Asian Avenue magazine - May 2018

Page 1

asian avenue magazine May 2018 Volume 13 Issue 5

Connecting Cultures Linking Lives




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Dear Asian Avenue readers,


May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and in our tenth year, we share the stories of Asian American Heroes of Colorado in our cover story. We hope you will join us in celebrating this year’s awardees at the award ceremony and dim sum brunch on Saturday, May 19. More information is on page 14. Asian American students in Colorado are representing our state both regionally and internationally! For the first time, the Midwest Asian American Students Union conference will take place in Colorado—at the CU Boulder campus. Students of Asian Unity bid to host the conference, which will bring more than 1,000 college students from across the Midwest to Boulder in spring of 2019. Also a first, CU Denver students will be heading to Hong Kong next month (in June) to compete in the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. They are currently fundraising for their trip and only $5,000 away from their goal (which I suspect they will have reached by the time this month’s magazine prints). The CU Denver Dragon Boat Team will be one of only two teams representing the U.S. Best of luck to the team! Our friends at Theatre Espirit Asia celebrate five years since they were founded. In our interview with Maria Cheng, she shares what the journey has been like these past years as well as the current productions: Dust Storm and Spirit & Sworded Treks in theaters now. Be sure to get tickets for the show before it ends May 20. Happy spring, Christina Yutai Guo, Publisher Asian Avenue magazine |

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May 2018 | Publisher’s Note

asian avenue staff & support Publisher & Founder: Christina Yutai Guo President: Annie Guo VanDan Senior Designer: C.G. Yao Marketing Manager: Joie Ha Staff Writer: Patricia Kaowthumrong Staff Writer: Mary Jeneverre Schultz Photographer: Trang Luong

contributing writers Wayne Chan, Lena Chhay, Xinyu (Suzy) Liu, Dr. Chen Shih-Chung

contributing photographers Gil Asakawa, Ian Carberry, Maileen Hamto, Unbound Photographic, Christopher Waller

on the cover May celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Each year, during this month, we recognize Asian American Heroes of Colorado. From left to right: Kevin Leung, Naureen Singh (Young Hero Award), Christine Wanifuchi (Lifetime Achievement Award), Eed Cefkin and Ron Abo.

subscriptions To subscribe, e-mail or visit A one-year 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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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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may 2018



Event calendar



MAASU Spring Conference will host Asian American college students at CU Boulder in spring 2019


Local annual event opens opportunities for students to visit Hong Kong and race dragon boats



Make and enjoy the popular Filipino Pork Ribs Sour Soup, Sinigang Na Baboy



10th annual Asian American Heroes of Colorado awardees are honored in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, May 2018.



National news about Asian American people and communities






File This Story Under: Too Much of A Good Thing by Wayne Chan


White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn 30 Bracht tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war

Taiwan’s National Health Insurance: A Model for Universal Health Coverage

Q&A session with author Mary Lynn Bracht



Starfest 2018 is more than a comic con; it is a series of festivals



Theatre Esprit Asia celebrates five years! And Asian Avenue sits down to interview founder Maria Cheng

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

May 2018 | Table of Contents

28 Find us @AsianAveMag


The Confucius Institute at

Community College of Denver The Confucius Institute at Community College of Denver is a Chinese language and cultural learning center, established in 2007 with the support of the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), to promote Chinese language training and intercultural understanding. Our programs and services include: n Noncredit Chinese language and cultural workshops n Private Chinese language tutoring n Chinese language proficiency testing n Scholarships to study in China n China summer camps n Seasonal Chinese cultural events n Seasonal professional development training for Colorado K-12 Mandarin teachers n An educational resource center

2530 W. Alameda Ave. Denver, CO 80219 720-502-7064

For more information about the Confucius Institute, contact: Jane Lim n 303-352-6510







upcoming events

Theatre Espirit Asia’s Shows: Dust Storm and Spirit & Sworded Treks Now through May 20 Saturdays 7:30pm | Sundays 2pm

Aurora Cultural Arts District Gallery Theatre 1400 Dallas St. Aurora CO 80010 Cost: $16 - $28 For more info and tickets, visit

ing the power of ancient dance forms with the exotic sounds of the Balinese gamelan, Tunas Mekar will perform a variety of instrumental and dance pieces including the Colorado premiere of Belibis, a stunning contemporary dance depicting an Indonesian goose.

Also on the program is a new arrangement of Pak Lasmawan’s piece Tirta Bhuana, the popular Condong Legong dance, and Sekar Gendot, a composition for the courtly instrumental “love gamelan.” Both humorous and exquisitely enacted, Topeng invites the audience to play an interactive part in this traditional Balinese drama.

Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards Ceremony Saturday, May 19, 10am to 12pm

Dust Storm, written by Rick Foster, directed by Maria Cheng and acted by brilliant TEA newcomer Michael Chen, is a poignant and redemptive tale of a rebellious Japanese-American youth interned in Topaz, Utah during WWII. Seiji grows to maturity, helped by a wise old painter, whom he at first scorns. Spirit & Sworded Treks is written, directed and performed by TEA co-founder and artistic director Maria Cheng. Follow a wry and delightful sojourn of one woman’s attempt to maintain a spiritual path, while also doggedly pursuing, and critiquing, the American dream.

Empress Seafood Restaurant 2825 W. Alameda Ave, Denver, CO 80219 Tickets: $30 general | $20 students To purchase tickets: Checks made payable to CACEN can be sent to: CACEN, P.O. Box 221748, Denver, CO 80222 or purchase at: For questions, call 303-937-6888 or e-mail

Aurora History Museum 15051 E. Alameda Pkwy. Aurora 80012 Cost: Free For more info, call 303-739-6660.

Explore Hawaiian culture through dance, history and music. Drop in for any or all of the programs, which typically includes a hula dance lesson, talk story, and ukulele workshops. This is a family-friendly event every third Saturday of the month that is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Monday, May 21, 5pm to 7pm

Denver School of the Arts 7111 Montview Blvd. Denver, CO 80220 Cost: $15 general | $10 students, seniors, children 12 and under For more info and tickets, visit

The Buell Theatre Denver Performing Arts Complex 1400 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80202 For more info, e-mail Taiko Chandler at

Kite Festival and Family Day Saturday, May 19, 10am to 2pm

Hallett Academy 2950 Jasmine St, Denver, Colorado 80207 Cost: Free

May 2018 | Event Calendar

Saturday, May 19, 11:30am to 3:30pm

Pieces Together: Printed and Manipulated Surfaces and Objects

Friday, May 11, Begins at 7:30pm


Polynesian Arts & Culture Days

Following a dim sum brunch, the award ceremony will recognize and honor the 2018 Asian American Heroes of Colorado. Awardees will give an acceptance speech and share their unique stories of service. Come and be inspired!

Sketches of Bali in Music & Dance by Gamelan Tunas Mekar

This show, which is designed to highlight the contrasts between ancient Balinese court music and contemporary styles. Fabled kings, heroes and myths come to life on May 11 when Gamelan Tunas Mekar, under the direction of artist-in-residence I Made Lasmawan, presents “Sketches of Bali in Music and Dance.” Combin-

12:15 pm - Pi’i’lani live Hawaiian music 1:30 pm - Nguyen Thieu Buddhist Association Lion Dance performance

TIAA will hold their 4th Annual Kite Festival and Family Day, where there will be food for purchase, music, cultural entertainment, a highest flying kite contest, family resources, and they are giving away 200 kites! Entertainment schedule: 10:00 am - 1:30 pm - Mile High Kite Association professional stunt demonstration 10:45 am - Tanny Tae Kwon Do demonstration 11:30 am - Filipino American Community of Colorado Dancers

This is the closing reception for artist Taiko Chandler’s show. This show is a retrospective sample pieces of her work on paper, sculptural work, and a large installation with Tyvek. This will be the last chance to see the shows, so stop on by! Photo below is the site-specific installation “Pulse,” hand-pulled monotype print on Tyvek, cutting, assembled by hand.


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Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Congrats to the 2018 Asian American Heroes of Colorado awardees

CO M A N A Se F S e E U yo R u E SP in N Bo C RIN uld E er 20 G ,C 1 O 9 ! :


Around this time next year, more than 1,000 Asian-American students across 11 states and dozens of universities will gather at the University of Colorado Boulder for the Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) Spring Conference. As one of the largest gatherings for Asian-American students in the Midwest, this student-run conference has historically provided space for workshops, career fairs, and networking opportunities specifically for Asian-American students. This past year, the MAASU Spring Conference was held at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The conference had 50 individual workshops, including topics focused on Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) identity, leadership, professional development, and intersectional topics like being APIDA and LGBTIQA+. “Performance, Image, Exposure: PIE the Bamboo Ceiling” was one of the workshops presented at this most recent MAASU Spring Conference. Facilitated by Joann Ma and Lena Chhay, this workshop focused on specific strategies professionals can leverage to advance into upper management. The bamboo ceiling is a reference to the barriers that APIDA professionals face while climbing the corporate ladder. “How many of you believe that strong performance is the most critical factor in a promotion decision?” Ma, a deal manager at Cisco Systems, posed to the audience. Amidst a sea of raised hands, Ma continued, “According to research from Harvey Coleman, a promotion decision is split into three areas: performance (10%), image (30%), and exposure (60%).”


May 2018 | Inside Story

By Lena Chhay and Xinyu (Suzy) Liu

Although universities have organizations dedicated to APIDA students, conferences like MAASU’s Spring Conference and Leadership Summit that are geared towards APIDA students inspire activism, involvement, and personal development. For Suzy Liu, the current president of the Asian Unity (AU) student organization at the University of Colorado Boulder, her passion for AU collided with MAASU for the first time in November 2016. “I went to the MAASU leadership summit at Northwestern University with three other members,” Liu recalled during her interview. “Since then, Asian Unity began sending members to MAASU conferences constantly. We received such positive feedback.” While the University of Colorado Boulder has had a presence at MAASU conferences since 2013, there has never been a conference at the university itself. Asian Unity at the University of Colorado Boulder has consistently sent students to the MAASU Spring Conference throughout these years. This year alone, Asian Unity had over 22 applications to attend the MAASU Spring Conference, only half were able to go. In order to maximize budget, the AU students drove over 40 hours to Columbus for this year’s conferece. In the last few years, the University of Colorado Boulder has issued a number of budget cuts to cultural-based student resource centers, including the Cultural Unity & Engagement Center and the Cultural Events Board, which fund student organizations like AU. Liu struggled saying no to the applicants. “With so many students interested in attend-

Asian Unity members at the MAASU Conference’s Friday Night Event at The Ohio State University on March 23.

ing and such limited funding, why not try to bring Chair of the ECC, there are a number of critical facMAASU to our campus?” tors in the spring conference selection. Funding, loWith support from the University of Colorado gistics, and organization are all key factors, but the Boulder’s Office of Diversicritical piece that set Boulty, Equity, and Community der apart from other univerEngagement, members sities was their prolonged of Asian Unity formed a activity with MAASU over bidding team for the 2019 the years. Spring Conference. This Thanks to the whole bidprocess was not an easy ding team from the University feat. of Colorado Boulder, the very According to the MAASU first MAASU conference in Colwebsite, bid packets must orado will happen in 2019. include information about For inquiries about sponkeynote speakers, budget, sorship, participation, and theme, workshop ideas, and general information about even hotel/restaurant inforthe 2019 MAASU Spring mation. The bidding team Left to right: Joey Wong, Suzy Liu, Conference at the Univermust then present this infor- Brianna Huynh, Michael Ren, sity of Colorado Boulder, mation to the MAASU Exec- Isaac Gwa. email Suzy Liu at Xinyu. utive Coordinating tee (ECC). Visit to learn more about the student According to Jessica Lee, Membership Outreach conferences.

Midwest Asian American Student Union | asian avenue magazine


Local annual event opens opportunities for students to visit Hong Kong By Mary Jeneverre Schultz

For the first time ever, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival has invited CU Denver Dragon Boat team to participate this June. More than 5,000 athletes from 160 teams from all over the world, including Hong Kong will participate in this international festival (www.discoverhong highlight-events/dragon-boat-carni val.jsp). CU Denver Dragon Boat Team is one of two teams from the United States. “It is absolutely incredible to be part of this team,” said Nevan Mccabe, co-captain for the University of Colorado Denver’s team, adding he joined the group four years ago. He admitted he has not traveled outside of the United States and cannot believe the logistics involved in planning a trip for 24 team members. The other team is traveling from New York. Mccabe believes it is a private organization and not student-based group.

students to get involved with and build leadership skills, as well as to belong to a “family.”

Fundraising Activities With a month away, students, friends and colleagues are furiously fundraising for this once-in-a-lifetime international trip. Last April, Menya Japanese Kitchen, at 600 E. Colfax Ave., donated 50 percent of proceeds from diners, who indicated they were supporting the fundraiser. On May 15, Pizzeria Locale on 550 Broadway, will donate 50 percent of proceeds during the hours of 4 to 10 p.m.

from diners, who indicate they are supporting the fundraising event. Already the Hong Kong Board of Tourism has generously waived the cost of hotel and registration fees of the festival. The rest of the funds are directed for airfare. An average round-trip ticket costs about $1,080. Mccabe shared most of the team members could not afford an international trip and hoped the public will help them reach their monetary goals. All the practices, logistical planning and fundraising activities are student directed. It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime,” said Mccabe, who is pursuing a career in health care. “When I’m 80, my grandkids will be tired of me talking about Hong Kong.”


The team has created a donation page at A short video, update on their goal and description of the activity is found on this web page. As of April 27, 2018, the campaign just needs to fundraise $5,000 more. The team is hoping to raise $26,000.

History The CU Denver team was formed 15 years ago by Peggy Lore. Mccabe defined the team as a nontraditional club on campus. Over the years, the “nontraditional club” evolved into a fun activity for


May 2018 | Inside Story

CU-Denver Dragon Boat Team

CU-DENVER DRAGON BOAT TEAM Co-Captains: Nevan Mccabe/Jeff Dang 11 Females and 19 Males

Females Males Ellie Laughlin Anthony Phan Brigitte Nguyen Bill Lam Thu Truong Binh Pham Tammy Nguyen David Sayers Grecia Portillo Emmanuel Seyoum Katherine Nguyen Jason Diaz Jessica Huynh Jonathan Cosmann Jamie Nguyen Jonathan Hill Juliette Tonnu Justin Cheung Aleena Sarwana Luis Sales Katherine Khuu Matthew McCoo Nemo Truong Nour Kayali Stephen Nguyen Andy Phung Vinh Chi Lam

CU Denver Dragon Boat Racing | asian avenue magazine



HEROES Colorado’s Asian American

In its tenth year, Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network proudly announces the 2018 Asian American Heroes of Colorado:

YOUNG HERO Naureen Singh

Delegate for U.S. International Human Rights Summit and Policy Director for Colorado Sikhs

Ron Abo

Founder of The Abo Group and Chairman of the Board for the Asian Chamber of Commerce

Eed Cefkin

Thai Community Leader, Interpreter, Teacher and Boardmember of Wat Buddhawararam Thai Temple

Kevin Leung

Director of Douglas County School District Board of Education and Vice-President of Asian Roundtable of Colorado

Derek Okubo (not pictured)

Executive Director of City and County of Denver, Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships and Board member of Sakura Foundation


Story by Patricia Awardees selected by representatives from Asian Chamber of Commerce, Asian Avenue magazine, Asian Education Advisory Council, Asian Pacific Development Center, Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership, Dragon 5280, and Theatre Espirit Asia. Organized by: Colorado Asian Culture & Education Network.


May 2018 | Cover Story


Photos by Shu Li

Former CEO of Asian Pacific Development Center (retired after 10 years of service to AAPI communities)

10th annual Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award Ceremony and Brunch Date: Saturday, May 19, 2018 Time: 10 a.m. to noon Location: Empress Seafood Restaurant | 2825 W. Alameda Ave, Denver Tickets: $30 general | $20 students To purchase tickets: Checks made payable to CACEN can be sent to: CACEN, P.O. Box 221748, Denver, CO 80222 Or purchase at: Following a dim sum brunch, the award ceremony will recognize and honor the 2018 Asian American Heroes of Colorado. Awardees will give an acceptance speech and share their unique stories of service. Come and be inspired! For questions, call 303-937-6888 or email

While Naureen Kaur Singh had serious concerns about the plight of the Sikh community in high school, things really began to change for her after the 2012 Sikh temple massacre in Oak Creek, Wis. “When vigils were organized all around the country — many diverse faiths, traditions and communities showed up in solidarity with the Sikh community,” says Singh, a proud Sikh American and recent graduate from the University of Colorado – Boulder. “For the first time in my life, I began to see how many marginalized communities in this country undergo very similar experiences, whether it be profiling, racism or sexism. Singh served as the U.S. delegate at the International Human Rights Summit

“But when neighbors show up for neighbors in time times of need, it can mean all the difference,” she says. The tragedy also helped her realize how groups can truly strengthen their impact by working together — much like how the Asian American Hero awards bring people from different backgrounds in Colorado together to recognize common purposes to advance AAPI issues. Singh currently serves as the policy director of Colorado Sikhs, a nonprofit that promotes interfaith advocacy and works to uplift the state’s Sikh spirit. Her community work at the organization is centered on religious tolerance and inclusivity efforts. Singh also recently served as the U.S. delegate for the International Human Rights Summit, an achievement she holds dear to her heart. She was one of 50 leaders from around the world (and to her knowledge, the first Sikh American and AAPI representing the U.S. at the summit) to give a speech

“Even if my voice was quivering and my hands were shaking, no one can take away that voice of mine.” Photo Credit: Ian Carberry Singh is passionate about giving the Sikh American community a voice

Photo Credit: Unbound Photographic

about her work in Colorado and discuss human rights and the importance of human rights education at the United Nations headquarters. “As the face of the Sikh-American community in Colorado, Naureen has taken on some daunting tasks and made them not only successful, but also worthwhile, for the teams involved,” says Rohan Peddi, a friend who nominated her for the Asian American Heroes award. “She is truly an ally to many communities — not just her own. She has sat on panels regarding Islamophobia, women in faith and environmental justice on college campuses to increase exposure.” Singh has spent most of her life in Colorado, but since her father was in the U.S. Army,


Serves as the policy director of Colorado Sikhs, a nonprofit that promotes interfaith advocacy. Also selected as the U.S. delegate for the International Human Rights Summit.


Young Hero Award


Policy Director for

COLORADO SIKHS she has traveled around the world and lived in places like South Korea and Germany. She credits her Sikh-American roots and community for laying the foundation on which she is solidly built. “Being a Sikh American to me has meant to embody bravery in everything I do,” she says. “Just like many AAPI communities who are fighting to be recognized as equals in this country, being a Sikh American is about fighting alongside them and through whatever resistance might come. If anything, giving back to my community substantiates my purpose on earth.” However, Singh says she wasn’t always the confident Sikh woman she is today. Until 7th grade, she was the shyest girl in her class and only had a handful of friends. “But my family pushed me into public speaking and debating, and I began to develop a voice — a voice that I can share and change people’s perceptions,” she says. “Even if my voice was quivering and my hands were shaking, no one can take away that voice of mine.” For those who are undergoing similar experiences, she has this advice to share: “Surround yourself with a community that will uplift you, empower you and encourage you — whether they agree with you or not.” Singh says spending two years participating in an ambassador and internship program for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has changed her life — and she encourages individuals to get involved in AAPI organizations dedicated to giving youth the experiences to become competitive in this high-demand market. “Seek out these opportunities,” she says. “They exist for you.”

2018 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine


A N BO O R To Ron Abo, it is important to give to community — without expecting anything in return — rather than give back. “It is my power to give,” says Abo, a Japanese American who grew up in north Denver. “It is a choice that I can make. Taking and receiving is passive and unconscious. Giving is active and aware. It is a quality that makes me human.” At age 72, Abo isn’t finished contributing to the well-being of his community and beyond. Abo’s grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s from Hiroshima, Japan, and he was born in Idaho to second-generation Japanese-American farmers in 1946. His family moved to Colorado during the period of anti-Japanese sentiment in the 1950s.

“I have spent most of my professional life advocating for the rights of Asian Americans.” “Growing up in north Denver, Ron has witnessed a sea of change in his community, some for better or worse,” says Clarence Low, a colleague who nominated Abo for the Asian American Hero award and a past award recipient. “But he has not wavered from his advocacy in supporting small and minority businesses — Hispanic and Asian. Arguably, the majority of his career and energy has been directed toward helping students succeed and paying it forward to the future leaders of our community.” After gaining a bachelor’s degree in architecture from University of Colorado – Boulder, he became founding director of the Denver Community Design Center at the University of Colorado – Denver and served as the design architect for Denver Buddhist Temple renovation and expansion project in 1974. Abo eventually founded The Abo Group, an architectural and planning practice that serves public, private and nonprofit clients. He and his practice continued to maintain a close relationship with the Denver Buddhist Temple community and helped


May 2018 | Cover Story

Founder of

THE ABO GROUP prepare an architectural program of space and conceptual alternatives and cost estimates to help the organization determine whether or not to remain in their current downtown Denver location. “I consider it a great honor to be recognized by the Asian community and my peers,” he says. “I have spent most of my professional life advocating for the rights of Asian Americans, and it is nice to know that my efforts have been recognized.” Abo’s other accomplishments include working closely with Denver’s Community Development agency to create a Neighborhood Business Revitalization Program that transformed run-down commercial districts like Highland Square into vibrant neighborhood centers and shaping the City of Denver’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for capital construction for nonprofit social service agencies like the Asian Pacific Development Center renovation of their York Street office. He currently serves as the president of the Board of Trustees for the Savio House, a nonprofit child welfare agency, and on the Board of Directors for the Sakura Foundation, a nonprofit foundation with the mission to preserve and promote Japanese culture and sustain the Tri State Denver Buddhist Temple. A 6th degree black belt in Tomiki Aikido, a type of Japanese martial arts, Abo is also the co-founder and vice president of Tomiki Sport Aikido Association USA. He has taught Aikido to individuals of all ages at the Denver Buddhist Temple since 1994 and has competed nationally and internationally. Abo was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Social Responsibility Award in

1998, an achievement he considers his greatest — besides his wonderful family. “Martin Luther King, Jr. is a hero to me,” he says. “Also, that year, I was honored to share the head table with Mayor Wellington E. Webb, who I also consider a hero.” Abo’s advice for younger generations is: “Know your power and use it well. Power comes in many forms. Personal power is the power of knowing your true self. That power is expressed in self-love. If you can truly love yourself, then it is natural to love others. Your energy is power. We breathe, eat, digest and re-energize by sleep. So it is important to pay attention to your energy and stay healthy. Your strength is your power. A strong body is necessary to live fully in this world. Take care of your body.” Abo has a 6th degree black belt in Tomiki Aikido, a Japanese martial art

Abo has taught Aikido at the Denver Buddhist Temple since 1994


CEFKI D EE Eed Piangjai Cefkin’s more than 25 years living in Colorado has been filled with many meaningful achievements. The native of Thailand worked as an English teacher, teacher trainer and team supervisor for a U.S.-sponsored refugee education program in her home country for 10 years before moving to the Centennial State with her family, where she started working for various nonprofit and educational organizations in the Denver metro area. “Eed has provided years of service not only to the Thai and Lao communities, but also immigrants and refugees throughout the Denver metro area as a teacher, trainer, interpreter, translator, school coordinator and patient navigator,” says Suegie Park, a former coworker who nominated Cefkin for the Asian American Hero award and a past award recipient. Cefkin has served as a Thai language teacher for the U.S. National Guard, Thai cooking instructor for the Colorado Free University, registrar for Denver Public Schools, program coordinator for Aurora Public Schools’ adult English as a Second Language (ESL) program, Interpreters Bank coordinator for the Asian Pacific Development Center and patient navigator coordinator for Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice. “Volunteering keeps your community strong,” she says. “There are many ways to give back, large or small. Volunteering also brings people together.” Her past accomplishments include serving as a member of the Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership; on the Board of Directors at Wat Buddhawararam, Denver’s Thai Buddhist temple; and as past president (and a current member) of the Denver Thai Lions Club, which coordinates a 9Health fair at the Thai temple annually. Family — both extended and immediate — is what Cefkin values most in life, and her greatest achievement is her children. “I think my husband and I have raised our children to be successful and compassionate contributors to society as a whole,” she says. “Life teaching starts from home. My best teachers were my parents.” Cefkin is proud to carry Thailand’s flag at the Aurora Global Fest annually. Always an

and various training seminars always leave feeling inspired and confident in their newfound knowledge and skills.” Cefkin encourages younger generations to do their best each day and be responsible for their actions. “You have the power to be a positive influence on your peers, your family, your community and yourself!” she says.

THAI COMMUNITY Leader, Interpreter and Teacher

Cefkin proudly holds the flag of Thailand at Aurora Global Fest

active parent, she participated in an executive committee for Thai language, music and dance for Thai children who grew up in the U.S. and received the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network Model Mother award in 2011. She was also honored by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce in 2002 with the “Women Making a Difference: Unsung Heroes” award. Cefkin speaks Thai, Lao and conversational Khmer and has taught ESL for the Community College of Aurora since 2003.

“You have the power to be a positive influence on your peers, your family, your community and yourself!”

Cefkin receives the Model Mother Award from president of Colorado Asian Culture & Education Network Nai Li Yee (left) with her son Ben (back) and her husband Jon (right). Not pictured: her daughter Tarika Cefkin

She is an interpreter of Thai and Lao in legal, medical and social services settings and currently serves as general manager of the Royal Thai Honorary Consulate-General in Denver — processing visa requests for individuals visiting, doing business, and studying in Thailand. “Eed has a reputation for being a fun and caring educator,” says Park, who has taught classes with Cefkin. “Her past and current students love the positive interactions and learning games facilitated by this gifted teacher. Those who participate in her ESL, health education courses, cooking classes 2018 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine


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May 2018 | Cover Story


Being honored with the Asian American Hero of Colorado award reaffirms Kevin Leung’s belief that hard work and good education are key ingredients for anyone with a humble background to be successful. Born into a very poor Hong Kong family, Leung’s parents were both illiterate, and he came to the U.S. with nothing in his name. Leung grew up in poor public housing and was admitted to a school operated by Catholic charities. He is grateful to have enjoyed a first-class educational experience at no cost to his family. “Without the generosity of the donors to provide free education for poor people like me, I would have never made it out of the slums in Hong Kong,” Leung says. “I want to give back, so the underprivileged can have the same opportunities as me. By giving back, they too can break the cycle of poverty and develop to their fullest potential. It is the right thing to do and can provide inspiration to countless others that you can make it too if you work hard and educate yourself well.” Leung earned two master’s degrees from the University of Colorado and was elected in 2017 as the board director of the Douglas County School District. He earned the trust of more than 52,000 voters in Douglas County to serve a four-year term to manage the school district’s budget of $700 million to improve the educational system for more than 68,000 students. He is the only Asian immigrant elected official in Colorado and the only Asian American appointed to serve in the Colorado Department of Education’s Accountability Work Group. “Through hard work and dedication, Kevin has had great successes in life that make him a positive role model for immigrant communities,” says Ching-Ching Chan, a colleague who nominated Leung for the Asian American Heroes award. “Kevin successfully breaks through many glass ceilings in the mainstream American community with his victory in the November


Director of

DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION 2017 school board election.”’ Leung also currently serves as an advisor for the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China (Taiwan) and chair for Hop Sing Tong Denver. His past contributions include serving as chair for the City of Parker’s Authority for Reinvestment Advisory Committee, vice president of Asian Roundtable of Colorado and president of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce Greater Denver Colorado. He and his wife, Shirley, also own several successful businesses in Colorado; and prior to that, Leung managed an IT operation and was in charge of Chinese operations for a Fortune 500 company. “I would not be here today without all the support and encouragement from my lifelong partner, Shirley, which let me contribute a lot of time to improving public education,” Leung says. Besides being a loving husband and father, Leung’s greatest achievement is his dedication to public education. He has successfully protected public education funding for public schools in the U.S. by defending Article 9 Section 7 in the Colorado State Constitution and works to incorporate the (ESSA) Every Student Succeeds Act law into the Colorado’s education system. Leung lives by a mantra from Confucius: “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” He encourages younger generations to learn from immigrants like him who have a strong work ethic; acquire an education — whether it’s through a traditional universi-

ty, vocational school or apprenticeship — and not be afraid to work hard. “If my illiterate parents did not teach me to shoot for the stars when I was growing up, I would never have dreamed of getting out of the slums and going overseas to the land of the opportunity: the U.S.A.,” he says. “I believe that I could be anything I set my mind to, and I dreamed big and so should the young people. Though your dream may not come to fruition, you will never have regrets because you tried!”

“If my illiterate parents did not teach me to shoot for the stars when I was growing up, I would never have dreamed of getting out of the slums and going overseas to the land of the opportunity: the U.S.A.” Another one of Leung’s favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”

Leung is the School Board Director for the Douglas County School District, which is Colorado’s third largest school district with over 68,000 students and 8,700 employees

D “If we’re serious about making the world a better place, giving back is a required part of the formula.” “Even with a very demanding, time-consuming job, Derek is still highly involved in the community,” says Stacey Shigaya, who nominated Okubo for the Asian American Hero award. “You will see him at the Japan America Society of Colorado Kite Festival, the annual pilgrimage to the Amache Concentration Camp in Granada, Colo., the Anti-Defamation League Civil Rights Award Ceremony and a variety of other community events and programs throughout the year.” Okubo serves as a board member for


While Derek Okubo has a long list of accomplishments, his greatest is raising his three children: daughter, Yumi, and sons, Mason and Duncan. “I’m very proud of each them, and they impress me as people,” he says. “I especially like how they treat people of all types in such a genuine and caring manner.” However, it’s inevitable that Okubo’s contributions and dedication to various local communities has influenced his kids — along with many other youngsters in the Colorado — to become compassionate individuals. As executive director for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships for the City and County of Denver, Okubo oversees nine offices and 10 community commissions that connect the Mayor’s Office to departments of the local government and the community.


CITY & COUNTY OF DENVER Executive Director of Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships Denver Sister Cities International, Japan America Society of Colorado and Sakura Foundation, as well as the Emily Griffith Foundation and the National Civic League. As a Council Leader of U.S.-Japan Council, he was a member of the 2014 Japanese American Leadership Delegation program and traveled to Japan to make connections with Japanese leaders. Before Okubo became a board member for the Sakura Foundation, he was asked by the organization, along with Sakura Square LLC, to share his knowledge of the Japanese-American (JA) community and community organizing skills with the Strategic Planning Committee to help plan for the current redevelopment of Sakura Square. With his guidance, the committee was able to glean the climate of the community and their hopes for Sakura Square into the future. “As a Sakura Foundation board member, Derek contributes to the Mirai Generations Leadership Program Committee, for which he donates his time and talents to conduct learning sessions to hone the leadership and communication skills of the participants and build connections with and an understanding of JA community,” Shigaya says. “His story, compassion and generosity are indeed inspiring for our future leaders of the Japanese American community.” Born and raised in Colorado, Okubo credits where he is today to what others have taught him through the years. “Because of that, I personally feel a sense of responsibility to give back and I enjoy do-

ing so,” he says. “If we’re serious about making the world a better place, giving back is a required part of the formula.” To Okubo, family comes first — work and other things come second. “For me, when I remind myself that my family always comes first, any decision about time or commitment is easy — most of the time, anyway,” he says. Okubo encourages younger generations to pursue a profession they enjoy rather than one they think might make them more money. “I know plenty of wealthy people who are so unhappy with their jobs and wish they were doing something different that had meaning,” he says. Meanwhile, his personal advice is: “Always choose love over wealth.”

Okubo was the emcee for the 2018 Day of Remembrance event that recognizes Japanese American WWII incarceration

Okubo oversees nine offices and 10 community commissions that connect the Mayor’s Office to departments of the local government and the community Photo Credit: Gil Asakawa

2018 Asian American Heroes of CO | asian avenue magazine





Former CEO of

ASIAN PACIFIC DEVELOPMENT CENTER Staying involved in the community to share her different experiences and knowledge — particularly of the challenges and beauty of our Asian communities — has always been important to Christine Wanifuchi. Therefore, it’s no surprise that she’s spent the last three decades volunteering and giving her time to organizations that help communities and individuals in need. Wanifuchi recently retired as the CEO of the Asian Pacific Development Center (APDC) after 10 years of supporting AAPI communities in Colorado with behavioral health and other social services. “Under her leadership, APDC was able to weather the economic recession and grow its programs to meet the needs of the community,” says Harry Budisidharta a colleague who nominated Wanifuchi for the Asian American Hero award and a past award recipient. “Her careful planning enabled APDC to expand its programs to include a primary care and legal aid clinics. APDC is now the premier direct service organization for AAPI community in Colorado — serving approximately 12,000 individuals every year.” A Colorado native, Wanifuchi grew up in Denver and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in nonprofit management. Her father, a first-generation immigrant from Japan (Issei), and her mother, a second-generation Japanese American from California (Nisei) worked hard to provide their four children with a good home while instilling them with a blend of Japanese and American cultures and traditions. “After World War II broke out, my parents


May 2018 | Cover Story

Lifetime Achievement Award Served 10 years as the CEO of the Asian Pacific Development Center (APDC) supporting AAPI communities in Colorado with behavioral health and other social services.

fled to and resettled in Colorado in order to avoid the internment camps,” Wanifuchi says. “Growing up in Denver, our family lived a pretty typical life. We would not be considered wealthy, but we were definitely rich in love and happiness.” Her career path includes working in both for-profit and nonprofit arenas in Colorado. Throughout the years Wanifuchi has been involved with many organizations, including the Asian Roundtable of Colorado, Denver Buddhist Temple, Denver Mayor’s Asian Advisory Council, Denver Health Community Diversity Advisory Committee and many other boards and committees. She currently serves as a board member for the Organization of Chinese Americans, Denver and is a member of The Denver Foundation’s Economic Opportunity Advisory Board. Wanifuchi’s greatest personal achievement is to celebrate her 49th wedding anniversary in August with her husband, Howard, and being blessed with two daughters,

“We live in a world with many challenges... but we also live in a world of endless opportunities to make things better — to make life better — to help others.” Leslie and Jennifer and three grandchildren, Lauren, Kyle and Benjamin. While raising her family and working full time she is also proud to have received a college education. “Growing up I learned that it was important and vital to get a good education,” she says. “My parents believed that people can take away material things and even your freedom, but no one can take away the education you earned.” Wanifuchi says younger generations have a huge responsibility to ensure and protect our world, including the precious freedoms

and rights we have now and for future generations to come. “We live in a world with many challenges that we have never faced before both politically and economically — especially those that challenge our humanity and democracy,” she says. “But we also live in a world of endless opportunities to make things better — to make life better — to help others.” As a result, her advice for future leaders is: “Persevere and understand that good things take time to realize but are certainly worth waiting for. And don’t forget to celebrate the little successes that come your way.”

Wanifuchi and her granddaughter participate in Denver’s Women’s March

Wanifuchi celebrates Christmas with her family

Sinigang na Baboy Filipino Pork Ribs Sour Soup Sinigang is a sour and savoury Filipino soup or stew most often associated with tamarind. It is one of the more popular dishes in Filipino cuisine.

INGREDIENTS • 2 pounds pork spareribs cut into 2-inch pieces • water • 2 large tomatoes quartered • 1 medium onion peeled and quartered • 2 tablespoons fish sauce • 2 banana or finger chilies • 4 pieces gabi taro (peeled and halved) • 1 6-inch radish (labanos), peeled and • sliced to 1/2-inch thick half-rounds • 1/2 bunch long beans sitaw, ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths • 1 eggplant ends trimmed and sliced to 1/2-inch thick half-rounds • 5 to 6 pieces okra ends trimmed • 15 large tamarind pieces or 1 1/2 ounces of tamarind base powder • salt and pepper to taste • 1 bunch bok choy ends trimmed and separated into leaves

DIRECTIONS 1) Wash pork ribs. In a pot over medium heat, combine pork and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, skimming off scum that accumulates on top. 2) Once broth clears, add tomatoes, onions and fish sauce. Lower heat and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender, adding more water as necessary to maintain about 10 cups. 3) Add pork ribs and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or Source:

until soft. Add chili and radish. Continue to simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add long beans. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Add eggplant and okra and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. 4) If using packaged tamarind base, add into pot and stir until completely dissolved. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add bok choy and continue to cook for about 1 minute. Serve hot.

If Using Fresh Tamarind 1) Wash tamarind and place in a pot with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and outer skins begin to burst. 2) With a fork, mash tamarinds. In a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, pour tamarind and liquid. Continue to mash with a fork, returning some of the liquid into the strainer once or twice, to fully extract juice. Discard seeds and skins. Pour tamarind juice into sinigang.

Chef’s Menu | asian avenue magazine


AsAm A Record Number of AAPIs Enter the Political Arena this Year


arun Nikore, the president of AAPI Victory Fund, said there is a record number of Asian American Pacific Islander candidates running for Congress this year, with as many as 59 potentially on the ballot in 2018. Many of them are in swing and high-priority districts gaining national attention ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Nationwide, there are over 220 progressive AAPI candidates running for elected office on the federal, state, and local level in 32 states—including nine gubernatorial candidates. Some criticize Asian Americans for not being as politically active as other ethnic groups. That could be attributed to the fact that a large segment of the AAPI community is first-generation immigrants, still trying to establish themselves economically and socially. Compared to Latino and African American voters, AAPIs just don’t turn out to vote, according to AAPI Data. In the 2016 elections, voting rates among Asian American adult citizens remained low (49%) relative to Whites and Blacks (65.3% and 59.4%, respectively) and was slightly higher than voting among Latinos (47.6%). Since the start of the 21st century, Asian Americans have been the fastest

growing ethnic group in the U.S. nationwide, they grew 46% between 2000 and 2010. Excluding Hawaii, the Asian American population grew at least 30% in every single state in that ten-year span alone. In California alone, nearly 16% of the approximately 38.5 million people are Asian Americans. Beyond voting, getting AAPIs to run for office has traditionally been difficult. Politics is not the career choice most AAPI parents would prefer for their children. And AAPI candidates need to overcome the stereotype of being quiet and not being aggressive. But that’s changing, says Christine Chen, executive director of the outreach nonprofit Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote. AAPI women pushed the number of AAPIs in Congress in 2016 to 18: including the first Thai American, Tammy Duckworth, elected to the Senate; the first Vietnamese American woman to Congress, Florida’s Stephanie Murphy; and the first Indian American women elected to both the House, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Senate, Kamala Harris of California. Just within the last three election cycles, there has been a growth of over 600,000 new Asian American voters nationwide. These new generations of

Asian Americans can lead to increased voter activity since they are more likely to be proficient in English and will not require assistance in translating, unlike their parents. It is now more important than ever that Asian Americans become more politically involved due to their rising population growth rates.

Tammy Duckworth, the first Thai American elected to the Senate, is also the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office.

Immigrants Could be Penalized for Accepting Public Benefits


proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would scrutinize hundreds of thousands of immigrants who apply for citizenship to determine if they receive public benefits, reports Jezebel.


May 2018 | National News

Such benefits would reportedly include tax credits. Reuters reports the proposed regulations would greatly expand the definition of public benefits. “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations,” the proposal states. “An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the

United States.” In 2016, nearly 400,000 people would have been impacted by the proposed standards. “The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer,” Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman, said to Reuters. “Any potential changes to the rule would be in keeping with the letter and spirit of the law – as well as the reasonable expectations of the American people for the government to be good stewards of taxpayer funds.”



Redemption: Nathan Chen Wins World Championship


athan Chen is the new Men’s Figure Skating World Champion. The Olympian who placed fifth at PyeongChang after a disastrous short program attempted six quads. He entered the World Champion’s long skate in first place. He skated last and near flawlessly. “I felt the pressure, but I used what I learned from the Olympics and tried to bring it here,” Chen said. Chen landed six quadruple jumps in his free skate, extending a 1.86-point lead from the short program to win by 47.63 points. Chen tallied personal-best free skate and total scores (219.46, 321.40), becoming the second man to break 320 total points after double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu. It’s the largest margin of victory in any event at an Olympics, worlds or Grand Prix Final under the 14-year-old points system.

18 Asians, Asian Americans on Time’s Most Influential people list


here were 18 Asians and Asian Americans on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential people for 2018. It is not a surprise that award-winning actor and social commentator Kumail Nanjiani, Olympic gold medal winner Chloe Kim or Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan made the list, but what about scientist Jian-Wei Pan or social activist Sinta Nuriyah and others who are not well known outside of their respective fields? Time’s picks include the expected politicians like the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China, but also some leaders in tech like Bhvish Aggarwal and Satya Nadella; and social movement activist Janet Mock. It’s important to note that they were not necessarily the “most famous” individuals, nor is it a list of the “good” people in the world. Only a half-dozen of the influencers are Asian Americans. Seems like there should have been more, but the list fluctuates year-to-year. “The TIME 100, always a reflection of its moment, looks quite different than in the past,” Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal wrote. 45 of the people on the list are women, the most ever included. “While we re-

main much too far from gender parity in global leadership, there are more women than ever on this year’s TIME 100—proof that there are ways of changing the world beyond traditional power structures,” Felsenthal wrote. Here are the Asians and Asian Americans on the list. Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder of Oka, the Indian version of Uber or Lyft. Chloe Kim, American-Korean Olympic gold medal winner. Deepika Padukone, Indian actress and model. At the age of 32, she had appeared in 32 Hindi films. Times said, “she’s here to represent the world.” Janet Mock, TV host who is biracial and transsexual. Jian-Wei Pan, scientist who achieved quantum communication for more secure modes of communication. Kevin Kwan, American-Singaporean

novelist, the author of Crazy Rich Asians. Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea. Kumail Nanjiani, American-Pakistani stand-up comedian. Masayoshi Son, Softbank CEO, visionary investor. Moon Jae-In, President of South Korea. Pony Ma, founder of Tencent, China’s social media giant. Sadiq Khan, London mayor of Pakistani descent. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, enough said. Shikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. Sinta Nuriyah, widow of former Indonesian president who advocates for tolerance and diversity. Virat Kohli, up-and-coming cricket player from India. Xi Jinping, President of China.

Deepika Padukone, Indian actress

Jian-Wei Pan, Quantum scientist AsAm News | asian avenue magazine


bookreview WHITE CHRYSANTHEMUM Author: Mary Lynn Bracht Price: $26 | Pages: 326 ISBN: 978-0-7352-1443-9 | Publisher: Putnam Website: Connect with Mary at: Twitter and Instagram: @marylynnbracht Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @Jeneverre

The worlds of Korea and Japan collide in this story when Japanese soldiers kidnap a young haenyeo, a female diver, from her family to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. Two sisters are separated at a young age because of war. The author weaves a story of survival, hope and overcoming the atrocities of war. Even as a coming of age story, it’s captivating, it’s haunting and it’s memorable for those not familiar with war. Author Mary Lynn Bracht, an American author of Korean descent living in London, grew up in a large expat community of women who came of age in postwar South Korea. In 2002, Bracht visited her mother’s childhood village, and it was during this trip she first learned of the “comfort women.” As a historical fiction, Bracht tells a story through the sisters’ point of views. Readers glimpse through the eyes of the sisters from teens all the way to old age. In Hanna’s eyes, the story of kidnapping, sex slavery and the fight for freedom is told in her perspective from teen years to at least her 30s. While Emi tells her story as a haenyeo in her 80s, searching for her sister, who was kidnapped


May 2018 | Book Review

60 years ago. She shares her sorrows, filled with survivor’s guilt, constantly asking herself, “Why not her?” The name of the book symbolizes the continual mourning of Korean women, lost as comfort women. The flower chrysanthemum represents a symbol of mourning for Koreans. Through the genre of fiction, Bracht brings up the issue of comfort women in this book, full of emotions. This war atrocity is not a well-known crime in the United States. As of lately, the Japanese government has recently acknowledged in 1993. Even despite that fact that the United Nations estimates that 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese army. Not only was Korean women affected but also Japanese and Filipina women suffered the same tragedies. Cultural factoids are shared throughout the story. The dying traditions of haenyeo, the tatami mats the comfort women use; the traditional ger, or sleeping tent, of the Mongolians; and the titular chrysanthemum, a symbol of mourning for Koreans. It is a powerful debut for Bracht as she shares to “never forget.” What will be Bracht next novel? It certainly will be something unforgettable.

q&a Asian Avenue: What inspired you to write this book? Mary Lynn Bracht (MLB): When I first learned of the ‘comfort women’ and their plight for recognition and reparations, I was shocked by what they had survived during WWII. The idea to write White Chrysanthemum came many years later, when I realized these grandmothers were still fighting for recognition by the Japanese government for the war crimes committed against them and probably would continue to do so until they all passed away. Time was running out for them, and I couldn’t stop thinking how terrible it must be to die knowing the world doesn’t know or recognize what really happened to you. Asian Avenue: What do you want readers to walk away with after reading your novel? MLB: I would like readers to come away with the idea that no matter what happens to you in this life, there is always hope. Hope that someone in this world will fight for you, search for you, love you or merely remember you. Asian Avenue: What are your future projects? MLB: Currently, I’m working on my next novel. I hope to

have a first draft completed next year.

with Mary Lynn Bracht

Asian Avenue: What do you want to tell your new fan base? MLB: Firstly I’d like to say thank you for reading my book! It means so much to know that people are reading White Chrysanthemum and learning about both the ‘comfort women’ and the haenyeo. Secondly, if you ever have the chance to visit South Korea and Jeju Island, definitely take it! Asian Avenue: When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies and/or interests? MLB: I read a lot! Everything from poetry to nature books to history books to the latest novels. I also enjoy walking on Hampstead Heath and watching all the dogs jump into the ponds. Asian Avenue: To the new and fledgling writer(s), what advice do you want to share about writing and publishing? MLB: The best advice for a new writer that I can share is that no matter what you are working on, do whatever you can to finish it. We all have big dreams at the beginning, but they can’t come true until we follow through with the work—that means getting to ‘The End’. It’s probably the hardest thing to do for a beginning writer, but once you get there, everything else has a chance to fall into place. Asian Avenue: Is there anything else you would like to share about the book that I’m not asking? MLB: White Chrysanthemum covers a very dark period in Korean history, but it is also a story that reveals the beauty of relationships between families, friends, and even strangers. I think it also shows how even one act of kindness can change someone’s entire world.

Mary Lynn Bracht Author of White Chrysanthemum White Chrysanthemum | asian avenue magazine


STARFEST 2018 IS MORE THAN A COMIC CON By Mary Jeneverre Schultz


May 2018 | On Scene

Conventioneers, fans of Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica showed up with costumes of their favorite characters to attend StarFest 2018 last April 20 thru 22 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center in Greenwood Village. Video gaming, board games and art work were displayed at the convention for the die-hard fans, wanting to create or add to their current collection of their favorite series and/or movies of star-related anything. StarFest is actually a collection of festivals. Over the convention’s history of 30 years, organizers have combined many special interests into one big event. Unique fandoms were combined to serve individual fan needs. If Harry Potter is your interest, then there’s a place at the convention for all the fans. Other conventioneers paid extra incentives to try out escape rooms, solving puzzles to find their way out of a locked room. Die-hard fans, especially those of Star Trek, paid a premium to capture a photograph and/or autograph of LeVar Burton, best known for his roles as the host of the long-running PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow and Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fans wandered throughout the convention to look for treasures to bring home such as oxygen masks, badges, pins, comics and costumes to wear at a future Starfest. This convention is a precursor to Denver Comic Con, scheduled during Father’s Day weekend, June 15 thru 17 at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. For mor information about Starfest, visit their website at

Photo Credit: StarFest 2018

Now in its 10th year, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by honoring deserving members of the Asian American community - the unsung heroes, the shining stars and the selfless leaders!

Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award Ceremony + Dim Sum Brunch Saturday, May 19, 2018 | 10am to 12pm

Empress Seafood Restaurant 2200 W. Alameda Ave. #44, Denver, CO 80223 Tickets: $30 Adult/General | $20 Student

Award ceremony includes recognition of 2018 Asian American Heroes of Colorado, acceptance speeches, dim sum brunch and a silent auction!

Get tickets at: For more information, e-mail or call 303-937-6888.

Women’s Tees - $12

Great gifts for Mother’s Day!

Contact Annie at to order!




Asian Avenue: 5 words to describe the last 5 years?

Maria Cheng [Artistic Director and Founder]: Unbelievable community support, still here!

AA: What is Theatre Espirit Asia (TEA) about?

MC: We tell stories of the contemporary Asian diaspora, provide professional work to Asian-centric theatre artists and foster exchange amongst Asian communities and between us and the community-at-large. In doing so, we hope to incentivize social action and change for equity and justice.

AA: What have been your successes?

MC: Hmm, in five years, we’ve employed more Asian-American theatre artists than the entire history of Colorado-produced theater! We’ve received accolades from the major local publications and critics; six area theatres have presented us: Bas Bleu, Evergreen Players, Germinal Stage, Su Teatro, Theatre Company of Lafayette and the Vintage. I don’t know of any other Colorado theatre company that has been so invited. It was so heartening to experience their audiences’ response and caring. In 2014 and 2016, TEA won Peoples’ Choice, Best Original Play, Actress and Lighting from the Colorado Theatre Festival. In 2017, we were the first theater of ethnicity to have been invited from any state to perform at the National Festival of the American Association of Community Theater in its 48 year festival history!

Artistic Director & Founder Maria Cheng

Actor Michael Chen

Photo Credit: Maileen Hamto

Photo Credit: Christopher Waller

AA: Tell our readers about this upcoming production.

MC: JOURNEYS: Dust Storm and Spirit & Sworded Treks are two one-acts, abridged from full length plays which TEA produced in our inaugural season. Dust Storm, written by Rick Foster and acted by brilliant TEA newcomer Michael Chen, tells of a rebellious Japanese-American youth interned during WWII. He grows to maturity, helped by a wise old painter. The Denver Post said, “…a work that is modest and ambitious, spare yet emotionally textured. The moral terrain covered makes vital demands on the audience’s hearts and minds. A compassionately layered work that makes wise use of history, even as it tells an intimate coming-of-age story in the midst of sweeping upheaval.” It features beautiful art images by the great Japanese artist Chiura Obata. Spirit & Sworded Treks is a comedy tracing the attempts of a Chinese immigrant to maintain a Taoist path in hectic and capitalistic America. I use tai chi, sword and saber weapon forms, bad singing, dance, storytelling and live stir-fry! The New York Times said of it, “wickedly funny…exquisitely crafted.” But I really liked how the San Francisco Examiner described it as “an ode to all the ties that bind, the prejudices that impede and the dreams that inspire.” Seven years in the writing, this spiritual journal keeps changing! It has been invited to an international theater festival in Venice, FL as TEA keeps growing. Five years old – we’re just a kid!


May 2018 | Feature

Flyer designed by Joanne Stolen


Too Much of A Good Thing

By Wayne Chan

If you live in or near a major metropolitan area, you’ve no doubt seen it – brightly colored bicycles parked randomly on street corners, unchained to any bike stands and absent any chains or traditional locks to keep them secure. It’s called “Bike Share”, and it’s a relatively new business model, but a promising one at that. Anyone with a smart phone, can sign up for any number of bike share companies through a dedicated app, find a nearby bike, assign it for your own use, and ride away to your desired destination. Seems like an environmentally friendly, win-win solution for everyone, right? Well, even the best ideas can backfire without a little common sense. Take China’s bike share situation. It turns out that a number of companies in China have gone all in with the bike share business. They’ve set up shop in many of China’s largest cities and if you’ve ever gone to China, it’s seems like a perfect solution to streets packed with cars adding to major pollution and congestion problems. Give the people access to bikes, and at least for some trips, you save a car trip? What could go wrong, right?

It seems that China’s bike share companies have watched the movie “Field of Dreams” a few too many times because they seem to be working under the guideline of, “If you build it, they will come.” Tens of thousands of bikes, perhaps millions of them, have been produced and strewn about all over Shanghai and other large Chinese cities. So many of these bikes sit around unused, that the local authorities have begun stockpiling the bikes in empty lots just to keep pedestrian walkways open for the public. The piles of bikes have actually become a mountain of bikes, filling up empty lots, parks, any spare inch of storage space. Some of the bike share companies have gone out of business because they’ve run out of money after having produced so many bikes that go unused. So, here’s my question. Maybe I’m missing something, but let’s say you’re the inventory manager in charge of one of these bike share companies. You walk outside with one of your bicycle procurement managers to inspect your current stock of bikes. You walk past a field stocked with your bikes,

stacked on top of each other fifteen feet high and the size of a football field. You have to watch your step as you step over a few of them to avoid the possibility of a bicycle avalanche. At some point during your inspection while walking past basically a battalion of bikes, wouldn’t it make sense for you to turn to your colleague and say, “You know Bill…do you think we might have enough bikes out there now?” And yes, I realize a manager for a bike share company in China is not likely to be named “Bill”, but I’ve always thought the name “Bill” was kind of funny, so there you go…

Comedy Column | asian avenue magazine


TAIWAN’S NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE: A MODEL FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE The World Health Organization has for years urged Member States to take action to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. Although not a WHO member, Taiwan has offered universal health coverage to our island’s 23 million citizens since 1995. Taiwan launched the National Health Insurance (NHI) initiative by integrating medical programs from existing insurance systems for laborers, farmers, and government employees, which covered only half the population. This has since been expanded to provide equal coverage to all citizens from birth, regardless of age, financial status or employment status. Furthermore, all foreigners who legally work or reside in Taiwan are also afforded the same coverage. The NHI is a public program run by the government based on a single-payer model. Life expectancy in Taiwan has subsequently increased to levels seen in key OECD countries, with women living on average to 83.4 years old, and men to 76.8. Yet healthcare costs are far lower in Taiwan than in most highly developed countries in Europe and North America, at US$1,430 per capita per year, representing just 6.3 percent of GDP in 2016. Administrative costs run at less than 1 percent of the total and public satisfaction remains high, at 85.8 percent in 2017. Taiwan’s health system has undergone several reforms over the last 20 plus years to ensure its sustainability given shifts in the socioeconomic landscape. Implementing the Global Budget Payment on top of Fee-For-Service reimbursement method effectively reduced annual medical expenditure growth from 12 percent to 5 percent since 2003. And the way premiums are collected has also changed from being purely payroll-based, to including supplementary premiums based on capital gains, which has created a surplus into the National Health Insurance Fund.


May 2018 | Taiwan Update

In addition, the NHI’s information system has migrated to the cloud, making it much easier for hospitals, clinics, and doctors to access medical information. We encourage hospitals to upload computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans so they can be retrieved for follow-up consultations. A personalized cloud-based service called My Health Bank also enables patients to check their medical records at any time. The government has adopted a wide range of measures to reduce health inequalities affecting disadvantaged groups. We have premium subsidies for low-income and near-poor households, as well as the unemployed. We have also improved the provision of services in areas with limited healthcare resources, and implemented an Integrated Delivery System (IDS) in remote areas to strengthen its medical capacities and qualities. We also raised subsidies on preventive healthcare services for indigenous populations. In a globalized world, it is impossible for countries to overcome all their healthcare challenges on their own. It is only through interdisciplinary and international cooperation that we can build a global health system that consistently and cost-effectively meets the healthcare needs of the world’s citizens, and bring to fruition the WHO’s ultimate goal of health for all. Taiwan has a great deal of experience in building and maintaining a universal health insurance system, from service provider management to financing and coping with socioeconomic change. More to the point, we believe that Taiwan’s healthcare system can serve as a model for other countries. Taiwan has a constructive role to play in creating a robust global health network, and the best way to share our experience with other countries is through participation in the World Health Assembly and the WHO. It is regrettable that political ob-

struction led to Taiwan being denied an invitation to the 70th WHA as an observer last year. The WHO not only failed to abide by its Constitution, but also ignored widespread calls for Taiwan’s inclusion coming from many nations and international medical groups all around the world. Yet despite this, Taiwan remains committed to helping enhance regional and global disease prevention networks, and assisting other countries in overcoming their healthcare challenges. Against this backdrop, Taiwan seeks to participate in the 71st WHA this year in a professional and pragmatic way, as part of global efforts to realize the WHO’s vision of a seamless global disease prevention network. This also goes in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 3, which is to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages by 2030. We therefore urge the WHO and related parties to acknowledge Taiwan’s longstanding contributions to promoting human health worldwide, recognize the significance and legitimacy of Taiwan’s involvement as an observer in this year’s WHA. Because we believe that to achieve health for all, Taiwan can help.

Written by Dr. Chen Shih-Chung Minister of Health and Welfare Republic of China (Taiwan)

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