Asian Avenue magazine - May 2017

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asian avenue May 2017 Volume 12 Issue 5

Connecting Cultures Linking Lives





Yuan Palace

Mongolian BBQ

Tattoo Masquerade Tattooing Live Art Floor Performance Art Live Animals Healing Arts Area Vendors and more!!


June 2 - 4, 2017

Colorado Convention Center

Titled as the only Hawaiian tattoo priest since the old days, Kahuna Kā Uhi Keli’iokalani Mākua, will be showcasing his traditional hand tapping Tatau method!

Original artwork by Seth Leibowitz

Advance Ticket Pricing $12 Student/Military | $16 General

Dear Asian Avenue readers,


May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. This is definitely a special month for our community! Congratulations to the honorees of the 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards: Karen Shimamoto, Mani Dahal, Maria Cheng, Donna LaVigne, Khanh Vu, Kate Tauer, Paul K. Maruyama. Read more about them in our cover story this month and join us at Empress Seafood on Saturday, May 20 to celebrate their contributions throughout the years across Colorado. Fans of Taekwondo should also take note of the U.S Open Taekwondo Hanmadang happening in early June next month. This is the first time the event will take place in Denver. There will be an exclusive performance by the world-famous Kukkiwon Demonstration Team during the Opening Ceremonies at the Hanmadang. Read more about this event in our feature article! Our writer Amy Ng also shares with us the history and origins of the dragonboat festival or Duan Wu Jie, which will fall on May 30. Amy revealed in our Chef’s Menu her mother’s secret recipe for the traditional snack enjoyed during the dragonboat festival - the Chinese tamale, also known as zhongzi! Do try the recipe out! Last but not the least, Mother’s Day falls on May 14 this year. Whether you are a mother, mother-in-law or grandmother, have a wonderful celebration! Thanks for making home the happiest place to be! Mu qing jie kuai le! (Happy Mother’s Day in mandarin).

Christina Yutai Guo, Publisher Asian Avenue magazine |

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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 Shirley Chang, City of Aurora Office, John Hansen, Maeve Leslie, Amy Ng, Jennifer Nguyen, Tom Shieh

contributing photographers Brian Miller, Anastasia Yagolnik

on the cover Congratulations to the honorees of the 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards: Karen Shimamoto, Mani Dahal, Maria Cheng, Donna LaVigne, Khanh Vu, Kate Tauer, Paul K. Maruyama. Photo taken at University of Denver by Anastasia Yagolnik.

subscriptions To subscribe, e-mail or visit A oneyear subscription is $25 for 12 issues, a two-year subscription is 40 for 24 issues. Please make checks or money orders payable to Asian Avenue magazine. For details about special corporate or group rates, please call during business hours: Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm. Shipping/handling included.

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P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222 Tel: 303.937.6888 Email: Follow Us! @AsianAveMag


asian avenue

May 2017 | Publisher’s Note

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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may 2017


8 9

Event calendar Annual U.S. Open International Taekwondo Hanmadang, June 16-17



Defying stereotypes: To Assimilate or Not Assimilate?


What is the dragonboat festival?



The Colorado Dragon Film Festival celebrates its second year






All you can eat at Yuan Palace Mongolian BBQ

14 The ninth annual Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards Ceremoney recognizes seven leaders in our community on May 20, 2017. Left to right: Mani Dahal, Kate Tauer, Khanh Vu, Karen Shimamoto, Paul K. Maruyama, Maria Cheng, and Donna LaVigne.



Learn how to make zhong zhi, the Chinese glutinous rice dish



Taking kids on the road



Who Are You Becoming Today? Column by Tom Shieh





Japan Style art exhibit opens in Pueblo, CO

Aurora is one of six cities in the U.S. to receive City Cultural Diversity Award


Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran




Opening Doors Art Exhibit An Interview with Sarah Fukami

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

Find us @AsianAveMag



CHINESE RESTAURANT 2000 S. Havana St. Aurora, CO 80014 Tel: 303.745.1373

Open Hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-9:30pm Closed Tuesdays

Northeastern Steamed Bun Pickled Cabbage with Pork Pot Seaweed Shrimp Dumpling Soup Taiwanese Style Braised Beef Noodle Pan Fried Pork Dumpling Pan Fried Buns with Beef H Hot and Spicy Beef Pot Steamed Twisted Roll Fried Leek Dumplings




events upcoming Japan Style: The Art of Form & Function Now through May 21

Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center 210 N Santa Fe Ave, Pueblo, CO 81003 Cost: $8 Adults; $6 Children, Military, and Seniors Arts Center members always free. For more info, visit Discover the many techniques and applications developed by Japanese artisans over hundreds of years. The collection of Gregory Howell focuses on works created during the 18th through 20th centuries. These objects represent the power and influence of form and function.

and Marketplace. Featuring small business and corporate exhibitors, fantastic caterers, locker room tours, and door prizes.

Food Truck Carnival

May 12-14, 11am to 10pm

Northglenn City Hall, 11701 Community Center Drive, Northglenn, CO 80233 Cost: Free and open to the public For more info, visit Join Northglenn’s one and only Food truck festival this may! Last year, 22 trucks participated in the event, and for 2017, there will be 25 trucks daily! This year 64 trucks in total will be sharing their yummy delights! Most trucks are on-site for one day only so make sure to come multiple days during the weekend to enjoy the great menu from some of the best trucks in Denver!

Celebration of Taiwanese American Heritage Week May 7-13, 5pm to 8:30pm

Lakewood Cultural Center 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood, CO 80226 To RSVP, email Rachel Chiu at or The Colorado Chapter of the Taiwanese-American Association will be holding their annual celebration of the Taiwanese-American Heritage Week from May 7-13. Performances include traditional dances such as retro Jazz dance, combined with indigenous Minnan and Hakka Folklore, to represent the rich cultural characteristic and vitality of life in Taiwan.

ACC Business After Hours & Marketplace Thursday, May 11, 5pm to 8pm

Mile High Stadium, 1701 Bryant St, Denver, CO 80204 Gate 7, Parking in Lot A/B Cost: $10 members/non-members Booth fee: $100 Small Business, $1000 Corporate Register at and inquire with chamber representatives for more information!

“Bridging the Gap” 40-hour Medical Interpreter Training

2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards & Brunch Saturday, May 20, 10am to 12pm

Kings Land Chinese Seafood 2200 West Alameda Ave. Denver, CO 80223 Cost: $30 General | $20 Students Purchase tickets: For questions, call 303-937-6888 or email info@ The award ceremony includes a dim sum brunch, recognition of the 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado. Heroes will give an acceptance speech and share their unique stories of service. Come and be inspired!

Asian Pacific Development Center 1537 Alton St., Aurora 80010 For more info, visit www.colorado Colorado Language Connection is offering Bridging the Gap: 40-hour Medical Interpreter Training in May at Asian Pacific Development Center. Both weeks are mandatory. Please visit website for more details.

World Trade Day 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 8am to 6:30pm Colorado Convention Center 700 14th St, Denver, CO 80202

Rock the Boat Student Leadership Conference Saturday, May 27, 8am to 10pm

University of Denver Driscoll Ballroom 2050 East Evans Avenue, Denver, CO 80210 Cost: $15-$20 Get tickets at: The 2017 Colorado Asian American Pacific Islander Leadership Conference aims to provide young AAPI youth with the tools to become leaders in their communities and enact sustainable and positive change. The theme is Rock the Boat: From Legacy to Movement. Our family heritage has served as our legacy. We are all familiar with our roots and what our parents have sacrificed to be here. Join for workshops and keynote speakers to discuss what’s next? We must move from honoring our past to making a difference in our communities now.

CSU Faculty & Alumni – $200, Member – $225, NonMember – $275, Reception Only – $50, Student – $75 For more info, visit World Trade Day’s theme this year, Containers to the Cloud: Trade as Goods, Services and Knowledge reflects the paramount issue of our day - how to transform future opportunities into today’s successful businesses. Join the 44th Annual World May 2017 | Event Calendar

This full day conference allows for networking with the globally active community, increasing awareness of international business-related topics and participating in interactive activities with a dynamic group of people.

Week 1: May 12-14 , 8:30am to 4:30pm Week 2: May 20-21, 8:30am to 4:30pm

The Asian Chamber of Commerce joins the Coalition again this year at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for its big showcase mixer


Trade Day and learn about how trade has expanded over the years to include not only products, but also services and knowledge. Hear experts share their experiences about international cyber security, reciprocity of ideas across borders, collaborative global research, sharing knowledge and more!


TAEKWONDO HANMADANG The 9th Annual U.S. Open International Taekwondo Hanmadang will be held at the University of Denver Magness Arena from Friday, June 16 to Saturday, June 17. This event focuses on providing families the opportunity to showcase their Taekwondo skills. Families and children ranging from ages 4 to 80 will travel from all over the world to enjoy this event. Being a celebratory event, the event is named “Hanmadang,” meaning “festival” in Korean. This event is especially significant not only because it is the first time that the U.S. Open International Taekwondo Hanmadang is being held in Denver. This year’s event is also historic in three other aspects. First, The Kukkiwon, which is the official taekwondo governing organization established by the South Korean government, has authorized the Organizing Committee to provide a Special Senior Promotion Test up to 9th Degree in conjunction with a Skip-Dan test. Traditionally, candidates for 8th and 9th Dan are required to travel to Korea and test at the Kukkiwon. This is the first time the Kukkiwon is holding the 8th and 9th Dan Test outside of the Kukkiwon. Masters and Grandmasters from all over the

world will converge upon our city for this Special Promotion/Skip Dan Promotion test that will take place on Thursday, June 15 at the Hyatt Denver Tech Center in Denver. Since the Kukkiwon testing will be held in Denver, there will also be an exclusive performance by the world-famous Kukkiwon Demonstration Team during the Opening Ceremonies of the Hanmadang. In addition, this will be the first year the U.S. Open International Taekwondo Hanmadang will include Para-Taekwondo divisions, making the event truly inclusive for all members of our society. This portion of the competition will be open to individuals with physical, sensory, intellectual and developmental impairments and disabilities. The opening ceremonies of the U.S. Open International Taekwondo Hanmadang begin at 6pm on Friday, June 16, featuring the exhilarating performance of the world-renowned Kukkiwon demonstration team, appearances by local dignitaries and other special guests. There will also be former Olympians, political leaders, state representatives, and other influential community members in attendance. To learn more about this event, visit

Photos from past U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang events


JUNE 16 - 17, 2017 University of Denver Magness Arena 2250 E Jewell Ave, Denver, CO 80210 Tickets: $27 (Friday) | $17 (Saturday)

Upcoming Event | asian avenue magazine



Assimilation – a suppressive term to most. It elicits thoughts of lost culture and compromised individuality, or of powerful authority forcing integration. To me, however, assimilation is associated with words like acceptance and equality, opportunity and advantage. The act of assimilating has been a benefit throughout my life. Currently an English instructor at a community college in Arizona, I grew up in Iowa with a Caucasian father and a Korean mother. I received a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in English Literature from Oklahoma State University. I may look Korean, but don’t fit the mold. I’m not a whiz kid at math or science. I teach a variety of writing and literature courses. I happen to be athletic, participated in high school and college sports, and currently coach the local high school women’s tennis team. I’m 6’1”, can grow a full beard, and do not even play a stringed instrument. I’ve always been hyperaware of Asian stereotyping in my life, the media, and society. I’d watch a movie like A Christmas Story (restaurant scene at the end) and groan at how the Asian character is scripted. Recent movies like Harold & Kumar or Star Trek, and television shows such as The Walking Dead seem to finally be breaking those stereotypes, albeit slowly. I remember saying to my wife,


May 2017 | Cultural Tidbits

“Finally, a role that breaks common perceptions of the male Asian figure,” (Glenn gets the girl, has major scenes, is not depicted as weak or needs saving, and is not made fun of with small, crass comments from others). I contend that this shift away from portraying the typical Asian male helps Asians as a whole by lessening generalizations and labels. I’ve had a stranger come up during a pickup game of basketball and say, “Man, you’re good! I thought Asians weren’t good in sports.” Maybe playing a good game of basketball will give the next Asian a chance. It is all about changing people’s mindsets. Speaking of mindsets, I was at a gas station in Arizona when a large truck with five Caucasian men pulled up. One

spoke to me: his tone was demeaning and full of scrutiny. He wanted my name, why I was in town, and what I did for a job. When I answered with clear, intelligible English, his change in demeanor and tone was evident. He said, “You probably speak better English than me!” There are plenty of examples of Asian-Americans who do not want to assimilate, and thereby reduce their chances of economic, social, or professional success. My Korean cousin from Los Angeles is one example. She came to live with us in Iowa and attended a local university, but didn’t like it because there were too many Caucasians, not enough Asian culture, and not enough diversity. She never made the effort to adapt, dropped out, and moved back to L.A.

I’m proud of my Korean-American heritage and culture. I’m glad that my mother taught me the language, history, and customs. I proudly gave my Korean name—Jae Young—as my son’s middle name.

John Hansen with his wife Victoria and his son Caleb Jae Young I’m proud of my Korean-American heritage and culture. I’m glad that my mother taught me the language, history, and customs. I proudly gave my Korean name—Jae Young—as my son’s middle name. I currently travel two hours from home to eat authentic bulgogi and kimchee, and I’m ecstatic that my wife is learning how to cook Korean food from my mother. I even root for the South Korean players and teams during the Olympics because I have a sense of pride and respect, though I also want the United States to excel just as much. As a teaching assistant at OSU, the majority of the first-year students I taught were Caucasian. Many were from small towns in Oklahoma and Texas without much cultural diversity. I hoped to give the best impression possible of Asian people. In the future, they may not be so quick to generalize or judge based solely on negative depictions via various media. Seeing my own mother put down because of her accent and the food she

ate had a profound effect on me. This is why I feel so strongly about assimilation. Even today, when my mother wins at bingo, others make derogatory and racial comments. She just grins and waves her cash at them. Flashing a smile is often not enough. Just over a year ago, the stakes of assimilating increased when I became a father to a beautiful baby boy. Fatherhood comes with protecting him from the type of treatment that my mom and I endured. I want my son to face fewer misconceptions of what Asians are “supposed to be.” I want him to have the chance to be his own person—not the person someone else presumes he should be on the basis of stereotypes. When I think about how my mindset and lifestyle might help change the future treatment of fellow Asians for the better, when I think about people showing respect to my mother, and when I think about paving the way for my son to be treated equally and without prejudice, the cost of my personal assimila

tion seems minimal. I’ll always strive to do my best in every endeavor so that any encounter can become an opportunity to challenge individual bias.

Caleb dressed as an Iowa football player for Halloween

Defying Stereotypes | asian avenue magazine


What is the Dragon Boat Festival and how did it start?

By Amy Ng

Dozens of colorfully painted boats carved into the shape of dragons soaring through water. That is one of the most popular images that come up when thinking about the Dragon Boat Festival. The traditional holiday, with its roots found in China, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar. As a result, the Dragon Boat Festival occurs on a different day each year on the standard calendar we all use today—this year it will fall on May 30. There are many traditions, stories, and superstitions that are a part of the festival. For example, there are many origin stories of how the Dragon Boat Festival started. The one that my family told me growing up features a very loyal patriot, poet, and strategist named Qu Yuan who was an advisor to a king during the Warring States period of Chinese history. However, the king was very proud and corrupted and refused to take Qu Yuan’s advice. When Qu Yuan expressed disapproval on his policies, the king exiled the advisor. Due to the unwise decisions of the King, Qu Yuan’s kingdom was soon conquered. The event devastated Qu Yuan and he committed suicide by jumping into the Milou River. Qu Yuan’s daughter, who was worried about her father’s body being eaten away by fish and shrimp, went to the river every day and threw rice in to feed the aquatic animals so they would leave Qu Yuan’s body alone. She wrapped the rice in bamboo leaves to keep it from scattering in the water, and thus, the tradition of eating zong zi (aka Chinese Tamale), a sticky rice ball


May 2017 | Cultural Tidbits

with filling wrapped in bamboo leaves, was born. Similar to how the festival has many different origin stories, there are many names for the festival. One of which is the “Double Five” festival. It is named so not just because of the date it corresponds to on the lunar festival, but also because of the warming temperature. It is the time in which the traditional five poisonous animals come out of hiding from winter. The five creatures are the centipede, snake, spider, toad, and scorpion. It is customary to drink and sprinkle a special kind of hard wine, called xiong huang jiu, which supposedly wards off these venomous beasts. The wine is made out of a special kind of herb that these animals allegedly avoid. By drinking this wine during the festival, it is believed to ward of bad luck and spirits. In some countries, the festival is also called the duan wu jie. Of all the superstitions and traditions of the Dragon Boat festival, my favorite is balancing raw eggs so that it “stands” on a flat surface. It is supposedly only something that can be done during the festival. The best time to attempt the feat is at high noon on the day of the celebration. If you are able to balance the egg, then you will have good luck for the rest of the year. If eggs are too easy, apparently, brooms are also able to be balanced too, handle side down. So this year, between watching the Dragon Boat race and eating delicious zong zi, you can also try to bring good luck in for the rest of the year with a simple egg.

The Colorado Dragon Film Festival celebrates its second year

The second annual Colorado Dragon Film Festival is kicking off their programming with the VIP Opening Night sponsored by the Denver Art Museum Asian Art Association and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office of Denver on Friday, June 2, 2017. The opening night movie, 52HZ, I Love You, is a cute and quirky musical drama about different couples set in modern-day Taipei on Valentine’s Day. Tickets can be purchased on and will include drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a meet and greet with a special guest! Throughout the rest of the weekend (June 3-4, 2017), the Colorado Dragon Film Festival moves over to the King Center on Auraria Campus with a lineup of exciting films that follow the theme “Intertwining Lives.” These movies will connect different cultures, reveal shared

By Jennifer Nguyen

experiences, and knit stories together. The films on display run the gamut from murder mysteries to coming-of-age, historical intrigue to contemporary political protest, and romances that cross cultural boundaries. Legendary iconoclast filmmaker Seijun Suzuki recently passed away in February 2017. He produced about 40 films throughout his career that spanned the 1950s to the early 2000s. The Colorado Dragon Film Festival will be featuring his 1963 film, Youth of the Beast in tribute to his many years as a filmmaker. In the film, Suzuki takes a B-movie script about a detective who becomes a brute in order to exact revenge on the criminal organization that killed one of his colleagues, and infuses it with popping colors, surreal visuals, and a disregard for convention. Join us

in honoring Director Suzuki with one of his greatest films. Collaborating with Museo de las Americas, a museum that highlights the diversity of Latin American art and culture through programs and exhibitions, The Future Perfect is a narrative/documentary hybrid about a Chinese girl who emigrates to Argentina not knowing any Spanish. She diligently works at a grocery store to earn money for language lessons. Whatever she learns in Spanish class, she tries it out on the street. The better her Spanish gets, the more she intervenes in the writing of the film. Experience her cross-cultural story at the film festival! Tickets will be available for purchase at at the beginning of May. Please e-mail with questions regarding the festival.

COLORADO DRAGON FILM FESTIVAL Opening Night: Friday, June 2 | Denver Art Museum featuring 52HZ, I Love You Saturday & Sunday, June 3 & 4 | King Center on Auraria Campus

855 Lawrence Way, Denver, CO 80204

Photos from 2016 Colorado Dragon Film Festival

Feature | asian avenue magazine



HEROES Colorado’s Asian American

In its ninth year, Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network proudly announces the 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado:

YOUNG HERO Karen Shimamoto

Multicultural Programs Coordinator at the Cultural Unity & Engagement Center at the University of Colorado Boulder

Mani Dahal

Sustainability Program Manager at ECDC African Community Center

Maria Cheng

Founder and Artistic Director of Theatre Esprit Asia

Donna LaVigne

Founding Board Member of Mending Faces Past Regional Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations

Khanh Vu

Executive Director of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers


Founding Member of the Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership


Story by Patricia

Kaowthumrong Photos by Anastasia Yagolnik Heroes were selected by a committee comprised of Colorado’s AAPI community organizations. Organized by: Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network

Founding Member and Former President of the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado, Author of Escape from Manchuria, a historical biography

9th annual Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award Ceremony and Brunch Date: Saturday, May 20, 2017 Time: 10 a.m. to noon Location: Kings Land Chinese Seafood | 2200 West Alameda Ave. Denver, CO 80223 Tickets: $30 each | $20 for students To purchase tickets: Checks made payable to CACEN can be sent to: CACEN, P.O. Box 221748, Denver, CO 80222 Or purchase at: The award ceremony includes a dim sum brunch, recognition of the 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado. Heroes will give an acceptance speech and share their unique stories of service. Come and be inspired! For questions, call 303-937-6888 or email


May 2017 |Cover Story

KA R Karen coordinates the Boulder Valley School District Asian Youth Leadership Conference


Karen Shimamoto’s passion for giving back is fueled by the hope, resiliency and inspiration the community has provided in her life. “Since the community has always supported and welcomed me, it is even more important that I reciprocate and help empower us,” says Karen, who serves as the multicultural programs coordinator for the Cultural Unity and Engagement Center at University of Colorado Boulder and the advisor to five different student organizations. A yonsei (fourth generation) Japanese-American who was born and raised in Denver, Karen earned a degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from CU-Boulder and recently received her master’s in public health in May 2016 from the Colorado School of Public Health. “From her professional engagement to the love she shares with students like myself, Karen has changed the lives of hundreds if not thousands of students and people over the course of her career, and she continues to do so today without fail,” says Ben Nguyen, a mentee who nominated Karen for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado award. “She is constantly engaged in strengthening various APIA communities but most noble is her work with students. Her work paves the path for the next generation of APIA and underrepresented students to rise and grow.” At CU-Boulder, Karen is a member of CU Boulder Institutional Review Board and IGNITE Social Justice Retreat Planning Committee and co-chair of the Pan-Asian Faculty & Staff Association. Her other


Multicultural Programs Coordinator CULTURAL UNITY & ENGAGEMENT CENTER AT CU-BOULDER community roles include active member of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Colorado Chapter and awards chair for the Japanese American Community Graduation Program. Karen has also been a performing member of Denver Taiko, an organization committed to honoring and sharing the art of Japanese drumming through performance, for nearly 20 years. “With her sisters and other team members, Karen constantly performs all over Colorado to share music and culture with folks,” Ben says. “She helps to preserve that cultural identity in a place where Japanese culture is limited, and she gives back to the Denver Buddhist Temple constantly.” Karen’s involvement in the community has allowed her to gain valuable knowledge about the history of Asian Americans and other diverse populations, including African American, Latino, Native American and LGBTQ communities. Karen has played with Denver Taiko for nearly 20 years


“I cannot describe in words what the honor of the 2017 Asian American Young Hero award means to me,” she says. “I only hope that this inspires young Asian Americans to continue to challenge the norm and stand up for our community as well as other people of color, women, and LGBTQ communities.” Karen’s greatest accomplishment is being the first in her family to earn a master’s degree, a feat she couldn’t have achieved without support and love from her family, friends and Taiko family. “My family inspires me to persevere through the tough times, and I am grateful to learn something each time I make it through a situation,” says Karen, whose most important values are honesty and perseverance. Her advice to younger generations is a quote from her shero (female hero), civil

“Her work paves the path for the next generation of APIA and underrepresented students to rise and grow.” rights activist Yuri Kochiyama: “Life is not what you alone make it. Life is the input of everyone who touched your life and every experience that entered it. We are all part of one another.” “I would not be where I am today without my family, community and those who have each taught me something, thus I try my best in being progressive, mindful and supportive in return because I don’t make up the community,” Karen says. “We all do.” Pan-Asian Faculty and Staff Association at CU-Boulder

Christmas in the Philippines 2017 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine


M 16

May 2017 | Cover Story


Thanks to playwright, actor, director and choreographer Maria Cheng, Colorado is home to the first and only Asian American theater company in the Southwest: Theatre Esprit Asia (TEA). In 2012, with Tria Xiong, Maria co-founded and became the co-artistic director of TEA, working tirelessly without pay to bring original dramas and comedies to Colorado audiences, chronicling the Asian immigrant experience. Such productions were lacking in the Colorado theater landscape, according to Lori Hansen, an award- winning actor who nominated Maria for the Asian American Hero of Colorado award. “In five short years, Maria, now TEA’s sole artistic director, has created a nationally recognized company of professional stature, garnering critical accolades with the eleven productions presented,” Lori recounts. “By the first three years, TEA had given more paid work and plum roles to more Asian American actors than the entire history of Colorado theater!” Other highlights of Maria’s career include: partnering choreographer Bill T. Jones on PBS, serving as choreographer at the Guthrie Theater, playing lead and featured roles at numerous theaters in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Colorado and receiving critical acclaim at major venues across four continents and chairing the Dance Program of the University of Minnesota to national prominence with three consecutive invitations to the Kennedy Center. She retired to the mountains of Summit County, CO in



Founder and Artistic Director

THEATRE ESPRIT ASIA 1999, but “rejoined society” in 2009 when she resumed her tai-chi training and then established TEA. TEA’s productions have won 20 awards from the Colorado theater community and Denver press, including sweeping the top awards at the 2014 and 2016 Colorado

es can consistently experience the work of Asian actors and playwrights [Meegan Anslee, Sushma Bagga, Tarika Cefkin, Charlie Chiv, Zachary Drake, Dale Li, Amit Patil, Robert Payo, Pavithra Prasad, Arlene Rapal, Sun Hee Seo, Sheila Traister, Peter Trinh, Tria Xiong, Kim Yan] in fine roles of powerful stories, beautifully produced and all garnering high critical praise.” says Brian Miller, another TEA colleague and award-winning lighting designer who also nominated Maria for the Hero award. Maria hopes that the significance of receiving the Hero’s award means that Asian American theater in Colorado is here to stay. Despite her distinguished career, Maria says her greatest achievement is raising her son to be a compassionate human being, and her most important values are integrity, compassion, excellence and trying to leave the world a little better than one finds it. “I am an immigrant, mother, friend, theater artist, activist and spiritual sojourner,

“In five short years, Maria, now TEA’s sole artistic director, has created a nationally recognized company of professional stature, garnering critical accolades with the eleven productions presented.” American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) Festivals with Peoples’ Choice, Best Production, Actress and Lighting. TEA has been invited to perform at the National AACT Festival in 2017 and the International Festival in 2018. “For the first time, Colorado audienc-

and on any given day, not necessarily in that order!” says Maria about herself. When asked if she has any advice for the younger generations, she says: “Believe your heart is good. Have the courage to follow it.” Left to right:Tarika Cefkin, Maria Cheng, Meegan Anslee, Lori Hansen

Photos by Brian Miller More info about TEA:




The human suffering that Mani Damanager. This role allowed him to hal witnessed and experienced at a pursue his passion for serving diverse refugee camp in Nepal changed the community members as they started course of his life, and inspired him their new lives in Denver. to dedicate himself to the service of According to Melissa Theesen, who humanity. nominated Mani for the Asian AmerPolitical problems in his native ican Hero of Colorado award, Mani country of Bhutan landed Mani in a now serves as Sustainability Program refugee camp as a young high school Manager at the Center. In that role student in the early 1990s. There, he he manages and leads Employment, spent 16 years in the camp, where he met Temporary Assistance for Needy Families his wife and together, they had two children. (TANF), and Training and Matching Grant Facing an uncertain future, Mani gave programs. up his dream of attending medical school “He has welcomed hundreds of new refuwhen he was placed in the camp. “Most of gees into the community, ensuring that they the time I spent in the camp, I taught ref- Sustainability Program Manager have all of their basic needs met as well as ugee children. Empowering the younger hope for their futures here in the U.S.,” says ECDC AFRICAN generation is the only way to liberate them who serves as the African CommuCOMMUNITY CENTER Theesen, from the mindset of refugee life,” says Mani. nity Center’s Managing Director. “In all of his Through a resettlement program, Mani could provide support to the growing popu- work, Mani puts the most vulnerable memand his family journeyed to Denver in May lation. Along with other dedicated communi- bers of our community first. He always looks 2008 to start a new life. ty leaders, Mani helped establish the Global forward, envisioning what is possible while “It was not easy to start all over again, but Bhutanese Community of Colorado and learning from what has happened. Mani is I never looked back,” he says. “I began in served as chair of the nonprofit for two years. a hero in all respects — in his community, to an entry-level position in a hotel while vol“Giving back and empowering the com- his family, and with his children.” unteering at both the African Community munity are the things I value most in my life,” Mani says, “If giving back could be made a Center and Colorado Alliance global campaign, we could for Health Equity and Pracdefinitely eliminate povtice Clinic. These experiences “In all of his work, Mani puts the most vulnerable members erty and hunger from the gave me the opportunity to of our community first. He always looks forward, envisioning world. The world would connect with different orgabecome a more beautiful what is possible while learning from what has happened.” nizations that serve refugees place to live.” and other immigrants.” He continues, “My humThe Bhutanese were a new community in he says. “I live by this mantra.” ble advice to the younger generation is to the U.S. at the time, and while the Dahal famSince he arrived in Colorado, Mani has come together regardless of differences. ily was only the third Bhutanese family to ar- actively advocated for refugees and immi- Only then can the problems of humanity be rive in Denver, more and more began settling grant communities. In 2010, the Ethiopian addressed. Only then can we make a better in the city. This influx increased the need for Community Development Council’s African world for the coming generation to live and a Bhutanese community organization that Community Center hired Mani as a case to thrive.” Mani presenting at CU-Boulder

Visit to Congressman Coffman’s office

Community volleyball tournament

2017 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine


DO Before marrying her husband Jay, a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer she met in the Philippines, and settling in Denver in 1983, Donna accomplished many things. She worked in the Ministry of Public Works and Highways, served as a language instructor for the Peace Corps, and was involved in community service through the Jaycees and other civic organizations. “Born and educated in the Philippines, she is now an inspirational role model and civic leader,” says Giselle Rushford, a colleague in community service who nominated Donna for the Asian American Hero of

Colorado award. “Ms. LaVigne is personable, modest, and caring. She has remarkable integrity and I am proud to call her a lifelong friend.” After moving to Denver, Donna joined the Filipino-American Community of Colorado in 1985 and became President of the organization in 1996. She engaged in both the Filipino-American and Asian communities, and in 1997, became a founding member of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA). In 2001, she accepted the role of Regional Chair for NaFFAA. Active in the Fil-Am community locally and nationally, Donna also joined Uplift International and Mending Faces, two medical mission organizations. Donna’s greatest professional achievement is participating in annual medical missions to the Philippines with a team that provides free surgery to children who were born with cleft lips and palates. “I have participated in 20 cleft lip and palate medical missions so far. We are already planning for 2018,” Donna says. “Helping these groups

change the lives of more than 1,000 kids, as well as countless family members who can now see a future for their loved ones, is priceless.” Her greatest personal achievement is having a family—marrying her husband, having her wonderful daughter, Mahal, and welcoming her first grandchild, Ellis, to the family. Nick is her soon-to-be son-in-law, and she is thrilled to welcome him, too. Donna’s many other roles in the community include serving as a founding officer of the newly created Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce of Colorado, being appointed to the Asian Pacific American Governor’s Advisory Council, Co-Chair of the Aurora Asian Pacific Community Partnership, Board Member of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival and serving as a member of the City and County of Broomfield’s Health and Human Services Advisory Council and Cultural Affairs Advisory Council. Donna lives by the philosophy that happiness is a choice, not a result. She says, “Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy, and no person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you, it can only come from you.” Her advice for younger generations is to find volunteer work one enjoys and have fun doing it. “Do not expect anything in return, because that will disappoint you,” she says. “If you are a parent, make sure to show to your kids that volunteering is fun and an essential part of life — that we should nurture, support, and care for each other.”

With Governor John Hickenlooper at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

Mending Faces Founding Board Members

NaFFAA Region V Officers and Directors

“Born and educated in the Philippines, she is now an inspirational role model.”



An active member in the Colorado community for over 30 years, giving back is in Donna LaVigne’s DNA. Born on the remote island of Boracay in the Philippines, Donna learned the value of volunteering at a young age. Her father was a Barangay Captain and served many roles including peace officer, preacher, and medical assistant — all on a volunteer basis. “He taught us that volunteering and doing free service is the best way to give back to the community that nurtures, supports and cares for you,” Donna says. “My dad was Barangay Captain for more than 25 years and received national recognition on a number of occasions.”


May 2017 | Cover Story

Founding Board Member


N ́ HV A H K Executive Director of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, pioneer of Colorado’s Asian grocery industry, and devoted mentor are just a few of the many roles Khánh Vũ has served in the Colorado community. “Khánh is our fearless leader and works all hours of the day trying to better the Asian American community — not just in Colorado, but across the nation,” says Jessica Moy, national conference coordinator for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE). Moy nominated Khánh for the Asian American Hero of Colorado award. Born in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) during the height of the Vietnam War, Khánh and his family escaped by boat after the Fall of Saigon when he was just five years old. After immigrating to the U.S., the Vu family was part of the first 18 Vietnamese families to settle in Colorado and helped launch the community. Khánh is a John F. Kennedy High School alum and graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a degree in chemical engineering and three minors. Khánh served as a production engineer for Amoco but left the company after the relocation of their Denver office to work for his family businesses: real estate and Asian grocery. He helped grow his family’s Far East Center Asian Supermarket store to the largest grocery store of its kind in the region. Khánh’s passion for mentoring and his loyalty to the Colorado School of Mines led to his role as the director of the school’s Multicultural Engineering Program, where he has helped more than 1,000 students. His mentoring specialties include recruitment, retention, and professional development.

Executive Director

SOCIETY OF ASIAN SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS “Khánh is truly passionate about developing Asian American leaders and wants the very best for the community as a whole,” Jessica Moy says. “Not enough Asian Americans are filling the roles of CEOs and high executives. He wants to make sure that cultural norms are recognized and refined so everyone has the same chance of making it to the top in the professional world.” As a SASE volunteer, Khánh helped plan the 2011 National Conference and joined

chapters and more than 6,000 members nationwide. SASE is one of the largest and still growing APIA organizations in the U.S. “As an Asian American, we are taught to be humble, sometimes to our own detriment,” Khánh says. “In Western culture, being comfortable with celebrating one’s successes is part of being a leader.” While SASE’s growth and success is one of his biggest professional triumphs, Khánh says his family and their success in the business world are ultimately his greatest achievements. “We put in a lot of sweat, tears, and sacrifice to achieve our American dream,” says Khánh. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Uyển, and their four children, Thiên Ân (JP), Thiên Sơn (Vincent), Thiên Hải (Dominic) and Thiên Hà (Teresa). Some of the most important values to Khánh are grit, teamwork, and innate human value (respecting every individual for their humanness). He encourages younger generations to learn about their heritage and carry forth the best values of their cultures to share with the world. He says, “You are stronger than you think, but not so strong that you can’t ask for help

“Not enough Asian Americans are filling the roles of CEOs and high executives. He wants to make sure that cultural norms are recognized and refined so everyone has the same chance of making it to the top in the professional world.” the organization as executive director that same year. Thanks to Khánh’s leadership, SASE has grown to encompass over 80

or share your challenges and vulnerabilities with others.” These are wise words from a wise man.

Photos of Khánh with the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)

2017 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine




Raised in a large family with 11 children, community and family are the foundations of Kate Tauer’s life. “At a young age we learned to work and play together — it was a delightful way to live, and I learned many things from it,” says Kate, who has lived in Colorado since moving to the state with her family in 1952. “I have had many opportunities over the years and have met many people from all walks of life. As our lives have intertwined, I have developed a passion for working with others for the common good.” In 1956, Kate married Paul Tauer, former Mayor of the City of Aurora, and they had eight children of their own. She served as the First Lady of Aurora from 1987 - 2003 and has contributed to Asian American communities in Colorado for more than 30 years. “Both Paul and Kate have always joined forces to come to a better understanding


Founding Member

AURORA ASIAN/ PACIFIC COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP serving of the honor, having had the vision 30 years ago to connect in a tangible way to the Asian/Pacific businesses and communities in Aurora.” Kate is a founding member of the Auro-

“Kate is a proven champion of the Asian Pacific American communities in Colorado, having had the vision 30 years ago to connect in a tangible way to the Asian/Pacific businesses and communities in Aurora.” of the Aurora community,” says the Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership, which nominated Kate for the Asian American Hero of Colorado award. “Kate is a proven champion of the Asian Pacific American communities in Colorado and is beyond de-

ra Asian/Pacific Community Partnership, which has received recognition from the National League of Cities for involvement in the lives of Aurora’s immigrants. Highlights of her involvement in the organization include helping orchestrate the


celebration of film and filmmakers at the annual Aurora Asian Film Festival (1998– 2007) and serving on the selection committee for the Education Awards Program. “She ‘adopts’ community leaders, as if they were her own children,” according to the Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership. “With boundless energy, Kate is on hand to give a greeting, enjoy the many special festivities and contribute to worthy causes.” Kate was named an honorary chair for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in 2014 and serves on several other nonprofit boards, including University of Colorado’s Community-Campus Partnership, which serves northwest Aurora. She is also chair for St. Pius X Women’s Guild and the Highlands Park East Neighborhood. “I have learned that the community can be an open door to how the city and its organizations work,” she says. “By using this information, I have been able to help my neighborhood and the city, in general, by being involved and working for improvement.” Kate advises younger generations to look for opportunities to get involved with their schools, neighborhoods and cities with a positive attitude for improvement. “It is important to work with others in such a way as to listen, learn, and adjust in order to make improvements,” she says. “It will pay you back tenfold, and you will get a great deal of satisfaction from it.”

Left to Right: Sum Nguyen,Yang Chee, Paul Tauer, Danh Nguyen and Kate Tauer at Aurora Partnership reception

Kate and her husband Paul Tauer at the eye-dotting ceremony as the Honorary Chairs of the 2014 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (CDBF)


May 2017 | Cover Story

CDBF Honorary Chairs: George Yoshida, former Mayor of Aurora Paul Tauer, Kate Tauer and Helen Yoshida

PA U With Matt Perry, descendant of Commodore Perry who forced open the doors of Japan to the world in 1853


A member of the first U.S. Olympic judo team, founding member of the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado, and a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, Paul K. Maruyama’s service has touched lives all over Colorado and around the world. Paul has called Colorado home since 1973. He was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs following a tour of duty in Southeast Asia. At the Academy, he taught Japanese and combative courses, including judo, boxing, wrestling, and unarmed combat. Paul says, “During my 21 years serving in the Air Force, I had the privilege of knowing many great and wonderful U.S. servicemen of Asian heritage. I would like to dedicate this wonderful award to them.” He retired from the Air Force in 1987 and then taught Japanese at Colorado Springs’ Colorado College from 1989 to 2013. An active judo competitor, Paul was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and represented the U.S. in five world judo championships. He is a former World Military Judo champion and also served twice as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Judo Team (in 1980 and 1984). Former president of the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado, and founding member of the John Manjiro Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange, (an organization that promotes the free exchange of opinions between individual citizens of America and Japan to further mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries), Paul Maruyama demonstrates his continued commitment to making the world a better place. When asked what receiving this award means to him, Paul says, “As someone who grew up in Japan with both Japanese and

A R M UY . K A L


American culture as part of my identity, I am honored, thrilled, and humbled to be recognized as someone who has done his part to strengthen U.S.-Japan ties and to bring about recognition to all my fellow Asian American citizens who make our country great.” In 2013, Paul was awarded a Japanese Imperial Decoration (Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette) in recognition of his efforts to promote U.S.-Japan relationships. “The decoration, awarded by the Emperor of Japan to individuals worldwide, recognizes lifetime achievement and a commitment to excellence, with an emphasis on significant and positive contributions to mutual understanding and friendship between the U.S. and Japan,” says Dan O. Yoshii, a member of Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado who nominated Paul for the Hero award. Published in 2010, Paul’s book, Escape from Manchuria, recounts the harrowing true story of the rescue and repatriation to Japan of nearly 1.5 million Japanese citizens abandoned in Manchuria at the end of World War II. He considers this his greatest accomplishment. Paul’s father, Kunio Maruyama, was the leader of the Japanese

men who facilitated the rescue chronicled in the book. “It had been my lifelong desire to let the world know what my father and his two companions did to help rescue the abandoned Japanese civilians,” Paul says. “I have learned what my parents endured, particularly following the defeat of Japan while we were in Manchuria. I did not realize until I was an adult what horrors and hardships my mother had to endure to bring me and my three brothers safely back from Manchuria to Japan, especially after our father had to leave us on our own to make his escape.” Three entities helped in the endeavor to rescue the over 1.5 million Japanese non-combatants from Manchuria: General Douglas MacArthur and the U.S. forces that occupied Japan, the Catholic Church in both Manchuria and in Japan, and the Nationalist Chinese Forces under Chiang Kai Shek who were fighting the Communist forces of Mao Zedong. “All three entities aided my father and his companions to bring about the rescue of the Japanese, who were dying at the rate of 2,500 per day,” he says. “In particular, it is my firm belief that one reason for such a close and lasting relationship between Japan and the U.S. is due to the benevolence of General MacArthur who defied the Soviet Union and ordered the rescue of the Japanese.” Paul’s father taught him the importance of giving back and helping others, even at the risk of one’s own life. He advises younger generations to be humble, grateful, and most importantly, to learn from history. “Learn from the past, and do not repeat the mistakes of the past,” Paul says. “Honor your parents who have sacrificed so much on your behalf. Learn what obstacles they had to overcome in order for you to live the happy life you live.”

JASSC’s Children’s Day at Colorado College in 2011

Paul presents at the Colorado Springs Library as JASSC president

Founding Member/Former President


2017 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine


Yuan Palace


By Samantha Quee

Established in 1978, Yuan Palace Mongolian Barbeque has been in business for almost 40 years, capturing the hearts and tastes of both locals and foreigners living in Colorado. Bo Mai and Haili Wu currently own this family restaurant. They took over from the previous Taiwanese owner when they immigrated to Colorado 17 years ago. “Yuan Palace had already built up a great reputation, and we were determined to keep up the tradition and culinary experience,” says Bo Mai. Indeed, the couple has continued to provide excellent service and food options to their loyal customers for almost two decades. Yuan Palace invites diners to begin by choosing their desired ingredients. They then pass these to a chef who waits at a cooking station. Fresh ingredients include sliced beef, pork, chicken, tofu and a variety of vegetables. There are six sauces to select from, and guests can mix them to concoct something unique. Just $10.25 for lunch, customers enjoy a full bowl of ingredients prepared on the hot grill, a bowl of scrumptious soup, rice and also some homemade rice cake. For dinner, only $14.95, there is an addition of lamb slices to their meat selection, and all ingredients are available in abundance until the end of dinner.

YUAN PALACE MONGOLIAN BBQ 7555 E Arapahoe Rd Englewood, CO 80112 Tel: 303-771-6296

Haili says with a smile, “Many of our customers love to wrap the grilled food inside the rice cake, like a Chinese-style taco!” How did the Mongolian grill tradition evolve? Legend has it that Kublai Khan and his hunting parties would gather in droves to celebrate their hunting success. The Mongols would prepare slivers of meat and vegetables by slicing them with their razor sharp swords and then searing their food on overturned shields heated by a blazing fire. Kublai Khan and his fiercest warriors would enjoy the food prepared on a large, roaring hot griddle. That hot griddle is similar to the barbecue grill we see in Mongolian Grill restaurants today. Bo Mai says, “As Chinese, we take a lot of pride in giving the ‘wok’ flavor to our food. In some Mongolian grill restaurants, I have seen chefs use metal bowls to cover their food on the grill in order to speed up the cooking process. However our grill is very hot, and we make sure that the raw ingredients stay on the grill for a maximum of only 45 seconds to prevent overcooking them.” If you love to build you own bowl and would like to try some piping hot food prepared on the spot, you will definitely enjoy Yuan Palace.

Why is the restaurant named “Yuan Palace?” The Yuan dynasty (元朝-yuan chao) was the empire or ruling dynasty of China established by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan. The dynasty lasted from 1271 to 1368.

Open Hours: Monday to Thursday: 11am-9pm Friday: 11am-10pm Saturday: 4pm-10pm Sunday: 4pm-9pm All You Can Eat Lunch $10.25 | Dinner $14.95


May 2017 | Restaurant Peek

Mongolian BBQ Grill

Introducing our...



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Zhong Zi Recipe By Amy Ng

Makes about 12

INGREDIENTS: • 8 cups of glutinous rice • 2 cans of sweet red bean paste • 20 bamboo leaves • 1 spindle of twine

fill it up to the top (which should be another 1/3) with more rice, leaving about 1/2 to 1 centimeter at the top of the leaves.

1 Wash the bamboo leaves

thoroughly on both sides with hot water. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 3 hours, then drain the water from the rice. Double the leaves so that they are wider, then form a cone shape.

3 Wrap the leaves over so that

the rice and paste cannot fall out.

2 Fill the leaves about 1/3 of the

way with the soaked rice, then fill about 1/3 of the way with a ball of sweet red bean paste, and then 24

May 2017 | Chef’s Menu

hong zi is a snack made out of stick rice and some sort of filling that is wrapped up in bamboo leaves, it reminds me of a Chinese tamale. This tasty little package is usually eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival, a reminder of Qu Yuan’s daughter and her filial piety to her father. There are many different varieties of the zhong zi, some savory, some sweet. This recipe is one of the most popular sweet version of the treat.

4 Tie with twine. Put the zhong

zi in a large pot and fill it with cold water until it covers everything. Cook over high, covered, for about an hour and 15 minutes, make sure the water doesn’t dry out. Drain the pot, and take out the zhong zi.

Bringing the ramen culture to Denver!

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OPEN Mon-Thu & Sat: 5pm - 1am Fri: 5pm - 2am | Sun: 4pm - 9pm

2907 Huron St. Unit 103 Denver, CO 80202 Tel: 720.639.2911

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


Taking the kids to mom’s alma mater, University of Missouri

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota Shirley Chang moved to Colorado from Taipei, Taiwan in January 2016 due to her assignment to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Denver. She is currently a consular officer at TECO. She previously worked as a journalist in Taiwan and the U.S. for seven year. In her free time, she likes to go shopping and reading.


May 2017 | Travel

Spectacular mountains, fascinating national parks, and sunshine year-round - how lucky we are to live in a state like Colorado! Besides working hard to promote Taiwan and its relationship with Colorado, my family’s favorite thing to do is travel. We want to see as many places as possible while we are young and healthy. That means we have to take our kids— ages four and two—on the road. From Rocky Mountain National Park to Pikes Peak, and from Red Rocks Amphitheater to the Grand Sand Dunes National Park, we have been to many famous scenic spots in the Centennial State. The scenery is amazing! One of my favorites is the Maroon Bells in Aspen. In September, some of the leaves are still green, but many are turning yellow and the mountains in the distance are covered in white snow. It is absolutely beautiful and worth all of the effort to get there. Beyond Colorado, we have also taken the family to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, to Sea World in San Diego, to my alma mater, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and to Las Vegas. Not tired yet, we also snuck in Arches National Park and Salt Lake City in the same year. Taking two little kids on the road is not easy. They have all kinds of issues: they have to pee, they get bored of all the driving, or they struggle with the weather. Seeing the pictures of their smiling, happy faces after the trip is over means that all the hardship paid off. Moving from Taiwan to the United States hasn’t been easy for them either. It took my older son almost a year to get used to pre-school life and to learn English, which meant he was in tears for most of the year. As a working mom, I have to rush back and forth between my office and home to take care of everything. But I believe living in the U.S. and meeting different people will broaden my family’s horizons, just like traveling does. Several years from now, this time will be filled with sweet and unforgettable memories. Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado

WHO ARE YOU BECOMING TODAY? By Tom Shieh One evening this week, I tucked the kids in quickly so I could go to the gym. Having been on extensive travel the past week, I had a very specific workout in mind. Half way through it though, a friend saw me and eagerly asked if he could join my workout. Initially, I just wanted to do “my thing”; but, I could tell something was on his mind. On the verge of tears, he immediately pours out his heart. “Tom, I just got out of jail.” For the next 15 minutes, he summarizes with me everything that he’s been ashamed of for the past few years - how one careless mistake led to a cascade effect of decisions, and the impact eventually spread into all areas of life. He didn’t want to pretend anymore, and didn’t know who to talk to. He shared how the system was setup against him and nothing he did seemed to work. Have you ever felt like that? I was patient and empathetic; but if he was looking for someone to join in on his pity party, he chose the wrong guy. As we worked out, I intentionally continued to increase the weight until he began to struggle and had trouble doing the sets. I graciously offered, “If you need to drop down in weight, feel free to do so.” Feeling challenged, he quickly snaps back, “You don’t think I can lift this?” He then grimaces and exerts everything he has on each rep, not wanting to disappoint. For the next hour, we keep talking and I continue subtly testing him. The masculine energy responds to challenge. And sometimes, until another man is willing to call us out truthfully

There we were, two grown men having a heart-felt conversation beyond the midnight hours. Do you have anybody in your life that you can speak with complete truthfulness?

and say “stop being a wuss” in a firm and loving way, we often can’t see our own loop of defeat. There we were, two grown men having a heart-felt conversation beyond the midnight hours. We must have fist-pumped over ten times. Do you have anybody in your life that you can speak with complete truthfulness? At the end, we agreed that the way that he responded to tonight’s physical exercise is the same tenacity that would be required for this next chapter of his life - not shrinking, backing down, making excuses, and feeling sorry for himself. Nothing great was ever accomplished that way. Instead, he would rise to the occasion against all odds. He would exert whatever gifts, strengths, and abilities it took to get the results. He would be committed to making progress regardless of how long it took. He would stay the course when things got inconvenient. And, this entire situation was indeed God’s blessing for him to grow and blossom. We all go through our own trials and setbacks. We are all growing through our own metamorphosis. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The past is the past. The question is: Who are you going to become today? Whatever you’re going through today, I’m rooting for you. May you be blessed with extra strength, perseverance, and hunger for the road ahead. I believe in you and your greatness within.

Connect with Tom:,

Better Living | asian avenue magazine



LUCKY BOY Title: Lucky Boy Author: Shanthi Sekaran Pages: 480 ISBN: 9781101982242 Price: $27.00 Follow Shanthi Sekaran: Facebook @ShanthiSekaranAuthor Twitter @ShanthiSekaran


May 2017 | Book Review


The Privileged Immigrant in The New York Times’ Sunday Review. In Lucky Boy, the main character, Solimar, sees the possibility of coming to American turned into a nightmare. She encounters questionable characters on her journey to the United States, and ends up in Berkeley, California. In Berkeley, the character Kavya lives a fortunate life in every way: a fulfilling career, a happy marriage, and a wellkept bungalow. The only dissatisfaction in Kavya’s life is her inability to have a child. After several attempts, Kavya and her husband, Rishi, embark on the adventure of adoption and the possibility of foster care. Through a series of serendipitous events, Kavya meets Solimar’s son, Ignacio. The novel beautifully weaves together the themes of motherhood, immigration, infertility, adoption and minority life in America. It is also a story about California and a larger portrait of what the state looks like now – who does the work and who has the power. A native of California, Shanthi was inspired by her own upbringing as a child of immigrants, by the news stories she heard about undocumented mothers losing their children, and by life in Berkeley, a place that is equal parts progressive and privileged. She applies these real life inspirations to fiction and the result is revelatory. Lucky Boy is a book filled with tense moments of discovery, heart-wrenching events, and a fierce custody battle. No one is right. No one is wrong. Mary Jeneverre Schultz emigrated from the Philippines at eight months old, starting her American life in California, and then settling in Colorado. Follow her on Instagram @Jeneverre.


Immigration, a topic close to so many Asian-Americans, is one of the many subjects in Shanthi Sekeran’s book, Lucky Boy. Sekeran uses a series of events to bring together adoption and foster care in the context of people seeking new lands. Two families share one bond --- the love of a child. Sekeran’s character development is deep and rich. Solimar Castro Valdez and Kavya Reddy are two mothers fighting for parental rights, and neither one is right or wrong. After reading this 480-page work of fiction, one can’t help but think how common this scenario probably is closer to home where families are divided between the U.S. and Mexico. Inspiration for Lucky Boy originated from a news story on National Public Radio in 2011. Sekeran says, “I heard a story on NPR about a Guatemalan mother who was fighting to get her child back from an American couple trying to adopt him. I sat riveted for the few minutes that the story ran, but of course, it left many questions unanswered.” Almost to the point of obsession, Sekeran could not get the story out of her head. She says, “I wanted to get inside that story and know the thoughts and motivations of everyone involved. I am a fiction writer, not an investigative journalist, and the best way I know to get inside a story is to write it.” Sekeran, who teaches creative writing at the California College of the Arts, builds her characters layer by layer. The second book in Sekeran’s repertoire, Lucky Boy has built momentum about the current, heated issue of immigration. She highlights its effect on everyone involved, from grandparents to employers. “I’ve always written about immigration of one sort or another,” says Sekeran. First generation American with parents from India, Sekeran shares her insights about her parents’ struggle to build a life in the United States. Sekeran’s parents were successful because of their hard work. This is the “American Dream” most immigrants share, wishing for the yellow brick road of homeownership, building a business, and raising a family. “This isn’t about Indians and Mexicans, but about the documented and undocumented, and the gulf of privilege that lies between them,” says Sekeran in an opinion column called


Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz

OPENING DOORS An Interview with Sarah Fukami By Samantha Quee On April 26, the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus unveiled a poignant public art exhibition that celebrates Denver’s diverse community called Opening Doors. Featuring local artists, the exhibit is a series of 11 open doors that invite visitors into the Museum with a message of “all are welcome here.” Asian Avenue magazine met one of the exhibit’s artists, Sarah Fukami. A Japanese-American artist, Sarah Fukami shares her experience with Opening Doors and her artistic journey in Denver. AAm: Let’s start off with a little introduction. Are you a Denver native? Sarah: I was born and raised in Denver, and I also graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the University of Denver. I will always love this city, and although I hate the traffic, I’m glad others are realizing its greatness as well. AAm: Before “Opening Doors,” what other art shows or exhibitions were you involved in? Sarah: Just earlier this year, I was part of an exhibition called “Nice Work if You Can Get It” at RedLine, where I am currently a resident artist. It was my second annual resident show, as my time there will be








back of mirrored sheet, screen printed

mirrored plexiglas, one-sided, laser cut 34.75”

84” 6”

stenciled pattern patterned on both sides?

sheets of paper or mylar, able to reach through from other side

This interactive exhibit will be on the museum plaza through the fall of 2017, free for all to experience.

concluding later this year. My next exhibition is a group show during the Month of Photography at SYNC Gallery, followed by a printmaking show at Art Gym Denver. I also recently finished a residency there in January. AAm: Your work revolves around identity, particularly in relation to the immigrant experience. Can you elaborate about your immigrant experience and how it has shaped you? Sarah: I am a multicultural individual, and identify as hapa. My great grandfathers immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s. My Japanese family worked on a farm in Kent, Washington and my Italian family owned a grocery store in Cicero, New York. I revere their stories and struggles, and to this day, I am in awe of the life they built; not for themselves, but for us. It is so important to remember that immigrants are the heart of this country and we would be nothing without them—and that we are all human beings despite the social constructs of race and nationality. This message comes across most clearly in my work concerning the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, my own family having been imprisoned indefinitely without trial. I hope that my art can promote awareness and prevent these atrocities from occurring in the future. AAm: Can you tell us more about your involvement in “Opening Doors” and the philosophy behind your artwork? Sarah: I was so pleased to be contacted by the Children’s Museum for the exhibition. It’s a wonderful gesture to literally welcome all members of the community using physical doors. I knew it was a great opportunity for me, as my work has a very similar vision. My piece focuses on the idea of “barriers.” It is a common motif in my work, representing either actual fences or the cultural isolation of populations. AAm: As an artist, what is your definition of “art”?

Sarah: Call me a Dadaist, but I believe everything that is intended by the maker as art, is art. Each perspective of the materialization of art is unique, and it’s important for people to understand the inherent subjectivity of visual art. I think art should be accessible to all, and it shouldn’t be limited by cost, material or geography. You don’t need an expensive gallery or even the opinions of others to create. Art is culture, and anyone can be a contributor. AAm: Who inspires you the most? Sarah: I am most inspired by the artist community here in Denver—both close friends and those who I admire from a distance. I am constantly being pushed to improve my own work by seeing their success, drive and ideas. It’s not a competitive environment; we support and celebrate each other. It’s self-assuring to have other artists around you, all working to put Denver and ourselves on the map of the national art world. AAm: What role do you think artists serve in society? Sarah: Artists maintain an ironic balance between struggling to support ourselves financially, and feeling the responsibility and need to create. Society doesn’t support artists adequately, even though we know from history that art is a vessel for culture. We do not only create work for our own purposes, we are often driven to take what we have made, and contribute that art to the greater population. My own work seeks to address social justice issues and to shed light on what may have been previously unknown. I feel it when I am working, that I am uncovering something much greater than myself. Art is a duty to be fulfilled. Art | asian avenue magazine


Japan Style art exhibit opens in Pueblo, CO

By Maeve Leslie

Kyoyaki from Gregory Howell Collection in the Contemporary Ceramics gallery

Sangre de Christo Arts Center 210 N. Santa Fe Avenue Pueblo, CO 81003 Open Wednesday - Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM

Japan Style: The Art of Form and Function is currently showing at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, CO, celebrating the influence of Japanese-Americans on Pueblo’s history. Alyssa Parga, Director of Marketing and Performing Arts, says, “Pueblo has a rich and diverse culture due to the Colorado Fuel & Iron Steel Mill, which attracted large numbers of immigrant laborers in the early twentieth century.” Japan Style features five key elements of Japanese style: Kimonos and Prints, Contemporary Ceramics, Netsuke, Contemporary Art of Japan, and The Art of Form and Function. Regarding Paul Binnie’s piece entitled Kyoto Maiko, collector Mark Clark says, “I was initially drawn to the amount of color Binnie used in this print specifically—47 different colors to be exact.” The collectors of this exhibit clearly demonstrate their passion and enthusiasm for Japanese culture. Friday, May 5th will be the best day to

see this show. Students from the Japanese Culture class will perform a tea ceremony, and Henry Wyeno will give a multimedia talk on the history of Japanese-Americans and the challenges they faced during World War II. The Contemporary Ceramics and Kimonos and Prints galleries will be on view until May 14th while the other galleries for Japan Style will be open until May 21st.

Kyoto Maiko by Paul Binnie in the Kimonos and Prints gallery

Drawn by Pueblo artist Riki Takaoka in the Contemporary Art of Japan gallery

Aurora is one of six cities in the U.S. to receive City Cultural Diversity Award Provided by the City of Aurora Office

The National League of Cities recognized Aurora as one of six cities in the U.S. to receive a City Cultural Diversity Award. The award honors municipal programs that encourage citizen involvement and cities that develop creative and effective programs to improve and promote cul-


May 2017 | On Scene

tural diversity through a collaborative process with city officials, community leaders and residents. Aurora’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs was recognized with second place in the large-city category (200,001 to 500,000 residents). Aurora Council Member Brad

Aurora Councilmember Brad Pierce (second from left) received the award on behalf of City of Aurora’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs. Pierce received the award on the city’s behalf during the National League of Cities’ Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C. “Aurora is a diverse and international city, with 1 in 5 of our residents having been born outside the United States,” said Ricardo Gambetta, manager

of the Office of International and Immigrant Affairs. “We are honored to be recognized for the efforts we’ve already made and the plans we have for the future to recognize the strength of that diversity and create a welcoming and productive community for all our residents.”




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