ASIAN BOSTON JUNE 2009
Kairos Shen Boston’s City Planner
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Laotian Community Center Nicknames Phala Chea / Asian Womenâ€™s Connection Kairos Shen Erica Wu At First Glance a b section Chinatown Main Street Kumu Gupta Business Section a b section Medical Monthly a b section Dr. Karel Liem QARI Casting & Media a b section Around The Country a b section AsianBoston NYC a b section Thai Royalty Restaurants a b section After The Quake / Vietnamese Television Shin-Yi Yang Quick Views a b section Rainbow Bridge / Circle of Culture a b section Style & Fitness a b section
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Contact Information AsianBoston, PO Box 52137, Boston, MA 02205 Attn: Leo Anthony p: 617 275 4249 e: email@example.com w: asianboston.com Subscription Please send $20 to mailing address above (4 issues) AsianBoston Merchandise & Advertising Merchandise: asianboston.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org Front & Back Cover Credits Front: Kairos Shen, Chief Planner, B.R.A. Special thank you to Jessica Shumaker, Deputy Director for Media & Public Relations, B.R.A. Photography: Carlton SooHoo
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Elaine Lau Deborah Lee Cookie Phimmachack Zara Dedi Glen Gracia, Bishoff Communications Amy Wu Jennifer Wiese, 42West, NYC Jennifer Mathews, Allied Advertising, Boston, MA Mike Afromowitz, Strikeforce.com Virginia Payne Anna Ing Mariko Kanto
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Thongkoun Pathana Laotian Community Center
By Marianne Ruggiero
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
first met Thongkoun ‘Khoun’ Pathana three years ago when we collaborated on a free family arts day at the RISD Museum, where I work as the Coordinator of Family Programs. Through this project, which highlighted the cultural talents and contributions of the Laotian community, I became acquainted with Khoun’s many activities and accomplishments as an advocate for art, culture, education and community development. Our project culminated in an event entitled “Land of a Million Elephants,” referring to a traditional nickname for Laos. Through my acquaintance with Khoun, I gained an insight into Laotian culture, as well as the difficulties associated with retaining a cultural identity within American society. For the first time, I attended the New Year’s celebration at the Wat Lao Temple in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and again Khoun was the driving force behind this expertly organized festival. I have come to know more of his background and the details surrounding the current construction project of the new Laotian Community Center in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Khoun fits perfectly in this position because of his extensive experience in the area of fundraising. He has consistently promoted diversity through cultural heritage exhibitions, volunteering his time, creativity and support for many years. Khoun has attended seminars and conferences about Laotian culture across the country to gain better understanding toward building awareness within his own Rhode Island community. I am impressed that Khoun is so inclusive in his plans for the new facility’s range of services: there are programs that will benefit people of all ages, from young people to seniors. The center will serve people on social, medical, cultural, intellectual and spiritual levels. Khoun received an unprecedented appointment to a seventh term as President of the Laotian Community Center. He has been tireless in bettering the LCC and making it a strong, positive voice within the greater Rhode Island Community. In terms of outward restoration, Khoun secured several new acres of land for preservation and oversaw the construction and building improvements on existing structures. In addition, he created important partnerships which unite Asian Americans with other non-profit organizations. One of the ways in which Khoun brings the Laotian community into the spotlight is by organizing the LCC’s participation in the annual Autumn Festival Parade in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Laotian children and others play music and join the procession, dance and ride atop floats in traditional costumes that celebrate their rich cultural history and artistic traditions. In Khoun’s words about the LCC, we need to be “aware of all the stepping stones in order to cross the river toward our ultimate goal,” which is the realization of this gift to the community. Contact: email@example.com
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Wongy NicknamesDoogan A Sense of Belonging Moon Sloogy PART Ming Big Carl W Soo Hoo Fathead Mouse Coffee Man Gin Murph Wongy Doogan Moon Sloogy Ming Big Carl Soo Hoo Fathead Mouse Coffee Man
By Cliff Wong
e last left off with the Wong’s, Caroline (Arngie), Christine, Reggie (Chino) and Ronald (Sloogy). Living above the Wong’s were the Yee’s; Ronald, Wendell, Susan (Cookie), Nancy, and the Twins, Linda and Virginia. Except for Cookie, the Yee girls didn’t have nicknames. Ronald Yee hung around a neighborhood club called South Cove, so he was “Covey.” Wendell resembled an Indian and hence was “The Indian.” Above the Yee’s were the Woo’s; Daniel (Huey), Eddie (Roscoe, Jackson), and David (Gin, not to be confused with David “Moon”). Surprisingly, the guy called Gin hardly ever drank. Next door to the Wong’s, Woo’s, and Yee’s were the other Yee twins, Gary and Glenn. Man oh man, the Yees seemed to have cornered the twins market! Anyway, Gary and Glenn didn’t have nicknames, so to keep the tradition alive, we simply called Gary “Yee.” Yee was a product of the “last name-type” nickname. Why some people got them, I don’t know, it just happened, like Richard Soo Hoo from down the block. We never addressed him as Richard and I heard that even his spouse calls him “Soo Hoo.” Let’s continue with Chinatown’s “two Jimmies,” James Fong and James Yee. James Fong is better known as “Bingy” because “Bing” is his Chinese name. Ironically, James Yee’s nickname is “Fong” because (what else) his Chinese name is “Fong.” To add to the perplexity, both of them attended many of the same classes at Boston Latin School. This drove their teachers crazier than the Yee twins at Boston Technical drove theirs. At the corner was another Yee family: Betsy, Stan (Yoki), and Winston (Bongy). As you may know, many of our aliases derive from our Chinese names; some added a “gy” sound at the end. Thus, Winston who was “Bong” became “Bongy.” Someone once asked me if I knew Winston Yee. It took me several minutes to realize that he meant “Bongy!” Around the next corner, Soo Hoo’s block, were my cousins; Denny, Eddie, Jean, Rose, Donna and Stanley. Despite their large ASIAN BOSTON
number, the only ones who had nicknames were Eddie (Lei Lei) and Stan (the Coffee Man). During the old days, Stan frequented a local coffee shop, sipping coffee and reading newspapers.
Wongy ’s Parlo r, 40 Hudson St reet left to right: M oose, Wongy, Coffee Man & Sloog y
Street en, 40 Hudson Wongy ’s Kitch se, Sloog y, oo M , gy on W : left to right ph n, Mark & Mur Coffee Man, Gi
Growing up in Chinatown, our nicknames were symbolic of our mutual trust, bonding, and identity. It was a glorious and treasured time … never to be forgotten. This story is a continuation of my door-to-door trip down Hudson Street ...
Next door to the Coffee Man was Jeffrey Wong, aka “Chinaman Jeff.” Now, use of such terminology could be misconstrued, but, in our circle with three Jeffrey Wong’s, we had to do something. In addition to “Chinaman” were Jeffrey “Murph” Wong and Jeffrey “Jay” Wong. It seems that the name “Jeffrey Wong” was synonymous with entrepreneurship. Chinaman owns a prominent Noodle Factory, Jay runs the local printing press, and Murph supplies paper products. Jeffrey (Chinaman) had a brother, Barry, with an interesting nickname: “Gai Long,” which means chicken bones (He was very thin). Barry, not being the most humble individual as a youth, was also known as “Fathead.” Across the street were other interesting characters with nicknames. There was Ark Ming Chin “Ming Toy” or simply Ming to his friends. Not surprisingly, he owns a restaurant called “Ming’s Dynasty.” Next door to Ming was Carlton Chin, “Big Carl.” Although he is small in stature, he has a big heart and is a tough guy, so he earned that nickname. His brother Walton, a small, wiry fellow, moved like lightning on the basketball court; we called him “Mouse.” Mouse grew significantly during his teen years, but unfortunately, he never outgrew his nickname. Alongside the Chin’s were Randy and Ronald Tow. Randy was another guy addressed by his last name. He also had another alias, “Dai Gow,” which means “big guy” in Chinese. Last we heard, Dai Gow has been hitting the fitness center and isn’t that “Dai Gow” anymore! …to be continued
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ASIAN WOMEN’S CONNECTION awconnect.org
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
By Anna Tsui
By Ana Y. Leon
A Lesson in Learning
alfway into our meeting, Jean Russell, the President of Asian Women’s Connection (AWC) utters the words that seem to sum up the organization: “We want it to be about us.” She is speaking of the need for working Asian women to connect and form social networks with others like themselves who can inspire one another to greater levels of professional and personal growth. Russell, like the other nine founding members of the AWC, is a highly accomplished visionary in her own right. She is the founder and president of BenefitsMart, a successful insurance brokerage firm, and is involved with countless other community organizations. The current eight members of the board are a well-rounded representation of the Asian community, ranging from Fehmida Chipty, an Indian Gastroenterologist, to Renee Inomata, a Japanese employment lawyer. Russell, who immigrated to the United States from Korea when she was 10 years old, says this network of strong, diverse leaders empowers Asian women in a way that goes beyond profession, by acknowledging the heart of who they are. As a whole, Asian women have particular physical, emotional and occupational needs that
eaving your birthplace, friends and relatives behind is not easy. For Phala Chea, a specialist for Community Outreach and Support of English Language Learners, leaving Cambodia—at 7 years old—was the only way to escape the Khmer Rouge regime. She and her family spent two years in refugee camps and later immigrated to Oregon. In 1987, they resettled in Lowell, Massachusetts. Phala immediately found growing up in America challenging. “Thankfully my parents prized education and made sacrifices for their children,” says Phala, providing the encouragement she needed to become a scholar, cultural advocate and community leader. Upon completing her Master’s in Education, she established her future with the school system. Phala taught 2nd grade English as a Second Language and then 7th grade English while pursuing her doctorate that concentrated on leadership in schooling. With her doctorate, she managed Lowell’s Parent Information Center (PIC) for 7 years. PIC enrolls students into Lowell’s public school system and provides educational resources and support to families. Though she misses teaching, her challenge is raising educators’ awareness and sensitivity to the cultural and educational ASIAN BOSTON
are not necessarily explored, due to a collective cultural suppression that deems these matters private and personal. For example, Russell believes that there are low numbers of Asian women in high-ranking managerial roles on account of a cultural sense of modesty. This translates to not seeking credit for accomplishments and asking for promotions. The demands on Asian women are intense. There may be pressure from all angles to place family, work and education above oneself. For this reason, Russell urges women to attend AWC events as a means of support to create opportunities, exchange resources and explore new interests. Members not only gain knowledge from events on topics such as financial planning, government affairs, public speaking, personal style and emotional health, but they also gain a sense of well-being from sharing their voice and knowledge with other Asian women. AWC hosts about four signature events each year, and a series of networking events where members and non-members meet to engage in professional topics during lunch, or after work hours. The organization has continuously grown in members and has hopes of reaching Asian women throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.
needs of students. The lack of cultural references in textbooks, in curriculums and the ending of bilingual education— eliminating teachers who served as role models to many immigrant students—is daunting. Thus, she wants to “strengthen the English Language Education Program and promote parent and community involvement in schools.” When she isn’t breaking down cultural and language barriers, Phala serves on the boards of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Cambodian Americans and other disadvantaged minority groups, and Lowell’s Southeast Water Festival, which shares the cultural heritage of Southeast Asians. From a seven-year-old with an uncertain future to a woman whose accomplishments seem endless, Phala’s commitment to educating students, teachers and the community is nothing short of remarkable. Still, she remains humble, but regards her parents as the true heroes. Her final lesson, “We aren’t born with the same privileges, same family support and same economic status; those who have less than others need to work harder, be persistent and more resilient in order to achieve.”
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
COVER STORY By Joanne Choi
The accidental Bostonian Photo by Carlton SooHoo
f it weren’t for a situation with his visa, Kairos Shen would have headed off to a job with an architectural firm in Europe after finishing graduate school at MIT. “My plan was to work in Europe, but I didn’t have my immigration papers in order.” So, he did the practical thing and found a job with a firm here. “The best things in my life have not been planned,” he points out. Lucky for Boston, destiny required him to stay put. Kairos grew up in the vibrant city of Hong Kong, carefully ensconced within the enclaves of the on-campus housing of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The year was 1964 and it was in his precise words, “The Golden Age of Hong Kong.” His father was a theology professor with a decidedly un-Asian way of “treating his students like his peers.” Kairos easily recalled his formative years spent in an idyllic and mostly rural section of Hong Kong. His parents gave him a Greek name meaning the “right time” and life has given him many opportune moments. He spent a year in Toronto at the age of nine. With a twinkle in his eye, Kairos confided that a minor scandal erupted upon their return to Hong Kong when he and his brother “famously flunked out” of the high school entrance exams. It was all taken care of when they both were enrolled into an Expatriate English School courtesy of his respected father’s connections. They continued to speak Cantonese at home and study Chinese. Kairos’ father and mother had completed their graduate education in the U.S., at the University of Chicago and Columbia, respectively. Consequently, it was easy for the elder Shen to encourage his son to attend Swarthmore College. Kairos arrived in Boston in 1987, and headed to graduate school at MIT. ASIAN BOSTON
Kairos doesn’t seek recognition or attention because of his job, and so he was initially reticent; however, he quickly became candid as the conversation centered mainly on his upbringing and his hobbies, such as his love of chairs. Kairos has a healthy appreciation for Danish Modern furniture and books about maps and architecture. He can blame his father’s vast personal library for his own obsession of books. His mother’s family made furniture in the Philippines, and hence he grew up immersed in furniture. “My house is extremely cluttered with furniture,” he declares in his soft voice and residual British accent. When asked exactly how many chairs he owns, he confides more than 250. A database helps him keep track of his collection of tables, glassware and ceramics. With a preference leaning toward Scandinavian Modern, it helps that he owns two apartment buildings and a summer home, convenient places to store his many chairs and the rest of his inventory. He also loans out pieces to trusted friends. Kairos recently married, and his wife doesn’t even know the extent of the collection he has amassed...and admittedly is not as passionate about furniture. She has so far requested that some of the chairs be “re-assigned.” In his spare time, he decorates his homes, buys furniture from auctions, enjoys cooking and spends a lot of time in Chinatown, where he lives. Kairos enjoys the continual energy and diversity of Boston. “The city is walkable…the river and harbor are incredible.” Known as Boston’s Chief Planner, the Director of Planning for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Kairos explained with modesty that his own role “is a glorified
conductor at best. The conductor doesn’t necessarily play an instrument, but keeps time.” Kairos was very involved with the design of the new building for the Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the new Convention Center; he continues with ongoing plans for the 1,000-acre South Boston Waterfront. Kairos is a tactful and artistic visionary in the public role of planner who constantly asks the question: “What is appropriate for Boston?” His love of Boston shows when he utters with conviction, “there is no better place to be.” As Bostonians, we have seen some amazing public works in the last few years...and with Kairos on the job, they will not be the last.
Kairos is a tactful and artistic visionary who constantly asks the question: “What is appropriate for Boston?” Kairos straight up chillin’ in his Swiss cheese bench.
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Photo by Marvin Moore
wo years ago, Erica Wu accompanied her sister, Elizabeth, to a Rhythmic Gymnastics trial class. Rhythmic Gymnastics (Olympic Sport) is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance, and apparatus manipulation; rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. While at the class, the coaches noticed Erica’s flexibility and were interested in signing her up immediately. It was a twist of fate that Erica ended up at the trial class at all. Her piano teacher recommended a sports activity instead of piano because Erica was a very active youth. Erica’s parents, Amy and Dr. Wu, are from Canton, China, and ironically reside in Canton, Massachusetts. They encourage Erica to continue with gymnastics as long as she likes it and it does not interfere with
the girl who can fly By Anna Ing
schoolwork. Outside of gymnastics, Erica studies Chinese language and Chinese dance. Erica feels that she owes a lot to Chinese dance because it helped with gymnastics. She has a quiet calm and confident air of an athlete well beyond her tender age. Once asked by her mom if she thinks about winning while she is performing, Erica answered, “I concentrate only on executing all the elements and complete a good and clean routine.” She added, “I do not focus on winning the prize, but on doing the best performance every time.” All the success to this point comes from a firm schedule. This 9 year old has a heavy training routine of four 3-hour days during the summer and six 3-hour days in the fall. Her coach, Varduhi Nahapetyan, is a three time Armenian National Rhythmic
Champion and coaches at the New England Sports Academy. She considers Erica one of his top athletes. Erica has a great work ethic, adhering to a strict and healthy diet to maintain her form. Because of the long hours of practice, Erica admits, “I am a little sad about missing my friends and some school events, but I love the challenge and fun that comes from gymnastics. In my spare time, I like to watch TV, Hannah Montana, and study.” Already a 2008 Champion, Erica participated in the USA NATIONAL 2009 (Junior Olympics Level 4-5-6) All Star Championship in Virginia, and won first place all-around at Level 5. She also made history by achieving a perfect score in the Hoop Competition, Level 5, a feat that has not been done in 25 years.
“I do not focus on winning the prize, but on doing the best performance every time.” -Erica Wu 8
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AN AMERICAN DREAM...IN JAPAN
ロードアイランド州の小さな町に生まれ育 ったブルース・ロランジュはまさか自分が日本 に住むことになるなど夢にも思っていません でした。学生時代は学内新聞の編集を手掛 け、地元のブラスバンドでトロンボーンを吹 き、土日は家業の大工を手伝い、所属のアイ スホッケーチームのキャプテンを務めるいわ ゆるアメリカンボーイでした。 アメリカンボー イの夢といえば、 やっぱりアメリカンドリーム です。 なんらかの成功を収め、 ニューイングラ ンドのどこかに大きな家を建て、後々地方政 治にもかかわりたいそんな漠然とした将来像 を抱いていました。家族・友人からもブルース ならきっと何か大きなことをやってのけるだ ろうと期待されていました。 そんなブルースで も、地球の反対側に位置する異国でデンマー ク王室の継承者やロシアの政治家、 はたまた イスラエル人デザイナーとつきあう日々は訪 れようとは想像すらしていませんでした。 ブルースが日本に興味を持つきっかけとな ったのは、大学での単位不足が発端でした。 どうしても外国語の履修が必要だったブルー スは絶対に学生を落とさないことで有名だっ たハマダ先生の門を叩いたのです。 ハマダ先 生が学生たちに度々寿司をふるまっていたこ とも多少の後押しとなったのでしょう。初めは あくまで単位のために授業に出席していたブ ルースですが、 ハマダ先生の情熱と丁寧な指 導のお陰で、徐々に日本語と日本文化に惹か れていきました。 そして、大学3年生の夏一学 期間の語学留学のためボストンローガン空港 から日本へ向け、旅立ちます。 大阪の関西外国語大学で半年日本語学ん だ後、 ブルースは一旦アメリカの母校に戻り ます。無事大学を卒業し、将来を模索してい た時淡路島で英語を教える仕事があることを
By Yurie Okada
知りました。淡路島にはほとんど外国人がい ません。 お陰で老齢の大工や漁師と友達にな り、毎晩酒を飲み交わす中ほとんどの会話に 困らないほど日本語は上達しました。文化の 面では日本人と上手につきあいつつも日本人 ではない自分を意識し、育むことを学びまし た。 １年が経ちだんだん島が小さく感じられて きた頃、 ブルースは兵庫県庁にて通訳と英語 スピーチ原稿作成の仕事を得ます。 ブルース が書いた原稿は浩宮徳仁皇太子や当時首相 であった小渕恵三氏によって読まれました。 また、兵庫県の県鳥であるコウノトリ保護増 殖プロジェクトにも携わります。
異なる文化を通して世界を見ることができ るというのは、外国に住んでこそ会得できる 一種の技ではないでしょうか。 日本で８年を 過ごしたのち、 ブルースはニューイングランド に戻りました。現在はボストンを拠点に日本 で暮らした経験を活かし、起業家としてさらに 活動を続ける予定です。 Photo by Carlton SooHoo
兵庫県庁での仕事を離れた後もブルース は精力的に活動を続けます。関西でDJとして 自分のラジオ番組を持ち、 また松下電器で営 業を担当していた時期もありました。 しかし、 ブルースにとって日本での生活の集大成とな ったのはイスラエル人の友人の誘いで興した 鞄の会社でした。若干２５歳だったブルース ですが、様々な困難を乗り越え、従業員数１４ 人、売上数億円にまで会社を伸ばすことがで きました。 また、 ケーブルテレビのショップチャ ンネルに年に数回出演し、固定ファンができ るほど人気が出ました。 ブルースはついにアメリカンドリームを果 たしました。 ただし、 アメリカではなく母国か ら1万キロも離れている日本で。 ブルースは本当に上手に日本に溶け込んで いるように感じます。言葉はもちろんですが、 ささいな表情までが日本に馴染んでいるよう です。相手の国の文化に骨の髄までつかり、 理解しようと努力がなければ成し遂げられな いことだとお話を伺いながら思いました。
Bruce L’Orange, Entrepreneur
We welcome you to visit asianboston.com for the English version of this article. Thank you. Connecting Cultures
a b section
Chinatown Main Street : Forward
t’s dinner time at Vinh Sun restaurant located on Beach Street in Boston’s Chinatown. Tony Yee walks into the room where a ‘sea of familiar faces’ greet him like family. Disarming and energetic, Yee’s role as the president of Chinatown Main Street is an honor he takes seriously. He, along with his colleagues, boldly tackle many issues to keep Chinatown a significant part of a thriving Boston landscape. Chinatown Main Street is a nonprofit organization in its 12th year of operation. It is part of a larger Boston Main Street Project that encompasses 19 districts. Initiated by Mayor Thomas Menino, Chinatown Main Street’s primary function is to revitalize the business sector in Boston’s Chinatown and establish open lines of communication with businesses and the community. It has done this by working with other organizations such as the Chinese Consulate Benevolent Association (CCBA), Chinese Community of New England (CCNE) and Chinatown Business Association (CBA). One accomplishment is to publicize and welcome the general public to the various cultural events and festivals offered in Chinatown, like the August Moon Festival and Chinese New Year Celebration. Last year, Yee and fellow board member Debbie Ho were able to accomplish something that no one else was able to manage; organize the 11 martial arts grand masters of Chinatown and Newton for a family portrait. At the outset of the 2008 Lunar New Year Celebration, the grand masters, known as sifus (respected teachers), and representatives from their organizations sat for a photo that serves as an emblem of unity within the community. For many, Yee and his colleagues represent a new generation of leaders who strengthen neighborhoods from within yet are outward-looking in their approach. Chinatown is comprised of people from all levels of financial strength, education and social skills. While tending to the needs of a diverse Chinatown constituency, Yee emphasizes that unity among Asians in local, city and state levels will give them a voice in the political realm to improve services and quality of life. Yee is passionate about helping elevate the power of Chinatown’s constituents. His skill of mediation comes from his ability to bridge cultures, a trait often learned by children of immigrant households. ASIAN BOSTON
At the age of ten, Yee was treated as an adult, and was expected to translate for his nonenglish speaking immigrant parents. He had to translate the bills, legal documents and all english correspondence. During his youth, he saw the vulnerability of his parents who were never able to master English. Later, he realized this sense of helplessness is felt by almost all immigrants. Having declined an offer at an aerospace engineering firm in California, Yee set out to help his parents with day-to-day routines and to use his skills to assist others who do not have a voice. He found an organization
Thinking By Anna Tsui
that shared his beliefs, Chinatown Main Street, and a great partnership was formed. When asked about CMS’s next vision, Yee says, “We see a large outdoor gathering with red lanterns suspended overhead.” He continues to describe a large festival-like atmosphere, where people from different walks of life mingle, and talk as they used to do in rural villages.
“It’s all about community.”
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
President Tony M. Yee Treasurer Christine Liu Executive Director Courtney Ho Ha Clerk April F. Conors Consultant Debbie Ho Board of Directors Sue Chen Hung Goon Gilbert K. Ho Albert Li Edward Leung Kevin Mallon Frederick Ng Timmy Ng Stephen Pole Reggie Wong Wilson Wong John Yu Drew Leff
Chinatown Main Street wants to hear from you...
Please contact the executive director, Courtney Ho, at email@example.com and answer the following questions: What does Chinatown need in order to create more foot traffic? What would make you visit Chinatown more frequently? For more information on Chinatown Main Street, visit their website at chinatownmainstreet.org inform. entertain. relate.
Artist: Jack DiMaio 12
ARTmosphere Gallery Donna Agnew
28 1/2 Prince St., North End, Boston 617-720-4278 artmosphereinternational.com
Committed to helping others By Parna Basu
Carol Chin, owner of 7 McDonald’s® Photo by Carlton SooHoo
uincy resident and humanitarian, Kumu Gupta is always prepared to help others. So, it was no surprise to anyone when she offered to help with the ‘Donate a Cell Phone’ program for Saheli, a Boston-based South Asian women’s support group. “On average, Saheli helps three women per week with issues associated with domestic violence,” said Gouri Banerjee, coordinator of the computer literacy class at Saheli. “The cell phones are very valuable. It’s a lifeline to contacting others, to all their resources.” Today, Gupta runs Saheli’s Donate a Phone Program and has partnered with Verizon Wireless’ Hope Line program to secure more phones to help victims of domestic violence. Gupta said she hopes to secure at least 16 phones and pre-paid calling cards within the next few months. “Of course, beating this goal will be even better as the organization will have a few phones in reserve to give to the women right away,” Gupta added. When asked why she got involved with the program, Gupta said, “It gives me satisfaction ASIAN BOSTON
“I love helping people, and it balances you out rather than being one-sided.”
to help someone in their time of need.” Gupta serves on multiple boards and volunteers her time to help improve the quality of life of South Asian women. She enjoys getting involved with community and political organizations as it gives her an opportunity to be part of a bigger picture. “I do this for the fun part of life,” said Gupta. “I love helping people and it balances you out rather than being one-sided.” Recently, vandalism occurred to a flagpole at Quincy’s American Chinese Federation office. Gupta participated in the discussion among the Quincy Human Rights Commission, where she serves as vice chair, the Chinese Federation, neighboring businesses, City Council and various veteran groups to head-off further problems. “She was helpful in that situation,” said Joseph Wong, former deputy director for Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants. “She made it possible to get to know the neighborhood. Needless to say, we are very grateful to her for reaching out to the American Chinese Federation.”
Gupta is also active with social and political organizations and participated in several fundraisers and events, including India’s Independence Day parade, Silk Gala for Asian Task Force and Celebrity Plates Dinner for REACH, a women’s shelter. She served as vice chair of the Quincy Republican Committee and is on the Advisory Board of the MA Asian American Commission. Asked about her next project, Gupta said she plans to contact the U.S. Postal Service in Washington D.C. to propose a commemorative stamp to celebrate India’s 60th Republic Day anniversary in 2010. Born in India, Gupta grew up in Kuwait where her father was with the Ministry of Telecommunications. She came to the US to attend college, along with her four brothers and sisters. Gupta holds a Master’s degree in Materials Science & Engineering from State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her proudest moment was volunteering to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Giants baseball game, soon after becoming a U.S. citizen in 1997. “It was a chance to be a star.” inform. entertain. relate.
Ways to Cut Costs in Difficult Times With the unemployment rate the highest it’s been in decades, the real estate and stock markets in a slump, what are families to do in these difficult times? Well we can’t do much to change the big picture, but we can do things to cut costs from our daily routine. Here are a few cost cutting tips. Bring your coffee, pack your lunch and cook your dinner When eating out, the average person spends approximately $3 for coffee, $10 for lunch and $20 for dinner. In an average workweek that can add up to $165; $660 a month and as much as $7920 a year. How many of us could use an extra $600+ dollars a month? Obviously, it’s unrealistic to expect people to do this every day, but when times are tough, changes in spending habits need to happen. To start, try cutting back the beginning of the week and treat yourself on Fridays. Not only will you save money, but also for those of us who can’t wait until Friday, just think how more you will enjoy that decadent coffee, great lunch or Happy Hour with friends. Your wallet will thank you for it.
Negotiate with your credit card companies Let them know that you enjoy doing business with them, but would like to see if they are able to lower the interest rate that you are paying. Many companies are able to lower your rate right on the spot. If you’re like the average American with $8533 in credit card debt, a few percentage points can save you a few hundred dollars just for making a phone call.
Visit your local library Buying books, magazines and renting DVDs might seem like small expenses, but they add up over the course of a month or a year and the numbers can really balloon. My local library has a good selection of DVDs and many of the bestseller books are available for loan. Can’t find what you are looking for? Take advantage of inter-library programs and ask your librarian to get the book from a different library for you. “I hope you and your family can incorporate some of these savings tips into your daily choices. If you have some savings tips that you would like me to share with my readers, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org”
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Michael Tow is President of New Boston Financial. He is a registered representative of, and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network- a member firm of FINRA/SIPC and a Registered Investment Adviser. He is located at 58 Harvard Street in Brookline, and can be reached at 617-734-4400 or at newbostonfinancial.com. 1 14
By Michael C. Tow
By Russell L. Chin, Esq.
oreclosures are expected to increase steadily through the second half of 2009, when the next wave of sub prime adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs)—the industry’s worst performing loans—is expected to reset. Until these low-quality loans work their way through the system, there’s no clear reason to expect the number of foreclosure filings to drop. Resetting rates on many of these mortgages are causing homeowners to default, but falling prices, which lead to negative equity, are also playing a part. Negative equity occurs when the homeowner owes more on the home than the home is worth, and thus has little incentive to make payments leading to short sales. You should contact your lender(s) right away. Ask to speak with a person in forbearance, not collection. If you have been a good customer, and meet certain criteria, most lenders will grant accommodations to give you time to get back on your feet. Agree to forbearance terms that you can honestly live with as lenders frown on forbearance agreement defaults.
Lenders frequently have several workable options:
Partial reinstatement: The borrower would agree to begin making regular payments, and make up what is owed in 12 monthly installments over the next year. Short-term forbearance: The lender will suspend your payments for three months or reduce your payment for six months, and then you’d make up the difference under a repayment. Long-term forbearance: Payments might be suspended for anywhere from four to 12 months, with a corresponding repayment plan to follow. Loan modification: As a permanent change, the rate might be cut, the payment period extended, or both, so that the payment becomes affordable.
At least 8,000 foreclosures are filed every day in the U.S. What should you do if you’re affected? Research shows that a high number of loans that are reworked by lenders are likely to “cure” within 18 months. Borrowers who seek help from their lenders earlier in the process are far more likely to continue owning their home than those who seek help later. For those looking to buy a foreclosed property, substantial due diligence is required in advance of any sale, whether at auction or in an REO sale from a bank. Please send your legal questions to email@example.com inform. entertain. relate. Connecting Cultures
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True Sacrifice By Meagan Ellis
Carol Chin has spent her life focused on achieving her goals, and as the owner of seven McDonald’s restaurants in the Boston area, her career is a testament to what can be accomplished through dedication and learning from experience.
arol Chin has learned the secret to success. “It’s loving what you do and never being complacent. Each day you have a chance to work hard and to become a better person.” Carol has spent her life focused on achieving her goals, and as the owner of seven McDonald’s restaurants in the Boston area, her career is a testament to what can be accomplished through dedication and learning from experience. Born in Hong Kong, where she lived with her family until she was 10, Carol then moved to Caracas, Venezuela, until age 17. “Being exposed to different cultures has shaped my definition of success – it’s not just achievements, but what you derive satisfaction from.” By her late teens, Carol was living in a housing project in lower Manhattan. She worked in a sewing factory while taking English classes before enrolling in New York City Community College. Through hard work, she received a scholarship to attend Long Island College where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Both Carol and her husband Vern grew up around restaurants owned by their parents, and together decided that they were ready to enter the business they knew so well. “The restaurant industry is never boring and is a rewarding, hands-on business,” said Carol. “If you like to make people happy, the restaurant industry is for you.” The Chins decided on McDonald’s because of the opportunities the company offers to minority owners. In 1988, they relocated to the Boston area and opened their first restaurant on Washington Street in Chinatown. “Chinatown is an amazing place to do business because of the sense of community and belonging,” said Carol. Fluent in Cantonese and Spanish, Carol employs a number of people that have
immigrated to the United States. “As an immigrant myself, I often draw from my past experiences to let my crew know that it is possible to succeed in a new country. All you need is determination and perseverance,” she said. “I have had experiences where people didn’t take me seriously because of my accent, or because my English wasn’t perfect. I tell my employees to use those experiences to become better and stronger.” “I also love this business because it is always changing, which is exciting,” notes Carol. “Our menu continuously evolves to meet our customers’ tastes and presents opportunities for them to try new foods or taste combinations. For example, we recently started offering espresso-based McCafé Coffees such as lattes, cappuccinos and mochas with freshly ground espresso beans and steamed milk, and the feedback from customers has been very positive.” The Chins have served on the Asian McDonald’s Operators Association, a group that provides member franchisees with a united voice forum to address issues specific to their respective groups. The franchise organization provides insight to the company on its diverse customers and helps McDonald’s achieve its vision of being the world’s best quick service restaurant experience. The group also sponsors www.i-am-asian.com, a website for Asian-Americans to learn more about the McDonald’s brand and career opportunities with the Golden Arches. Carol’s quest for success earned her the prestigious “Excellence in Franchising Award” in 2006 from the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Attributing her success in part to maintaining a work/life balance, Carol notes teamwork is vital in the restaurants, and at home. “My husband and I work together as
a team to ensure that our family life is stable as our businesses grow.” “A successful career is a process,” says Carol. “You have to put in time. I worked for 18 years to get where I am today. The path to success is never easy. Along the way, there are true sacrifices that need to be made, but it is absolutely necessary to focus on your goal.”
Carol Chin inform. entertain. relate.
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By Seong-Hoon Chung
opping out at more than six feet tall, Dr. Wai Kee Lee, a dentist for more than 10 years, instantly puts you at ease with his friendly demeanor and smile. As a general practitioner, Dr. Lee rotates between two Pioneer Dental offices in Newton and North Billerica. A Hong Kong native, Dr. Lee’s family moved to Toronto, Canada, well before China’s takeover of the British territory. Graduating from the University of Toronto, Dr. Lee moved to Boston to attend Boston University School of Dental Medicine. After a one-year stint in New York City as a resident, where he described it as an “eye-opening experience” dealing with HIV patients and drug addicts, Dr. Lee has since practiced in Massachusetts. Dr. Lee also serves as an assistant professor at Tufts Dental School where he led a group of students to Mexico to provide dental care to the needy. With respect to oral health care, Dr. Lee emphasizes prevention as key in both management and cost effectiveness. He says good oral health care should be instilled among children to make it
Dr. Daryl Lau
By Liwen Wang
Elevating Public Awareness Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Daryl T. Lau, MD, MSc, MPH
Director of Translational Liver Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Division of Gastroenterology-GI 110 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02215 617-632-1070 16
a life-long habit, with parents and school as the forefront to educate children. Dr. Lee suspects that some of the barriers to oral health care are cultural and economic. For example, many Asian-Americans do not put value in preventive measures such as routine cleaning and screening until painful symptoms arise. In addition, many may not have dental insurance, which may lead them to place dental care low among their list of priorities. Unfortunately, the universal health insurance implemented in Massachusetts recently does not cover dental care. Diet consisting of sugar also plays an important role. Many dental problems are caused by bacteria that thrive on sugar and carbohydrates. That is why brushing is recommended after each meal. Dr. Lee acknowledges challenges in outreaching underserved populations. He cites help available such as MassHealth, a government agency that pays for health/dental care for low to medium-income people. The South Cove Community Health Center in Chinatown and Quincy, serves the Asian-American community for health care needs, including dental care.
ith a confident smile, a modest manner and a focused gaze, Dr. Daryl Lau talked about her clinical and research interests in liver diseases, in particular hepatitis B and C. She is a dedicated clinician and has been devoted to patient-oriented research since 1993. In addition to focusing on her demanding academic career, Dr. Lau serves as an adviser for non-profit organizations such as the Asian Health Foundation (AHF) and the Hepatitis B Initiative (HBI), a student-run organization. Hepatitis B is especially prevalent among Asians and it is an important cause of liver cancer. Since prevention is superior to therapy, one of her missions is to increase public awareness to prevent or manage the disease in its early stage. She proudly stated that the Liver Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has one of only five Fibroscan machines in the United States. The machine is designed to provide a noninvasive means to assess the extent of scar tissue in the liver as a result of liver injury. Dr. Lau is utilizing the Fibroscan to develop screening programs in community health centers. Recently, Dr. Lau assumed one of the leadership roles serving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Hepatitis B
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
199 Boston Road, North Billerica, MA 978-439-0155 269 Washington St., Newton Corner, MA 617-641-0005 Clinical Research Network with the goal to improve therapy. Emigrating from Hong Kong to Montreal, Canada at the age of 13, Dr. Lau subsequently attended McGill University in Montreal and later specialized in Hepatology. She devoted five years to conducting clinical and translational research in viral hepatitis at the NIH. Concurrently, she completed her Master’s Degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Lau believes that translational research should advance the understanding of the disease mechanisms in the laboratory and improve care for patients. Passionately interested in the arts, Dr. Lau spends her leisure time visiting museums and galleries. She believes it is important to also have hobbies, as they provide relaxation, as well as fresh perspectives and new inspirations. Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Wai Kee Lee, DMD
Ms. Julia Hartwig, Dr. Wissam Bleibe, Dr. Lau
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A leading expert in the field of Ichthyology--the study of fish-Dr. Liem wants the public to realize that humans and fish are deeply connected. Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Harvard University’s Professor of Ichthyology By Anna Tsui
r. Karel Liem believes fish can reveal different dimensions of our human experience. Evolutionary theory states that human beings evolved from prehistoric fish that developed the ability to breathe out of water and eventually migrated onto land. Currently, there are 700-800 species of fish that experience this water-to-land journey to escape disturbances in their natural habitat. Incredibly, as humans, we still have anatomy from our early beginnings as fish. For example, the voice box, which allows us to speak, is composed of modified gill arches that connect to form the ligaments of our vocal chords. Rarely, babies are born with gill slits in their throats that derive from our evolutionary past. The limbs we use to walk on and write with are modified fish fins; something to think about next time one passes by an aquarium tank. Dr. Liem grew up during a tumultuous time in Indonesian history, and his family had to flee their homeland and restart their lives abroad. They left for the Netherlands and Dr. Liem to the United States where he was recruited for a PhD program in the small town of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. In the States, Dr. Liem experienced a sense of liberation he had never known before. “In America, I was judged by my merit.” His knowledge of the sciences made him a sought-after recruit for professorships at the University of Illinois where ASIAN BOSTON
he was an award-winning professor of human anatomy... even if his specialty was in fish morphology. He says he had to “simplify” his understanding of anatomy when relating it to the human body because fish structures are much more complex. “There are 140 bones in the skull of a fish, whereas human skulls have close to 22.” Dr. Liem is the Henry Bryant Bigelow Professor of Ichthyology at Harvard University and curator of Ichthyology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. In his effort to reach the public about evolutionary theory, Dr. Liem is working on two books, one of which is titled Fish Life through a Darwinian Lens. It applies Darwin’s theories to various species of fish and connects it back to the human experience. Today, Darwinian Theory of natural selection is pervasive in our modern world as it applies to the economy, financial markets and global politics where the strongest entities thrive. In his classes, Dr. Liem is proud to see an overwhelming majority of students of Asian heritage who later become experts in their field. In addition to the academic counsel he offers his students, Dr. Liem advises people of culturally diverse backgrounds to adhere to their cultural characteristics as they integrate into American culture. Dr Liem emphasizes, “In our efforts to adapt to our environments, we cannot change who we are.” His words of experience ring true. inform. entertain. relate. inform. entertain. relate.
QARI: Fostering Community
Photos by Carlton SooHoo
By Ana Leon
L-R: Chun (Staff member), John, Richard (Past President of the Board), Melissa (Information & Referral Specialist), Caroline, Trong (AmeriCorps Vista Volunteers)
he influx of first generation immigrants and their children didn’t start in Quincy until the 1980s. These newcomers were not looking for short-term settlement; they were looking to buy homes and raise families here. “Quincy is a new gateway community— unlike Boston’s Chinatown—it doesn’t have a historical Asian infrastructure,” explains John Brothers, Executive Director of Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. (QARI). As the city’s landscape was rapidly changing, it came as no surprise that Sheri Adlin, a founder of QARI, asked, “Why not Quincy?” when the United Way was looking to invest in a new minority community. “Quincy needed and wanted to improve services for the Asian community and to help newcomers navigate these services,” affirms John. Richard Hung, former president of QARI’s Board of Directors, credits “the individuals and their collaborative efforts for trying to provide services for the Asian community. But it wasn’t until they connected with the United Way and a large group of local residents and service providers were they able to systemically help the Asian community.” The result was QARI’s founding in 2001. Their mission is “to foster and promote the development of the social, cultural, economic and civic lives of Asian Americans to benefit the entire community.” Their success relies on partnerships with institutional members and creating their own programs to fill the gaps. In collaboration with Quincy Community 18
“Quincy needed and wanted to improve services for the Asian community” -John Brothers
Action Programs (QCAP), QARI provides information and referrals in Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and English to help access QCAP’s services. QCAP offers heating oil assistance, food stamp applications, housing programs, adult education, and head start (a preschool child development program), all located in the same building as QARI at 1509 Hancock Street. In 2005, QARI established their first direct service program—English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)—to enhance adult learners’ communication skills. These affordable morning and evening classes include beginning, intermediate and advanced conversation. Additionally, there is a Survival English for Elders course, which teaches critical English vocabulary. Volunteer tutors provide free-assistance outside the classroom. Residents preparing for naturalization can sign up for an 8-week citizenship course. QARI’s civic involvement doesn’t stop there. In 2007, more than 80 graduating high school seniors registered to vote. And with the Episcopal Boston Chinese Ministry, QARI organized Quincy’s first bilingual candidates’ forum for city offices with more than 200 community members in attendance. The organization also recognizes that Quincy’s youth are an integral part of the community. To answer their needs, they launched Discovering Unique Careers (DUC), a career and college information website (http://ducweb.org) run by local high school students. The site is comprised of interviews with local professionals, information for college admission and upcoming workshops
John Brothers, Executive Director of QARI, at Kam Man Marketplace
on college planning, career choices and professional development. In addition to fulfilling the community’s needs for accessing services, QARI organizes two important events. More than 6,500 attended the 20th annual Lunar New Year gathering in February, 2009, and more than 10,000 participants were at the 21st annual August Moon celebration in August. The success is a community effort, as QARI relies on more than 150 volunteers for these events. At the Lunar New Year festival, attendees enjoyed cultural performances with dancing and music, family storytelling, children’s activities, foods from local restaurants, lion and dragon dances, and special acts from the Chinese Opera. The outdoor August Moon celebration closed down a portion of Hancock Street, where vendors lined the streets selling crafts and delicious fare including the traditional mooncake. The stages showcased entertainment, including Irish step dancing, traditional Chinese and Vietnamese dances, Filipino folk dancing, martial arts demonstrations, dulcimer playing, and children’s performances that was as diversified as the crowd. These festivals provide funding for QARI’s services, but they also bring together the community in celebration of culture and learning. According to the 2005 city census, more than one-fifth of Quincy’s residents (or 20,000) are Asian. Even if Sheri Adlin didn’t ask, “Why not Quincy?” in 1998, someone would have asked sooner or later as Quincy’s Asian population continued to grow. quincyasianresources.org Connecting Cultures
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Casting & Media
AsianBoston Casting & Media (ABCM) is a division of AsianBoston Magazine, and was formed to give all types of Asian talent an opportunity to be selected for several media, including movies, commercials, promotional events, and print advertisements.
ORR ALLSTON, MA Clothing: Whim Location: CAMPER Hair: Avanti (Greg )
MA Clothing : Terry Tocci Desig ns r de Famille Hair: Hot Gossip (Yuki)
The following content was created to promote designers and retailers, and to showcase aspiring local models, actors, and entertainers. We encourage businesses and individuals to consider hiring our local talent by visiting the Casting & Media page at asianboston.com Photoshoot location: Newbury Street, Boston Make-up provided by shu uemura
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Clothing: FrankStel la e Eyewear Element s (SEE)
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Photo courtesy of strikeforce.com
t might be a prerequisite in Hollywood today for directors to expect gritty authenticity from its actors, whether they are dancing, fighting or singing. Previously, it was finding the “look” and then training the “look” to do what was required. Now, it is becoming more about directly recruiting the talent. Pan to Cung Le, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter with big dreams wants to be an action lead that can carry a film. Cung describes himself as “a rookie, new and hungry.” He has surrounded himself with a core team that includes his manager, agent, lawyer, coach and sports agent. Team Cung is banking on him to cash in on MMA popularity, and fill the void in Hollywood for an Asian heartthrob. Photos of Cung show rippling pectoral and abdominal muscles and a fierce challenging expression that screams “Don’t mess with me ever!” Over the phone, the father of two young children is polite as he talks about his family and his belief that his current opportunities are a result of his faith. His early life was a series of challenges and adjustments. His family escaped Vietnam before the fall of Saigon, spent time in a refugee camp in the Philippines, and then immigrated to California. MMA combines many concepts from boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and martial arts. The late Bruce Lee can be thought of as the father of this style. Watching MMA is like experiencing a startling cocktail of power, artistry, instinct and violence. Films such as Never Back Down, starring Sean Faris, highlighted how the new high school hunk wasn’t the football captain, but the MMA butt kicker. Some attribute the tipping point for the sport to 2005, when the reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, exploded onto the mainstream scene. Cung’s own metamorphosis from Sanshou master (Chinese free fighting combat sport) to MMA fighter was also in 2005. His friend and coach, Javier Mandez talked him into making the crossover justifying that Cung’s style was actually perfect for MMA. Cung declares, “MMA is here for real. It is an exciting, high intensity sport.” Cung becomes extremely energetic when he talks about his four upcoming film roles. He plays Dragon Lee in Dito Montiel’s Fighting and gets very excited when he confides about the concussion he received from a fight scene and about the overall “cool action packed story.” Fans of the Tekken video game will be judging how he does as a kung fu specialist in the film Tekken. Playing a student, he spent two weeks in Beijing filming Yuen Woo Ping’s True Legends. His largest role to date though is Pandorum, which releases in the fall. This sci-fi adventure filmed in Berlin and directed by Christian Alvart also stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Perhaps Pandorum is the ticket to give Cung enough exposure to become a bankable action star, and possibly the next Jackie Chan or Russell Wong. In the meantime, he throws one fast punch. Not a bad guy to know. Photo courtesy of Allied Advertising
Photo by Phillip V. Caruso, Rogue Pictures
PUNCHING HIS TICKET TO HOLLYWOOD
By Joanne Choi
“Perhaps ‘Pandorum’ is the ticket to give Cung enough exposure to become a bankable action star, the next Jackie Chan or Russell Wong.” 22
Cung in a scene from ‘Pandorum’
Fighting, ©2009 Rogue Pictures
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Photo by Rob Klein, NYC
Breaking The Mold
t all started with a dream. A dream that one day she would become a pro-tennis player. But, as with life, this dream faced many twists and turns as it evolved into something more…a position as anchor and reporter for Sportsnet New York (SNY). A self-described tomboy, Michelle Yu was introduced to sports at a young age. She often watched NBA games with her cousins—at a time when the Los Angeles Lakers were hot and Magic Johnson was still in the game. Her fondest memory was watching Michael Jordan lead the ’95-‘96 Chicago Bulls to a record 72 wins. “I would print out articles about the Bulls and calculate their standings in class,” she excitedly recalls. When she was 8, her parents signed her up for tennis lessons. Michelle would run home after matches to document her wins in a Hello Kitty diary. She found herself still playing tennis while attending Manhattan College for Communications, but admits, “I wasn’t good enough to go pro. However I realized how much I wanted to stay closely connected to sports.” Her parents were wary of this decision. Their concern only fueled Michelle’s competitive drive to excel and make this a defining choice. After graduating, she worked in print for The Journal News and Sports Illustrated for Kids. Michelle smiles remembering interviewing pro-athletes and asking: “What is your favorite color?” But she is thankful for those experiences as it paid her dues towards other career opportunities.
Even as she moved to television, Michelle continued paying her dues, working seven days a week, researching nuggets—sports facts and figures—for College Sports Television (CSTV) and freelancing for Sportstime in New Jersey. In 2005, she became a sports reporter for New York One (NY1). This past January, she made her biggest move by coming to SNY. For Michelle, being the only female anchor in the studio has its pros and cons. There is pressure to push harder because she is surrounded by male colleagues who are on top of their game. Consequently, she has learned a great deal because the learning curve is so high. On broadcasts, she faces tremendous tests as well, as 95% of what she writes is aired. Her role is to connect with the audience and acknowledge that, “credibility is important and if you want the audience to respond to you seriously, you have to do your research.” To stay on point, Michelle reads newspapers and ESPN.com, listens to her favorite radio show: Mike and Mike in the Morning, and stays connected with the industry’s public relations teams. These research methods are also important when conducting interviews. “Being a female and Asian, I don’t ever want to embarrass myself. I know the facts before going into an interview,” assures Michelle, “but you also have to be quick and assertive because you are competing with other reporters for time.” And unlike her first interview with Pete Sampras, a former #1 World tennis player, she no longer feels intimidated speaking to famous faces
By Ana Y. Leon
because “you realize they are just people.” Yet no matter how much effort she puts forward, there will be those who question her capability as a female sports reporter. Often, they give her the “Oh, really?” look and then quiz her sports knowledge. When they say, “I’m impressed,” she cringes and would like to respond to them with, “What if the tables were turned? How would you feel if I tested you about your career?” Instead, she brushes it off. After all, if they have a problem, it is their problem. Despite these bumps, Michelle is proud to be an Asian female in her profession. She doesn’t believe that Asian Americans with careers in the arts, sports, or other ‘outside-the-box’ fields get enough credit. “Not only are many Asians taught to be traditional, but the support isn’t as strong within the community, and that’s why I want to be a role model for people desiring to break the mold,” asserts Michelle. If she isn’t in the studio, conducting an interview, or dreaming of becoming a tennis analyst, she’s writing. Michelle has co-authored a book, China Dolls, with her cousin, Blossom Kan. In the book, three sassy young professionals tackle gender-biases, relationships and traditionalist families while looking out for each other. Early next year, their second book about an aspiring Asian American soap actress will be published. Michelle Yu is an inspiration for all dreamers. But more importantly, she wants everyone to “follow what you believe in.” www.sny.tv inform. entertain. relate.
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Trail of Thai Royalty
By Cholthanee Koerojna
15 Berkeley Street, Cambridge, MA
he Trail of Thai Royalty is the history that captures the lives of King Bhumibol’s parents, Prince Mahidol Songkla and Princess Mother (Sangwan Talapat) while they lived in Massachusetts from 1916 to 1928. PART II continues with the locations where the royal family solidified their special place in Massachusetts.
15 Berkeley Street, Cambridge
49 Cedar Road, Belmont
The Princess Mother of Thailand (née Miss Sangwan Talapat) stayed in this house with the Williston family from September 1919 to April 1920. With a scholarship from Queen Savang Vadhana, Miss Sangwan planned to study nursing at Simmons College and through local hospitals. Miss Sangwan studied arts and other subjects with the two Williston sisters, Emily and Constance, and attended Miss Edith Johnson’s Tutoring School as well.
The Princess Mother of Thailand (née Miss Sangwan Talapat) stayed in this house with the Kent family from July 1919 to September 1919, after she became engaged to marry Prince Mahidol. Prior to her stay in Belmont, Miss Sangwan lived with the Strong family in Hartford, Connecticut and studied at North Western Grammar School from September 1918 to July 1919.
Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge (formerly Cambridge Hospital) In the left wing of the Parsons Building is the operating room where Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej of Siam (Thailand) was born on December 5, 1927. Prince Bhumibol became King Rama IX in 1946 and was the first monarch of any nationality born in the continental US.
63 Longwood Avenue, Brookline Prince Mahidol of Siam (Thailand) lived in one of the apartments here from 1926 to 1928 with his wife and their young children: Princess Galyani Vadhana, Prince Anandha (who was to become King Rama VIII), and Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej (who was to become King Rama IX). While here, Prince Mahidol graduated from Harvard Medical School. In July 1928, the royal family returned to Thailand.
Enjoying A Summer Day in Chinatown Park, Boston... Chinese Chess players from right to left: Mr. Ng, Mr. Lei, and friend
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
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1052 Dorchester Ave. 219 Quincy Ave. Quincy, MA Dorchester, MA 617-773-8053 617-265-7171 inform. entertain. relate.
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CHABA FLOWER Special Events Wedding Bouquets 71 Stuart Street Boston, MA 28
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BAKERY & RESTAURANT
Unique 8 HairPlace 17A Hudson Street Boston, MA 617-728-3168
Orders to Take Out
Dim Sum Bakery Congee Noodles Rice
15 Hudson Street Boston, MA 617-728-8699
61-63 Beach St., Boston 617-426-8899
?FLIJ1/Xd$/gd Photos by Keiko Hiromi
“ The Health-Conscious Choice!”
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17 BEACH ST., CHINATOWN 617-423-3934
Vinh Sun BBQ
58 Beach Street, Chinatown, Boston 617 338 1368
617-542-9373 Fax: 617-423-3905 65 Beach St., Boston
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Pho 88 1270 Westford Street
Fine Vietnamese Cuisine
Interior photo: Carlton SooHoo Food photos: Heather Prohaska
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s our initial segment of recommended restaurants kicks off,, I’d like to introduce you to Shiki (four seasons in Japanese): a lovely restaurant located in the heart of Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA. Since this past fall, Shiki has been a buzz within the Japanese community. Specializing in small plates and featuring a menu of 60 choices, I recommend two to three small plates per person. I was happy to find Shiki had a izikaya-Japanese pub that serves alcohol along with a variety of tasty small side dishes; they even serve natto (fermented soybeans), a Japanese favorite not usually seen on a regular menu. For sake lovers, they have an extensive selection. If you don’t know what to order, try their tasty Flight of Four. Everything at this restaurant is well done. Their food is fresh and artfully prepared. I recommend the broiled black
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cod (one of my faves and packed with flavor), ohitashi (spinach seasoned with sesame paste side dish), sea eel mille feuille a layered taste texture sensation, and if you enjoy foie gras, you should try the ankimo (monkfish liver). All of their fried dishes are superb and I prefer their tempura and tonkatsu (panko breaded pork cutlets). With a wide range of entrées, you can choose a slate of new dishes or stay with the usual suspects: udon, California roll, miso soup. Don’t miss their kaiseki (literally means stone in the stomach), a delicious lunchtime multi-course meal. Lunches start at $10 and top out at $22 with the Camellia Tsubaki, and you get a generous amount of food: soup, salad, rice, tempura, chowan mushi (steamed seafood egg custard), with a beautifully arranged plate consisting of sashimi and various delectable bites. Tell them Anna from AsianBoston By Anna Ing sent you!
978 452 7300 pho88online.net
Photo by Vincent SooHoo
Japanese Cuisine 9 Babcock Street Brookline, MA 617 738 0200 shikibrookline.com
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Assistant: Dianne Wiroll
16 Hudson Street, Chinatown, Boston
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GOOD CALL AsianBoston Model:Abin
We carry a full line of farm-fresh
FRUIT & VEGETABLES 733 Turnpike Street, Rte. 114
NORTH ANDOVER 978-688-5900
At the intersection of Columbia Road, Mass. Ave. and Boston St., Dorchester, MA Plenty of Free parking in the back of the building on East Cottage Street
MON.- FRI. 10am - 6pm SAT./SUN. 9am - 5pm Connecting Cultures
Joseph Russo, M.D., F.A.C.S. Dr. Joseph Russo is a board certified Harvard trained Plastic Surgeon who has been in private practice in Newton Centre since 1991. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.) and a member of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (A.S.P.R.S.)
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575 Boylston Street Newton Centre, MA 617-964-1440 www.josepharussomd.com
400 Washington Street Norwell, MA 781-659-5893 www.luxemedspa.com
n 1955, Japan was hit with one of the worst earthquakes in its history. The Kobe earthquake claimed more than 6,000 lives and caused unprecedented destruction. At the time, award winning Japanese fiction writer Haruki Murakami was living in the US, and soon after the news broke, he packed his bags and returned home. With the nation in mourning, Murakami composed a series of short stories entitled ‘After the Quake,’ which is inhabited by characters who embody the fragility and complexity of the human experience. Since its publication, Murakami’s stories have been adapted to theatre by Tony award winner, Frank Galati, who received accolades from such adaptations as “The Grapes of Wrath” and “As I Lay Dying.” The play, “After the Quake,” is produced by Company One and is supported by an all-Asian cast that weaves a magical tale of love and hope. Heralded as “an elegant, economic, gently hypnotic piece of theater” by The New York Times, the play centers around a man who tries to gain the affections
of an old love by enrapturing her daughter with tales of a six-foot frog saving Tokyo from disaster. The director, Shawn LaCount, describes the play as “one of the most beautiful stories we’ve ever told.” The cast is composed of five seasoned actors: Chen Tang, a native of Kobe, Japan who is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Acting at Emerson College; Michael Tow, a member of SAG who has appeared on Showtime’s Brotherhood and is the founder of New Boston Financial; Martin Lee, a writer, actor and producer who has recently completed an ABC pilot called “House Rules;” Giselle Ty, a producer as well as an actor for the Actor’s Shakespeare Project, Hyperion Shakespeare Company and the Gurnet Theatre Project; and Sydney Penny, a young actress who was runner-up in the 2008 DC Asian Film Festival and who can be seen in the upcoming film, “The Surrogates.” She currently attends Newman Elementary School in Needham. “After the Quake” will run from July 17August 15 at the Boston Center for the Arts
V By Zara Dedi
NGHIEM CHUONG Vietnamese Television
ietnamese News has been a hit program since 2004, when it first aired on WCCA-TV13: The Public Access TV station of Worcester, Mass. Since then, viewers voted the show the Best Ethnic program aired on TV13 for the past two years. The show has turned into a great pleasure for many non-Asian viewers who don’t understand the Vietnamese language but are fascinated by the colorful costumes and unique music of the show’s music video segment. The man behind the success of Vietnamese News is the humble Nghiem Xuan-Chuong. I say “humble” because when asked how he manages to produce such an interesting program, Nghiem answers with modesty, “With the help of Vietnamese leaders and friends.” Even more impressive is that Nghiem prepares not only one, but two 1-hour episodes weekly; every Wednesday from 6-7 pm and Thursday from 3-4 pm (US Eastern time). Nghiem Chuong drops off his programs every week to the WCCA facility with the same punctuality and persistence as the mailman delivering the mail. The hard work takes place behind the doors of his apartment, where he edits all the material and turns it into a high-end product. In fact, I learned from Nghiem that the show is a collaboration with other Vietnamese producers all over the country who share news segments and music videos originating from Vietnam. Nghiem gives his program a local feel by featuring other news, events
By Anna Tsui
Plaza Theatre in the South End. For more information and tickets, please visit
CompanyOne.com and success stories related to the Vietnamese community of Worcester. Nghiem says that almost every state in the country has its own Vietnamese program. Never taking all the credit, Nghiem doesn’t forget to thank WCCA for enabling him and other minority producers in Worcester to air programs in their own language, thus preserving the history and culture of their home countries. Reportedly, there are about 10,000 Vietnamese in Worcester, while Vietnamese News is watched by an overall audience of more than 56,000 households that access Channel 13 through cable subscriptions. Even more amazing, relatives and friends of Nghiem all over the world can watch his program on the web at www.wccatv.com/stream. Outside the TV world, Nghiem Chuong is a retiree who came to the US in 1986, and, together with his family, has been living in Worcester since 1987. He is very dedicated to both his own family and the large Vietnamese “family” of Worcester. Nghiem considers his program an avenue “to let people know about the Vietnamese culture and traditions,” and that is what ignited his passion to become a TV producer. In the future, he would like to continue his collaboration with Channel 13 and expand his programming. Most importantly, “I would like to continue sharing my culture with America, the country that gave me a life of happiness and freedom,” says Nghiem, his voice filled with gratitude. Connecting Cultures
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YANG By Virginia Payne
“When I play the qin, I feel as if I have a soulmate, as if I am having a dialogue with the instrument”
t was a beautiful and crisp autumn day, and while most folks were outside enjoying the autumn sun, many chose to attend a guqin seminar and performance in the serene hall of the Buddhist temple in Lexington, MA. The performer was Shin-Yi Yang, and the deep and meditative-like tone of her guqin music filled the temple with a sense of peace and tranquility. Guqin, or ‘qin,’ is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. Ancient scholars learned to play qin to cultivate their intellect and mind. There is no doubt that many of today’s qin players are drawn to this rare instrument because of its unique, deep, dark tones that seem to resonate in one’s heart and soul. A number of qin melodies depict the natural world as well as the human sentiments such as true friendship, joy, sorrow, loss and longing. On that particular autumn day, the audience was mesmerized by Yang’s qin performance and captivated by her lecture. “When I play the qin, I feel as if I have a soulmate, as if I am having a dialogue with the instrument,” said Shin-Yi, who discovered this instrument while pursuing a music degree at the National Taiwan Academy of Arts in Taipei. At that time, she
was majoring in guzheng (or simply “zheng”) – another plucked Chinese instrument with 21-strings. One of her professors felt that the qin was more suited to Shin-Yi’s personality, due to its quieter tone, introspective and philosophical quality, and its intimate relationship with traditional scholarly pursuit, as opposed to the zheng, which has a much louder, brighter and “flashier” sound. After graduating from the Academy, she continued her music pursuit at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with double majors in zheng and qin, and received her professional diploma in 1993. Today in the New England area, Yang is a well-known performer of both instruments. She has performed and lectured at many universities, conservatories and museums. Among her long list of accomplishments, she was a two-time recipient of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award given by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in the Folk Arts and Heritage Program category, and was also featured in the WGBH radio program Arts and Ideas. Yang is also an instructor of both instruments in the Boston area. Her students find her teaching style very effective. “Breathing” is as critical as precise
tempo, intonation and accurate fingering techniques. She’s very patient and encouraging, while holding a very high standard. One of her qin students, Adam Kale, summarizes, “I have played and studied music for many years and Shin-Yi is by far the best teacher I have ever had. I do not speak Chinese and she is not very comfortable with her English but I have never experienced a language barrier. I believe her teaching ability transcends language.” Yang also founded her own Guzheng Ensemble in 2002 to foster teamwork and promote Chinese music and culture through a different aural experience. Yang is grateful for the unconditional support from her husband and counts her blessings; they both share the same passion for music. In fact, her husband Chi-Sun Chan is a highly respected conductor for the Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association Music Ensemble and Youth Ensemble. He will soon receive his DMA (Doctoral of Musical Arts) in brass performance from Boston University. Yang is thrilled that they both can play a part in promoting traditional Chinese music and culture to the public. inform. entertain. relate.
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Hiro Honshuki, pictured here at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge, MA
HIRO By Alexa Magarian
Hiro Honshuku, who studied and taught music in Japan, never thought he would be a performer before arriving in the United States in 1987. As the founder and leader of the local jazz group, A-NO-NE, Hiro admits that defining the music he creates can be difficult. “The way I write is totally unconventional, and I’m pretty proud of how I do that,” he says confidently. Hiro certainly has a diverse background of musical experience. Strongly influenced by his grandmother who taught piano, Hiro began taking lessons at age three. While attending Nihon University in Japan, he studied the flute, but later switched to music composition. After moving to the US as a scholarship student, he attended Berklee in order to get used to classes in English. Then, only nine months later, Hiro entered the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston to study jazz. Hiro studied at both schools simultaneously finishing them in the same month.
Hiro knew nothing about jazz when he first came to NEC, and after a professor inspired him, he realized that distinguishing himself as a musician with his own style, was an integral part of performing nontraditional jazz. “The major influence in my writing is a theory called Lydian Chromatic Concept by legendary composer George Russell, who was teaching at NEC,” states Hiro. “To me, a band is like a family,” Hiro explains. One of his policies on music is that the bass player is the mother because it “moves family forward and is always there,” the drummer is like a father because it “dictates or supports soloists, but sometimes gambles,” and the piano and guitar act as brother and sister, who sometimes try to “fight back.” Hiro believes that “between the players, there always has to be some friction. The friction is very important to me, and is the essence of jazz, and if you pick the right people for a band, it’s truly fun.”
Photo and story courtesy of 42West, NYC
CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE, opened Story courtesy of 42West NYC nationwide in Spring, 2009. In this high-octane sequel, hit man Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) launches himself on an electrifying chase through Los Angeles in pursuit of the mobster who stole his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered heart that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep it working. Actress and pop culture icon Bai Ling (who was born in Chengdu, China) plays Ria, who obsessively latches onto Chev after he rescues her from a gang of thugs. Ling says that the character of Ria was very special to her. “She’s kind of crazy, but there’s a beautiful free spirit about her; kind of innocent, but also Bai Ling, pictured here from a scene in the new film ‘Crank 2, High Voltage’ very persuasive.” Ling continues, “Like a fresh, young, modern girl pursuing her dreams and who has no reservations for what she’s dreaming of.” CRANK 2 is high on energy and high on action. If he wants to live, he’d better prepare for a jolt.
www.crank2.com <K:GD <HF
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apanese-born Juri Panda Jones is a pianist, singer, songwriter, an educator, musical director, model and president of her own non-profit organization. She started playing classical piano at age 3, and joined her mother’s rock band at age 4. When she was 11, she won a composition competition in Yamanashi, and while in high school, the Japanese government sent her to Seattle, Washington, as a good-will ambassador. One would think that Juri was well on her way to a great life, but, upon her return to Japan at 19, nobody came to pick her up at the airport. “My mother had kicked me out of the house so I would learn to be independent.” This approach is rarely seen in Asian families, and Juri was astonished and, of all things, homeless! “I slept in parks in a sleeping bag and suffered from food poisoning and Grave’s Disease. There was no choice but to develop a survival instinct, and become independent.” Juri had the will power to change negatives to positives, and actually landed a part-time job during her ordeal. One day, Juri climbed out of her sleeping bag, picked herself up, brushed herself off,
and never looked back. At age 21, she touched down in the US and entered Boston’s Berklee College of Music on a scholarship, graduating in December 2001. Soon after, she received an alumni grant, toured with famous musicians and participated on “The Lost Songs of Lennon and McCartney.” She also went to Africa where she learned African traditional music and dance. Juri reached back to her forgotten chapter and once gave a speech at Showa Institute in Jamaica Plain, where she talked about her homeless days to a group of 200 young women. Everything she does, she gives her whole heart to, whether it’s music, teaching or just caring for friends and family. Shortly after 9/11, she founded her own non-profit organization called “Genuine Voices,” which teaches music sequencing on computers to at-risk and homeless children in Boston facilities such as DYS and DSS. I asked Juri what motivates her and she replied, “When I was a sophomore in high school, I went to a boot camp and volunteered to help the disabled; this made me realize there are so many things to be done, I can’t be lazy.” She continues, “My heroes are Bono and Angelina Jolie because they are using their fame to improve society…That is my dream.”
By Mariko Kanto
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Please visit juripandajones.com
Circle of Culture
ean H. Huh, a Brookline, Massachusetts native, is an established screenwriter and film producer. His accomplishments include ‘By The Sea,’ an award-winning film that won Best American Feature at the 2007 Everglades International Film Festival in South Africa, Best Feature, 2007 Swansea Bay Film Festival in England, Best US Production 2005 DVD En Espanol Awards, and a 2004 Silver Omni Award. I met Dean last year on the set of the feature-film, ‘Lonely Maiden.’ This half Korean/half Scandinavian has a polite demeanor, is well educated and has a great sense of humor. When he starts talking about his screenplays, he has the ability to draw you in to his creative and imaginative world…so do the actual screenplays.
He likes the idea of culture meeting culture
By Mariko Kanto
Shot in Rhode Island in 2002, ‘By The Sea’ is a film about a Cuban-born woman, a pastry chef, who takes a job at an ocean resort hotel to start her life over (She receives a pocket watch that ticks backwards). Watching this film is not only an emotionally cathartic experience, it also offers a powerful portrayal of Latino culture. His current project, ‘Looking for Leonardo,’ is a family-themed film set primarily in a quaint medieval mountain village in Italy; some scenes are shot in Rhode Island. The main character, Giovanni, is a 13-year-old Italian-American boy who believes Da Vinci actually built and flew a flying machine. Then Giovanni travels to Italy, looking for clues to the machine’s existence. Most writers write about their own cultures, but he likes the idea of culture meeting culture. “It’s interesting how we cross each other,” he says, “there are so many international people here in New England.” Dean H. Huh currently splits his time between Needham, Massachusetts, and Italy. Please visit bytheseafilm.com inform. entertain. relate.
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SIMPLE STEPS TO A
Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Why do we fail to fit into that bikini every year? Well, some of us start our weight loss too late or depend on dieting alone, and then there are those who quit too soon. Dieting alone does not work.
apanese fashion grabbed worldwide attention when designers and stylists started claiming inspiration from the streets of Tokyo. Lively colors and seemingly bizarre combinations of clothing and eclectic tastes all contribute to the interest aimed at Japan. Coming from a fashion background, I would often sit for hours in the streets of Tokyo checking out what trendsetters had created that day. As much as I find Japanese street-wear interesting, traditional Japanese garments intrigue me as well. Today, wearing a kimono may seem old-fashioned, reserved for special occasions like weddings, Coming-of-Age day, and New Year celebrations. It is unfortunate that such an age-old custom is becoming scarce. But, there is hope! In the last 10 years, the yukata has seen a big comeback, especially among young adults and teens. The yukata is a cotton summer robe, similar in shape to a kimono. Worn directly over the skin and held in place by cords and an obi sash, the yukata is easier to put on than a kimono. The rules surrounding it are less severe too. Some girls have even taken to rolling up the sleeves and cutting off the bottom, making impromptu tank-top mini dresses, which sometimes raises the eyebrows of more conservative generations. Two ideal places to wear a yukata are festivals and firework displays. Summer festivals are fun places to hang out and socialize with friends, especially with the street vendors selling cotton candy and water balloons, taiko drums and music accommodating traditional dance. I’m feeling nostalgic after writing this article... maybe I’ll put on my yukata and take a stroll along the Charles River. Perhaps I’ll see some up and coming trendsetters on this side of the globe.
Here is how you can reach your bikini-weight for the summer. You must modify your caloric intake and burn calories by exercising daily. The average inactive woman loses about 1/2 pound of muscle and adds about 1 1/2 pounds of fat every year of adult life. You must reduce excess fat by dieting and exercise, and also replace lost muscle tissue through strength training. The amount of calories you should consume varies according to your activity level. Begin by finding your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Multiply your weight in pounds x .45 (weight/Kilograms). Then multiply by 24 k/cal day. An inactive 125 lb woman weighs 56.25 kilograms, so her RMR is 1,350 k/cal day. Comparitively, a very active 125 lb woman’s RMR is 2,025 k/cal a day. Do an aerobic activity you enjoy 3-4 times a week for at least 30-40 minutes. Add strength training every other day and work all major muscles. By adding 3 pounds of muscle, you will increase your RMR. That is a deficit of 120 calories per day, leading to almost one pound of fat loss every month! Let’s do the math. If you eat 250 less calories a day, burn an average of 250 calories (30-minute bike ride, 3-mile walk, etc.), in 7-days you would be at a deficit of 3,500 calories, resulting in a loss of one pound of fat a week…that’s 10 lbs in 10-weeks! If fitting into your bikini is a motivational factor, that’s great! Keep in mind that the added benefit of staying fit includes lower blood pressure, blood sugar and stress. Not only will you look great, you will feel better, and remember…don’t forget the sunscreen! Photo by Carlton SooHoo
Story By Jacqueline Batchelder (pictured below)
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