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asian avenue July 2017 Volume 12 Issue 7

Connecting Cultures Linking Lives





Tokio Bambu

Saturday, Aug. 19 1-9 p.m. A Showcase of Cultures & Traditions Global Flavors, Music and Dance International Fashion Show

Sponsored by: Aurora Municipal Center Great Lawn 15151 E. Alameda Parkway

Dear Asian Avenue readers,


This issue celebrates the 11th year anniversary of Asian Avenue. Our first edition was printed in July 2006, and the magazine has certainly come a long way! Thank you to our readers, writers, photographers and all who have helped made this magazine possible in one way or another. Here’s to many more years to come! Our cover story this issue features the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) which is headquartered in Colorado. While SASE is an organization that was founded as an Asian-heritage professional organization for scientists and engineers, it has ultimately become an organization that has brought Asian Americans/Asians/Pacific Islanders from all backgrounds together. Read to find out their meaningful works and how you can contribute! Our editorial manager Samantha Quee also had the precious opportunity to interview Wei Te-Sheng, a famous Taiwanese film director who was in Denver end of June to promote his latest musical movie “52Hz I love you” at the Dragonboat film festival. Director Wei shares his experiences filming the movie and also his plans for his upcoming film. Our July issue also feature not one but two food reviews! Head down to downtown Denver for the most authentic Japanese cuisine experience at “Tokio”, followed by the latest Vietnamese dessert chain “Bambu” at South Federal Boulevard. We assure you that both will not disappoint! We also hope to see you at this year’s Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the largest pan-Asian event in the states. The event will be held on July 29th and 30th at Sloan’s Lake, Colorado! Be sure to also visit us at the Asian Avenue magazine booth!

Christina Yutai Guo, Publisher Asian Avenue magazine |

asian avenue magazine


staff & support Publisher & Founder: Christina Yutai Guo President: Annie Guo Senior Designer: C.G. Yao Copy Editor: Jaime Marston Cook Editorial Director: Samantha Quee Marketing Manager: Joie Ha Staff Writer: Patricia Kaowthumrong Staff Writer: Mary Jeneverre Schultz Photographer: Trang Luong

contributing writers YiJing Chen, Jiayue Huang, J.K. Joung, Chau Phan, Irene Teoh

contributing photographers YiJing Chen, James Dimagiba, Elena Seibert, Brendan Teck

on the cover STEM is the familiar acronym used to represent Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – fields that apply to students who pursue degrees and careers in domains like engineering and medicine. Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian-Americans are making their mark in these disciplines, especially in Colorado.


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July 2017 | Publisher’s Note

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editorial To submit story ideas, letters to the editor or calendar events, e-mail Asian Avenue magazine (ISSN 1932-1449) reserves all copyrights to this issue. No parts of this edition can be reproduced in any manner without written permission. The views expressed in articles are the authors’ and not necessarily those of Asian Avenue magazine. Authors may have consulting or other business relationships with the companies they discuss.

Published by Asian Avenue Magazine, Inc. P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222-1748 Tel: 303.937.6888 | Asian Avenue magazine is in association with the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network.



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july 2017



Event calendar



The future is bright: How to select the right sunglasses




A Hawaiian Revival: The Practice of Kakau (Tattooing)





From little red dot Singapore to big state Texas



Asian Americans make saving for children’s college a top priority




STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are fields that apply to students who pursue degrees and careers like engineering and medicine. AAPIs are making their mark in these disciplines, especially in Colorado.

Interview with Taiwanese Director of 52hz I Love You: Wei Te-sheng



Fundraising event hosted for Congressman Coffman


Rock the Boat: From Legacy to Movement

Japanese cuisine in downtown Denver: Tokio does it right



Bambu: newly opened franchise of tasty drinks and desserts



Pachinko Author: Min Jin Lee






Serenity Project fashion show empowers women Scholarship awards given to high school students

ASIAN AVENUE MAGAZINE, INC. P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222-1748 | Tel: 303.937.6888 E-mail: | 6 July 2017 | Table of Contents

Find us @AsianAveMag


Colorado’s ONLY Park Theme & Water

Open Now - October 29 Discount Tickets Available at

events upcoming Home: American Photography

Shakuntala - Opening Night!

University of Colorado, Boulder, Art Museum, Visual Arts Complex Cost: Free For more info, visit

Aurora Cultural Arts District 1400 Dallas St, Aurora, CO 80010 Cost: $15 For more info and to purchase tickets, visit shakuntala-july-15-2017-730pm

Now thru July 15

Is home “where the heart is?” Is it a building, a landscape or a state of mind? Drawn from the photography collection of the CU Art Museum, Home investigates how American photographers working from the late 1800s to today have engaged with these questions. Through a presentation of landscapes, family photos and candid portraits visitors are invited to consider central themes of the exhibition, including environment, nostalgia and family. The exhibition will include a photo album from Norlin’s Special Collections that was compiled by Mariagnes Aya Medrud during the time she and her family were interned at the Minidonka Internment Camp (1942-1944).


July 2017 | Event Calendar

July 15-29, 7:30pm - 9:30pm

This play enacts the strange and miraculous story of two royal lovers meeting, separating and meeting again. Their magical union gives birth to the young prince whose name will be identified with the subcontinent now known as India. The play will be performed with life size puppets and live actors and performed in English.

2017 Colorado-Japan Charity Golf Tournament

Thursday, July 27, 1:30 pm - 8:30pm

Riverdale Golf Courses 13300 Riverdale Road, Brighton, CO 80602 Cost: $135 per player

For more info, visit www.jascolorado. org/2017-cojapan-charity-golf-tournament

Each player receives a fun round of golf with Colorado international business people, box lunch, drink on the course, and a magnificent sushi dinner to top it all off! This event raises valuable funds for the Japanese education programs of Japan America Society of Colorado and Japanese Business Association of Colorado.

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival July 29-30

Sloan’s Lake, Denver Cost: Free For more info, visit The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is the largest Dragon Boat Festival in the country. CDBF features more than 20 food vendors in two Taste of Asia Food Courts, a huge Asian Marketplace of gifts, artisans and organizations, a Wellness Village where health is the focus, Dragonland interactive children’s area, and over 100 performances on five stages that feature traditional Asian to contemporary Asian American culture. Visitors can enjoy Chinese fan dances, watch authentic martial arts demonstrations, rock out at the Band Stage or Cultural Unity hip-hop stage!


The Future is Bright:

How to Select the Right Sunglasses By J.K. Joung, Managing Partner of Envision Eye Care

Summer is here, and people are ready to participate in more outdoor activities. Colorado’s strong sunlight makes it essential to use sunglasses to protect your eyes, both on clear and cloudy days. Without proper protection, you are likely to gradually damage your eyes and develop eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. When selecting sunglasses, many people tend to focus on how the product looks on their faces. Of course, it is important to look good, but from the perspective of eye health, it is equally important to pay attention to what the lenses are made of. After all, it is not the frames that protect your eyes. How can you choose the right sunglasses? Here are three questions to ask yourself (and your optician).

1 - Do these sunglasses effectively block UV rays?

Many people think that the dark colors of sunglasses block harmful UV rays. In fact, the color has nothing to do with UV protection; it merely reduces the glare caused by sunlight reflections. It is the coating on the surface of the sunglass lenses – as well as the lens material – that acts as a UV barrier. Before you check out the style, brand and price of your next sunglasses, make sure that your sunglasses block 100 percent of both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. If sunglasses are

tinted but don’t block out UV rays, dark lenses in effect enlarge your pupils, causing more UV rays to penetrate your eyes. Buying a pair of $5 gas station sunglasses may actually do more harm than good.

2 - What kind of material are these lenses made of?

Sunglasses lenses can be made of four materials: plastic, polycarbonate, glass and Trivex. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses. First, plastic lenses are the cheapest with high optical clarity. On the other hand, plastic lenses can easily get scratched and are more likely to break against impact. For those who need strong prescription lenses, plastic can be compressed and made very thin. Second, polycarbonate is lighter than plastic, does not scratch easily, and is strong against impact. It also has the advantage of UV protection without coating. People commonly wear poly lenses for protective equipment and outdoor activities. However, if you want high optical clarity, poly is not an ideal fit. Third, glass lenses were widely used in the past but have lost some of their popularity. Although glass lenses enjoy the highest optical clarity and little scratching, they have a big disadvantage: they are heavy. Recently, however, glass is having a second boom due to the development of thinner and lighter mineral glass. It may

be worth considering glass lenses for everyday situations. However, glass lenses are not appropriate for active sports like mountain biking. Finally, Trivex is the newest lens material with the advantage of the impact-resistance of polycarbonate and the clarity of glass. Similar to poly, Trivex also has a UV shielding effect without coating. Overall, Trivex may be the best sunglass lens material.

3 - Do I need “polarized’ lenses?

Typical sunglass lenses use color dying to create a dark tint for glare reduction. Polarized lens, on the other hand, put an additional layer of film on the lenses, resulting in superior glare reduction. The future is so bright in Colorado with an abundance of sunlight year-round, snow in the winter, and lakes throughout the state, all of which can create glare. Polarized lenses are especially important for those who go to the beach, enjoy skiing and fishing, as well as people with high astigmatism and light-sensitive eyes. In conclusion, not all inexpensive sunglasses are bad. Some high-end designer sunglasses contain cheap plastic lenses to meet expectations of a certain appearance and style, not lens quality. Try choosing your next perfect sunglasses, armed with the above three questions. You will certainly look well-informed among your friends and family. Feature | asian avenue magazine





Not only are the tools sacred but many of them are heirlooms, passed down for several generations. The main tools include the molî- the set of needles, the hahau- the hammer, and the ink. These are all handmade and created from natural materials of cultural and spiritual significance. Traditional hardwoods are used for the hammer and the handle of the needles. The needles themselves are made from a variety of materials such as albatross bones, hippopotamus teeth, and other types of ivory. Each material has its own meaning and therefore each tool is uniquely purposed for its task. For the process, the set of needles are dipped into ink, then deftly hammered by hand into the skin. Being trained as a Uhi artist takes several years. The most recent apprentice to graduate into a master in several years is Keli’I Makua who trained for 26 years under expert, Keone Nunes. Keone Nunes had revived Uhi after it had faded away in the modernization of Hawaii. Training is an arduous task that not only includes learning technical skills like tapping, but also spiritual necessities like prayers, rituals, and the deep meanings behind each detail. An apprentice begins by stretching the skin while the master tattoos. Afterwards, they learn how to create each tool by hand and, finally they learn how to use these tools properly.

July 2017 | Focus

the word kakau. As a result the commonly known derivation of this word is ‘tattoo.’ To practice kakau is not an easy feat. It holds great meaning and takes years to be properly trained in. Kakau is not merely a decorative design placed anywhere on the skin, but a spiritual practice where each mark and its placement has specific meaning. Today, not many Hawaiian practitioners exist, save for a few individuals that keep the tradition of Uhi (Hawaiian tattoo) strong.

Keli’i practicing Kakau on a guest at the Tattoo Masquerade



Kakau serves as a way of healing or strengthening for an individual. Each pattern has a special and unique meaning that holds a certain power. Patterns can offer protection and strength, represent lineage and family, denote a role in society, and more. Kakau is a very sacred ritual and as a result, is preceded by many rituals and prayers to bless the ceremony. The kakau practitioner prays for each design to be imbued with spiritual power. The tools and ink are also consecrated to the certain God that is invoked. The actual kakau ceremony is perceived as a rebirth of sorts. When an individual receives a pattern on their skin, they are not only forever changed physically, but spiritually as well.


Keli’i holding a molî

Many people may know what tattoos are—permanent designs and art placed upon the skin through ink and needle. However, many people may not know the origin of the word tattoo. The etymology of tattoo comes from the Polynesian word, kakau, meaning tattooing (or more accurately, to place a tap). Kakau has been a ritual practiced for generations across the Polynesian islands. When colonialists happened upon Hawaii and other islands, they observed this practice and learned

Article and photos by Joie Ha

After the colonization of Hawaii, there were many aspects of local culture that slowly began to fade away. However, with help from Keone Nunes, Keli’I Makua, and their apprentices, the practice of kakua is beginning to reemerge. In the face of a rapidly urbanizing and Westernizing world, it is with them that this unique aspect of Hawaiian culture will persevere.

Thank you to Keliioklanai Makua and his team for educating me on the practice of Kakau.

For more information call 720-873-6243 or visit our website today at: William Schoolcraft, MD • Eric Surrey, MD • Debra Minjarez, MD Robert Gustofson, MD • Jennifer Brown, MD

Q & A with Director Wei Te-sheng

“52 Hz, I Love You”

opens Colorado Dragon Film Festival By Samantha Quee The 2017 Colorado Dragon Film Festival’s Opening Night was hosted by the Denver Art Museum with support from the Asian Art Association showing the Colorado premier of the Taiwanese film, 52Hz, I Love You. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Denver were the presenting sponsors of the opening night and the film festival on June 4. Writer and director Wei Te-sheng, best known for his movies such as Cape No. 7, KANO, and Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale was there in person and participated in an interesting Q&A session with the audience. Asian Avenue magazine also had the honor of speaking with Wei and learned more about 52 Hz, I Love You. Director Wei shares his thoughts about the movie and the message he hopes to convey to his audiences through this romantic musical film. AAm: Director Wei, this movie has a really interesting title. Can you tell us more about it? DW: Of course. The theme of this movie is love; it tells the story of two couples who found happiness on Valentine’s Day in Taipei. It was obvious to me to include “I love you” in the title, but it took me a while to decide what else. One day, a colleague shared with me a news story about the loneliest whale in the world, whose calls at 52 Hz, were too high for other whales to hear. I felt that this story aligned with the concepts in the movie, and therefore decided to add “52 Hz” to the title. AAm: Was it because of certain phenomenon you see in your environment or throughout the world that inspired

you to write the story? DW: I grew up in Taipei, which is a fast-paced city. I always find it ironic that in a city with a large population and people so physically close to one another, their hearts can still be so distant from each other. It is so common to find people, especially in their 30s, who are single, sad and lonely. I hope that after watching this movie and seeing the main characters receiving blessings of love, they will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and start finding love themselves! AAm: Was there a reason why you brought the film to air in a few US cities even before the premier in Taiwan? DW: A while back, KANO aired in the US before it showed in Taiwan, and received very positive responses from the audiences in US. I promised then that I would do the same for my next film. I also feel that the theme of loneliness in this film will resonate even more with the audiences in the US. Many immigrants left their home countries and had to leave relationships with friends or loved ones behind to start new lives overseas. AAm: We understand that musical films are not common in the Chinese film industry. Why were you motivated to direct your first musical film? DW: I feel that love is a very sacred, and still a cliché concept. I decided that portraying love would make a lot more sense, and provide more depth and meaning, if done through song and lyrics.

DIRECTOR PROFILE: WEI TE-SHENG is a Taiwanese film director and screenwriter. He

directed Cape No. 7, currently the highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film and the second-highest grossing film in Taiwanese film history. In 2011, Wei directed Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, a Taiwanese historical drama based on the 1930 Wushe Incident in central Taiwan. The film was shown in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and was selected as a contender for nomination for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. At the 2011 Golden Horse Awards, Warriors of the Rainbow won Best Feature Film and Audience Choice Award.


July 2017 | Big Shot Q & A

Festival Director Jennifer Nguyen speaks at the podium during the Q & A session with Wei Te-sheng (left). Photo by James Dimagiba

AAm: Were there any difficulties arising from this form of presentation? DW: No and yes. The songs turned out to be really easy for Chinese audiences to accept and internalize the meaning. However, I always have this concern that non-Chinese audiences might not be able to understand the beauty of the lyrics after they are translated into English and other languages. They might not feel the intensity of the feelings the movie aims to portray and the context as much as the Chinese audiences. AAm: Was it difficult to find the right cast for the movie? I understand that they are all lead singers from independent bands and have no acting experience. DW: It was very clear to me that I wanted to assemble a cast that can sing well right from the start. I immediately focused my attention on independent bands’ singers, as they are experienced interacting with the public from many years of street performance. I knew they already had the skill set for showmanship, so it was just a matter of switching it into acting performance, and they managed to do it very well. AAm: How long did production take? DW: The whole film was shot in two months, but the musical aspect took more like eight months. The script itself took me only one month to complete. AAm: There was also a lesbian couple portrayed in the movie. Was that a political move? DW: No, I did not intentionally place them in the film to convey a political point of any kind. To me, homosexuality is just another social phenomenon, and I tried to portray any characters that might be feeling lonely in the city.

AAm: What do you think the greatest take-away should be for your audience? DW: I hope that they are inspired and encouraged to give themselves and others a chance for a relationship to blossom. I always feel that it is only when one is feeling happy that he or she is able to spread happiness. Happiness is the ultimate goal. AAm: Last but not the least, can you share with us your next movie? DW: I have started its initial conceptualization. It will be an historical film about Taiwan’s history 400 years ago. I have had a story in mind for ten years already, but we need to do a lot more research and planning before we can start filming. I think we should be able to start filming in two or three years.

Jerry Chang, Director General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of Denver welcomes guests to the opening night. Photo by James Dimagiba

Taiwanese Director Wei Te-Sheng | asian avenue magazine


From Little Red Dot Singapore

By Irene Teoh

to the Big State of Texas Irene Teoh moved from Singapore to Texas in May 2016 to join her husband on his twoyear work assignment. She worked as a Public Relations consultant at Text100, a communications agency in Singapore, so the temporary relocation felt like both a break from work and the bustle of city life at home. She took the time to focus on herself, enjoy a year of discovery, and confront the reality of culture shock. Irene reflects on her first year of living abroad with her husband. My biggest regret in University was never studying abroad. I love to travel, but never felt confident living in another country. I dislike change as it makes me feel I have no control. I like to know what to expect and exactly what’s going to happen. I seek adventures by way of calculated risks, where the odds are in my favor. A year ago, I made what felt like the riskiest move of my life. My husband and I moved to Texas for two years of work. Suddenly, all of the stability in my life in Singapore had to be put on hold: my career, my social life, my house, and even my mobile phone line. Looking back, what seemed like a turn-my-world-upside-down move has become the best decision I’ve ever made. Here’s why. Living abroad is completely different from travelling, and even more vivid than a long vacation. Moving overseas is hard. Obstacles turn up in unexpected places, like our credit card application being rejected because we had no credit history. Sorting out residency papers and driver’s licenses, negotiating rent and setting up a bank account, were all complicated, confusing experiences from the first moment we arrived in Texas. Living together as newlyweds is also a journey of discovery. The difference was, living abroad has kind of accelerated the process for us. We came with 15 boxes and yet it felt like we had nothing at all. We were building our new life from the ground up. We found ourselves debating through a long list of energy providers, and fixed our car ourselves in the garage. In the short span of one year, we quickly learned to appreciate each other’s strengths, embrace our differences, and work together as a team through the challenges.

Irene Teoh and her husband with Texas Bluebonnets


July 2017 | Cultural Tidbits

One of Irene’s home-cooked meals

Due to the nature of my husband’s job, I was able to spend these two years rejuvenating and developing myself personally. It may sound like a luxury, but it wasn’t easy. I struggled with many questions, like “Why am I here?” Even though we use the same English language at home in Singapore, I found myself stuttering with cashiers and unusually quiet during group interactions. I had a difficult time making friends with locals in Texas, and became accustomed to spending time alone. And then I found that I loved it. I finally understood what it meant to discover oneself. I picked up life skills that came with living abroad. I learned to cook dishes I never knew existed. I mastered the art of creating a dinner party with whatever was left in the fridge. I figured out coupons. I learned to enunciate better. I also continued my study of the Korean language, a lifelong curiosity. Recently, I tried my hand at the language’s official proficiency test and went on stage at my school’s event to tell a children’s story in Korean - something I never imagined myself doing if I stayed in Singapore. Together with my husband, we have visited places of our dreams. We did our first road trip to Houston, met Mickey Mouse at Disneyworld in Florida, and gasped at the sight of the magnificent Niagara Falls in Canada. In the last year, I’ve given up every comfort to make a new life thousands of miles away from home. Now, I feel like I am capable of anything. I’ve heard a lot about life-changing trips but never truly understood them. Now I do understand, and I encourage everyone I meet to take on an adventure of any magnitude, get outside their comfort zone, and see the world from a new perspective. I don’t know anybody who has regretted moving or traveling somewhere new, but I certainly know people who have regretted staying home. If you are like me, halfway around the globe away from your friends and family, it is okay to feel emotional, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself, too.

Irene with her Korean teacher

Irene reads a children’s story in the Korean language

Irene with her husband at Niagara Falls

Moving from Singapore to Texas | asian avenue magazine



students anticipate higher wages and more fulfilling careers By Mary Jeneverre Schultz

STEM is the familiar acronym used to represent Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – fields that apply to students who pursue degrees and careers in domains like engineering and medicine. Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian-Americans are making their mark in these disciplines, especially in Colorado. International, foreign-born, and immigrant students earned 11.6 percent of all American doctoral degrees during the 2012-2013 academic year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Local nonprofit organizations are continuing to advocate for Asians and Asian-Americans and it shows in their growing memberships.

Ribbon cutting ceremony among board members of SASE


July 2017 | Cover Story

SOCIETY OF ASIAN SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS Founded in 1997, the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), headquartered in Colorado, organizes an annual conference with a career fair in metropolitan cities throughout the United States. Khanh Vu, Executive Director of SASE, says, “The mission statement of SASE is to prepare Asian heritage scientists and engineers for success globally, to celebrate diversity both on campuses and in workplaces, and to provide opportunities for members to contribute to their local communities.” Human Resource chair of SASE, Richard Nguyen, explains the three pillars of STEM, “The first pillar allows all members throughout the United States to gain valuable personal and professional development opportunities that build a strong foundation for their future. The second pillar provides our members with the chance to gain a different perspective and celebrate diversity.” Nguyen finishes with, “The third pillar shows the significance of giving back via the various national, regional, and local/collegiate initiatives that SASE puts on throughout the year.” Nguyen’s strong beliefs and dedication motivate him to give back through his service and expertise. He says, “I volunteer for SASE National to share what I’ve learned. I help ensure that these three pillars remain as representations of our value to the STEM community.” For college students considering joining the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, the benefits include: • Networking opportunities • Access to Asian-American thought leaders • Sessions on personal and professional development • For professionals interested in SASE, the advantages are: • Unprecedented access to technical talent from across the US • Connect, develop, and hire technically talented individuals

Attendees at the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) Conference • Developing the younger generation • Students and professionals have seen the benefits and are thriving because of SASE.

and engineers, the network that SASE members have created is vast. Many individuals have strong bonds with others who are thousand miles apart.”

When asked about the organization’s success, Richard Nguyen says, “As the only Asian heritage professional STEM organization in the United States, SASE provides a special community that begins with a team atmosphere at the college level and becomes more like a family at the national level. While SASE was founded for scientists

COLORADO MATHEMATICAL OLYMPIAD Many educators find it important to instill an interest in math as early as middle school, if not sooner. Founder of the Colorado Mathematical Olympiad, Professor Alexander Osier, organizes an annual competition, the Colorado Mathematical Olympiad. Students solve five compli-

Joseph Schultz takes 5th place in the Colorado Mathematical Olympiad. He is sharing his personal experience with founder and designer of the competition, Professor Alexander Soifer. Asian Americans in STEM | asian avenue magazine


The staff and volunteers of SASE shows great pride in participating in this annual event

cated word problems. “We should be breeding math geniuses, not just football players,” said Soifer during a phone conversation. Alexander’s parents wanted him to excel in music, specifically classical piano. Then one weekend with a math professor excited him about math’s potential and he committed to sharing that interest with the younger generation.

Over the years, his students have stayed in touch with Soifer. His students are now professors in astronomy, math and sciences at Ivy League schools. Some of his students return each year to be judges at the competition that piqued their interest in math. Soifer, a Russian immigrant, is proud that his top winners over the last few years have been of Asian descent.

Alexander Soifer, PhD, takes center stage with his colleagues at the annual math competition.


July 2017 | Cover Story

NORTHROP GRUMMAN STEM CAMP Aerospace and engineering firms are recognizing the need to identify the scientists and engineers of the next generation. Every year, Northrop Grumman, Aurora Public Schools, Colorado State University, and Cherry Creek Schools organize a summer camp for young scientists and engineers, starting in sixth grade. Summer classes include clean energy technology, introduction to data science, fundamentals of cyber security, and programming with Arduinos and Python. Classes are limited to 25 students and spaces fill up fast. WOMEN IN ENGINEERING Last June 23, engineering companies celebrated Women in Engineering Day. The United Kingdom celebrated it for the first time this year. According to date from Girls Who Code, a nonprofit aimed at advancing women in technology fields, only 18 percent of the computer science graduates today are women, less than half of what is was back in 1984. In addition to changing society’s perception of women in STEM, the International Women in Engineering Day also seeks to promote engineering as a desirable profession. Between 2006 and 2011, women represented just 12 percent of the engineering workforce in the United States, according to data collected by the American Association of University. In the same period, women of color accounted for more than four percent of

Before the conference ends, SASE shares their enthusiasm with a group photo of all attendees and speakers. the engineering talent. Roadblocks exist in big ways. It will take courage for women to step it up in climbing their career ladder. In fact, recent stories coming out of Silicon Valley are accusing leaders of rampant sexism and not fitting in the conventional image of a “typical” engineer. As a solo female engineer, she might be asked to take notes for the meeting, which could be taken as a subtle form of discrimination. Typically, females are viewed as organized and detail oriented, compared to their male counterparts. The May 31 issue of Glamour magazine published a story titled, “Three Rejection Letters to Women Engineers Will Infuriate You” (www.glamourcom/story/rejection-letters-women-engineers). The letters show copies of letters showing downright rejection. Intended to light a fire for female engineers, it will inspire and indicate more work needs to be done within STEM industries. For most female engineers, they may exist as the only one in the team. For most college campuses, diversity and gender are playing a big role. It needs to penetrate beyond college and into corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Current statistics indicate more women are leading Fortune 500 companies but that is at 6.4 percent. Mentors advised women to “think out of the box.” The career today might not exist in 10 years, so adaptability will play a big role in climbing the career leader into bringing out the best technical skills.

collegiate chapters and seven professional chapters, clearly the organization is going strong. Richard Nguyen says, “We will continue to grow and in doing so, we will continually impact Asian-American and Pacific Island communities in the US with STEM programs while carrying out our mission. Ten years from now, I could see SASE having a strong presence with SASE Junior (pre-collegiate), collegiate, and professional chapters in every state.” Parents and guardians also need to dig deeper to find classes and enrichment courses that interest their children and keep them engaged and learning throughout the year.

WHAT DOES STEM PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE? While local organizations like those mentioned are growing in membership, the corporate world has a lot of catching up to do. Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) - www. - reports that Fortune 500 companies are significantly lacking in representation of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders among their staff and board members. This is why it is so important to continue supporting local organizations such as the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of SASE. With more than 70









Asian Americans in STEM | asian avenue magazine


By Jiayue Huang,

Media Relations Intern, National Endowment for Financial Education

ASIAN AMERICANS MAKE SAVING FOR CHILDREN’S COLLEGE A TOP PRIORITY According to a Pew Research Center study, recent Asian immigrants have the highest college enrollment rate of all immigrants, with about two-thirds already having a college degree or currently enrolled in school. When Chinese-American Joecy Wu’s children were under five years old, she started saving for their college. Wu, editor-in-chief of Michigan-based You May magazine, paid around $1,000 annually for tuition when she attended Shanghai University, but she knows such low tuition likely isn’t an option in the U.S. Wu and other Asian immigrants prioritize saving for the high cost of degrees in law, medicine and engineering because they want more for their children. Higher education is an expectation, not an option. University of Michigan sociology professor Yu Xie says in a study that, “researchers reasoned that, since Asians believe that educational goals are achievable through effort and are not solely determined by ability, parents typically push their children to attain as much education as possible.” Filipino-American Jessalyn Herreria, 26, took on a six-figure student loan debt to earn bachelor’s degrees in biology and nursing from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and Regis University in Denver. “My parents didn’t have enough saved


July 2017 | Financial Advice

to pay for it, but they wanted me to attend a prestigious university,” Herreria says. Now a nurse, she contributes $2,500 per month toward her student loan payments in addition to covering her own living expenses. Parents often pay most of the tuition. Despite Herreria’s situation, Asian parents typically pay most or all tuition for college students so that they can focus on school. Indian-American Elizabeth Tharakan, 30, is the eldest of three. She is currently earning a master’s degree at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. “My parents saved in college education savings accounts,” Tharakan says. “It worked out well because they were able to pay full tuition for all three of us to go to college.” Her mother also paid for 90 percent of her law degree. “She spared me a debt-ridden existence,” Tharakan says. Saving the old-fashioned way. Most Asian families save for their children’s college through thrifty spending habits and basic savings accounts. “Chinese families do not invest as a way to fund college,” Wu says. Here are three strategies to save and grow money more efficiently: 1) Diversify savings methods. Basic savings accounts are secure, but money actually loses value over time due to inflation.

“A 529 savings plan allows parents to plan ahead for their children’s college by acting as a steady, long-term savings vehicle,” says Amy Marty, manager of CashCourse, a free online financial education resource library for college students. Like a 401(k) for college savings, 529 plans are sponsored by states or state agencies. Any U.S. resident over 18 years old can open a 529 plan and contribute tax-free money to the fund, which is then invested in a diverse portfolio. These plans often are invested in higher-risk vehicles to grow faster when children are young, and switched to safer investments as the child reaches college-age to make sure the money is there when they need it. Parents and grandparents also can purchase credit hours at a particular school at today’s prices, rather than paying higher fees in the future. The money that accumulates inside of a 529 account must be used for education purposes. Look for more details at StudentAid. gov or ask your bank or credit union. 2) Include children in college-savings planning. It’s never too early to start saving for college. Early planning allows families to benefit from interest that grows on their investments over time. It helps to involve children in this process so they are invested in their own future education. They can contribute a small amount of wages from part-time jobs, gifts from family, and allowance throughout childhood to help avoid taking on too much student loan debt later on. 3) Be aggressive in the search for scholarships and grants. Take advantage of any opportunity to earn “free money” for college, such as scholarships, grants and work-study positions. Sign up for alerts about relevant scholarships from professional organizations, community groups and other sources. “I got a combination of loans and tuition waivers,” Tharakan says. “My teaching assistant position exempts me from tuition, and loans cover my cost of living.” To learn more, visit:



By Samantha Quee Photos by Joie Ha


As a fan of Japanese food, I am always on the lookout for Simmered for 4-5 hours using soybean, pumpkin and sweet authentic Japanese dining opportunities in Colorado. Tokio, potato, Ramen Air’s broth is sweet and subtle. Chef Miki says, which opened in 2014, is a culinary gem located in the heart “We try to minimize the use of sugar to provide the most natural of downtown Denver. Owner and Chef Miki Hashimoto brings taste from the vegetables themselves.” The ramen noodles are impressive accolades from his former cooking career, serving up also customized in a kitchen in Los Angeles. “We would never high-quality Japanese food. think of using store-bought ramen. We want to make sure that Chef Miki has 28 years of culinary experience, including time the thickness of the noodles is ideal for the broth that we use. spent working in Iron Chef’s Inoue AkiThe vegetable broth pairs with thin noohiko kitchen while still living in Japan. dles, while miso broth pairs nicely with Before he opened Tokio, Miki was a sushi thicker noodles,” Chef Miki says. 2907 Huron St #103, chef at Sushi Den along Denver’s South A true artisan, he meticulously handPearl Street and then went on to open picks every ingredient, including the waDenver, CO 80202 the highly acclaimed sushi restaurant, ter that he uses. Japon. “We have a special purification system Mon-Thur & Sat: 5pm to 1am to process our water, and it has indeed His attention to detail is apparent from the moment you step into Tokio. With its changed the way our food turns out,” Fri: 5pm to 2am clean and simple decor, Tokio’s stunning Chef Miki says. He mentioned that one Sun: 4pm to 9pm interior is designed by Tokyo’s native distinct difference is the rice, “I noticed Tel: 720-639-2911 Kanji Ueki, who has created a communal that after we started using purified water, space that complements the menu well our rice had a shiny appearance.” and transports the patrons a little closer to Japan. Kanji Ueki is Tokio also serves up delicious Japanese comfort food such as the designer of various Apple Stores in the United States, and Karaage, or Japanese fried chicken ($7), gyoza ($7) and Chicken his presence also influenced the creation of “Ramen Air” ($12), a Katsu Curry Rice ($14). Chef Miki says, “These are items that all vegetarian broth ramen. Japanese families enjoy. We want our patrons to have the most



July 2017 | Restaurant Peek

authentic Japanese experience. At the same time, we also understand that Coloradoans are very health conscious so we try to incorporate that lifestyle into our menu as well. For example, our chicken katsu is made from natural chicken, sourced from Boulder.” Tokio’s Karaage is fried to perfection with a crispy texture on the outside, while juicy and tender on the inside. Their most popular appetizer, the gyoza, are also delicately pan-fried, each mouthful filled with flavorful pork. The aroma of the curry from the Chicken Katsu rice is intoxicating, and the specially prepared rice is a perfect complement. Tokio serves their sashimi based on the freshest ingredients available. They have a wide selection of sushi, including Maguro, Hamachi, Shake (Salmon), Unagi and Tamago as the local favorites. Knowing that Asian fusion still needs to suit western taste buds, Tokio provides an extensive menu of specialty rolls. Their signature roll, the Tokio roll, consists of lobster tempura and avocado wrapped in rice, topped with Kobe Beef and garlic butter, garnished with potato chips ($22). The tenderness of the beef couples nicely with the crunchiness of the lobster tempura, and finishes perfectly with the smooth balance of the avocado. It was a refreshing, wholesome, and tasty dining experience. Don’t leave Tokio without trying their Matcha tiramisu ($8). This elegant and decadent dessert once again showcases how meticulous and thoughtful Chef Miki and his team are in providing the best for their customers. If you are searching for a wonderful, authentic Japanese meal, look no further. Tokio is the place.

SAMPLE MENU Ramen Air - $12 Katsu Curry Rice - $14 Yakidori Don - $11 Gyoza - $7 Karaage - $7 Agedashi Tofu - $5 Shumai - $7 Matcha Cake - $8 Tokio Roll - $22 Dragon Roll - $16

Tokio invites food competitors to compete in the 5.5 lb. Ramen Challenge!

Finish in 22 minutes and it’s free! If not, you pay $22 for the bowl. The bowl needs to be completely empty with no sharing! Challenge time: Every day during Happy Hour: 5 - 6pm & 10 pm - close (except Sundays)

Tokio | asian avenue magazine


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By Samantha Quee Photos by Joie Ha

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Frequent travelers to San Francisco who enloyal customers like the most is ordering their joy hanging out in the Asian districts may be personalized drink “Just the Way You Love It.” familiar with the name Bambu. There is no extra charge for toppings like extra Bambu Desserts & Drinks was founded in jellies, pearls, choice of milk, or sweetener. 2008 in San Jose, California by four Vietnamese The Bambu Favorite, which has sold more than Combo Yogurt sisters—Anh, Kelly, Jenny, and Julie. 1,000 servings since the shop opened, is a refreshing Their large menu of fresh, healthy and colorful drink made with fresh coconut milk, topped with red Asian-inspired Chè (meaning dessert in Vietnamese), tapioca, grass jelly, and pandan jelly. crisp boba milk teas, bold Vietnamese espressos “Our pandan jelly and red tapioca are all handand blended coffees, and real fresh fruit smoothmade. We also prepare a new batch every 90 minies captured the attention of the entire San Franutes, to make sure that they are provided fresh to cisco Bay area nearly a decade ago. Today, there the customers throughout the day,” Trung says. are over 50 Bambu locations in 14 states. The Bambu Special, which consists of fresh Trung Truong and his wife, Quyenny Truong, coconut, pandan jelly, longan, basil seed, and cotook a vacation to Texas last year and discovered conut juice offers the chewiness of pandan jelly Bambu where he tried and loved the desserts. paired perfectly with tender fresh coconut meat. Pandan Waffle He was so inspired by the experience, he left his IT This is a perfect drink for a hot Colorado summer day. job of eight years and decided to introduce Bambu to Customers who are not familiar with Vietnamese Denver in April of 2017. drinks have a myriad of other items to try. The Bambu Bambu’s first and only outlet in Colorado is curmenu is extensive and includes popular items such as rently located on busy Federal Boulevard, home to Sea Salt Oolong Tea, Yoghurt Combo, and Mango many authentic and delicious Asian restaurants Dazzle. and eateries. Trung says, “Freshness is key at Bambu. Our Proud to be a franchisee, Trung says, “There teas are brewed fresh everyday.” aren’t many dessert stores, especially VietnamBeyond drinks and desserts, Bambu also sells ese-inspired ones in Colorado. I hope that Bamsnacks such as the Pandan Waffle. Try a nice cold bu will be a place where people bring their famche while enjoying this crispy and fragrant snack! Passion Fruit ilies and friends to relax and enjoy our desserts Mention this article and receive 10% off Juice and drinks.” any drink and 50% off a Vietnamese coffee! With over 80 drinks to choose from, what Bambu’s (Expires July 31, 2017)

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Dessert Peek | asian avenue magazine


bookreview PACHINKO Author: Min Jin Lee

Page: 490 Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Hardcover: 9781455563937 Ebook: 9781455563913 Facebook: @Minjinleebooks Twitter: @minjinlee11 Instagram: lee_minjin

Pachinko, the new book by Min Jin Lee now available in paperback, is a tale of love and resilience, a tour de force that follows one Korean family through multiple generations. Beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, her unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame and ruin them. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan. So the sweeping saga ensues of an exceptional family in exile caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, Sunja, her child, and the minister are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity. A powerful moment motivated author Min Jin Lee to bring this story to life. She recalls, “When I was in college, I attended a lecture featuring an American missionary who shared about his work with the Korean-Japanese community in Osaka. I was affected by one particular story he told about a Korean-Japanese child, which has haunted me for many years.” After leaving the law profession, Lee wrote the manuscript in the late 1990s, then set it aside. The story came back to life when she moved to Japan in 2007. Pachinko explains how deeply rooted the prejudice lies between Koreans and Japanese people. This mesmerizing book allows readers to better understand the conflicts and turmoil between both nations. Over four generations, Pachinko shows an ethnic Korean family surviving in Japanese-occupied Korea in the early 20th century before World War II. Struggling to make a living, the main character goes back to her culinary skills and begins making kimchi, candy, and snacks for train passengers. Pachinko, the addictive gambling slot-machine game


July 2017 | Book Review


Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz


found throughout Japan, becomes a source of income and a way for the family to climb out of poverty. Lee selected this historical time period for a reason. She says, “Koreans living in Japan began with Japan’s formal annexation of Korea in 1910. This is why I chose to begin the story of Sunja’s family at that watershed moment.“ There is a long and troubled history of legal and social discrimination against Koreans living in Japan. Zainichi, for example, are ethnic Koreans with permanent residency status in Japan. They are required to reapply for alien registration cards every three years even if they were born in Japan, and are rarely granted passports, making overseas travel nearly impossible. While writing Pachinko, Min Jin Lee (who was born in Korea before moving to the United States) lived in Japan with her husband and son and interviewed dozens of ethnic Koreans about their family histories. Struggling to find their place in Japanese society, these family stories inspired Sunja’s family tale of establishing their ability to work in the Pachinko business and attempting to build their lives in a new land. Lee says, “It is an historical novel, but I believe this is a story of community told through one family. I want readers to see, to feel, and to recognize the connections.” Follow Mary Jeneverre Schultz on Instragram @Jeneverre or Twitter @Jeneverre. Photo Credit: Elena Seibert

Serenity Project fashion show empowers women Article and photos by YiJing Chen The first ever Serenity Project fashion show was presented on June 2 in Denver, Colorado. The project started in early 2017 with a group of volunteers and a twenty-year-old with a dream. The purpose of this project and fashion show is to empower women who have faced incredibly tough challenges and obstacles in their lives and have continued to thrive and persevere. The project was founded by Serene Singh, and as she found strength in people’s hearts and their stories of perseverance. When her best friend in Ohio began to lose her confidence in their beauty and sense of with in life, Serene knew that she had to do something. She wanted women to feel celebrated, loved,

valued, and for the world to admire the strength and resilience of women. This year, 2017, The Serenity Project features 15 women from across Colorado who have faced many challenges and obstacles in life but never let their story limit them. They were able to rise from their challenges and blossom into something even more beautiful. The goal of the Serenity Project’s sisterhood, was to allow each sister to walk away from the experience with newfound goals and ways of paying their stories forward to better the lives of more individuals through their hearts of love, modeling expertise and experience. Going to this beautiful event was truly inspiring. Seeing the challenges that

these 15 beautiful women had to face, and how they were able to turn their story around and dream even bigger was truly inspiring to see. The event also incorporated dances of different cultures and the models wore cultural clothes, it was beautiful. Being able to celebrate each and every woman’s accomplishment and support them every step of the way is something irreplaceable. *If you have any ideas, questions, donations, or if you are interesting in helping out for next years show please do reach out to us and let us know your thoughts. We are so grateful for your attendance and your support of these incredible, empowered, and beautiful women.

Anisha Koirola: Aspiration is to become a model and encourage others to follow their dreams.

Nashrah Reza: Aspiration is to become a very prevalent and well known social activist.

Savanah Overturf: Aspiration is to become someone others can look up to and she wants to be a teacher.

Michaela Jones (left): Aspiration is to help people through her own nonprofit organization.

Left to Right: Lexi Puga: Aspiration is to be a fashion designer, model and ballerina.

Kiersten Chambers (right): Aspiration is to own a homeopathy and holistic nutrition business, heal people and change lives.

Lexey Morse: Aspiration is to be happy, be accepted and loved for who she is, and have lots of friends. Anisha Koirola (above) To connect with the Serenity Project, e-mail: or Facebook: | Instagram: @BraveEnough2Fly Mile-High Happenings | asian avenue magazine


Scholarship awards given to high school students The 32nd Annual Asian Education Advisory Council Award Ceremony on May 7 at the Doubletree Hotel on Quebec Street in Denver was a particularly momentous occasion for two high school students. They each won scholarship awards of $500 sponsored by the Allstate Migaki Insurance Agency. Annie Chen, a senior at George Washington High School won the Leadership Award. When asked what she would do with the money, Annie said, “I will give half to my parents and save half for college.” Her parents are Chinese immigrants who work tirelessly at a grocery store to support Annie and her brother. Annie plans to major in paramedics, inspired by her current role as a volunteer in the paramedics department at Rose Medical Center. She is a member of the ROTC and holds the rank of Cadet Major. Annie enjoys music and plays violin, viola, piano, guitar, and drums. Joon Baang, a senior at Noel Community Arts School won the Academic Award. He will be attending the University of Colorado at Boulder and plans to major in education and business. He spends his free time volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Shelley Migaki says, “The intent of

the Allstate Migaki Insurance Agency Awards is to help deserving students afford higher education. I am privileged to be able to give back to our community and help open doors for students. I also hope to set a precedent for other corporate sponsors so that more scholarship awards will be available to reward students for their outstanding academic achievement, talent, and leadership qualities.” The event also recognized ten teachers, five para-professionals, and an ad-

ministrator from various Denver Public Schools with different awards. The Denver Public School Board of Education established the Asian Education Advisory Council (AEAC) on January 31, 1985. The AEAC seeks to improve opportunities and provide quality education for all students, particularly students of Asian-American/Pacific Island (AA/PI) heritage. For more information on the Allstate Migaki Insurance Agency Scholarship Award, please call 303-421-9702.

Shelley Migaki (left) presents the Leadership Award to Annie Chen (right)

Fundraising event hosted for Congressman Coffman On June 17, a fundraising luncheon was held in the AAPI community on behalf of Congressman Mike Coffman. The event was hosted by Lily Shen, Chair of the Congressman’s China/Taiwan Advisor Council at Twin Dragon Restaurant in Englewood. The event raised a total of $4500 with the support of its guests including: • Lily Shen, Chair of Congressman Mike Coffman of China/Taiwan Advisor Council • Pat Cortez, Senior Vice President,


July 2017 | On Scene

Wells Fargo Bank • Manuel Martinez, Attorneys at Law, Holme Roberts & Owen LLP • Joe Jefferson, Mayor of Englewood • Ines Tok, Senior Vice President, Citywide Banks • David Shen, Regional Managing Director, Olympus Capital Asia • Becky Takeda-Tinker, President, Colorado State University-Global Campus Other guests included: Chuang Zhou, Dylan Shen, Aurora Ogg, Katlynn Crine, Mimi Feng, and Mrs. Jefferson.

Leaders in Colorado’s AAPI community host a fundraising luncheon for Congressman Mike Coffman.

Rock the Boat: From Legacy to Movement By Chau Phan The theme for this year’s Colorado Asian Pacific Islander American Leadership Conference was Rock the Boat: From Legacy to Movement. The idea, inspired by the the past activism of many APIA leaders, was created to continue progressive activism while continuing the legacy of those before us- to move from being known as “Fresh off the Boat” to “Rocking the Boat.” Hosted by the University of Denver Asian Student Alliance and Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network, the conference was held on May 27 at the University of Denver with attendees from both high school and college. Along with activism, the conference promoted the importance of unity. The organizers noticed a lack of community in Colorado when it came to issues that Asian Pacific Islander Americans face. Additionally, while many students understood the problems within the community, they didn’t know how to channel their knowledge into action. The conference created a space to tackle these challenges all at once. The keynote speaker, Kimberly Ming, a

Chinese-Puerto Rican, multimedia content creator, filmmaker, and spoken poet, kicked off the day after breakfast with an inspiring speech regarding identity. Afterwards, attendees split up into small groups for discussions regarding family legacies, cultural and generational differences, and identity. The day included three sets of workshops. Within each set, the students were given the chance to choose which workshops they wanted to attend. The topics ranged from mental health, mixed identities, building movements, to APIA’s within the art industry. Guest presenter, Buzzfeed’s Kane Diep, also taught a workshop on creative expression through videos and other art forms. After the last set of workshops, students broke out into their small groups to talk about what they had learned and how they would take that knowledge and put it into action. CALC is a continuation and revival of state-wide APIA youth leadership conferences started in 2009, held by Next Generation Voices, a previous youth branch of Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network. Photos by Brendan Teck

Attendees and presenters at the 2017 Rock the Boat leadership conference.

Mile-High Happenings | asian avenue magazine






Fine Asian Foods & Gifts

Store Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:00AM - 6:00PM, Sunday 9:00AM - 2:00PM 1925 Lawrence Street, Denver, CO 80202 | Phone:303-295-0293 | FAX:303-295-2753

Asian Avenue magazine - July 2017  

Cover: STEM professionals

Asian Avenue magazine - July 2017  

Cover: STEM professionals