EthnoBlog

My parents say that there is a Chinese saying (there is always a Chinese saying) about how distant relatives are not as good as nearby friends. To illustrate, they recall the time our car broke down on the winding and treacherous Pacheco Pass after midnight and how our neighbor, Mr. Shigematsu, came to rescue us and did not get home until after 2 a.m. Our relatives in distant Los Angeles or San Francisco could not have done anything to help because they were too far away.

click on link for more: Distant Relatives versus Nearby Friends on Thanksgiving - NAM EthnoBlog

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friends vs Relatives on Thanksgiving | Adventures in Multicultural Living | InCultureParent

My parents say that there is a Chinese saying (there is always a Chinese saying) about how distant relatives are not as good as nearby friends. To illustrate, they recall the time our car broke down on the winding and treacherous Pacheco Pass after midnight and how our neighbor, Mr. Shigematsu, came to rescue us and did not get home until after 2 a.m. Our relatives in distant Los Angeles or San Francisco could not have done anything to help because they were too far away.

Thanksgiving is a time of feasting and family, and people are traveling, cooking and cleaning like mad, trying to get to their families for four brief days. Because many of my children’s friends are from international families and do not have extended family close by, I like to gather up all our friends and celebrate “Thanksgiving Eve” the night before with a big potluck of what turns out to be the most amazing spread of foods from around the world — teriyaki turkey, sticky rice stuffing, butternut squash Thai curry, chicken biriyani, babaganoush, tabbouli, lasagna, shrimp and broccoli, mangoes and black sticky rice, Thai pumpkin custard and more.

click on link for more: Frances Kai-Hwa Wang | InCultureParent

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thanks Angry Asian Man and USF APA Students for making my day!!

great twitter exchange yesterday, Angry Asian Man is the best!

fkwang Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
signing out for now @JusticeConf see you next year in chicago #ajc2011 i'm off to talk to USF students about cultivating APA identity!
28 Oct

JusticeConf Advancing Justice
@fkwang Thanks for coming out here and happy travels! Loved hearing your thoughts on the social media panel yesterday.
28 Oct

angryasianman Angry Asian Man
@fkwang Lucky USF students!
28 Oct

apascusf APASC
Yes we are! RT: @angryasianman: @fkwang Lucky USF students!
28 Oct

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Speaking at Advancing Justice Conference in San Francisco, Thursday, October 27

Is There An App For That? Leveraging Social Media for Social Justice

Date: Thursday, October 27th
Time: 11:00am-12:30pm
Place: Spring C
Workshop Track: Capacity Building

Social media is now ahead of email in terms of online activity and accounts for over 10% of user time spent on the Internet. Recognizing that this shift is a powerful vehicle by which to communicate social justice messaging, many nonprofits are using social media to raise funds for their programs, inspire advocacy, and raise awareness. This workshop will address how to leverage social media more effectively, overcome challenges, and draw supporters to their cause.

Speakers: Keith Kamisugi, Director of Communications Equal Justice Society; Bilen Mesfin, Communications Consultant/Principal Change Consulting; Mariam Hosseini, Director of Communications Asian Law Caucus; Frances kai-hwa Wang, Online Communications Chair American Citizens for Justice Advisory Board

http://advancingjustice.org/conference/2011/is-there-an-app-for-that-leveraging-social-media-for-social-justice/

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

UMS Lobby » Performances for the Whole Family: Filling the master calendar with UMS events

Part of the excitement of coming back to town at the end of summer is collecting all the calendars—Ann Arbor Public School’s holiday and half-day calendar, Huron High School’s band calendar, Clague Middle School’s orchestra calendar, King Elementary School’s PTO calendar, the crew calendar, the soccer calendar, the academic games calendar, University of Michigan’s football calendar, Washtenaw Community College Lifelong Learning calendar, Rec and Ed, Parks and Rec, etc.—whew!—and finally sitting down to map them all out onto one big master calendar in order to see what our year is going to look like.

My favorite calendar to pore over with the kids is the one from University Musical Society (UMS).

click on link for more: UMS Lobby » Performances for the Whole Family: Filling the master calendar with UMS events

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicago is the World » U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and keeping the conversation going | adventures in multicultural living

excerpt: An English teacher at Huron High School used one of my columns to stimulate classroom discussion of a Maya Angelou book they were reading — which was so lively it spilled into a second day, and even more impressive, students who normally never talked in class really got into the discussion.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and keeping the conversation going | adventures in multicultural living

Monday, September 26, 2011

U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and Frances' Farewell--let us keep the conversation going - NAM EthnoBlog

The University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As usual for an academic department, they have all sorts of lectures and films and art exhibits and concerts and performances and colloquia and conferences planned.

click on link for more: U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and Frances' Farewell--let us keep the conversation going - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and Frances' Farewell--let us keep the conversation going

The last installment of Adventures in Multicultural Living in AnnArbor.com:

The University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As usual for an academic department, they have all sorts of lectures and films and art exhibits and concerts and performances and colloquia and conferences planned.

Kicking it all off is the New Millennium East Meets West Kite Festival this Sunday, Sept. 25, 1-5 p.m., at Nichol’s Arboretum. There will be kite-making workshops, kite flying competitions, cultural performances, and kite masters from China and Michigan. There will be special categories for students and community. It's a real town and gown and east meets west affair, much like the dragon boat races they organized at Gallup Park in 2007.

I had the good fortune of being invited to help with some kite-making workshops through Parks and Rec and to escort fourth-generation premier kite master Ha Yiqi — with whom two U-M Art and Design faculty apprenticed this summer in Beijing — to visit local elementary schools. I also enjoyed the neat kites made at the Center for Korean Studies’ Chuseok celebration.

I am excited to see what this year will bring. During the University of Michigan LSA ChinaNow Theme Year in 2007-2008, converging as it did with University Musical Society’s Asia Festival and the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Asian American book, I met so many incredible people (including my literary hero, playwright David Henry Hwang) and was given the gift of so many personal and professional opportunities. My whole life changed that year, and I did my best writing ever.

Unfortunately, AnnArbor.com will be discontinuing my column, “Adventures in Multicultural Living,” to focus more of its resources on local news.

click on link for more: U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and Frances' Farewell--let us keep the conversation going

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: 'Looking Both Ways' at the 'Made in China' label and 9/11 fears | annarbor.com

The wall of 52 faces at the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Looking Both Ways contemporary art exhibit is striking.

The styles are all different — formal, casual, realistic, cartoonish, playful, even black and white and fake-photoshopped. There are old men and young women, hipster rock stars and craggy-faced workers. There is a high mandarin collar, a hooded sweatshirt, a tie, a baseball cap, spiky dyed hair, a cigarette.

One of the three curators, EMU art education professor Guey-Meei Yang, explains that these are the real people who work at an art factory in Dafen, China. Their job is to paint to order, whatever you want—A painting of your family or a Vincent Van Gogh. Normally prized for their technical precision, self-expression is not particularly valued, and the artists remain invisible behind factory walls.

Then John C. Gonzalez from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, made an unusual order—a self-portrait of every artist who worked in that art factory, in any style. Together, they are a powerful illustration of the real people behind the “Made in China” label.

click on link for more: 'Looking Both Ways' at the 'Made in China' label and 9/11 fears

Chicago is the World » Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival | Adventures in Multicultural Living

"The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is this Monday. That means mooncakes!

A harvest festival, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a Chinese (Zhong Qiu Jie),Vietnamese (Tet Trung Thu) and Korean (Chusok) festival that celebrates the end of the harvest, family and food. It’s sort of like Thanksgiving (without the turkey), Octoberfest(without the beer) and Sukkot (without the tent). It is always celebrated on the largest full moon of the year, the Harvest Moon."

'via Blog this'

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival | Adventures in Multicultural Living

Friday, September 16, 2011

AML Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival - NAM EthnoBlog

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is this Monday. That means mooncakes! A harvest festival, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a Chinese (Zhong Qiu Jie), Vietnamese (Tet Trung Thu) and Korean (Chusok) festival that celebrates the end of the harvest, family and food. It's sort of like Thanksgiving (without the turkey), Octoberfest (without the beer) and Sukkot (without the tent). It is always celebrated on the largest full moon of the year, the Harvest Moon.
Mooncakes are the centerpiece of this festival, as much for eating as for giving to other people. They are round like the full moon and symbolize family unity. To call mooncakes “cakes,” though, is a bit of a misnomer. They are not light, fluffy, frosted, candle-studded confections. Rather, imagine a giant Fig Newton, the size and shape and weight of a hockey puck, dense and heavy and rich with red bean, date, lotus seed, dried fruit or pineapple filling.

click on link for more: Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival | annarbor.com

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is this Monday. That means mooncakes!

A harvest festival, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a Chinese (Zhong Qiu Jie), Vietnamese (Tet Trung Thu) and Korean (Chusok) festival that celebrates the end of the harvest, family and food. It's sort of like Thanksgiving (without the turkey), Octoberfest (without the beer) and Sukkot (without the tent). It is always celebrated on the largest full moon of the year, the Harvest Moon.

Mooncakes are the centerpiece of this festival, as much for eating as for giving to other people. They are round like the full moon and symbolize family unity. To call mooncakes “cakes,” though, is a bit of a misnomer. They are not light, fluffy, frosted, candle-studded confections. Rather, imagine a giant Fig Newton, the size and shape and weight of a hockey puck, dense and heavy and rich with red bean, date, lotus seed, dried fruit or pineapple filling.

click on link for more: Making Mooncakes the modern traditional way for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Ode to bento boxes and lunchboxes for back to school perfection | annarbor.com

In the hubbub of back to school preparations—registration, green emergency cards, forms, fees, textbooks, pictures, school supplies, backpacks, lunchboxes, scheduling extracurriculars, new lunch and snack ideas, catching up with old friends, etc., I keep ending up in the bentobox or lunchbox section of every store I enter, be it the Chinese grocery store, the Japanese bookstore, Target, Walmart, CVS, or Busch’s grocery store.

Long after we have bought all the things we came for, and the children suddenly notice that I am no longer walking with them, they know where to find me. Mesmerized. Stammering. Strategizing lunches. Squealing over lunchboxes.

I confess.

I have a fetish for bento boxes. A fondness for tiffins. A weakness forTupperwares. Don’t get me started on lunchboxes.

click on link for more: http://www.annarbor.com/passions-pursuits/ode-to-bento-boxes-and-lunchboxes-for-back-to-school-perfection/Ode to bento boxes and lunchboxes for back to school perfection

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicago is the World » Showing off our many local treasures, the power of sharing our ideas | Adventures in Multicultural Living

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) National Convention was held in Detroit this month. I really wanted to attend, since it was home, but unfortunately I was not able to make it. Still, I watched from afar via Twitter, I saw my friends smiling in Twitpix, I connected people to each other via Facebook and email, I read newspaper articles online, and I even received a cellphone call that would have allowed me to listen in on one of the panels (if only I had not been driving at the time). It was a little surreal seeing a photograph in the Detroit Free Press of my real-life friends together with my virtual friends, not to mention hearing about the conversations they had because of my virtual introductions.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Showing off our many local treasures, the power of sharing our ideas | Adventures in Multicultural Living

Monday, August 29, 2011

AML: Showing off our many local treasures, the power of sharing our ideas - NAM EthnoBlog

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) National Convention was held in Detroit this month. I really wanted to attend, since it was home, but unfortunately I was not able to make it. Still, I watched from afar via Twitter, I saw my friends smiling in Twitpix, I connected people to each other via Facebook and email, I read newspaper articles online, and I even received a cellphone call that would have allowed me to listen in on one of the panels (if only I had not been driving at the time).

It was a little surreal seeing a photograph in the Detroit Free Press of my real-life friends together with my virtual friends, not to mention hearing about the conversations they had because of my virtual introductions.

click on link for more: Showing off our many local treasures, the power of sharing our ideas - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, August 28, 2011

AML: Showing off our many local treasures, the power of sharing our ideas | annarbor.com

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) National Convention was held in Detroit this month. I really wanted to attend, since it was home, but unfortunately I was not able to make it. Still, I watched from afar via Twitter, I saw my friends smiling in Twitpix, I connected people to each other via Facebook and email, I read newspaper articles online, and I even received a cellphone call that would have allowed me to listen in on one of the panels (if only I had not been driving at the time).

It was a little surreal seeing a photograph in the Detroit Free Press of my real-life friends together with my virtual friends, not to mention hearing about the conversations they had because of my virtual introductions.

click on link for more: Showing off our many local treasures, the power of sharing our ideas

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: From Band Camp to Ramadan - finding strength, skinniness and similarities | annarbor.com

t the annual Band Camp concert at Interlochen a few years ago, my friend Shih-yi joked, “This would be a good day to rob Ann Arbor. Half the town is here.”

After a summer of family time, it is quite the plunge back into the cold refreshing waters of school life up at Interlochen where (some configuration of) the Huron, Pioneer and Skyline bands, orchestras, and choirs perform every year after a week of band/orchestra/choir camp — not only for the children who are summoned by the bugle call at 6:30 every morning, but also for the parents and siblings who have not seen all the other parents and siblings all summer.

The Huron Music Association has a bus for folks to ride up to Interlochen so that we do not all have to drive, but I sort of like the drive. I load up Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra songs in my CD player or iPod and I sing at the top of my lungs for four hours up and four hours back.

Driving long distances alone makes me nervous (I am always — justifiably — worried that my car is not going to make it), but once I manage to make it there and back successfully, I find that I am recharged, revitalized, renewed.

There is something about going someplace new to see things from a new perspective.

click on link for more: From Band Camp to Ramadan - finding strength, skinniness and similarities

Monday, August 15, 2011

AML Finally finding time for church/temple in the space of summer - NAM EthnoBlog

A girlfriend who attends St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church once told me how invaluable that one hour a week every Sunday morning was for her, to sit, reflect, pray, and be alone. To hear her describe it, I wanted to go, too.

(I remember when my children were babies, the only time I was ever alone was three precious minutes a day in the shower — only the first half of the shower, mind you — before they invariably poked their heads in looking for me again.)

However, during the school year, I often find that temple is simply one thing too many for me to manage. During the school year, the children and I are so exhausted all the time, the roads are so long, the snow is so deep — that we never quite make it all the way across town to temple.

click on link for more: Finally finding time for church/temple in the space of summer - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Finally finding time for church/temple in the space of summer | annarbor.com

A girlfriend who attends St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church once told me how invaluable that one hour a week every Sunday morning was for her, to sit, reflect, pray, and be alone.

To hear her describe it, I wanted to go, too.

(I remember when my children were babies, the only time I was ever alone was three precious minutes a day in the shower — only the first half of the shower, mind you — before they invariably poked their heads in looking for me again.)

However, during the school year, I often find that temple is simply one thing too many for me to manage. During the school year, the children and I are so exhausted all the time, the roads are so long, the snow is so deep — that we never quite make it all the way across town to temple.

I know, I know, if I were a better person, I would find time to do it year-round like normal people. If it were higher on my priority list, I would make time for it like everyone else. Going to temple only once or twice year on holy days only (and late at that) is flimsy, tenuous, lame.

click on link for more: Finally finding time for church/temple in the space of summer

Friday, August 12, 2011

American Citizens for Justice: What people are saing at AAJA – Detroit, Michigan

The Asian American Journalists Association Convention takes place this week in Detroit. Here's what people are saying about the Vincent Chin case:

American Citizens for Justice: What people are saing at AAJA – Detroit, Michigan

AAJA, Detroit remember Vincent Chin « AAJA Voices 2011 – Detroit, Michigan

check out this picture of the panel from JozJozJoz Wang http://twitpic.com/64kscc

check out this picture of Helen Zia from Betty Ming Liu http://twitpic.com/64h3il

and here are some interesting resources about the Vincent Chin case from June: American Citizens for Justice: On the 29th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rhythms of the Season | InCultureParent

After a long trip away from home, one of the first things I always do upon our return is take all the kids to buy groceries at our favorite Chinese grocery store. I love watching them zip around, squealing as they load up our basket, “Ooooh! It’s been so long since we’ve had cong you bing!” “Xiao long bao! I want xiao long bao!” and “I haven’t seen this kind of zhu rou gan in soooooo long!”

At Tsai Grocery, the kids and I all know what and where everything is. There is none of the uncertainty that comes with travel and being in new and unfamiliar environs. Our tested and favorite brands are there where they always are. We recall our favorite dishes that we have missed all summer. We find comfort and grounding here among the steamed buns. We have not really come home until we replenish our pantry and cook our first meal together.

click here for more: Rhythms of the Season | InCultureParent

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chicago is the World » Thinking of peace at the Buddhist Toro Nagashi after the terrorist attack in Norway

Two weeks after the Obon Festival, a Buddhist holiday to remember and celebrate one’s ancestors, during which spirits are said to come home to visit the family for two weeks, comes the Toro Nagashi, a Buddhist ritual to send our visiting ancestors back on their way to the realm of the spirits.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Thinking of peace at the Buddhist Toro Nagashi after the terrorist attack in Norway

Monday, August 8, 2011

AML Thinking of peace at the Buddhist Toro Nagashi after the terrorist attack in Norway - NAM EthnoBlog

Two weeks after the Obon Festival, a Buddhist holiday to remember and celebrate one’s ancestors, during which spirits are said to come home to visit the family for two weeks, comes the Toro Nagashi, a Buddhist ritual to send our visiting ancestors back on their way to the realm of the spirits.

It is a beautiful ceremony, held at sunset at water’s edge, with Japanese American ladies in purple robes chanting, a Buddhist priest saying prayers, younger folks performing taiko drumming and song. Individual paper lanterns are dedicated to family members, lit, then towed out to sea by a small boat.

The ancestors who have been home visiting their families in the world of the living follow the bobbing lanterns down the river and out to sea, which helps them find their way back to the land of the spirits.

One could make a bad joke here that although we all like our relatives to visit, we do not like them to stay too long.

click on link for more: Thinking of peace at the Buddhist Toro Nagashi after the terrorist attack in Norway - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, August 7, 2011

AML Thinking of peace at the Buddhist Toro Nagashi after the terrorist attack in Norway

Two weeks after the Obon Festival, a Buddhist holiday to remember and celebrate one’s ancestors, during which spirits are said to come home to visit the family for two weeks, comes the Toro Nagashi, a Buddhist ritual to send our visiting ancestors back on their way to the realm of the spirits.

It is a beautiful ceremony, held at sunset at water’s edge, with Japanese American ladies in purple robes chanting, a Buddhist priest saying prayers, younger folks performing taiko drumming and song. Individual paper lanterns are dedicated to family members, lit, then towed out to sea by a small boat.

The ancestors who have been home visiting their families in the world of the living follow the bobbing lanterns down the river and out to sea, which helps them find their way back to the land of the spirits.

One could make a bad joke here that although we all like our relatives to visit, we do not like them to stay too long.

click here for more: Thinking of peace at the Buddhist Toro Nagashi after the terrorist attack in Norway:

Monday, August 1, 2011

AML Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class - NAM EthnoBlog

When my teenage daughter, Hao Hao, started rowing crew for Huron High School, the president of the crew parents’ group recommended that we parents also get involved by rowing with the Ann Arbor Rowing Club. I thought he was nuts.

click on link for more: Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class - NAM EthnoBlog

Chicago is the World » Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class

When my teenage daughter, Hao Hao, started rowing crew for Huron High School, the president of the crew parents’ group recommended that we parents also get involved by rowing with the Ann Arbor Rowing Club. I thought he was nuts.

Hard enough to take a child to and from five crew practices a week, how was I supposed to find time to add in my own practices as well? Still, the group of parents who also rowed looked pretty cool at 5 a.m., dressed in their own red and black spandex outfits, unloading the boats alongside the kids.

Yet here I am, climbing into an outrigger canoe at 7:15 in the morning.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class | AnnArbor.com

When my teenage daughter, Hao Hao, started rowing crew for Huron High School, the president of the crew parents’ group recommended that we parents also get involved by rowing with the Ann Arbor Rowing Club. I thought he was nuts.

Hard enough to take a child to and from five crew practices a week, how was I supposed to find time to add in my own practices as well? Still, the group of parents who also rowed looked pretty cool at 5 a.m., dressed in their own red and black spandex outfits, unloading the boats alongside the kids.

Yet here I am, climbing into an outrigger canoe at 7:15 in the morning.

Hao Hao took a course called “Recreational Paddling” last summer, and I happily drove her down every morning, watched the canoes take off, then sat in the car writing on my laptop until they returned. A bad shoulder saved me from all the friendly, “Why don’t you join us?”

Unfortunately, my shoulder got better.

click on link for more: Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicago is the World » Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

A few years ago at Ann Arbor Art Fair, the police had gotten tipped off that our most notorious photographer, Harvey, (who has also photographed Chicago) was planning a big photo shoot of several nudes in front of the State Theater. The police were waiting when Harvey arrived with his models. Harvey and the crowd were indignant, shouting, “It’s tradition!” (for Harvey to take a photo every year during Art Fair).

The police were unimpressed with their protests.

This year, the news that comes in with Art Fair is that Borders is really closing. Not just bankruptcy, which we had convinced ourselves was a temporary legal maneuver, but it is really closing. Liquidating. Even the downtown store is up for lease.

When I read the news about Borders, my 15-year-old daughter Hao Hao shouted, “NOOOOOO!” pause, “I have to post it on Facebook.”"

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

Monday, July 25, 2011

AML Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go - NAM EthnoBlog

A few years ago at Ann Arbor Art Fair, the police had gotten tipped off that our most notorious photographer, Harvey, was planning a big photo shoot of several nudes in front of the State Theater. The police were waiting when Harvey arrived with his models. Harvey and the crowd were indignant, shouting, “It’s tradition!” (for Harvey to take a photo every year during Art Fair).

The police were unimpressed with their protests.

This year, the news that comes in with Art Fair is that Borders is really closing. Not just bankruptcy, which we had convinced ourselves was a temporary legal maneuver, but it is really closing.

click on link for more: Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

AML Unstructured summer fun and discovery versus Tiger Mothering | AnnArbor.com

Eleven-year-old Niu Niu and 7-year-old Little Brother are trying to build a raft with papyrus stems, like ancient times, in case they ever have to escape a war by crossing a rushing river in the dead of night by strapping together logs they fell on the side of the river.

After struggling for some time roping the “logs” together with string, Niu Niu declares, “String is too hard, this would be easier with duct tape.”

Off to the garage she goes. Back she comes with a roll of duct tape on her arm. Raft completed in two minutes. It floats!

So much for figuring out ancient skills.

click on link for more: Unstructured summer fun and discovery versus Tiger Mothering

Thursday, July 21, 2011

AML Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

A few years ago at Ann Arbor Art Fair, the police had gotten tipped off that our most notorious photographer, Harvey, was planning a big photo shoot of several nudes in front of the State Theater. The police were waiting when Harvey arrived with his models. Harvey and the crowd were indignant, shouting, “It’s tradition!” (for Harvey to take a photo every year during Art Fair).

The police were unimpressed with their protests.

This year, the news that comes in with Art Fair is that Borders is really closing. Not just bankruptcy, which we had convinced ourselves was a temporary legal maneuver, but it is really closing. Liquidating. Even the downtown store is up for lease.

When I read the news about Borders, my 15-year-old daughter Hao Hao shouted, “NOOOOOO!” pause, “I have to post it on Facebook.”
She cannot imagine an Ann Arbor without Borders — it’s tradition — but the Michigan economy is equally unimpressed with her protests.

When I first moved to Ann Arbor, there was only one cafe (Espresso Royale on State Street, and Borders was only one store.

But what a store it was.

click on link for more: Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

AML Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.” “That was you, not too long ago.” (Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.”)

I love listening to music at big outdoor summer events like Madcat Ruth at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park or George Bedard and the Kingpins at Grillin’ for Food Gatherers.

click on link for more: Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

Monday, July 18, 2011

AML Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.” “That was you, not too long ago.” (Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.”)

I love listening to music at big outdoor summer events like Madcat Ruth at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park or George Bedard and the Kingpins at Grillin’ for Food Gatherers.

click on link for more: Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, July 17, 2011

AML Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festival

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.”
“That was you, not too long ago.”

(Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.”)

I love listening to music at big outdoor summer events like Madcat Ruth at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park or George Bedard and the Kingpins at Grillin’ for Food Gatherers.

There is always an older couple dancing close on the side, cute little kids in sandals hopping all around. Perhaps the Internet has ruined my ability to concentrate for long periods of time, but I like the openness, the casualness, the fresh breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees.

click on link for more: Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festival

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

I don't normally share writing advice, but this is too good not to share:

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk
Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspire by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal…

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

Ten rules for writing fiction(part two) | Books | guardian.co.uk

Some fabulous advice from Lee and Low Books' Tu Books Editorial Director, Stacy Whitman, on writing cross-culturally (good for living cross-culturally too)
Stacy Whitman's Grimoire » Beyond Orcs and Elves, part 3

if your kids have already finished all the reading programs at the library and all the bookstores, here's a diversity YA reading challenge, with a chance to win a huge pack of great books
Diversify Your Reading Challenge Prizes | Diversity in YA www.diversityinya.com

All this introspection is inspired by the surprising amount of commentary generated by my most recent article. I never expected folks would be so attached to Mickey Rooney.

Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color

AML: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color - NAM EthnoBlog

While looking for light reading material for a recent airplane ride, I grabbed a pink book with a naked male torso that I vaguely recalled picking up at the King School Book Fair for 50 cents. I read the back cover, I read the first page, I randomly flipped through the book, and I could conjure up no memory of actually having read the book, so I stuck it into my carry-on, well within my 22-pound limit.

Although I usually prefer writers like Richard Rodriguez and Andrew Lam, not to mention Literature with a capital L, it’s summer, it’s an airplane, and I want something light and easy and with a happy ending. I have an equally embarrassing secret weakness for watching bad romantic comedies on the plane this time of year, too. (I was sorely disappointed to realize at 35,000 feet that I had indeed read this book before, but it was so terrible that I could not remember how it turned out, so I had to read it all the way to the end a second painful time).

Summer is the season for light romantic comedies, and because there typically are no Asians cast or written into these stories, I can, ironically, go “off-duty” regarding race and culture for a moment and indulge myself in the great American illusion that the white experience is “universal.” It can actually be extra-hurtful to accidentally encounter an "Asian" character (like Mickey Rooney's character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") when I am in this mode because I thought I was safe.

click on link for more: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, July 10, 2011

AML: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color | AnnArbor.com

While looking for light reading material for a recent airplane ride, I grabbed a pink book with a naked male torso that I vaguely recalled picking up at the King School Book Fair for 50 cents. I read the back cover, I read the first page, I randomly flipped through the book, and I could conjure up no memory of actually having read the book, so I stuck it into my carry-on, well within my 22-pound limit.

Although I usually prefer writers like Richard Rodriguez and Andrew Lam, not to mention Literature with a capital L, it’s summer, it’s an airplane, and I want something light and easy and with a happy ending. I have an equally embarrassing secret weakness for watching bad romantic comedies on the plane this time of year, too.

(I was sorely disappointed to realize at 35,000 feet that I had indeed read this book before, but it was so terrible that I could not remember how it turned out, so I had to read it all the way to the end a second painful time).

Summer is the season for light romantic comedies, and because there typically are no Asians cast or written into these stories, I can, ironically, go “off-duty” regarding race and culture for a moment and indulge myself in the great American illusion that the white experience is “universal.” It can actually be extra-hurtful to accidentally encounter an "Asian" character (like Mickey Rooney's character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") when I am in this mode because I thought I was safe.

click on link for more: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance | InCultureParent

We went to the Obon Dance at the Puna Hongwanji tonight. I love first walking up to the temple grounds, totally transformed by the strings of lanterns glowing in the night, the tall yagura platform calling everyone’s attention to the circle.

It is always great watching the elegant old ladies from the Japanese dance schools in their matching kimonos and perfectly coifed hair lead the way, their hands so graceful, their faces so calm. (Calm because they know that they know all the steps!) The little girls, of course, in their pink and red and Hello Kitty yukata with the big chiffon bows and their hair all full of flowers and curls are utterly meltingly adorable. The energy of the rambunctious Dharma School boys is infectious, with their matching Dharma School hapi coats and headbands, as they half dance half kung fu each other, the flashing red lights in their shoes syncopating their best moves. The YBA teens in tank tops and cut-off jeans move in packs, either gossiping and squealing by the food booths or running and jumping right into the middle of the circle, the boys energetically showing off for the girls. The favorite dances are obvious, the crowd surges when those start, everyone shouting chorus and response.

click on link for more: Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance | InCultureParent

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chicago is the World » Adventures in Multicultural Living: Bollywood flash mob dance performance surprises Ann Arbor Summer Festival

My mom once emailed me a link to the most amazing YouTube video —A Random Act of Culture sponsored by the Knight Foundation: Handel’s Messiah unexpectedly and apparently spontaneously performed by 650 opera singers disguised as normal people in a beautiful Christmas setting in Philadelphia.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Adventures in Multicultural Living: Bollywood flash mob dance performance surprises Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Sunday, July 3, 2011

AML Balancing old and new traditions for family and community at Fourth of July and Ann Arbor Summer Festival

When my seven-year-old son, Little Brother, came home from school and said that his first grade class would be talking about family traditions the next day, his older sisters all simultaneously said, “Uh oh.”

Because our family talks about traditions a lot more than “normal” people, his sisters jokingly call a lot of things “tradition” that are not really traditions in the normal sense. However, because Little Brother is so little, he cannot always tell when his sisters are joking. What if he thinks these are real traditions and tells his classmates about them?

For example, whenever Hao Hao does anything that bothers her older sister M — including going into her room and sitting on her bed and reading her books, she insists that she has to do it because, “It’s tradition!” Whenever anyone breaks out into song and dance, the stated reason is always because, “It’s tradition!”

Every Friday night we have dumplings for dinner before Chinese School. Is it because Mommy is too tired to cook on Friday nights? No, it is because, “It’s tradition!”

M always argues back, “It’s not a tradition just because you say it is.”

click on link for more: Balancing old and new traditions for family and community at Fourth of July and Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Friday, July 1, 2011

“East Asian Celebration: Kites & Characters” at Top of the Park Tuesday

From our friends at the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies and Center for Japanese Studies and Confucius Institute:

Please join us for language and cultural activities at “East Asian Celebration: Kites & Characters” at Top of the Park! The event details are listed below. Please see the attached flyer for more information, and feel free to pass along to families who may be interested.

“East Asian Celebration: Kites & Characters”
Tuesday, July 5th, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
KidZone Activity Tent at Top of the Park
Kids of all ages welcome!
Note: Top of the Park is located at Ingall’s Mall (on Washington between S. Thayer & Fletcher) on UM’s Central Campus, Ann Arbor. The KidZone tent is located nearest the Michigan League.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chicago is the World » Adventures in Multicultural Living: End of the school year brings summer travels, moving away and international friendships

As the fifth graders processed into the auditorium under the brightly colored pink, blue, orange and green arches (swimming noodles held aloft) for the final end-of-school assembly, the whole school applauded. Congratulations! Fifth grade graduation!

So heartbroken by the other big goodbye we were also facing this day, goodbye to a much-beloved principal being transferred to another school, I had actually forgotten that today was a day of celebration. I was there to see the going-away video the teachers and students had made for him, sad, so sad, to see him go.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Adventures in Multicultural Living: End of the school year brings summer travels, moving away and international friendships:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Frances Wang and Emil Guillermo on WORT Radio Tuesday

I'm going to be on the radio, WORT 89.9 FM in Madison, Wisconsin, "A Public Affair," Tuesday at 12:00 with journalist Emil Guillermo (emilamok.com) and host Cynthia Lin talking about the Vincent Chin case (including Emil's recent phone call to Ronald Ebens). listen live and email in questions.

WORT 89.9FM Community Radio Station: Madison, Wisconsin
www.wort-fm.org

Update: They played Bao Phi's "Brother" during the show. Cool!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

AML End of the school year - summer travels, moving away and international (and cross-country) friendships | AnnArbor.com

As the fifth graders processed into the auditorium under the brightly colored pink, blue, orange and green arches (swimming noodles held aloft) for the final end-of-school assembly, the whole school applauded. Congratulations! Fifth grade graduation!

So heartbroken by the other big goodbye we were also facing this day, goodbye to a much-beloved principal being transferred to another school, I had actually forgotten that today was a day of celebration. I was there to see the going-away video the teachers and students had made for him, sad, so sad, to see him go.

It was a relief to watch him wind up the year by asking all the kids to close their eyes and raise their hands if they had tried their best in reading and math this year, and it was heartening to hear the fifth grade graduation speaker reflect on the many lessons learned in his long years here.

It is the end of the school year, and everyone is beginning to leave for the summer, especially many international families I know. Summer is the time to go “home” to visit parents and grandparents, time to attend weddings and family reunions, time for kids to hone their language skills while playing with cousins, time for study abroad and “Loveboat” trips for the teenagers and college-aged.

The end of the school year is also the time we suddenly discover that friends are moving away, sometimes for a year or two, sometimes for forever. Every day the children and I attend another going-away party, birthday party, end of the school year party, barbeque, ice cream social, picnic.

click on link for more: End of the school year - summer travels, moving away and international (and cross-country) friendships

Saturday, June 25, 2011

AML Resisting 'Slacktivism,' Remembering Vincent Chin, and Singing with Joe Reilly - NAM EthnoBlog

I recently interviewed for a job launching a new online literary magazine about literature and social justice activism. (The interview did not go so well, but...) What a great idea to link the glamour of novelists and poets with the purpose of social justice activism. This gives literature more weight and meaning, and gives activism more color and style.

Otherwise, social justice activism can be such a downer sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong. I am on the Advisory Board of American Citizens for Justice, the original Asian American civil rights nonprofit formed after the baseball beating death of Vincent Chin 29 years ago today.

click on link for more: Resisting 'Slacktivism,' Remembering Vincent Chin, and Singing with Joe Reilly - NAM EthnoBlog

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicago is the World » How the Vincent Chin case continues to resonate after 29 years

Before I came to Michigan for graduate school, the only thing I knew about Michigan was that it was where Vincent Chin was killed. My parents’ Japanese-American neighbors warned me to sell my father’s Toyota 4Runner and buy a Ford Bronco. I asked about safety as much as I did about academics before I decided to come.

This year marks the 29th anniversary of the baseball bat beating that caused the death of Vincent Chin. Unfortunately, with the recession and rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, the case is even more relevant than ever.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » How the Vincent Chin case continues to resonate after 29 years

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On the 29th Anniversary of Vincent Chin’s Murder


Interesting links on the 29th anniversary of the baseball beating death of Vincent Chin:

How the Vincent Chin case continues to resonate after 29 years, by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for Chicago is the World, June 23, 2011
http://chicagoistheworld.org/2011/06/how-the-vincent-chin-case-continues-to-resonate-after-29-years/

Crime Without Punishment: Why the Death of Vincent Chin Resonates Today by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang in InCultureParent.com
http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/05/5009/

Vincent Chin? Remembering Ronald Ebens-the guy who got away with murder by Emil Guillermo at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:
http://aaldef.org/blog/vincent-chin-remembering-ronald-ebens-the-guy-who-got-away-with-murder.html

On Anniversary of Vincent Chin’s Murder, CAPAC Members Denounce Explosion of Anti-Chinese Rhetoric in Campaign Ads
http://capac.chu.house.gov/news/press-releases/2011/06/on-anniversary-of-vincent-chins-murder-capac-members-denounce-explosion-of-anti-chinese-rhetoric-in.shtml


Vincent Who? goes online; limited time offer to view for free by Curtis Chin at APAs for Progress:
http://www.apaforprogress.org/vincent-who-goes-online-limited-time-offer-view-free

Remember Vincent Chin Vigil 6/23/11
http://remembervc.tumblr.com/

remember vincent chin vigil, june 23, on angryasianman.com
http://blog.angryasianman.com/2011/06/remember-vincent-chin-vigil-june-23.html

In Retrospect: Who Killed Vincent Chin? AAJA Conference Panel in Detroit, August 2011
http://www.aaja.org/programs/convention2011detroit/panels/

Advancing Justice Conference coming up in San Francisco, October 2011
http://www.advancingjustice.org/conference/2011/index.php

“Asian Pacifically New York,” a Photo Exhibit by Corky Lee
http://chapters.aaja.org/NewYork/?p=995

Vincent Chin by Model Minority on Channel APA Music
http://www.channelapa.com/2011/06/vincent-chin-by-model-minority.html

Edward Hong HanSarang Day 6: Remember Vincent Chin Poem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_dH-3-F5Lk

Plaque honoring murdered Asian man, Vincent Chin, unveiled in Ferndale
http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/oakland_county/plaque-honoring-murdered-man-unveiled-in-ferndale


"Groom-to-be clubbed to death" video by Richard Lui on CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/crime/2009/05/28/lui.vincent.chin.cnn.html

Remembering Vincent Chin, Detroit News Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68k0R3uJoRg


Adventures in Multicultural Living column: Resisting 'slacktivism,' remembering Vincent Chin, and singing with Joe Reilly by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang in annarbor.com and newamericamedia.org
http://annarbor.com/entertainment/parenting/resisting-slacktivism-remembering-vincent-chin-and-singing-with-joe-reillysocial-justice-and-environ/


Mark your calendars for the thirtieth anniversary next year with American Citizens for Justice, June 23, 2012, Chinese Community Center, Madison Heights, Michigan.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AML Being Surprised by the Lunar Calendar, Dragon Boat Festival, and the Sudden Maturity of Our Children - NAM EthnoBlog

The tricky thing about using a lunar calendar is that if you are not paying attention — or if you have not properly aligned your lunar calendar with your regular planner — holidays and festivals can sneak up on you unawares. The big holidays are easy. Lunar New Year’s is usually in January or February. The Mid-Autumn Moon festival is in, well, autumn.

click on link for more: Being Surprised by the Lunar Calendar, Dragon Boat Festival, and the Sudden Maturity of Our Children - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, June 19, 2011

AML Resisting "slacktivism," remembering Vincent Chin, and singing with Joe Reilly, social justice and environmental activism and the arts

I recently interviewed for a job launching a new online literary magazine about literature and social justice activism. (The interview did not go so well, but...) What a great idea to link the glamour of novelists and poets with the purpose of social justice activism. This gives literature more weight and meaning, and gives activism more color and style.

Otherwise, social justice activism can be such a downer sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong. I am on the Advisory Board of American Citizens for Justice, the original Asian American civil rights nonprofit formed after the baseball beating death of Vincent Chin 29 years ago today.

I am involved with many other nonprofit organizations. I lecture about civil rights and activism. I know this stuff is important.

However, I also get hundreds of emails in my inbox every day, thousands of tweets on my Twitter feed and more posts than I can deal with on Facebook and Linkedin. Sometimes I simply do not want to click on that link, open that email, read that news clip that I know is going to be bad news.

click on link for more: Resisting "slacktivism," remembering Vincent Chin, and singing with Joe Reilly, social justice and environmental activism and the arts

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vincent Who? goes online; limited time offer to view for free | apaforprogress.org

from Curtis Chin and APAP:

To honor the 29th anniversary of the death of Vincent Chin (June 23, 2011), an online version of "Vincent Who?" can be viewed for free. This limited-time offer (until the end of July 2011) is brought to you by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) and the producers of "Vincent Who?" via a new website: vincentwhomovie.com.


Vincent Who? goes online; limited time offer to view for free | apaforprogress.org

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CAECC Spring Festival - A Chinese Nutcracker | Arborweb.com

Chinese New Year performance in April? I was confused, but Auntie Ning explained that the Chinese American Educational and Cultural Center (CAECC) Spring Festival event was going to be like a "Chinese Nutcracker," a showcase of different performances--dance, music, martial arts, yo-yo--organized around a storyline to meld various Chinese New Year rites, beliefs, customs, and traditions. This was going to be much more than an ordinary variety show or dance recital. This was going to be a story.

One of Ann Arbor's oldest Chinese cultural associations, CAECC, directed now by Chen-Oi Chin, is back on the scene after several years of quiet. Founded in 1976, it offers educational outreach and Chinese cultural classes like dance and martial arts to the community.

click on link for more: CAECC Spring Festival - A Chinese Nutcracker

Sunday, June 12, 2011

AML: Pondering picnic food - 'normal' and not - and its power to bring us together | Annarbor.com

While cleaning up after our annual Memorial Day potluck picnic barbecue, my daughter Hao Hao asked, “Who brought the potato salad? That was random.”

A lifetime of mayonnaise angst flashed through my head and I explained, “Actually, potato salad is a pretty normal thing to bring to picnics.”

“Really?” She had never even noticed.

I think she associates potato salad with Easter, since that is the only time I ever make it. With four children, we always end up dying a lot of Easter eggs, so that translates into a lot of potato salad (inevitably multicolored) in the days following — usually so much that we cannot even bear to think about it again until the following Easter.

I recall the many family picnics we have had in Gallup Park and the fun of preparing Spam musubi, onigiri, inari sushi, edamame, teriyaki chicken. Watching for rain, I start cooking early in the morning, pack everything up into beautiful big bento boxes, throw in our much-loved Hello Kitty picnicware and our trusty Nepalese picnic blanket, and hop onto our bikes for a day at the park.

This isn’t what other people bring to picnics? What is normal picnic food?

click on link for more: Pondering picnic food - 'normal' and not - and its power to bring us together

Saturday, June 11, 2011

AML Lunar Calendar, Dragon Boat Festival, Graduation | RainbowKids.com

on voices of adoption at Rainbowkids.com:

Being surprised by the lunar calendar, dragon boat festival, and the sudden maturity of our children--Adventures in Multicultural Living

click on link for more: http://www.rainbowkids.com/ExpertArticleDetails.aspx?id=382&title=Being%20surprised%20by%20the%20lunar%20calendar,%20dragon%20boat%20festival,%20

Sunday, June 5, 2011

AML Being surprised by the lunar calendar, dragon boat festival, and the sudden maturity of our children | AnnArbor.com

The tricky thing about using a lunar calendar is that if you are not paying attention, or if you have not properly aligned your lunar calendar with your regular planner, holidays and festivals can sneak up on you unawares.

The big holidays are easy. Lunar New Year’s is usually in January or February. The Mid-Autumn Moon festival is in, well, autumn.

However, the secondary holidays, like duanwujie (dragon boat festival) which is sometime in June or July, I sometimes (ok, often) forget until suddenly I turn the corner and am unexpectedly awash in zongzi, those delicious pyramids of sticky rice bundled into ti leaves and tied with string), an unexpected seasonal delight. For a few miraculous days, zongzi appear on our doorstep, arrive as gifts, show up scrawled onto the Chinese menu, are sold as fundraisers.

click on link for more Being surprised by the lunar calendar, dragon boat festival, and the sudden maturity of our children

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Mini-Maker Faire - arborweb.com

The first time my children and I attended the Mini-Maker Faire, we were greeted at the entrance by two young men in silk vests and top hats. They doffed their hats and bowed with a flourish I have not seen since my last Renaissance fair a very long time ago.

As we walked further, we were greeted again by several robots--some that looked humanoid, others that did not, all blinking and beeping and talking and rolling around a large circle. One two-foot-high red robot was a real smart aleck, rolling right up to people, bumping into their shoes, and making wisecracks. The audience gathered close; the robot handlers stayed hidden in the crowd.

click on link for more The Mini-Maker Faire - arborweb.com

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chicago is the World » “Why I write for ethnic media,” Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

My column just got picked up by a Chicago new ethnic media blog thanks to Stephen Franklin who promises a box and a regular spot. Cool! I've sent him a better, less pixelated picture. Neat website. Check it out!

click on link to see: Chicago is the World » “Why I write for ethnic media,” Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crime Without Punishment: Why the Death of Vincent Chin Resonates Today | InCultureParent

Before I came to Michigan for graduate school, the only thing I knew about Michigan was that it was where Vincent Chin was killed. My parents’ Japanese-American neighbors warned me to sell my father’s Toyota 4Runner and buy a Ford Bronco. I asked about safety as much as I did about academics before I decided to come.

This year marks the 29th anniversary of the baseball bat beating that caused the death of Vincent Chin. Unfortunately, with the recession and rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, the case is even more relevant than ever.

click on link for more: Crime Without Punishment: Why the Death of Vincent Chin Resonates Today | InCultureParent

Sunday, May 29, 2011

AML: The importance of ethnic new media for filling out the conversation

As my children scurry around excitedly before our neighborhood’s annual Memorial Day Parade—decorating their bikes, finding bags for the candy the Girl Scouts will throw, thinking about doughnuts in the park, planning to barbeque with friends afterwards — I remind them to be respectful, that Memorial Day is not just about the parade, that it is actually a very somber occasion, one that honors the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedom in America, and that although we do not glorify war, their great-grandfathers and grandfathers were all in the military.

Yet, every year when parade organizers ask if I want to bring a group of Chinese School kids to march or lion dance in the parade, I hesitate. I worry. I agree only if I can get a big group of parents to walk with the kids, as security, just in case someone thinks people who look like us do not belong.

Of course, I know that people who look like us do belong. My grandfather trained in Texas (with Connie Chung’s dad!) and flew alongside General Chennault’s Flying Tigers during the Sino-Japanese War. Another friend’s father was a South Vietnamese medic during the Vietnam War who took care of wounded U.S. servicemen.

click on link for more The importance of ethnic new media for filling out the conversation

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

AML Explore the richness of the Asian Pacific American experience with literature and the arts

Asian American writer Lisa Yee, author of Millicent Min Girl Genius, recently wrote an article for parentdish.com about how her mother instilled in her a love of reading. She opened by recollecting the books she and her mother read together:

“When I was little, my mother and I had a nighttime ritual. After my bath, when I was zipped into my pink footie pajamas, she'd sit on the bed and read to me. Mom's voice wrapped me up in fairy tales about princesses beset by trolls, a monkey named George and the adventures of Madeline who resided in an "old house in Paris that was covered in vines.”


When my daughter Hao Hao read the introduction (over my shoulder, as always), she said, "I know all those books." Then we joked that if she wrote a similar article someday, it would read, "My mom read me Ed Young, Allen Say, Laurence Yep, Grace Lin, Lisa Yee, Linda Sue Park..."

click on link for more Explore the richness of the Asian Pacific American experience with literature and the arts

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Challenging stereotypes and defensiveness regarding the Geronimo codename and the Paper Tiger

Seven-year-old Little Brother came home recently wearing a spiffy new Cleveland Indians baseball cap with a bright red Chief Wahoo embroidered on it. A gift.
He was so happy to have this special gift from special friends.

But Chief Wahoo? Seriously? Still?

I did not want to criticize the friends who gave it to him — nice, well-meaning folks who know nothing about the controversy surrounding the use of Native American caricatures as mascots.

Caught between the conflicting desires to honor this friendship and not perpetuate harmful stereotypes, I let Little Brother wear the cap around the house for a few days until the newness wore off and then let nature take its course — the cap got swallowed up and disappeared somewhere in the mess that is our house.

Then we went to the library and read about real Native Americans to gently supplant that stereotype in his young mind.

A week later, the message that Osama bin Laden had been killed came across the news, “Geronimo E-KIA” (“Enemy-Killed in Action”).

Again. Disbelief. Geronimo? Seriously? Today?

click on link for more Challenging stereotypes and defensiveness regarding the Geronimo codename and the Paper Tiger

Monday, May 9, 2011

AML: Citizenship questions on Mother's Day for President Obama, Wong Kim Ark, Superman and the 'birthers' - NAM EthnoBlog

My oldest daughter was almost born in Thailand. I was living in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the time, and the closest western hospitals were a day’s flight away in Bangkok. I loved cruising Bangkok Chinatown, and I thought that would be a fun way to spend a month, hanging out, waiting for the blessed event.
My mother said absolutely not. I had to go home to deliver the baby so that the child would be a U.S. citizen.

click on link for more Citizenship questions on Mother's Day for President Obama, Wong Kim Ark, Superman and the 'birthers' - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Citizenship questions on Mother's Day for President Obama, Wong Kim Ark, Superman and the 'birthers'

My oldest daughter was almost born in Thailand. I was living in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the time, and the closest western hospitals were a day’s flight away in Bangkok. I loved cruising Bangkok Chinatown, and I thought that would be a fun way to spend a month, hanging out, waiting for the blessed event.

My mother said absolutely not. I had to go home to deliver the baby so that the child would be a U.S. citizen.

I tried to explain to my mother that the child of two U.S. citizens is automatically a U.S. citizen, no matter where she is born. Even the child of one U.S. citizen is a citizen. I had already checked with the U.S. Embassy.

“What do they know?” was my mother’s response.

And the kicker, “What if your child wants to be president of the United States one day?”

I thought my mother was needlessly worried, but since it was the Christmas season, it was just as easy to go home to California and have the baby among family and friends (and presents). Of course my mother was right.

Now, after President Barack Obama has released his long-form birth certificate to prove yet again that he is a natural-born citizen — which is still not enough to assuage the "birthers" — I see, once again, that my mother is always right. (Happy Mother’s Day!)

click on link for more Citizenship questions on Mother's Day for President Obama, Wong Kim Ark, Superman and the 'birthers'

Thursday, May 5, 2011

AML Mother’s Day in Mandarin at the Chinese Speech Tournament | InCultureParent

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 Mother’s Day in Mandarin at the Chinese Speech Tournament | InCultureParent

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Speaking at the EPA today May 4

Speaking at the EPA today for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month on The Multiethnic Nature of Hawaii. Funny, when we picked the topic a few weeks ago, I was worried about being relevant. Today, I will start with the opening video from President Obama's speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. Talk about relevant! With some comments along the way about the Geronimo code name...

Can't find the embed codes, but here's the url to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9mzJhvC-8E

My article about the birth certificate "controversy?" coming this Sunday at annarbor.com.

Thanks to friends at the EPA!

Monday, May 2, 2011

AML The power of pancit: Try something new during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month - NAM EthnoBlog

My children recently had steamed broccoli for the first time. Confronted with an entire head of soft green mush, they did not really know what to do with it, so they smiled politely and pushed it around on their plates. One of my daughters confided in me later, “Now I know why other kids don’t like broccoli.”

click on link for more The power of pancit: Try something new during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Adventures of Multicultural Living: The power of pancit: Try something new during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

My children recently had steamed broccoli for the first time.

Confronted with an entire head of soft green mush, they did not really know what to do with it, so they smiled politely and pushed it around on their plates.

One of my daughters confided in me later, “Now I know why other kids don’t like broccoli.”

As a child, I never understood why other kids did not like broccoli either. Or spinach. The first time I had spinach that had been cooked to death, I remember grieving, “What did that poor spinach ever do to anybody?”

I was embarrassed and felt like such an oddball for being the only kid in the world who wished her mother would make broccoli or spinach more often — crisp and bright, stir-fried quickly in just a shimmer of oil and a splash of salt.

Those other kids had no idea how lucky they were to have mere broccoli and spinach as their foes, when I knew the real dishes to face down were suen (bamboo shoots) and xue li hong (red in the snow preserved vegetable), which my mother once cooked every night for a month until I learned to love them (or at least swallow without grimacing).

click on link for more: The power of pancit: Try something new during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Monday, April 25, 2011

AML Selections from the smorgasbord of spring celebrations, learning from Passover and Black Day - NAM EthnoBlog

In fifth grade, my class held a Passover dinner as part of our unit on Exodus. Exodus was a big deal then, with Charlton Heston starring in the “Ten Commandments” rerunning every year on television, so we knew the story well (that and “Gone with the Wind”).

click on link for more: Selections from the smorgasbord of spring celebrations, learning from Passover and Black Day - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Selections from the smorgasbord of spring celebrations, learning from Passover and Black Day

In fifth grade, my class held a Passover dinner as part of our unit on Exodus. Exodus was a big deal then, with Charlton Heston starring in the “Ten Commandments” rerunning every year on television, so we knew the story well (that and “Gone with the Wind”).

I remember baking the unleavened bread and marveling at how flat it was. I had only ever had Wonder Bread at that point and was unfamiliar with the concepts of crust and crumb. I remember mixing the bitter herbs in a bowl, the pungent smell of them, and serving a small spoonful to each student and parent at our long table. We each held a small piece of paper with our lines, our prayers, our questions.

Since I attended a Catholic school, I am sure we held our Passover dinner on Holy Thursday to tie it into the Last Supper, and I am sure this unit segued right into Easter. I do not remember being taught that Passover was a living tradition, that there were still Jewish people and that Jewish people still celebrated Passover.

In my child’s mind, Passover was something the Israelites did right after they escaped from Egypt with Charlton Heston. My image of it stayed in ancient times.

click on link for more Selections from the smorgasbord of spring celebrations, learning from Passover and Black Day

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fire Performance by Zero Kazama at Aeon Blaze | 8Asians Events

My friend Zero Kazama just invited me to a rave?!!! I feel so cool. He is organizing this electronic music event as a benefit for kidspeace.org, and will be performing...with fire. He is so cool. If you're in the LA area, check it out.

From 8Asians: Fire Performance by Zero Kazama at Aeon Blaze | 8Asians Events:

Zero Kazama is a Japanese-American actor best known for hosting the MTV game show Silent Library. He has also been on many other prominent television programs such as Lost, Chuck and Deadliest Warrior.

Zero is trained in Kung fu, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, fight choreography, and firedancing. Check out a rare firedancing performance by Zero at Aeon Blaze, an Electronic Dance Music Event to benefit a great charity for kids, found at www.kidspeace.org and Dance For a Cause!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dawen sings "Take off your shoes"

This is too good. Must be shared all around. The ultra talented and super nice R&B singer-songwriter Dawen's new song, "Take off your shoes." Thanks to taiwaneseamerican.org for posting! For more information re Dawen, go to dawen.us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Lessons from Taiwan Bangzi Company's Chinese Opera adaptation of Merchant of Venice, "Bond" - AnnArbor.com

The Taiwan Bangzi Company was in town this past week with their Henan Chinese opera adaptation of “The Merchant of Venice” called “Bond.”

I always love Chinese opera once I am there, but I have to drag myself in there because in my mind Chinese opera is categorized as “good for me.” Chinese opera is beautiful, stylized, and rich with meaning; but it is also layered with interpretation and code. My children wriggle their fingers at each other in the kitchen to show how Chinese opera singers represent anger.

But for “Merchant of Venice.”

I also love Shakespeare, but, again, resist it somewhat because it also falls into the “good for me” category. The language is beautiful, the meaning is not easy or obvious. My sixth-grade daughter Niu Niu recites, then laughs, “No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.”

So the children and I leave the beautiful spring sunshine and rush into the cool darkness of Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre just before curtain where we meet under new names Bassanio, Antonio, Portia, Gratiano, Nerissa of medieval Cathay; and the (presumably pre-Islam) Saracen Shylock from distant deserts. I whisper a steady stream of plot and dialogue into seven-year-old Little Brother’s ear because he cannot yet read the supertitles.

click on link for more Lessons from Taiwan Bangzi Company's Chinese Opera adaptation of Merchant of Venice, "Bond" - AnnArbor.com

AML Seeking the wisdom of our elders, including legendary civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs - Voices of Adoption RainbowKids.com

I was amused when Asian American filmmaker and keynote speaker Koji Sakai introduced himself to the Asian/Pacific Islander American High School Conference at the University of Michigan as an "old person," from the time of the dinosaurs (complete with dinosaur graphic).

He was born in 1977.

click on link for more Adventures in Multicultural Living Seeking the wisdom of our elders, including legendary civil rights activist and author Grace Lee Boggs

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weak in the Knees: Revisiting the “Nice Chinese Boy”_Orgasmic_百度空间

Today is Black Day. Found my old "Weak in the Knees" article reprinted on two sites called hi.baidu.com/orgasmic/blog and yellowvirile.com. I'm not sure I know how I feel about that. Yellowvirile.com seems to be a dead blog, but it is full of Asian stud cheesecake pictures well worth a gander.

Weak in the Knees: Revisiting the “Nice Chinese Boy”_Orgasmic_百度空间

Yellow Virile » Taking an appreciative second look at Beautiful Asian Men

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AML: BBC show looking for Tiger Mother would have been disappointed in our chai-museum-library routine - NAM EthnoBlog

I got a call from the BBC last month looking for an Asian American family to take in two troubled and unruly British teens for a week of “good old-fashioned values, discipline and boundaries” for a reality TV show called, "World's Strictest Parents."

click on link for more BBC show looking for Tiger Mother would have been disappointed in our chai-museum-library routine - NAM EthnoBlog

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: BBC show looking for Tiger Mother would have been disappointed in our chai-museum-library routine - AnnArbor.com

I got a call from the BBC last month looking for an Asian American family to take in two troubled and unruly British teens for a week of “good old-fashioned values, discipline and boundaries” for a reality TV show called, "World's Strictest Parents."

Trying to capitalize on the current hype over Tiger Mothers, the producer had found me through my articles facing off with the dreaded Amy Chua Tiger Mother — never mind that all my articles reveal that I am pretty much the opposite of Amy Chua Tiger Mother.

I told them to call Amy Chua Tiger Mother directly, but they thought I was joking.

click on link for more BBC show looking for Tiger Mother would have been disappointed in our chai-museum-library routine - AnnArbor.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

AML: Seeking the wisdom of our elders, including legendary civil rights activist and author Grace Lee Boggs - NAM EthnoBlog

I was amused when Asian American filmmaker and keynote speaker Koji Sakai introduced himself to the Asian/Pacific Islander American High School Conference at the University of Michigan as an "old person," from the time of the dinosaurs (complete with dinosaur graphic).

He was born in 1977.

click on link for more Seeking the wisdom of our elders, including legendary civil rights activist and author Grace Lee Boggs - NAM EthnoBlog

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Seeking the wisdom of our elders, including legendary civil rights activist author Grace Lee Boggs - AnnArbor.com

I was amused when Asian American filmmaker and keynote speaker Koji Sakai introduced himself to the Asian/Pacific Islander American High School Conference at the University of Michigan as an "old person," from the time of the dinosaurs (complete with dinosaur graphic).

He was born in 1977.

“For those not good at math,” he joked, “That makes me 34 years old today.”

He talked to students about how Asian American media is so much better now than in ancient times (the 1990s), and even better still than when a really old person he knows was growing up in the 1950s, when it was nonexistent.

All my life, I have been drawn to the wisdom of those older than myself, especially women of color. As a child, while my younger cousins played in the basement, I would sit in the kitchen with my mother and six aunties, or my maternal grandmother and eight great aunties, or all my parents’ friends, as they bickered and laughed, scolded and shared.

click on link for more Seeking the wisdom of our elders, including legendary civil rights activist and author Grace Lee Boggs - AnnArbor.com

Saturday, April 2, 2011

APIA High School Conference April 2

University of Michigan APIA High School Conference April 2, 2011. Angell Hall, 8-6.

AML: Sorting through the varied hues of Easter – cultural or religious holiday? | InCultureParent

My father and I always sang in the church and school choirs, so every year we celebrated Easter by putting on our choir robes, singing joyously at Easter sunrise mass, and then going out for a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny’s. After weeks of preparation, we were happy and stuffed and done with Easter by 9 a.m.

Because I went to Catholic Schools, I always had Good Friday and the week after Easter off of school, while the public schools in California had a different week off, so I thought Easter was a straight-forward religious holiday.

I had no idea that there was more to Easter than Easter Mass.

click on link for more Sorting through the varied hues of Easter – cultural or religious holiday? | InCultureParent

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AML: In Wake of Infamous YouTube Rant by UCLA student, Responses Show Humor, Grace - NAM EthnoBlog

I did not want to write about now-infamous UCLA student Alexandra Wallace and her ignorant racist YouTube rant complaining about Asian American families, manners and Asians talking on their cellphones in the library during “the tsunami thing,” complete with mocking ching-chong nonsense. I found her young and dumb and hoped that it would all blow over and she would be forgotten.

No such luck. The story is all over The New York Times, National Public Radio and MSNBC. Asian American students at the University of Michigan and across the country are discussing it.

click on link for more In Wake of Infamous YouTube Rant by UCLA student, Responses Show Humor, Grace - NAM EthnoBlog

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speaking at Eastern Michigan University March 29

Speaking at Eastern Michigan University March 29, 2011, with Roland Hwang and Kathy Gee. Screening of Vincent Who? Documentary. APA Heritage Month. Halle Library Room 300, 6:00 pm.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: In wake of infamous YouTube rant by UCLA student, responses display humor, grace - AnnArbor.com

Posted: Mar 27, 2011 at 6:12 AM [Mar 27, 2011]

I did not want to write about now-infamous UCLA student Alexandra Wallace and her ignorant racist YouTube rant complaining about Asian American families, manners and Asians talking on their cellphones in the library during “the tsunami thing,” complete with mocking ching-chong nonsense. I found her young and dumb and hoped that it would all blow over and she would be forgotten.

No such luck. The story is all over The New York Times, National Public Radio and MSNBC. Asian American students at the University of Michigan and across the country are discussing it.

Wallace is the Amy Chua Tiger Mother thorn in the side of the college set and evoked an amazing outburst of angry, creative and funny responses, including comedy, parodies, dubstep remixes, raps, rants, poetry, dance, animation and even Japan tsunami relief efforts.

Some responses were crassly sexist, and rumors of death threats (unconfirmed by police) and yakuza gang violence (oh please, give me a break) swirled around her until even Angry Asian Man was calling for temperance.

The best of all the responses by far is Jimmy Wong’s “Asians in the Library Song” which responds with intelligence, creativity, talent, humor, and largess, thereby diffusing the entire situation.

I tell my children, “This is the sort of person I want you to marry, no, grow up to become.” (He has already received 18 marriage proposals over Twitter).

click on link for more In wake of infamous YouTube rant by UCLA student, responses display humor, grace - AnnArbor.com
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