Asian Avenue magazine - May 2019

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asian avenue 2019 ASIAN AMERICAN HEROES magazine May 2019 Volume 14 Issue 5

Connecting Cultures Linking Lives


SEBASTIAN ANDERSON signs with Colorado Rapids

Restaurant Peek


1147 S Federal Blvd, Denver, CO 80219 Tel: 303.993.7444 HOURS: Sun - Thur: 10am to 10pm Fri - Sat: 10am to 11pm

Unmatched Chè, Incredible Tea Selection, Bold Coffee Drinks and Exotic Fruit Smoothies & Juice

Pandan Waffle


Taiyaki Fish Cake



Sun - Thur: 11:30am – 9:30pm Fri - Sat: 11am – 10pm

12303 E Mississippi Ave Unit 127, Aurora, CO 80012 | Tel: 720.638.3193

What is Chinese Hotpot?


Chinese hotpot is a communal eating experience, in which you order different ingredients to boil inside a simmering pot of broth. Think of it as Asian fondue where everyone at the table cooks their own food!

How to eat Hotpot?

At Aki, first choose your soup base (do you dig hot and spicy? Or are you more into herbal broths?). From there, choose your meats and seafoods ranging from beef slices, pork belly and meatballs to squid, fish fillets, shrimps and clams. Throw in your veggies: mushrooms, cabbage, spinach, sprouts, or boy choy, and the list goes on with over 20 options. Lastly, add your noodles and tofus, and don’t forget the dipping sauces! And the best part is that it is ALL YOU CAN EAT!

Kids age 3 and under: FREE Ages 4-6: $6.99 Ages 7-9: $10.99 Ages 10-12: $12.99 Seniors: $17.99

Adults: $19.99

AUTO INJURY? CAR ACCIDENT? IN PAIN? COME SEE US TODAY! We specialize in: car accidents, headaches, muscle pain, back & neck pain











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

Golden Shanghai Asian Restaurant

● The Best Chinese Restaurant by 710 AM Restaurant Show ● The Best Chinese Restaurant by the 1430 KEZW Restaurant Show ● Voted 2007 Top 100 Chinese Restaurant in the US

1412 S. Parker Rd. A-134 Denver, CO 80231 (303) 743-7666 (303)743-9079 (303)743-8210

MAY 2019


in this issue EVENTS

8 9

Event calendar

Sakura Foundation hosts reception with abstract painter Barbara Takenaga


Upcoming International Commodities Symposium in August receives global attention

The 2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado are the unsung heroes and community leaders deserving recognition as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.



Affinity group for Asian American postal employees launches first scholarship award



Six Asian American Heroes of Colorado are highlighted for their work in the Japanese American community, elevating mental health awareness, building opportunities for education in rural communities, and more.




A Filipino memoir, Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes



Visit Nomaste to get your quick Indian lunch or dinner fix



Sebastian Anderson breaks records becoming the youngest player to sign with the Colorado Rapids at age 16




Documentaries, including Nailed It by Adele Free Pham, release in May Don’t miss free advanced screenings to see Pokémon Detective Pikachu and The Sun is Also A Star


28 6

May 2019 | Table of Contents


Q&A with the Author

Pop Culture Con takes over Denver the last weekend of May


Tea Street engages in Glendale Chamber’s ribbon-cutting ceremony



Taiwan’s Advances in Digital Healthcare

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

Find us @AsianAveMag #AsianAveMag

Dear Asian Avenue readers, Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill to recognize the month as a time to celebrate the great and significant contributions of AAPIs to our society. Since 2009, each of our May editions have recognized Asian American Heroes of Colorado, which were selected by a committee of representatives from Colorado’s AAPI organizations. This year, we are excited to share the stories of Tarika, Gil, Rachele, Roger, Robin and Faye. They have each made a tremendous impact in the sectors and communities they work in and influenced positively the lives of others. On Satuday, May 18, we hope you will join us at the awards ceremony to honor the 2019 awardees. More info on page 12. In April, my family—which includes my husband Danny and our one-year-old daughter Cadence—officially made the move back to Denver after living with Danny’s family in San Diego for the past two and a half years. We are excited to be back and look forward to getting involved with our local AAPI community organizations and events. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any ideas for stories or collaborations at As always, we thank you for your support of Asian Avenue magazine. Annie Guo VanDan, President Asian Avenue magazine | Published by Asian Avenue Magazine, Inc. P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222-1748 Tel: 303.937.6888 |


asian avenue Publisher & Founder CHRISTINA YUTAI GUO

Marketing Manager JOIE HA



Senior Designer C.G. YAO

Staff Writer AMY NG



on the cover


The 2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado share their experiences in this month’s cover story as we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. Photo by: Pamela Yang

Looking to promote your business? Asian Avenue magazine offers businesses the most cost-effective way to reach consumers in the Denver/Boulder metro areas and beyond. For more information, call 303.937.6888 or e-mail us at for our media kit and ad rates.

contributing writers Jiamei Chen, Dr. Shih-Chung Chen, DJ Ida, Marlene Perez, Joseph Owen Schultz

contributing photographers Travis Broxton, Sal DeVincenzo, Garrett W. Ellwood/Colorado Rapids, Mike Kalush, Jessalyn Herreria Langevin, Pamela Yang Asian Avenue magazine (ISSN 19321449) 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.

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subscriptions E-mail or visit to subscribe. A one-year subscription is $25 for 12 issues; a two-year subscription is $40 for 24 issues. Please make checks payable to Asian Avenue magazine. For details about special corporate or group rates, please call 303.937.6888. Shipping/ handling included. Asian Avenue magazine is in association with the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network. Name Address City/State/Zip Cell E-mail Comments

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President’s Note | asian avenue magazine


upcoming events 2019 Restaurant Week On Havana Street May 1-8 30 participating restaurants on Havana Street in Aurora

Taste the most unique, traditional fare at an affordable cost. The restaurants On Havana Street invite you to explore and enjoy authentic international cuisines and unique experiences in dining during Restaurant Week with special deals, including Angry Chicken, Happy Tea, Sushi Katsu and Chutney Restaurant. 34th Annual Asian Education Advisory Council Awards Ceremony Sunday, May 5 9am to 11:30am Doubletree Hotel 3203 Quebec St., Denver

The annual AEAC Awards were developed to empower AA/PI students by promoting and modeling a strong, positive AA/PI identity. Each year the council, which was founded by the Denver Public Schools Board of Education, determines award recipients in Denver Public Schools.


May 2019 | Upcoming Events

Reception and Talk with artist Barbara Takenaga Friday, May 17 | 6pm to 8pm Robischon Art Gallery 1740 Wazee Street, Denver Register on EventBrite Search Takenaga Artist Barbara Takenaga will discuss her art and the influence of her Japanese heritage. She is an abstract painter known for her swirling, dot-based paintings that recall cellular and cosmic imagery. Light refreshments and drinks will be provided and books of Takenaga’s art will be available for purchase.

2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards & Dim Sum Brunch Saturday, May 18 9am to 11am Empress Seafood Restaurant 2200 W. Alameda Ave., Denver $35 General | $25 Student Now in its 11th year, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by honoring deserving members of the Asian American community! Hear the awardees’ acceptance speeches while enjoying dim sum brunch.

Send community events to

2019 Pilgrimage to Amache Saturday, May 18 6am to 6:30pm Pick-up at Simpson United Methodist Church & Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple Tickets: $30

The annual Amache pilgrimage visits the former WWII concentration camps for those of Japanese descent by bus with educational programs running. A memorial service and oshoko (offering of incense) takes place, followed by a visit to Granada Undivided School, where lunch is provided. Nisei Veterans Heritage Foundation – Community Memorial Day Service Monday, May 27 Fairmount Cemetery 430 S. Quebec St., Denver

The annual Nisei Veterans Heritage Foundation Community Memorial Day Service program is dedicated to honor the memory of Japanese American veterans from the Rocky Mountain region that honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces, making the ultimate sacrifice for our country and are now at rest.

Kez Colorado Japanese Woodworking Festival Saturday, May 25 10am to 5pm 913 E. 75th Ave. #A, Denver $10 admission | $20 w/ lunch Kez Colorado is hosting their 2019 Japanese Woodworking Festival with four different demonstrations and lectures throughout the day, BBQ lunch available, tools for sale, and the highlight of the event is the hand plane competition for the thinnest and most complete shaving!

Rock the Boat Leadership Conference Saturday, June 1 | 8am to 5pm University of Colorado Denver 1201 Larimer St. Denver At Rock the Boat, high students will address AAPI cultural, social, and community issues. The conference unites students and organizations in order to promote community building, career development, civic engagement, and most importantly, leadership. Keynote speaker Meta Sarmiento is a Filipino rapper and poet.

The Visual Power of Barbara Takenaga Comes to Denver By DJ Ida Barbara Takenaga is an accomplished abstract painter whose work has been shown throughout the country. Her art has been described as mesmerizing, intricate, powerful, beautiful. Christina Olsen writes “Barbara Takenaga’s paintings wash over viewers like a tidal wave... it offers a respite: a pause, a breath and a space for contemplation and immersive beauty” (Williams College Museum of Art, 2017). Belinda Tate, Executive Director of Kalamazoo Institute of Art wrote: “Takenaga unquestionably stands among the distinguished ranks of American artists who have pioneered distinct visual language.” Takenaga has received numerous awards including the FORSITE Foundation’s Wauson Fellowship and the Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. A third generation Japanese American, sansei, Takenaga has lived and worked in New York City for over thirty years. During that time, she also served as a Professor of Art at the Williams College in Williamstown, MA. Prior to moving east, she obtained her BFA and MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and after graduation worked in the Education Department of the Denver Art Museum and taught at the University of Denver. Takenaga was born and raised in North Platte, Nebraska alongside her older sister, her mother Cecile and her father Robert who was a physician. Her maternal grandparents, Sam and Naka Kuroki, lived on a farm and settled in Hershey, Nebraska after following the railroad that was being built to Wyo-

ming. Growing up in Nebraska meant she didn’t experience being surrounded by other Asian Americans, yet those who have followed her work for years have always seen the influence of Japanese aesthetics, whether in her early prints of “floating fish scales” or a hanging of pine needles woven with black thread with a simple splash of red, that was part of an exhibit honoring the Japanese tradition of “How to Wrap Five Eggs.” In reviewing a show at the DC Moore Gallery in NY, Joan Waltemath wrote: “We both grew up under the light of the Milky Way, in the dark wonders that particular western landscape holds... the feeling of standing full face to the universe, her metaphoric structures point us inward” (Brooklyn Rail 2/5/2019). In The New York Times’, Ken Johnson wrote: “The celestial sublime is Takenaga’s thing…she represents visions of night skies in which meteor showers... and other astronomical phenomena are happening.” Sakura Foundation is hosting a Reception and Gallery Talk featuring Barbara Takenaga and her work on Friday, May 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Robischon Gallery on 1740 Wazee Street. Tickets are available at, search “Takenaga.” This exceptional exhibit will be featured at the gallery from May 16 to July 6, 2019. Takenaga’s work is always best appreciated up close and in person, whether looking at a piece that is over 20 feet long or one that is much smaller. Only then can one be taken in by the intricate and subtle details that says: Take a deep breath and enjoy.

Manifold 5 (detail) acrylic on linen

Barbara Takenaga works on her painting

Reception and Gallery Talk featuring Barbara Takenaga Friday, May 17, 2019 | 6 to 8 pm Robischon Gallery | 1740 Wazee Street Tickets are available at, search “Takenaga.”

Upcoming Event | asian avenue magazine


J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities brings international attention to Denver for commodity expertise

By Jiamei Chen

J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities International Commodities Symposium | August 12-13, 2019

Jian Yang, J.P. Morgan Endowed Chair delivers a keynote speech at the 13th China (Shenzhen) International Derivatives Forum

August is just a few months away from now. Dozens of leading scholars from top universities (e.g., Cornell, Stanford, UC-Berkley, Yale), policymakers (e.g., Bank of Canada, Federal Reserve Board, International Monetary Fund) and industry leaders (e.g., Bosch GmbH, the CME Group, J.P. Morgan) in the field of commodities around the world are expected to come to Denver and attend the 2019 J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities (JPMCC) annual international symposium. The symposium will be held August 12-13 at the University of Colorado Denver business school. Unlike other academic conferences, this symposium is unique in maintaining a right mix of academic, policy and industry perspectives and promoting an open and full exchange of ideas. Big and small companies headquartered in the Denver (e.g., CoBank, Newmont Mining) have also actively participated in this event. The conference organizer, Jian Yang, J.P. Morgan Endowed Chair and JPMCC research director, is pleased to see that the symposium is now being recognized as a premier event of its type internationally. In 2018, the symposium attracted attendance from eight countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Poland, UK, and the US. Distinguished speakers included chair professors from Harvard and Yale, former chief economists of the U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers and other US regulators, and chief economists of some major companies in the world. China’s Futures Magazine, which serves the futures and options industry professionals in China, listed the 2018 JPMCC symposium as a major industry news item. A former chief economist

of Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and currently a professor at Imperial College London praised the quality of the 2018 symposium to be “world-class” after his attendance. Through domestic and international media coverage, the 2018 symposium reached further into the business community internationally. Building on the success in 2018, the 2019 symposium has attracted people from thirteen countries to submit their works for consideration. In addition to its signature annual international symposium, J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, which was established in 2012 as the first commodity center of its kind in the world, has been making great progress in becoming the global leader in commodity research and education through its various programs and events. It not only brings the world to Denver for commodity expertise, but also reaches out and impacts the world from Denver. Insights on commodity markets from the JPMCC research director have been shared as keynotes or invited speeches at international forums, and through major US and international media outlets to people in several dozen countries and in multiple languages (e.g., English, Chinese, Italian, Indonesian). Finally, JPMCC is also a leading educator of cutting-edge knowledge in the commodities space. To prepare talents for the industry, it has developed the formal degree-seeking and professional education programs on commodities. It is the only educational program in the U.S focusing on a broad range of commodities, including agriculture, energy and mining, and from contemporary perspectives.

For more information, visit:

Bluford Putnam, Managing Director and Chief Economist of the CME Group, speaks at the Applied Commodity Research Leaders Forum in 2018.


May 2019 | Upcoming Symposium

Jeffrey Frankel, James W. Harpel Professor in the Kennedy School at Harvard University, delivers the keynote address at the 2018 JPMCC Symposium.

Affinity group for Asian American postal employees launches first scholarship award Since the inauguration of PEAAACE (Postal Employees Asian American Association Committed and Engaged) in May 2018, the organization has grown to 20 registered members which include one from Kansas and one from Kentucky, and 47 individuals on its e-mail and mailing list. The founder of PEAAACE, Marlene Perez, who has worked for USPS for 30 years, established the group to provide professional development, networking and other opportunities for Asian-American employees. The inspiration for PEAAACE came from similar external groups including those for Hispanic and African American postal employees. PEAAACE is officially acknowledged by USPS as one of its affinity groups and is also now a business member of the Asian Chamber of Commerce. In the past year, the group has opened a checkings and savings account and is recognized as a nonprofit organization. During the first week of March 2019, PEAAACE held its first official election by registered members and elected Marlene Perez (Senior Field Account Representative) as President; Max Raizada (District Marketing Manager) as Vice President; and David Pacileo (Senior Budget Financial Analyst) as Secretary/Treasurer. “Employee engagement is an important USPS initiative. And this group is aligned with that initiative,” said Perez. PEAAACE is now working on its scholarship award. The first award will be named after George Sakato, Colorado’s carrier for 29 years and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service as a soldier during World War II. When Perez informed the Japanese American Association of Colorado (JAAC) that the first scholarship award would be named after its most revered member, JAAC offered a grant for the scholarship. JAAC is the longest standing Japanese American organization in Colorado established in 1907.

Marlene Perez speaks at the inaugural meeting for PEAAACE with 90 people in attendance If you are interested in donating to the first PEAAACE scholarship award to honor George Sakato, please mail donations made payable to PEAACE to: P.O. Box 172332, Denver, CO 80217-2332. To learn more about PEAACE, contact Marlene Perez at

re:representASIAN All Asian Pacific American high schoolers across Colorado are invited to develop their leadership skills at our annual conference. Register for FREE at

JUNE 1, 2019


Meet our Keynote Speaker, Meta Sarmiento: Filipino rapper and poet from Guam now based in Denver, Meta is a finalist for the 2019 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, Top 12 Finisher at the 2018 WRLD UNDERGROUND MC TOURNAMENT, and a winner of 2015 Spoken Word for the World where he was flown to Paris, France to perform during the United Nations Climate Negotiations. His body of work often explores themes of cultural identity, masculinity, family, and love.


PEAAACE representatives at an Asian Chamber of Commerce event


Inside Story | asian avenue magazine


In its 11th year, Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network proudly announces the

2019 ASIAN AMERICAN HEROES OF COLORADO Story by Patricia Kaowthumrong Photos by Pamela Yang

11th annual ASIAN AMERICAN HEROES OF COLORADO AWARD CEREMONY AND BRUNCH Date: Saturday, May 18, 2019 Time: 9 am to 11am Location: Empress Seafood Restaurant | 2825 W. Alameda Ave, Denver Cost: $35 general | $25 student To purchase tickets: Checks made payable to CACEN can be sent to: CACEN, P.O. Box 221748, Denver, CO 80222

Or purchase at:

YOUNG HERO AWARD: TARIKA CEFKIN (Thai American) Executive Director of Nathan Yip Foundation Public Safety Chair, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival Board of Directors, Theatre Esprit Asia

GIL ASAKAWA (Japanese American) President of Mile High Japanese American Citizens League AARP AAPI Marketing Communications Consultant Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commissioner DR. FAYE CARONAN (Filipino American) Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado Denver Inclusive Culture Committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

For questions, call 303-937-6888 or email

DR. ROBIN YASUI (Japanese American)

Awardees were selected by representatives from Asian Chamber of Commerce, Asian Education Advisory Council, Asian Pacific Development Center, Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership, Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission, Dragon 5280, Mile High Asian Media, Rock the Boat, and The Cosmos.

Co-founder of the Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado Director of Geriatrics at Denver Health US-Japan Council Leader

Organized by: Colorado Asian Culture & Education Network

DR. RACHELE ESPIRITU (Filipino American) Chair of the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission Founding Partner of Change Matrix Former Denver Public Schools’ School Board Member ROGER LIU (Chinese American) Former President, National Assn of Asian American Professionals Colorado Founding Board Member, STRIVE Preparatory Young Professionals Board


Following a dim sum brunch, the award ceremony will recognize and honor the 2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado. Awardees will give an acceptance speech and share their unique stories of leadership and service. Come and be inspired!

May 2019 | Cover Story

TA Tarika speaks at the NYF 2019 Chinese New Year | Photo by Travis Broxton


At age 31, Tarika Cefkin has already had a decidedly impressive career in public service — but she’s always been hesitant to celebrate her own achievements and admits she was embarrassed when she found out about the Asian American Hero of Colorado Award. “I’m not used to public recognition,” she says. “I was always taught to lead by example, be humble and find the intrinsic value in everything I do. I think that’s why I ended up in the path of public service.” Cefkin has worked for nonprofits for her entire post-graduate school career. She currently serves as executive director of the Nathan Yip Foundation (NYF), which provides direct support to K–12 schools in rural communities throughout Colorado and China, and as the public safety chair of the operations committee for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, an event she has supported for eight years. “Tarika is mature beyond her years and excels in everything that she does,” says Denise Gorant Gliwa, a Nathan Yip Foundation board member who nominated Cefkin for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award. “She is a true hero among young people in rural Colorado who she visits regularly and works to raise money through the Nathan Yip Foundation to help support their educational needs.” Cefkin is also a founding board member of Theatre Esprit Asia, a youth mentor for the annual Think Like a Genius Challenge and supports her alma mater by


Executive Director of

NATHAN YIP FOUNDATION serving as the philanthropy adviser for the St. Lawrence University chapter of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Despite all of her accomplishments, Cefkin says her greatest achievement is retaining so much of her Thai culture, a feat she attributes to her parents. “I know that when my parents chose to raise my brother and me in the U.S. instead of Thailand, they were giving us the gift of English fluency, an education in the American school system and access to some of the best social and professional resources,” says Cefkin, who moved to the U.S. when she was 5. “But they were sacrificing our connection to Thailand — the language, culture and customs. Because she wanted so badly to fit into American culture as a youngster, Cefkin says she shunned many of her mom’s efforts to expose her and her brother to aspects of Thai heritage — but is now so grateful for the experiences she gained.

Working with students at Pleasant View Elementary | Photo by Mike Kalush

“My mom put my brother and me into Thai language, religion, dance and music programs at the local Thai Buddhist temple when we were younger, and that’s where I made my closest friends” she says. “So while it was primarily a social thing for me at first, I now understand the value in that connection and I love being able to celebrate that shared culture with my friends.” As her mother is Thai and her father is Jewish-American, Cefkin struggled with her identity growing up — but has strong pride in both cultures. “I’m thankful to my parents for celebrating our blended heritage, and I think we’ll see in future years as mixed-heritage families increase that it’ll be OK not to be labeled as one thing or another — and that we shouldn’t impose those labels upon others either,” she says. “We create our own culture, and that’s a beautiful thing.” Cefkin encourages younger generations to get involved and discover the benefit of expanding their networks. She also wants to emphasize that giving back doesn’t necessarily have to involve working for a nonprofit. “As long as you can identify a ‘greater good’ in what you do, as long as you are being kind, as long as you are taking action to help someone in some way — you are giving back,” she says. “You don’t have to be everything to everyone, but if you are something to someone, that counts for more than you can say.”

2018 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival with Tarika’s decorated cart

2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado | asian avenue magazine


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May 2019 | Cover Story


An accomplished journalist, editor, author, speaker and blogger, Gil Asakawa is a familiar face in Colorado’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community. “Gil is dedicated to social advocacy, cultural equity and communication,” says Fran Campbell, a colleague and friend who nominated Asakawa for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award. “And as a true journalist, he focuses on making sure that the information he shares with AAPI community is accurate and fair.” Asakawa serves as the president of the Japanese American Citizens League’s Mile High chapter and as a columnist for JACL’s national newspaper, The Pacific Citizen. He is a founding member of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Denver chapter, a member of the Japanese American Association of Colorado and the Japan America Society of Colorado, and current member of the U.S.-Japan Council and Mayor Hancock’s Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission. “Our various communities’ future depends on all of us giving back, and pulling along the next generation of leaders, so that they can make a bigger splash as Asian Americans in our society,” Asakawa says. He volunteered annually for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival from its inception in 2001 through 2016 — with the exception of 2008, when he took off to attend the AAJA National Convention in Chicago where presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke to a roomful of Asian American journalists. “Gil and his wife Erin Yoshimura are both deeply connected to the Denver metro area’s Japanese and Japanese American community and also to the Asian American Pacific Islander community at large,” Campbell says. “He is noted as being an influential leader of the AAPI community, no doubt. And, I believe that his primary impact has been to make those connections within the many AAPI communities, thereby connecting us to each other.”


President of

MILE HIGH JAPANESE AMERICAN CITIZENS LEAGUE Tokyo-born Asakawa grew up in a bilingual culture — living in Japanese neighborhoods while attending American schools on U.S. military bases. His dad was Japanese American born in Hawaii and his mom was born in Hokkaido, Japan, and they met when his dad was stationed in her hometown during the Korean War. Asakawa was 8 when his family moved to the U.S. Asakawa’s journalism career spans nearly 40 years. His roles range from writing art and music stories for Boulder’s Colorado Daily and working as a full-time reporter and music editor for Westword, to helping launch “eTown,” a Boulder-based public radio show with live music and spoken-word segments. He co-authored “The Toy Book,” a history of baby boomer-era toys, and wrote “Being Japanese American.” He’s also freelanced for music magazines like Rolling Stone and had a stint as entertainment editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette, where he fell in love with digital media. He currently serves as the manager of student media at the University of Colorado Boulder. As for his greatest accomplishment, Asakawa says he hasn’t achieved it yet — but he’s proud of some the investigative journalism he did at Westword and his contributions to the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival operating committee. “The festival has brought together the diverse local AAPI community and has

been able to showcase all of our cultures, both traditional and contemporary, for the public at large,” he says. Those who are connected to Asakawa on social media know he has a passion for food. In his spare time, he is an avid photographer, loves to cook (particularly on the grill) and plays guitar and sings with friends in a casual band. He encourages younger generations to find their voices and use them. “Trust your heart and depend on your cultural values to ground yourself when you need to.” Asakawa says. “But don’t let traditional values hold you back.”

Denver Asian community activism training for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Gil awards Mile High JACL’s scholarship to Jared Low at the 2018 Japanese American Community Graduation Program banquet Photo by Sal DeVincenzo

Performing at a Carole King Tribute at the Boulder Jewish Community Center

DR .



As an associate professor in the University of Colorado Denver’s Ethnic Studies Department, Faye Caronan’s efforts to further diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives for the university’s staff, faculty and students truly makes a difference in the lives of those she teaches. “Dr. Caronan sees hope in every student who is willing to put in the effort into her class or at work,” says Chelsea Situmeang, who took two of her courses and nominated her for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award. “In the academia world, especially at CU Denver, and as an individual who identifies as an AAPI woman, it is important for me to seek out classes that are taught by faculty of color,” Situmeang says. “She is an amazing professor who puts passion in her teaching and also is willing to help out students in any way she can.” Caronan teaches Asian American History and Contemporary Asian American Experience, among other courses. Her research takes a comparative ethnic studies approach to understanding U.S. global power through the study of the culture, experiences and histories of different ethnic groups in the U.S. “I am passionate about working towards creating inclusive education environments that not only recognize the diverse backgrounds, experiences and challenges of students but also adapt

pedagogy so that those students develop a sense of belonging at their schools and can better learn,” says Caronan, who is so grateful to be recognized for this work with the Asian American Heroes Award. Caronan also serves as the chair of the Ethnic Studies Department and collaborates with different groups, including the Office of Asian American Pacific Islander Student Services, to work toward a more inclusive campus. In the community, she recently joined the board of directors at Denver Language School to lead their continuing efforts to build an inclusive school culture and deliver an equitable education experience. “Faye has made major strides for the CU Denver Asian American students on campus by offering courses relative to the Asian American experience,” says Sothary Chea, the Ethnic Studies Department’s program assistant who also nominated her for the award. “She has been a

Faye and her fellow Ethnic Studies faculty members

Faye presenting her research at a symposium at New York University

Chair of Ethnic Studies at


leading member of our Department of Ethnic Studies for a couple of years and has impacted the course structure in which the department offers.” Caronan’s greatest professional achievement is the publication of her book, Legitimizing Empire: Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique, by the University of Illinois Press. She credits her successes to her husband and high school sweetheart David Chen — a constant supporter throughout her career — and her mentors. “I would not be where I am today — a tenured professor — without the support and encouragement of many wonderful mentors,” she says. “They helped me find my professional path and continue to help me navigate that path. For me, it is important to give back because I need to pay forward the support that I was given.” Caronan’s advice for younger generations is: “Don’t be afraid to fail.” “Sometimes we might limit ourselves by not applying for opportunities that we think we are not qualified for because we are afraid of failing, of getting that rejection letter,” Caronan says. “Who knows? Maybe you’ve underestimated yourself and you end up winning that prestigious award, getting into your dream school, or nabbing that dream job. At the very least you will receive feedback so that when you apply again you are that much stronger of a candidate.”

Faye and her family on a hike in Ithaca, NY

2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado | asian avenue magazine





As a shy immigrant student who was the only person of color in her classes all through elementary school, Rachele Espiritu never thought her journey would lead her to achieve so many unexpected things. She is a founding partner of Change Matrix, a small, women- and minority-owned business that engages in exploration and Chair of inquiry to support leaders to set goals, define outcomes and manage change. DENVER ASIAN AMERICAN “Rachele embodies what it is to be PACIFIC ISLANDER COMMISSION an Asian American Hero,” says DJ Ida, a colleague who nominated Espiritu for refugees from Vietnam in the 70s. the award. “There is a real strength that “My husband and I share these stories comes from deep inside of her where she and experiences of perseverance with our continually focuses on others, whether two children — Jeremy, an 8th grader at evaluating after-school programs for at- Bill Roberts and Andrew, a junior at DSST risk youth, developing Change Matrix — Stapleton,” she says. “Our families are the which plays a critical role in eliminating foundation of who we are today and condisparities for ethnically diverse commu- tinue to support us in countless ways.” nities across the country — or running to Espiritu has dedicated her professional serve on the Denver School Board.” career to addressing the mental health Born in the Philippines, Espiritu’s fam- needs of children and youth, especially ily temporarily moved to Michigan so those from diverse racial and ethnic backher dad could receive additional medical grounds, and is particularly interested in training. But when the former president supporting the AAPI community. She’s of the Philippines declared martial law, worked with hundreds of organizations her parents decided to stay in the U.S. and community groups across the counto seek a better future and fought for 13 try and in Colorado to address issues of years to become U.S. citizens. Espiritu, behavioral health equity and disparities. who was naturalized at age 17, received Espiritu is also the only immigrant to different messages about whether or not serve on the Denver Board of Education she belonged since she was a little girl. in the past 100 years and the first Asian “I was never on the American growth American ever. charts — I was always below the 1 percent “Rachele was the second AAPI student for height and weight,” she says. “I was bul- to graduate from CU Boulder with a PhD lied in school for being so small. I was the in Psychology,” says Soyon Bueno, who only student of color in my classes all the serves with Espiritu on the Denver Asian way through elementary school. I dreaded American Pacific Islander Commission show and tell when my mom would send (DAAPIC) and also nominated her for the me with dried mangos or crab shells, as I award. “With her exceptional credentials was teased for being so different.” and knowledge, she has used her experEspiritu’s husband Alex Vo, who she tise to support the AAPI community by met through the Multicultural Student volunteering at the Asian Pacific DevelopNetwork while they were both graduate ment Center earlier in her career and spestudents in Colorado, also experienced a cifically working with AAPI youth.” unique but more traumatic pathway to Espiritu currently serves on boards for the U.S. He and his family were political the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Mile


May 2019 | Cover Story

High Early Learning and Roots Elementary and continues to serve on the DAAPIC, which she was appointed to by the Mayor of Denver. Espiritu previously served on the board for the National Alliance for Mental Illness and Denver Public School’s Board of Education, which she calls one of the most rewarding and challenging leadership positions she’s ever held. Her advice to younger generations is: “Constantly push yourself, look for the edge of whatever you choose to DO, and more importantly who you choose to BE. Your voice and your story matter.” Espiritu is driven by the values of authenticity, grace and equity and strives to be true to herself whether she is around friends, colleagues or strangers. “Many situations, including running a political campaign, challenged me to the core on who I wanted to BE as a leader — especially as an Asian American woman leader,” she says. “I believe strongly in sharing my voice and perspective as an Asian American woman with a vision of an equitable society for our children. So often our voices and stories go unheard.”

Rachele with her family at her clinical psychology doctoral program graduation

Rachele with current and past DAAPIC commissioners at their holiday party

GER LIU O R When Roger Liu moved to Colorado, he was amazed by the tight-knit and active nature of the Asian American community. “Despite its small size, the Denver/ Colorado Asian community comes together to do big things, like hosting the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the largest Pan-Asian dragon boat festival in the country,” he says. “This sense of community inspired me to give back.” Liu was reminded of his experiences as an unknown college kid, struggling to find work and decided to volunteer for the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), which provides opportunities for AAPI young professionals through networking and professional development events. His first role was working with college students — organizing workshops on resume building and career development from an Asian American perspective. Liu went on to serve as the president of NAAAP Colorado’s chapter for five years and has worked with the chapter for more than six years. During his tenure as president, he made it his mission to create an environment for Asian American professionals to come together to share, learn and advance the vision for a more diverse, engaged work place and society. “Under Roger’s leadership, NAAAP hosted a national conference in Colorado, elevating visibility of the vibrant and active AAPI professionals in the Denver area,” says Soyon Bueno, who has collaborated with Liu at University of Colorado Denver and nominated him for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award. “Roger has played an important role partnering with CU Denver on a number of initiatives, providing workshops for the Council of Asian Student Leaders on leadership and professional development skill areas, as well as offering opportunities to attend national and regional conferences and galas.” Born and raised in the small town of

Former President of NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ASIAN AMERICAN PROFESSIONALS COLORADO CHAPTER Battle Creek, Mich., by Chinese immigrant parents, Liu grew up with the values of family-first, hard work and duty. He was the first in his family to go to college and studied computer engineering during the recession when no tech companies were hiring. “Looking for a job or internship felt impossible,” Liu says. “At college career fairs, I was lost in a sea of college kids, all wearing black suits and fighting for the same

Roger with national leaders at the 2016 NAAAP Leadership Academy

NAAAP Colorado participating in the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

positions. I struggled to find work, but the experience taught me to be resourceful. I took on research projects, clerical jobs — anything that could add a bullet point to my resume.” Liu eventually landed his big break with the help of a friend: an internship with Intel Corporation, where today he leads a team of stellar computer engineers. “Coming from a working-class immigrant family, there isn’t a manual for how to succeed in the professional world, he says. “Career building is a life-long process that needs to be continuously cultivated. I’ve made career mistakes and successes but am always learning and polishing.” Since Liu wears multiple hats, he says it’s difficult to pinpoint which achievement is his greatest — but he’s proud to be leading the world’s smartest engineers building tomorrow’s future technology. “As the past NAAAP Colorado Chapter President, I’m proud that we make Colorado a better place for other Asian Americans, if only slightly,” Liu says “As a son, I’m proud to fulfill my parents’ hopes for me — to go to college, get a job and live the American dream. As a father, I’m proud to see my kids gradually becoming ‘real’ little people. As a husband, I’m proudest when my wife tells me she’s proud of me.” Liu encourages younger generations to put their words in action. “When I was younger, I had the tendency to talk about all the great things I would do, instead of actually doing them,” he says. “I still do. But talk is cheap. The key is to just start doing. We can talk all we want, but if we cannot follow through, it’s useless babble.” He also believes giving back freely without expectation of reward or compensation is among the purest forms of leadership. “If we are to make a meaningful and positive change in society, it’s done through dedication and service,” Liu says. “And no greater sign of dedication or service than volunteerism. Good leaders serve.”

2019 Asian American Heroes of Colorado | asian avenue magazine


DR Yasui is the co-founder of the Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado


May 2019 | Cover Story


Robin Yasui’s career and community work showcase her passions for celebrating diversity and supporting marginalized populations. As the director of geriatrics at Denver Health, she finds joy in caring for elders from more than 68 counties and also serves as a teacher and mentor. “Having such a diverse patient population allows me to teach my students about the cultural differences in how we view wellness and illness, life and end of life concerns,” Yasui says. While she has lived in Colorado for 29 years, Yasui has strong roots in Denver since her family came and settled here after internment. And their experiences inspire her to empower youth to learn from history. “It is a mirror of our actions and deeds of today and serves to inform us about our decisions for the future,” she says. “Take our mistakes and do better. Be a better generation, remembering to practice compassion and humanity in the decisions you make, in the future world you build.” As a leader in the U.S.-Japan Council, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, Yasui supports their Women in Leadership Program, which strives to help develop future national and international female leaders


Co-founder of the

COALITION FOR AN INCLUSIVE COLORADO in the U.S. and in Japan. She also mentors young Japanese-American women in the Denver area and helps them find their voices and define their own futures. “Robin is a leader in the community and is very involved in speaking about the lessons of the past as they pertain to the treatments of marginalized communities today,” says Soyon Bueno, a collaborator who nominated Yasui for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award. “She is a coalition builder and

“Be a better generation, remembering to practice compassion and humanity in the decisions you make, in the future world you build.”

25,000 origami cranes of hope were draped at the Texas protest against detention of separated families

passionate about empowering youth to speak up.” Today, Yasui’s greatest concern is how immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are being treated and hopes the pain and trauma experienced by generations of Asian Pacific Islander families inspires communities to take action against similar injustices faced by Central Americans and Muslims. “We must use our voices and the power of the vote to make sure we remain a country of immigrants, of color and diversity, of cultural richness, of love and acceptance for all who wish to call this country their home,” she says. While she says it may be “corny but true,” Yasui considers her children her greatest achievement. “They are such unique individuals although so clearly imprinted upon by their heritage” she says. “I am enjoying watching each one grow into their own personalities, their own passions, their own talents.” And though she lives by the mantra “family above all else,” Yasui admits she has a loose definition of family. “I think we are very good at developing family relationships with non-kin friends,” she says. “If we truly see ‘others’ as ‘brothers,’ we will surely make this world a better place.”

Yasui presents the Sandpiper Award for community activism with Camille Estacio to Nadeen Ibrahim and Rep. Joe Salazar

Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir

A coming-of-age memoir exploring a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines

For Filipino Americans curious about life in the Philippines, here’s a memoir that will allow you to take a peek inside the world of a rich family spiraling into poverty. Author Cinelle Barnes debuted her writing career by telling a personal narrative of growing up in the Philippines. Her story takes readers from rich, lavish lifestyle of living in the Philippines, then reducing to poverty through her pre-teen years. Readers are holding their breath, while Barnes describe some of her pre-teen years in trying to maintain a lifestyle her mother can’t afford at all. Monsoon Mansion is a riveting memoir of survival, courage and healing. As her family falls from grace in the Philippines, a young girl is determined to save them from the natural and human disasters that threaten their home. Barnes illustrates a vivid portrait of her childhood in the Philippines --- one that demanded her strength, courage and imagination to survive. As the monsoon hits and her family lose their abundant wealth, the grand palace she called home becomes a dark labyrinth for cockfights, no-tell lovers and dangerous political schemes. Suddenly, a child must find the will and the courage to navigate this treacherous territory and unlock the magic of survival. Readers will wonder how one so young becomes “street smart” to fight for everything. When Barnes was three years old, she and her family moved into the stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines, called Mansion Royale. From her mother’s opulent clothes and so-

cial aspirations to her father’s wealth and success, Barnes and her brother believe that the world was theirs to inherit. Through the innocent eyes of a growing girl, the mystical and tropical warmth of the Philippines is soon overcome by the troubled waters brought on by the unforgiving and unrelenting monsoon. When the heavy rains hit and the Gulf War erupts in the east, her father leaves to save his business allowing the glorious halls of the mansion to become wrought with the dangerous desires of the “Common Enemy.” This book depicts a story of survival, even from a young age. When everything feels so discouraging, there is an ending that puts closure for all types of readers. In the middle of the novel, there are parts where readers are holding their breath and needs to read the next chapter before putting the book down. Barnes is an essayist, memoirist, educator and candle maker with a BA in media studies in journalism from Hunger College and a master of fine arts in creative writing from Converse College. She is a Kundiman and VONA fellow. Books have been the one constant in her life --- through her tumultuous childhood in the Philippines, her years living as a undocumented immigrant in New York City, her time as a new bride living in the American South, and as she completed her MFA program and began writing about her secrets. She lives between two states with her husband and daughter: New York, where she is always inspired to write, and South Carolina, where she can be close to the ocean.


Author: Cinelle Barnes ISBN: 978-15-4204-6138 Pages: 242 | Price: $24.95 Publisher: Little A Website:

Connect with Cinelle Instagram: @CinelleBarnesBooks

Reviewed by: Mary Jeneverre Schultz Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Jeneverre Book Review | asian avenue magazine


Q&A with Cinelle


Q: Monsoon Mansion is not just your childhood story but an ode to what it takes to survive. Do you envision this book being a resource for those who may have also had adverse childhoods? How? I certainly see this book being a resource—a companion—for those who are either in the thick of childhood adversity, or have survived it and are likely suffering from the effects of it, whether or not the effects are recognized. I wrote about the significance of books in the chapter “Library,” where I recount memories of not having electricity at home and only have books to entertainment and keep me company. (I spent hours getting acquainted with works by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Madeleine L’Engle, and Scott O’Dell. They spoke to me in the language of my heart: fiction for the young) I really believe that books were instrumental not just in my having formed a love of language, but in my growing up. The characters that peopled my favorite fiction and nonfiction peopled my childhood – a time when I was left to fend for myself, provide my own food and clothing, and devise ways of being normal. While I had nobody to really take care of me or parent me, books were there to impart wisdom, invite imagination, and offer hope. It’s an honor to be able to do the same for


May 2019 | Q&A with Author

Cinelle Barnes in conversation with her editor,Vivian Lee someone else, whatever their personal story is, to let them know that they are not alone in their struggles, that I have survived and that many others have, too. I would love to see this book in the hands of someone who has escaped an abusive home, has lost a parent, has been displaced, fought illness, or been hurt in any other way. I wrote this book as honestly and as detailed as possible when it come to recounting brutal events, but I also wrote this book with such intimacy, with the gift of art as magic, and with a tenderness that I hope will, for the reader, fell like an embrace. Q: Writing has been a significant part of your recovery. What is your main message to readers who are in search of their own therapeutic outlet? When I started writing what would become Monsoon Mansion, I didn’t know I was writing a book. I was writing on 3X5 notecards to help myself feel better after giving birth. I wrote from the rocking chair, while nursing, while bouncing the baby in the carrier, and I even talked into my phone to record my words while pushing the stroller. The baby blues never really went away for me until after

I had written three shoe boxes full of notecards and had gone to therapy. Writing was a reckoning, whether or not I knew it would amount to a manuscript, to publication, or to a career. I was writing out of necessity. While I understood that the page was not a place to merely work out my private issues, nor a place for emotional diarrhea, but a venue for craft, writing connected two things for me: narrative memory and emotional memory. These were two functions of the brain whose connection was severed by trauma. My therapist, who is a trauma specialist, diagnosed my PTSD and prescribed clinical methods that involved prolonged exposure through narrative retelling. She assigned me writing homework, through which I rebuilt the connection between what was experienced and what was felt, what happened and what it did to me. I did this with a professional. And this professional knew what she was doing. And I’d like to think that I, too, am a professional --- that I know what I’m doing with words, with language, with text and negative space, with personal details and universal themes, with narration and exposition. It just so happens that along the

way of making art, I confronted my demons, too. And somewhere farther along the way, I hope someone picks up my book and comes to a place of hope and healing for themselves. In short, my advice to readers who are in search of their own therapeutic outlet is this: Writing can help, writing will help. Writing might be enough to feel or get better, but more likely, it will be either a springboard to, or an accompaniment for, therapy administered by a professional writing and reading are solitary work – so my hope is that anyone who reads my words also finds their safe space amongst people who care, who are knowledgeable, and who welcome vulnerability.

home and family, and about what it means to make myself available to others through the space I take up on the page and the physical and relational spaces I help shape. My daughter touches everything in my life now, and so I think of what my stories and my work mean to her. While my husband is my first reader, my daughter is not my audience, and she is representative of second-generation immigrants of mixed-race kids, of the Internet age, of children of color living in the vestiges of Southern history

and politics. I think we have a beautiful life, us three – my daughter, my husband and myself – but it is not without its challenges. Writing is part of my parenting, and the only way I can write and parent with integrity is to be fair in how I discuss both the good and the bad. In some way, my recent and forthcoming projects are altogether a roadmap of where I’ve been and how I got here, a collection of prose and poetry, and an investigation into my circuitry and the circuitry of human relations.

Q: Monsoon Mansion is complete but your story hasn’t ended. As a memoirist, how do you think about the writing that comes next and capture the intimate moments of your life? I want to keep writing creative nonfiction, and in that vein, use the epistolary form to free me from the emotional undertaking that the first book required. I’ve been writing letters for publication the past few months, and I’ve found success not just in the reception of it but from the very process. Writing letters is such an approachable form, and anyone can do it. I would like to continue writing letters to my daughter about the aftermath of surviving childhood adversity, about immigrant life, and becoming a mother at such a young age, about redefining Cinelle Barnes | asian avenue magazine


By Joie Ha

NOMASTE 3103 E Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 80206 Tel: 720.216.0843

OPEN HOURS: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs: 11:30am - 8pm Fri & Sat: 11:30am - 9pm Closed Tuesdays

A fast-casual Indian restaurant comes to Denver to bring a twist to traditional dishes. The idea for Nomaste started between two friends, Tony Touch and Mandip Gill, in their college dorm room at the University of Colorado Boulder. Growing up Cambodian-American, Tony had never tried Indian food before. His eyes were opened by the culinary creations by Mandip, who is of Indian descent. Fascinated with the flavors and spices, Tony was hooked from the first bite. As their friendship developed, so did their love for food. Both Tony and Mandip worked at Tandoori Grill and often stayed late into the night after closing in order to experiment in the kitchen. After countless hours of cooking, they discovered their signature ‘nom-wich’, savory curry wrapped into a traditional naan like a burrito. Their next step was just as difficult as discovering their secret recipe— opening a restaurant. However, through their hard work and commitment, they opened Nomaste in September 2018.


May 2019 | Restaurant Peek

Nomaste is a quaint restaurant on East Colfax with minimalist and modern decor. On sunny days, customers can enjoy the warmth through the raised restaurant patio garage door. Nomaste boasts a simple menu, so each dish can be made to absolute perfection. Food enthusiasts can choose between building their own nom-wich or nom-bowl. With the nom-wich, you can select one of three naans: butter, garlic, or cheese. With the bowl, you can choose between a salad or basmati rice base. Afterwards, you choose your protein: chicken, steak, paneer (Indian cheese), or tofu. Then the best part, you can pick one out of four delicious sauces that are all made in house with fresh ingredients: masala, saag, vindaloo, and korma. Garnish it off with an unlimited amount of toppings ranging from mint chutney to onion salad and then complete your meal with hot chai or mango lassi as a beverage. All of this to-

gether helps create a delectable Indian meal that is both modern and affordable. Regulars often rave about the chicken masala which has a rich and vibrant flavor, wrapped in a cheese naan that is equal parts pillowly naan and melty cheese. Their saag sauce’s creamy and robust flavor is due to the fresh spinach and vegan butter they use for the base. Vegans will be thrilled to hear that three out of four of Nomaste’s sauces, the saag, vindaloo, and korma, are created with them in mind. Nomaste’s customizable menu means there is always something for everyone. The chefs at Nomaste take great pride in their food and are constantly improving their recipes to bring the best experience to their customers. Up next will be to offer a delivery service due to popular requests. For Tony and Mandip, the opportunity to share their food with others is a gift in itself. Stop by today for a unique, yet fulfilling experience.

Photos by Annie Guo VanDan

A filling lunch fit for two at Nomaste: Chicken Masala Nom-wich (left) and Steak Saag Nom-Bowl (right) with Mango Lassi (back) and authentic Cambodian hot sauces (for those who enjoy spicy).


Nomaste is located on East Colfax next to a t-shirt store and hair salon.

The restaurant features a garage door that opens on warm Denver days. Nomaste | asian avenue magazine


By Annie Guo VanDan

COLORADO RAPIDS SIGN KOREAN-AMERICAN SEBASTIAN ANDERSON 16-year-old Anderson is the youngest player to sign with the Colorado Rapids club and also the youngest professional athlete in Colorado. Making history, Sebastian Anderson, a junior at ThunderRidge High School, signed with the Colorado Rapids on April 3.The right back soccer defender was signed to a first team Homegrown Player contract, which is part of the Rapids’ player development efforts in making sure the state’s future soccer stars remain in Colorado to make their home team better. Anderson made his professional soccer debut on April 27. He started and played 80 minutes in the game against Atlanta United, making him the youngest player to ever play for the Rapids. In 2017, he had joined the Rapids Academy and has played for both the U-17 and U-19 teams. He also trained with the first team through preseason camp ahead of the Rapids 2019 season. Having what it takes to play in MLS He said: “It was an amazing feeling when the Rapids told me that they were looking to sign me. They invited me to preseason and that was when I knew


May 2019 | Feature

that I was so close to achieving my childhood dream of being a professional soccer player.” “I went to preseason with them and worked every day to prove that I belong and have what it takes.” Back in 2016, Asian Avenue interviewed the then 13-year-old Anderson, who said he was passionate about playing soccer but also committed to doing well in school. Now, the AP student says he still plans on finishing school and will do so while playing professional soccer and taking online courses. While Anderson will play with and against players twice his age in Major League Soccer (MLS), he is also accustomed to doing so having competed in U15, U17, and even U23 tournaments (meaning he has played alongside age 15, 17 and 23 year olds). When asked if he gets nervous competing with much older and veteran players, he said: “Yes, ahead of big games it is healthy to be nervous. Playing against older players is great, because they help with nerves and seeing them so calm and collected is con-


“I went to preseason and worked every day to prove that I belong and have what it takes.” - Sebastian Anderson

For upcoming Colorado Rapids' games, visit tagious. As soon as the game starts, all the nerves go away and it’s just another soccer game.”

about getting better. To see his hard work pay off and be recognized is very special for our family. We are thankful to the Rapids and are looking forward to seeing Sebastian Achievements beyond Colorado contribute to the team.” Anderson has many experiences playing soccer at a nationThey note how Sebastian is very dedicated to following his al and international level. Of all the games he has been a part daily schedule and strict meal plan to fuel a growing athlete. of, his most memorable soccer experience is winning the Tor“Regarding his diet regime, he is careful about what he eats neo Delle Nazioni In Italy with the U15 U.S. national team. and drinks. He lets us know if he needs to eat more proteins and carbs. Sebastian does not consume drinks that have a lot The support of family of sugar or eat a lot processed foods.” Anderson comes from a unique cultural upbringing, His Anderson also participates in first team training with mother Monika is Hungarian, while his father Paul is Korean. the Rapids most days of the week. However, since he does ‘I learned to speak Hungarian when I was young and I grew not have his driver’s license yet, his parents help him get to up eating Hungarian foods. We try to learn as much about where he needs to be. the Korean culture as we can and I love Korean food. I am “We have always been a soccer family since both of our hoping to visit Korea one day,” he said. boys started playing from the age of 3. Now that Sebastian has His parents are proud of him and do their best to support signed a professional contract with the Rapids, we are more in his busy schedule between school and soccer.This semester, tune to the team and his needs to be part of the team. “ he will juggle school both in the classroom and online. “Our lives have changed in that we have at times had to According to Monika and Paul, “We are proud that he rearrange our schedules to make sure he has what he needs. is achieving his dream of being a professional soccer play- Of course, we are willing participants and excited to help er. He has always been very determined and passionate him live out his dream,” said Monika and Paul Anderson.

The Anderson family, including Sebastian’s mother Monika, brother Ethan, and father Paul.

Photo Credit: Garrett W. Ellwood/Colorado Rapids

Anderson with the Colorado Rapids Development Academy Staff members. From left to right: Antti Ronkanen, Andrew Kewley, Marcelo Balboa, Sebastian Anderson, Erik Bushey, Chris Cartlidge, and Boyd Kirk. Anderson joins Colorado Rapids | asian avenue magazine


America ReFramed announces May documentaries on WORLD Channel National TV and Streaming Premieres: NAILED IT by Adele Free Pham, May 7 CIRCLE UP by Julie Mallozzi, May 14 America ReFramed’s May premieres on WORLD Channel explore radical transformation. Led by Vietnamese war refugees seeking survival for their families, Nailed It documents the the history and evolution of the fashion nail industry they dominate, while Circle Up reframes approaches to crime and punishment through the lens of restorative justice, forgiveness, and accountability. Nailed It by Adele Free Pham and C Circle Up by Julie Mallozzi will premiere on U.S. television and online on Tuesday, May 7 and 14, respectively, at 8 p.m. MT on WORLD Channel as part of the latest season of America ReFramed. The films will stream on, amdoc. org and all station-branded PBS platforms including, and on PBS apps.

Nailed It by Adele Free Pham Broadcast Premiere: May 7, 2019 In every city, state, and strip mall across the U.S., people get their nails done in salons likely owned by Vietnamese entrepreneurs who’ve come to dominate an $8 billion dollar nail economy. It began with 20 refugee women and a chance encounter with famed Alfred Hitchcock actress and humanitarian Tippi Hedren. Part of the first wave of war refugees in 1975, the “first 20” Vietnamese manicurists sought a way to support their children and families, unknowingly sparking a cultural phenomenon.


May 2019 | Watch This Month

From Los Angeles to the Bronx, Nailed It, introduces the people behind this booming and sometimes controversial industry. Nail salons offered the Vietnamese community a pathway to pursue the American dream and financial independence. In turn, the salons offer a space for “me time,” community and affordable luxury for people of diverse social and eco-

vent more violence. After the brutal slaying of her teenage child, Janet Connors reaches out to her son’s killers to offer a chance for forgiveness. She becomes the first person in Massachusetts to hold a victim-offender dialogue through the corrections system. Janet establishes a connection with one of the men responsible, AJ, in the hopes that their bond will help him turn his life around. In community, Janet and AJ team up with other mothers of murdered children to form Native-American-inspired peacemaking circles to help young people break the chain of violence and revenge. Reframing approaches to crime and punishment, Circle Up is a frank portrait of restorative justice in action.

The first 20 Vietnamese manicurists with Tippi Hedren upon receiving their manicuring licenses. Photo Credit: Hope Village3

America ReFramed Encores: Who Is Arthur Chu? – May 21

nomic backgrounds. Along the way, the filmmaker, who is half Vietnamese, learns about her history and develops an even closer connection to that culture. Nailed It is a co-production of the Center for Asian American Media.

Circle Up by Julie Mallozzi Broadcast Premiere: May 14 Circle Up is the story of a grieving mother, the men who murdered her son, and the unexpected bonds they create to pre-

11-time Jeopardy! winner Arthur Chu, won almost $300,000 by using an unconventional strategy on the game show.The national attention led this insurance analyst to amass tens of thousands of fans and haters on Twitter.

Island Soldier – May 28 Filmed in Kosrae, Micronesia, Island Soldier follows the Nena family as they grieve the loss of their son, Sapuro “Sapp” Nena. His death in Afghanistan makes waves through the community where nearly everyone is connected to the U.S. Military.

Don’t miss these FREE movie screenings! You and a guest are invited to the free advance screening of POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU.

You and a guest are invited to the free advance screening of THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR.

Monday, May 6 at 7pm Harkins Northfield 18 8300 E. Northfield Blvd. | Denver

Monday, May 13 at 7pm Harkins Northfield 18 8300 E. Northfield Blvd. | Denver

Visit and enter RSVP code: AAMagPika to download two complimentary passes.

Visit and enter RSVP code: TSIAASAAMAG to download two complimentary passes.

(While limited supplies last, passes admit up to 2. Passes do not guarantee admission as theater is overbooked. ARRIVE EARLY!)

(While limited supplies last, passes admit up to 2. Passes do not guarantee admission as theater is overbooked. ARRIVE EARLY!)

POKÉMON Detective Pikachu


In theaters May 10 | Rated PG #DetectivePikachu | Live Action

In theaters May 17th | Rated PG-13 #TheSunIsAlsoAStar | Romantic Comedy

The world of Pokémon comes to life! The first-ever live-action Pokémon adventure, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” stars Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu and is based on the beloved Pokémon brand—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and most successful media franchises of all time. Fans everywhere can now experience a Pikachu on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other. The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon, each with its own unique traits and personality. The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Detective Pikachu, they join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

“What if I told you I could get you to fall in love with me…?” College-bound romantic Daniel Bae (Melton) and Jamaica-born pragmatist Natasha Kingsley (Shahidi) meet—and fall for each other—over one magical day amidst the fervor and flurry of New York City. Sparks immediately fly between these two strangers, who might never have met had fate not given them a little push. But will fate be enough to take these teens from star-crossed to lucky in love? With just hours left on the clock in what looks to be her last day in the U.S., Natasha is fighting against her family’s deportation as fiercely as she’s fighting her budding feelings for Daniel, who is working just as hard to convince her they are destined to be together. A modern-day story about finding love against all odds, “The Sun Is Also a Star” explores whether our lives are determined by fate or the random events of the universe.

Charles Melton (right), who is of half-Korean descent, plays Daniel Bae in The Sun is Also a Star. He is best known for his role as Reggie Mantle in the TV series Riverdale. Film Screenings | asian avenue magazine



COMING UP! May 31 - June 2, 2019 Colorado Convention Center

By Mary Jeneverre Schultz | Photos by Jessalyn Herreria Langevin Enjoy people watching? Well, at the end of this month, Den- first, all-Asian cast. But she is most noted for her portrayal of Dr. ver Pop Culture Con (DPCC), formerly known as Denver Comic Jing-Mei Chen on the hit show ER. Wen can currently be seen as Con, will showcase one of the biggest cosplay events in down- one of the leads of Joss Wehdon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” town Denver. on ABC. She is scheduled for a one-day Saturday appearance. Scheduled May 31 to June 2 at the Colorado Convention British actor Benedict Wong is best known for his roles in MarCenter, cosplay aficionados will descend upon the Mile High vel’s Dr. Strange as Wong, Netflix’s Marco Polo as Kublai Khan City, with lots of entertaining costumes, favorite cartoon char- and Ridley Scott’s The Martian as Bruce Ng. He will be available acters and some eye candy here for autographs and photo opps and there. If you haven’t bought all three days. your ticket, visit the website beIf you’re not into celebrity fore they run out. Already, the sightings, more than 600 hours speed pass is sold out. A speed of programming are offered to pass allows exclusive entry to an audience of all ages and all key events of the three-day interests. weekend and the chance to Here is a list of events to purchase collectible items only check out for cartoon fans, cooffered to passholders. splay show-offs, avid movie lovCelebrity guests are lining up. ers and for the whole family: Long-time activist and revered • Reel Hero Filmmaker Panels actor of Star Trek George Takei • Artists Panels and Demos will be available for autograph • PCC Kids’ Lab Stages signing and photographs. With Star Wars is one of the most popular cosplay. • Author Appearances, Panels an acting career spanning six and Literary Conferences decades, George Takei is known around the world for his found• Educational Programming ing role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he • Performances, Events and Surprises played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. Takei For more information, visit remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. Follow Mary Jeneverre on Instagram @Jeneverre. If you see her Another favorite in the Asian community is Ming-Na Wen, who lost at DPCC, flag her down for a photo opp in the upcoming Asian starred in the movie Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan with the Avenue magazine.

More than 600 hours of programming are available to fans who pack each event.


May 2019 | On Scene

Some artists are inspired to create art ‘live’ at Denver Pop Culture Con.

STARFEST ATTRACTS TREKKIES AND STAR WARS FANS By Joseph Owen Schultz More than 800 fans showed up at StarFest Denver at the Marriott Tech Center the last weekend of April to meet William Shatner and Nichelle Nicols, who starred in the Star Trek series back in the 1960s and Peter Macon, who plays Bortus on The Orville. Combined into one event, StarFest is a collection of festivals over three days. They include: ArtFest, Avistrum, ComicFest, CosPlay, GameFest, HorrorFest, Klingon Fest, ModelFest, RoboCon, ScienceFest, and StarFest. Something for everyone, it’s easy to get distracted by a display, an exhibit or even a cosplay character walking in front of

Here’s one exhibit selling soaps, attempting to attract Star Wars fans.

you. Taking photographs and people watching was fun to take in the festive atmosphere. The schedule was packed with meet and greets, escape room activities, art demos, cosplay competitions, scavenger hunts and more. Even the exhibit halls were filled with collectibles, comic books, art work, board games, and costumes. If you missed the event, visit for next year’s schedule. Joseph Owen Schultz, a freshman at Cherokee Trail High School, met Nichelle Nicols at StarFest, who plays Uhura in Star Trek.

Joey Schultz stood in front of a green screen for a mock video of the latest movie, Endgame.

Superman fanatics were popular cosplay at StarFest.

TEA STREET CELEBRATES RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY The Greater Glendale Chamber of Commerce welcomed Tea Street with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 26. Tea Street owners Patrick and Victoria Lam provided samples of tea drinks including the local favorite Jasmine milk tea. Egg rolls, pork buns and sesame balls were also served during the two-hour event. Located on Colorado Blvd. and Mississippi Ave., Tea Street opened its doors last December. The shop specializes in Taiwanese-inspired tea drinks that are all created and brewed inhouse. The Lams take pride in providing their customers with a positive and unique experience. So, stop in for a refreshing drink! Mile-High Happenings | asian avenue magazine


Taiwan’s Advances in Digital Healthcare can help other countries achieve universal health coverage by 2030 Written by: Dr. Shih-Chung Chen Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare This year marks the 24th anniversary of Taiwan’s implementation of universal health coverage. Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) covers the full spectrum of essential and high-quality health services, from prevention and treatment to rehabilitation and palliative care. In the 1960s, Taiwan’s progressive health sector began the process of incorporating laborers, farmers, and government employees into the health insurance system. It is now widely regarded as one of the best in the world. The NHI ranked 14th in the 2017 Global Access to Healthcare Index of The Economist, and ninth in the 2018 Health Care Efficiency Index of Bloomberg Finance. The success of Taiwan’s NHI can be attributed to several key factors. First, it adopted a single-payer model with contributions from individuals, employers, and the government. A supplementary premium is also charged based on payers’ income levels. Second, to control medical expenses, a budget payment system was adopted to set caps on healthcare costs paid by the government. Under these caps, Taiwan’s medical expenses accounted for only 6.4 percent of GDP in 2017, lower than the OECD average. In the same year, the NHI’s administrative costs were kept under 1 percent of its total budget, and the public satisfaction rate was 86 percent. Third, the NHI’s integrated preventive health care services and pay for performance programs have ensured a high quality of healthcare and encouraged continued improvement of health standards. Fourth, to reduce health inequalities, premium subsidies are provided to disadvantaged groups such as low-income households and the unemployed. The provision of preventive and primary healthcare is the most cost-efficient approach to achieving universal health coverage. Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has developed tools utilizing artificial intelligence and cloud computing to access the massive databases it has built over the past 24 years. For instance, the MediCloud system was launched to enable healthcare providers to query patients’ medical records within the NHI system, while the PharmaCloud system provides prescription drug information to physicians and pharmacists. Currently, through digital cloud tools, community-based primary care providers in Taiwan can retrieve test reports—in-


May 2019 | Taiwan Update

cluding CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, gastroscopies, colonoscopies and X-rays—from secondary and tertiary institutions and receive prescription information. These digital health technologies have enhanced care services in many ways. They have improved the quality of care and reduced costs, in terms of both time and money, by properly matching health services with the locations where these services are provided. They have also lowered the potential risks arising from repeated examinations. Related systems are patient-centered, meaning that they are organized around the complex needs and expectations of patients and communities, helping realize the concept of good hospitals in the community and good doctors in the neighborhood. Taiwan has learned how to utilize its competitive advantages in information technology and medicine to deliver better care and enhance the health of the overall population. In response to the goals set by the Health Workforce 2030 of the World Health Organization (WHO), Taiwan has also provided scholarships for in-service programs and higher education to thousands of people, both Taiwanese and foreign nationals, in fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, healthcare administration and public health. At a time when achieving universal health coverage has never been more urgent and important, Taiwan has actively sought to share its first-rate experience in healthcare reform. Regrettably, political obstruction has deprived Taiwan of the right to participate in and contribute to the World Health Assembly—WHO’s decision-making body. In the past two years, WHO has denied Taiwanese delegates, who represent the 23 million citizens of a democratic and peaceful country, access to the assembly. Nevertheless, Taiwan remains committed to enhancing regional and global health cooperation, sharing its experience and capacity in healthcare reform with countries in need, and making universal health coverage a reality by 2030. Against this backdrop, we urge WHO to respond favorably to the widespread calls for Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Assembly and related technical meetings, mechanisms and activities. WHO should abide by its own principles of inclusiveness and universal participation. Taiwan is a worthy and reliable partner that can help countries around the world achieve the meaningful goal of universal health coverage by 2030.


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