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nicknames : the last chapter by clifford wong

The author, Clifford Wong, standing at the site of his former residence: 40 Hudson St., in Boston’s Chinatown. Photo by Igor Rumyantsev


hen we last left off, we were talking about Ronald and Randy Tow (Dai Gow or big guy) and how Randy’s been hitting the fitness center and isn’t that Dia Gow anymore! As we continue our walk down memory lane, down the street from Dai Gow lived Albert Yee, aka “Foot.” Although his Chinese name is Foon, somehow that evolved into Foot. Foot is a very bright person who became a physician. However, he’s not a podiatrist, so if you have a pain in your foot, Dr. Yee might not be the answer. Foot’s neighbor, my cousin Ted Wong, had considerable notoriety in the neighborhood, but never inherited any nicknames. Hey, what made him so special? Let’s shift beyond Hudson Street and visit some of my other relatives. My wife’s brothers are legends in the area, the Guen brothers, Robert (Goonuss) and Richard (Bengy), but I’m not sure how they got their nicknames. My sister (remember Faygala?) married Paul Soo Hoo. Paul’s alias was “Jook Sing Paul.” Jook Sing means American-born Chinese (ABC). One day, someone garbled his first name with his last and wound up calling him Peeto. Man-oh-man, the nicknames went on and on! Now, I must tell you that I was not nickname free. My Chinese name means “born” in Cantonese, and “vorn” in Toisanese. Since vorn almost sounds like “one,” I was known as One Doy (which means One Boy or One Guy), along with several other variations that cannot be printed. Some thought One Guy was actually Wongy, so, erroneously, I became Wongy! Years later, when my daughter was 10, she anointed me, “Clifford

the Big Red Dog,” which fortunately never caught on. Whew! Wasn’t looking forward to that! As funny or outrageous as these nicknames may appear, the owners can hold their heads high, and with good reason. Although we were an underprivileged bunch, we overcame the challenges and adversity of a segregated and disadvantaged community. We’ve moved beyond the padded borders to attain success at all levels of society. We’ve become doctors, dentists, lawyers, educators, police officers, entrepreneurs, realtors, and so on. Most importantly, we’ve become role models for our children and for others in the community. I apologize to those I may have inadvertently excluded from these articles, and while I’m at it, perhaps apologize to those included! To those of us from the old neighborhood, these nicknames were a major part of our upbringing. They helped to preserve the visual recollections of our Utopia, a place of dignity, comfort and enrichment. When the powers-that-be removed us from our homes by eminent domain in the name of progress, they physically removed us from our Camelot, but what they can never remove is our memories and of course…our nicknames. About the author... Clifford Wong is a semi-retired educator who dedicated the past 35 years to the Boston Public Schools as a teacher and guidance councilor. He continues his part-time involvement at the TERI College ACCESS Center, Boston Latin Academy, the Wang YMCA and the Josiah Quincy Upper School. Thank you, Clifford, for sharing this wonderful three-part story with us, we are most grateful.


Carstensz Pyramid

Vinson Massif

Mount Elbrus

16,024 ft.

16,050 ft.

18,510 ft.

19,340 ft.

20,320 ft.

22,841 ft.

29,029 ft.





North America

South America



ount Elbrus, Russia. An ice-cold wind sliced the air. The gray sky showed signs of a dangerous snowstorm ahead. The eight remaining members of the group of 25 trekked onward to the summit of the tallest peak in Europe. For many, it was the pinnacle of months of intensive training. For Lei Wang, it was the beginning of a long journey of sacrifice and self-discovery. Since her decision in the summer of 2004, to climb Mount Everest, Wang has since scaled six of the seven summits; the highest mountains on seven continents. To complete her climb, Wang plans to conquer Mount Everest (29,029 ft) in spring 2010. If she succeeds, she will be the first Asian American woman to scale all seven summits and ski both North and South Poles. Wang is not the typical adventure seeker, but has the characteristics of a motivated athlete. Her interest in climbing grew from a desire to overcome her own physical and mental limitations. A software engineer by trade, Wang left Beijing in 1996, to receive an MBA at the Wharton School. Before graduation, Wang and fellow classmates took a trip to Tanzania, Africa, where they, on a whim, decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. For Wang, the climb was a battle between her body and the mountain, and was a sobering reminder of her weak physical condition. In her moment of weakness, Wang made the decision to never stop challenging herself. She researched the seven summits and watched documentaries of women climbers and Everest enthusiasts. When confronted with inspiring, and sometimes fatal stories of individuals who had conquered nature’s peaks, Wang felt an awakening of a “hidden desire” to do the same. “It’s a matter of pursuing your dreams and just doing it. It’s easy to plan or strategize, but that doesn’t make things happen. People only recognize the moment of glory, but there is a lot of effort behind it.” Wang faced personal and physical obstacles ASIAN BOSTON

Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount McKinley

along the way. She says, “My parents couldn’t understand why I wanted to do this.” In order to meet the demand of a rigorous training schedule, Wang made the difficult decision to quit her job as a financial analyst. She spent almost every other day for the next five years training. Standing merely 5’2” and weighing 125 lbs., Wang had other issues to contend with. “I had to lift the same weight as someone twice my size, while hiking.” Often, she was the only woman on the trail. There were many moments when she was concerned about her strength and ability to keep up with a group of men. Deeply independent, motivated by challenge, and drawn by the allure of Everest, Wang persisted. She found out that although she may not be the fastest, she had immense endurance. When confronted with the reality of her financial situation, Wang says, “I thought about what makes me happy, it was neither being a great employee, nor making lots of money, but living a meaningful life.” In Boston winters, Wang trained even more ardently for her dream hike up Mt. Everest. But, even dreams have a price. In this case, the cost is around $70,000. Almost all the expenses go toward obtaining permits, proper equipment and guides. The climb itself will take two months, starting at Kathmandu, along the Himalaya Range and finally to the highest peak on Earth. Wang is an inspiration for many. She did not begin to pursue climbing seriously until her mid-30s when she was settled in a comfortable career. For her dream, she sacrificed everything and gained things that have added immense value to her life. As the sun sets, Wang’s eyes fill with determination; she is one day closer to her dream.

Mount Aconcagua

Mount Everest

“Pursue an active life, keep a positive attitude and go after your dream. An ordinary person can achieve extraordinary things.”

Tibetans refer to Everest as “Chomolungma,” meaning ‘Mother Goddess of the Earth’


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of the WORLD By Anna Tsui



ichael Kim was a year away from graduating law school when he decided to drop out in 1989 â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a move that did not sit well with his Koreanborn parents. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I learned so much during my two years of law school, but it was two of the most miserable years of my life,â&#x20AC;? Kim recalls of the University of Missouri, where his father was a political science professor. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I learned that I shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t and couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do something in my life if I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the passion for it.â&#x20AC;? Instead, he chose to pursue his dream of becoming a television sportscaster. Only this time he took the ball and ran with it. He went back to school at Missouri and two years later graduated with a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in journalism. Soon after, Kim landed his first job, covering local sports for News Channel 8, a 24-hour cable station serving the Washington, D.C. area, where he spent five years. Then, in 1996, he hit the jackpot when he moved to ESPN, the No. 1 cable sports network in the world, based in Bristol, CT. Last September, Kim (who lives in East Haven, CT, with his wife, Marleen, and son Matthew), celebrated his 13th anniversary as a sportscaster for ESPN. During that span, he has anchored a variety of shows including the iconic SportsCenter and ESPNews, as well as written feature stories for It took a few years before his parents ASIAN BOSTON

accepted Kimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s choice of careers, and now, they are delighted to watch their son on ESPN in Seoul, South Korea, carried on the Armed Forces in Korea Network. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was a time years ago after I finished a SportsCenter,â&#x20AC;? Kim says with a chuckle, â&#x20AC;&#x153;my mother called and asked if I was ever going to finish law school and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;When are you going to get a real job?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Now, I get an occasional phone call or an e-mail from my mother telling me I need a haircut, or I shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wear a certain tie with a particular suit.â&#x20AC;? Nevertheless, Kim credits his mother, Nam, who owned an antique store owner in Fulton, MO, (where the family lived at the time Kim was born), for unwittingly planting the seed for his career in sports. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I guess my first exposure to sports was in 1964, the year I was born, and the year the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series,â&#x20AC;? Kim says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My mother told me sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d stick me in front of the TV in my playpen while she was doing housework. So the World Series was like my baby sitter.â&#x20AC;? Subsequently, Kim became active in sports while growing up. He played football, basketball, and baseball in high school and baseball at his undergraduate alma mater, Westminster College, where he earned his bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in political science and business administration. Kim was hired by ESPN to help launch ESPNews, the 24-hour-a-day sports news network in November 1996, as one of the showâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first anchors. But it also marked his

place in broadcast history as the first Asian American national TV sports anchor. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe I was the first â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and the only for about a decade,â&#x20AC;? Kim says of this pioneering milestone. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I take pride that I own the title, but it was never my goal to be the first. My goal was to do my best and hope to get to this level.â&#x20AC;? Since Kimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arrival, ESPN has added a trio of Asian American sportscasters â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Kevin Negandhi, Anish Shroff, and Michael Yam. In retrospect, Kim has no regrets about his career choice. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not all of us turn out to be doctors and lawyers,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I get to watch sports on television and get paid to do it. I have a job that thousands â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C; maybe millions â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C; would love to have. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to regret?â&#x20AC;?

Photos: Top left by John Atashian, lower right by Joe Faraoni

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中華廣教學校 KWONG KOW CHINESE SCHOOL By Anna Tsui, Photo by Igor Rumyantsev


bronze statue of Confucius marks the location where Kwong Kow Chinese School stood in Boston’s Chinatown for almost a century. In its new location across the street, students fill the classrooms for after-school tutoring or Chinese lessons. When classes are in session, the walls resound with the chorus of children reciting Chinese stories, the melodious ring of the Chinese Hammered Dulcimer (yanqin), and the drumbeats of practicing martial arts students. Though known for its language classes, Kwong Kow provides a comprehensive and holistic education that teaches English, math, art, culture and history. Originally founded by the Chinese Merchants Association in 1916, the intent of the school was to provide a bi-cultural education to immigrant children, enabling them to succeed in the U.S. while retaining their heritage. This mission and Kwong Kow’s strong community engagement has helped the school become an influential cultural hub. Kwong Kow receives tuition payments and donations from individuals and organizations. Due to a capital campaign conducted by Kwong Kow, the school was able to construct its new facility in 2007, sharing it with the Asian American Civic Association (AACA), an organization that provides job training and English language classes to immigrants. Community support is evident by the successful fundraising gala held in December, 2009. Amongst the prominent guests were Angela Menino and Janet Wu. Helen Chin Schlichte, Chair/Board of Directors of Kwong Kow says, “It’s all about the children...we are doing this for them.” Dr. Yanyu Zhou, the school’s new headmaster, is at the helm of the operation. Dr. Zhou received her degrees from three different countries: China, Canada and the U.S., and is a proponent of education as a bridge between cultures. She sees the world’s growing interest in China as an opportunity to create rich programs that give Americans a window into a new world. Graduates of Kwong Kow have noted the sense of pride that comes from language fluency and cultural understanding. For many, institutions such as this offer a means of cultural preservation for the next generation—an essential part of being American. Kwong Kow Chinese School 87 Tyler Street, Boston, MA 02111 617-426-6716 Pictured, Dr. Yanyu Zhou, Headmaster 8


) German Lam loves cooking, and he wants everyone to share his passion. It doesn’t matter what your cooking level is, German wants you to bring your “A” game to the kitchen. Our initial meeting took place at a recent cooking presentation he gave at the Hannaford Supermarket in Waltham. Wearing a chef’s white top and a ready smile, German comes across as a combined life coach and sports coach. As he says early in our conversation, “I’m a food coach and athletes need real food.” In one interaction at Hannaford’s, three young boys recognized German as he had visited their school. Their mother approached German and explained that out of the three boys, two liked the featured “French Style Turkey Stew” but one did not. When German found out it was because the little boy refused to try it, German pulled out his persuasive guns. German challenged him to try it, and then asked what he could do to make it better. “Spitting it out is ok,” as long as he tastes it first. The father of two young boys, ages 8 and 6, German clearly knows how to interact with children. The French Style Turkey Stew he was featuring contained dried cranberries, organic broth, ground turkey, plenty of flavor and vegetables. It was delicious and admittedly easy to eat a lot of quickly. Additionally, it seemed doable for the cooking novice as well as the harried parent rushing to prepare a home-cooked meal for the family. We talked about the stew and German suggested substituting the ground turkey with vegetarian options such as potato or tofu. He confidently explains that he had the best training because he worked at the Ritz Carlton (now the Taj Boston). According to German, “This is where I learned what it is to be a professional chef, where I got my ‘MBA.’” His resume includes work at Chatham Bars Inn and the Harvard Club in Boston. German believes that it is important in cooking to be able to sense “the potential mistake” and fix it... like an athlete instinctively knows when to throw a ball or avoid being tackled. Cooking is “not about recipes or measuring.” For him, smart cooking is emphasizing quality ingredients and “elements of common sense.” His interest in cooking and eating better is not just a passing trend. Cooking TV shows like “Iron Chef” and “Top Chef” have their solid fan bases, buzz, and celebrity chefs’ crank out cookbooks at a dizzying speed. Results from this are foods that can’t be enjoyed daily due to price point, fat content or lack of time to prepare lavish meals. German’s mission, however, is not to stuff ASIAN BOSTON

)GTOCP.CO By Joanne M. Choi

Photographed by Carlton Soohoo at Liberty Hotel, Boston

“Smart cooking is emphasizing quality ingredients and elements of common sense.”

a dish full of caloric ingredients or choose ingredients that are out of the reach of average working families. He wants it to be about a lifestyle that externally conditions the body and controls weight while emphasizing taste. His aim is to “work within every budget and create gourmet food without butter or cream.” German’s heartfelt passion is to inspire his students and those he interacts with to realize how simply eating well can change one’s life. German’s company is Glam Foods, and his motto is “Healthy Eating, Healthy Cooking and Healthy Body.” He visits schools,

conducts cooking demonstrations, works with clients, and teaches at neighborhood centers. This sparked a desire in me to start cooking more. Thus, the French Style Turkey Stew sampled at the supermarket was loosely followed two days later. I made it sans dried cranberries and turkey, and the substitute ingredients were potatoes and rice. If that is the final take-home message he wants to propagate, conquering the “fear of not being perfect” and just picking up the knife and doing it, then he has one new convert.

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$%0% EKXKEGPICIGOGPV Story by Ana Y. Leon, Photos by Shawn Read


t the edge of Chinatown is a booming epicenter of culture and community. The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) originated in 1969, from an initiative via greater Boston’s Chinatown, South End and South Cove neighborhoods to establish the Josiah Quincy Elementary School and the Quincy School Community Council (QSCC). In partnership with the city of Boston, their goals were to build a center for an elementary school, a health center, the QSCC, a childcare center, and to provide supplemental education and afterschool services. Elaine Ng, BCNC Executive Director, points out that this “urban renewal project” was to become a “one stop shop for civic engagement.” In 1997, QSCC changed its name to BCNC to better represent its mission and services to the community. In 2005, BCNC moved to its permanent home at 38 Ash Street, and continues to run programs at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School at 885 Washington Street. Having just celebrated BCNC’s 40th anniversary, Elaine Ng attests to the educational and economic growth the community has experienced with the development of its programs. The agency hosts afterschool and youth programs, Saturday art sessions, adult education for non-native English speakers and recreational spaces. Their oldest program is the Acorn Center for Early Education and Care, the first bilingual childcare program in Massachusetts, and currently the only nationally accredited Chinese-English bilingual childcare program in Boston. It’s a place where 81 preschool children receive their daily lessons in both English and Chinese year-round. In light of this program, many non-English speaking children become English speakers when they reach Kindergarten age. Because of their success rate, BCNC’s childcare center serves as a national model around the country. Children’s services such as the Red Oak After School Program focus on cultivating the arts, skill building, and to provide 12


continuous education. Their Oak Street Youth Center reaches 200 students of which 60% are immigrants. The academic division of the center takes 9th graders on college tours and utilizes a mentoring partnership with Dartmouth College. Adults in the community also benefit from BCNC’s programs. Adult Education for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) offers basic and intermediate courses, citizenship exam preparation and peer tutoring. In addition, more than 450 people a year access the pool and gym. Family Services helps families tackle issues such as mental health and domestic violence through education, workshops, social services and counseling. Even women who offer Family Child Care services in their homes can get contract management, technical support, training and licensing to provide “high quality and safe child care.” Through the Arts and Enrichment program, at a very reasonable cost, people can learn ballroom dancing, yoga, jewelry making, Bangra dancing, photography, or can attend a series of adult and children’s book readings for free. Elaine Ng not only measures success by the number of children and adults that access their programs, graduates of the child care center, or the adult education classes, but also by the numerous personal success stories. Chi-Wan Chow, the 2009 recipient of Bank of America’s Local Hero Award, discovered BCNC’s Family Services after arriving in the U.S. in 1991. Without understanding a word of English, she utilized the ESOL courses and now advocates on behalf of her two youngest children who were born with hearing defects. Julio Ma Shum, who emigrated from Venezuela six years ago, attended the ESOL classes and participated in the youth programs. In Spring 2009, Julio was valedictorian of his high school and received a full scholarship to Brown University. For information on programs, volunteering or support, please visit or call 617-635-5129

Elaine Ng BCNC Executive Director



By Gloria Yong

Left to right: Auditor Simon Chan, Chinese Secretary Karen Lee, President Wingkay Leung, Treasurer Rick Wong, English Secretary Victor Louie Photo by Eaden Huang


he Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England (CCBA) in Boston’s Chinatown is not your typical non-profit organization. When the Chinese began immigrating to Boston, Massachusetts, various families self-organized to form support networks for their friends and families. In order to keep Chinatown harmonious, the family associations established an umbrella organization, and that organization became known as the CCBA. The CCBA registered as a non-profit organization with the state of Massachusetts in 1923, but, the CCBA has existed for close to 100 years. Housed at 90 Tyler Street, the building is home to the CCBA and a space for community involvement. On Saturday mornings, the building bustles as little girls practice the dances of faraway places like Mongolia and Tibet, men and women croon select songs from famous Cantonese operas, and local college students help perfect the “r” and the “s” sounds of English as they teach

an “English as a Second Language (ESL)” course. Gilbert Ho, previous CCBA president, noted that Harvard University’s Philip Brooke House program consists of a daily afterschool and summer day camp for children of low-income families from Chinatown. The CCBA offers space at below market rates for such community organizations and even for one-time community events. With close ties to Chinatown Main Street, the two organizations collaborate to bring the August Moon Festival and the Chinese New Year lion dances to fruition every year. In my interview with current President Wingkay Leung, one of the most satisfying aspects of his job is “Creating a festive occasion to celebrate and bring people into Chinatown.” Organizing such events takes a lot of time and effort, and unlike other non-profit organizations, officers of the CCBA complete their mission on a voluntary basis, all while balancing full time jobs. Known for their Chinatown Crime Watch

(CCW) program, the CCBA also features a Ping Pong Club, Chinese Chess Club and Senior Dance Clubs. As condo complexes continue to close in on Chinatown, affordable housing is more important than ever. The CCBA owns affordable housing complexes: Tai Tung Village and Waterford Place. The goal here is to provide and maintain affordable homes within the Chinatown community. According to Wingkay, “The CCBA’s mission isn’t obvious to people, but it does serve its purpose.” Much of the efforts of the CCBA are understated, as the CCBA is rooted in residents’ homes, in the sights and sounds of another culture, and in the men and women who walk every night in blue vests in order to help keep the streets safe for residents and visitors alike. CCBA 90 Tyler St, Chinatown, Boston 617.542.2574

Top Row: Chinese Folk Dance Group, Senior Excercise Dance, Yuan Chi Dance Bottom Row: Jasmine Dance Group Photos by James Wang, except top right, photo by Igor Rumyantsev ASIAN BOSTON

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IF THE MARRIAGE OCCURS IN THE U.S. The U.S. citizen must prove that the marriage is genuine by submitting a visa petition, biographical data for the husband and wife with photos attached; proof of citizenship, and certified copies of the marriage, any divorce, and birth certificates. Simultaneously, the foreign-born spouse submits an application for adjustment of status, photographs, affidavit of support, applications for employment authorization and a travel permit (“advanced parole”) along with other forms available at Upon receipt of the paperwork, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will schedule an interview somewhere between six and twelve months. IF THE MARRIAGE OCCURS OUTSIDE THE U.S. The citizen spouse submits a visa petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the foreign-born spouse resides. The citizen spouse must attach the same items with the visa petition that are listed above. Once the visa petition is approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a packet from the National Visa Center informing the foreign-born spouse of the documents required at the immigrant visa interview abroad (e.g., passport, police clearances, results of medical examinations, etc.). The packet includes certain documents to be completed and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Usually, the foreignborn spouse is interviewed and granted an immigrant visa within three to six months. 14


Some spouses return to the U.S. after the marriage and file the application when both are in the U.S. USCIS disfavors this practice. Customs may stop the foreign-born spouse at the border and exclude him/her from the U.S. as an intending immigrant. REMOVING CONDITIONS If the marriage is less than two years old when the foreign-born spouse becomes a permanent resident, the green card will expire after two years. Both spouses must submit a joint petition to remove the conditions within the 90-day period immediately preceding the end of the two-year period. If the marriage has terminated by reason of divorce, death of the citizen spouse or spousal abuse, the foreign-born spouse may apply for a waiver of the joint petition requirement. IF THE FOREIGN-BORN PERSON IS OUT OF STATUS There is a risk to filing for a green card if the foreign-born person is out of status. If you are in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa, your status has expired, or you are undocumented, filing for a green card based on marriage may trigger the USCIS to investigate your status, and you could be deported and barred re-entry to the U.S. Every case is different and you should consult a qualified professional for guidance. NEXT ISSUE: How to survive the immigration marriage fraud issue! Send your questions to

The 0GY Financial Norm

By Michael C. Tow, CFP

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is seen as a quick route to permanent resident status. What is the process?

By Russell Chin, Esq.

Getting a Green Card via Marriage


any of us have been living with high debt: big mortgages, car loans, credit cards, student loans, etc. To offset our growing debt, many assumed that our incomes would increase along the way. However, with the recession, coupled with unemployment rates over 10%, many of us feel lucky to have a job let alone get a pay increase to help ease debt. Some people take a social view and compare themselves to friends and colleagues, who appear to be doing better financially. However, those same individuals that seem well off may be neck high in debt or have other financial resources that you are unaware of. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to evaluate your own lifestyle. To counter high debt, making small cuts in expenses won’t be enough. Simply reducing the number of times you eat out, or easing up on unnecessary shopping, will not get one back on track. Take a step back and examine your balance sheets, and ask yourself the following questions. When you count all your expenses, do you have the income to cover it? Do you have six months of living expenses in emergency funds if you lose your job or become disabled? Are your credit card balances less than 5% of your income? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, then now is the time to look seriously at your finances, and then consider a major change. Changing your lifestyle may be the key to a positive future. Direct your inquiries to


Connecting Cultures

Story by Gloria Yong

Acacia serves the need for an upscale function hall facility where the scenery is second-to-none, and the space and capacity are unparalleled Co-owners Tom Truong and Michael Truong. (Not pictured Lisa Tu)


mong the flavors and festivities, the Asian wedding banquet is full of sounds, symbols and traditions. For instance, Chinese banquet tradition is the combination of steamed fish or deep fried fish, lover’s bird nest, and the pairing of lobster and chicken. These dishes have special meaning and requirements. The requirements include the wok, the long handled chaun (spatula), the hoak (ladle), and a gas stove to accommodate the shape of an authentic wok. Due to these special items, weddings are usually limited to choosing between a venue with a traditional ten-course banquet or a plated reception at an American establishment. Enter Acacia at Indian Meadows Country Club in Westborough, Massachusetts. Co-owners and managers Michael Truong, Tom Truong and Lisa Tu acquired Acacia in early 2009, with a new vision for the space. In my interview with Tom Truong, he explained their vision for Acacia as a venue to “serve a need for an upscale function hall facility where the scenery is second-to-none, and the space and capacity are unparalleled.” Acacia is a new entrant to the Asian American wedding market in New England, and they provide the ability to hold ceremonies in a scenic New England space and simultaneously serve both banquet and plated dinners of Asian and American tradition. Michael Truong brings his wedding and photography industry expertise. Tom Truong is a dynamic entrepreneur with a background in real estate. Lisa Tu’s family has been in the restaurant business for many generations. This trio has overcome many challenges, including the operation of a dual


American/Asian kitchen. When the trio first attained Acacia, Lisa Tu explained that they invested in renovations that included a kitchen to accommodate five chefs, four 30-inch woks, two 22-inch woks and one 18-inch wok. In addition to their full time American chef, they hired a full time banquet chef who has experience with three of Boston Chinatown’s largest facilities. I was fascinated by their dual kitchen. Each kitchen accommodates different cooking techniques and expertise, and varying ingredients with a multi-cultural staff that has to be managed and operated concurrently. The non-Asian staff learns to serve a ten-course banquet meal while the Asian staff learns to serve plated dinners. Acacia provides a new type of experience that is both traditional Asian and American. The facility has a specific room for conducting the Chinese Tea Ceremony if their guests so desire. The dual kitchen, the dual experience, and the New England backdrop translates into an operating model the three continue to refine. The Asian population continues to grow in New England and Acacia seems to be in the right location at the right time. As a facility with 40 plus years of history, Acacia continues to serve their guests who were married there many years before and desire to hold their anniversaries at the same special place. With 20,000 square feet, two full bars, and four function rooms, Michael, Tom and Lisa have held diverse events from wine tastings to cigar samplings to Singles Nights and Dine and Dance events. Acacia also has a dim sum chef from Hong Kong with more than 30 years experience. Dim Sum is held every Saturday and Sunday from 10-2 pm. Acacia comes with a 72-acre golf course as well. The trio is executing a versatile vision for Acacia at Indian Meadows Country Club, which is set for many great things to come. inform. entertain. relate.



/KEJCGN (QTJCP Story by By Suchi Dubrenski


urma Border Projects (BBP) is a non-profit, charitable foundation established in 1999, to support and augment existing relief efforts along the Burma-Thailand border. BBP’s Board of Directors consists of people who are active in supporting the cause of the Burmese people in humanitarian and political ways. One such individual making significant inroads into this troubled world is Michael Forhan, Executive Director. There are approximately 500,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) living nomadic-like existences in the jungles of eastern Burma. Michael Forhan and the BBP have been providing crucial assistance and resources to increase the availability of health and educational services. After living in Burma from mid-1994 to early 1997, Michael traveled to Mae Sot, 16


Thailand, in July 1998, and stumbled upon Dr. Cynthia Maung. “I was so impressed by her and her struggles to bring some minimal level of medical support to the migrants and refugees that I asked if I could return later that year in order to make a documentary film about her.” Forhan returned in December with two well-established documentary filmmakers including his daughter, Betsy Forhan, who is Executive Producer of MTV’s Emmy Award winning series, True Life. Instead of finishing a film about Dr. Cynthia, a greater need transpired — that of addressing the psychosocial consequences of wide-spread trauma. Thus, the BBP was created, with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Kathleen Allden, who co-wrote the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. Forhan’s personal success can only be measured by the financial survival of the programs the BBP funds. “All of us at BBP are volunteers, and we all have full time jobs in other fields. None of us have a background in development or fundraising, but raising funds is my responsibility. If I can just keep our orphanage fully funded along with the


schools we support, and also raise enough to maintain our all-important presence at our Counseling Training Center at Dr. Cynthia’s clinic, then I can sleep at night. But we could do so much more if we had the help of professional fundraisers.” There are, however, many upsides to the job. “My most rewarding experience occurs on an annual basis when I bring prospective donors to our orphanage at Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand, to see the kids perform a variety show just for us. The kids write their own music and skits. To see these hopeful young people express their sincere gratitude to me (as BBP’s representative), for anything I may have done—well, as the ad says, that’s ‘priceless.’ I have never given a second thought to becoming involved and in some way, making a difference in their lives. The orphanage and schools that we fund, together with the counseling and training we provide, will all help these beautiful Burmese people to have more meaningful and productive lives. My minimal involvement in facilitating all this gives some sense of purpose to my own life.”

Connecting Cultures



arthaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vineyard has links with the Thai Royal Family, and on Sunday June 21, 2009, The King of Thailand Birthplace Foundation celebrated with a dedication of a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Trail of Thai Royalty Dayâ&#x20AC;? program in West Chop, honoring the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s special connection with Thailand. 741 Main Street was home to Mrs. Elijah Cleveland where Prince Mahidolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family stayed in the summer of 1927. Thomas J. Welling is now the owner of this house, formerly owned by Dr. William T. Mason. 703 Main Street was the home to Dr. Francis Bows Sayre, son-in law to President Woodrow Wilson; Prince Mahidolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family stayed there in the summer of 1926. Thomas H. Sayre, a grandson of Dr. Francis Bows Sayre (Phraya Kalyan Maitri) and a great-grandson of President Woodrow Wilson now owns this house. The Sayre family lived in the White House when his first son, Dean Francis B. Sayre, Jr. was born... the last baby born in the White House! The Sayre family has a long relationship with Thailand, with both Thai government affairs and the Royal family. Francis Sr. wrote in his 1957 book Glad Adventure that he served as adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Traidos and King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in Bangkok

from 1923 to 1924. In recognition of his exemplary work on behalf of Thailand, and being a â&#x20AC;&#x153;true friendâ&#x20AC;? of the country, His Majesty conferred on Dr. Sayre Sr. the distinctive title of high nobility, Phraya Kalyan Maitri. He was the second American to receive that Thai title (the first was Jens Iverson Westengard). Dr. Sayre was an advisor to both King Rama VI and King Rama VII. Further evidence of this comes from Prince Damrongâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s files and the Glad Adventure book. Dr. Sayre returned to Bangkok in the summer of 1926 at the request of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), who sought his advice on the problems facing Siam at that time. To be continuedâ&#x20AC;Ś

Story by Cholthanee Koerojna, President of KTBF

King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII)

703 Main Street, Marthaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vineyard, Massachusetts

The King of Thailand Birthplace Foundation (KTBF)



fter 30 years, following the first wave of Southeast Asian refugees to the United States, the vast majority of Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese living in the United States are refugees. They were once part of the French colony known as Indochina. Southeast Asians constitute the largest group of refugees who fled to build new lives in the west during the previous century. Many took the perilous flight across the Mekong River and Delta, often spending years in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines before finally arriving in their receiving nations: the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, Poland and Argentina. Lives were often lost along the way, and painful memories associated with the war in Southeast Asia and subsequent flight still live in older refugeesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; minds struggling to make sense of life in a new, complex world. Many Southeast Asians settled in the New England area, especially in Rhode Island, ASIAN BOSTON

Connecticut and Massachusetts. When they first arrived in the United States, there were many uncertainties about whether they could maintain their proud heritage, like earlier waves of European immigrants. In particular, younger generations of Lao-Americans straddle two cultures, trying to assimilate to American society while seeking to hang onto their cultural traditions. Xue Khang, Hmong United Association of Rhode Island, says that the biggest issue facing Hmong youth is how they are losing their grip on where they come from. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You live in the U.S., everything fades into American culture.â&#x20AC;? Current estimates of Southeast Asians arriving in the United States between 1970

and 1998 are 1.3 million; the 2000 Census shows that the total number of Southeast Asian Americans exceeds 1.8 million, including 1,223,736 Vietnamese; 186,310 Lao Hmong; 198,203 Laotians; and 206,052 Cambodians. Within Rhode Island, Southeast Asians are still a â&#x20AC;&#x153;relatively new addition to the state, with almost all the members of the different communities having arrived within the past 20 years. Their presence in numbers is still dwarfed by that of other minority communitiesâ&#x20AC;Śbut Rhode Islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Southeast Asians have slowly put down roots.â&#x20AC;? Beth Schwartzapfel, Providence Phoenix. Next Segment: How does the Rhode Island Lao Community maintain a strong cultural connection?

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Dr. Hwang


UGCONGUUVTCPUKVKQP Story by Virginia Payne, Photo by James Wang


he first time I met Dr. James Hwang was six years ago in Acton, MA, during my routine dental appointment. Expecting to be examined by my long time dentist, Dr. Franklin Roth, I was surprised to be introduced to the new dentist. Yet, Dr. Hwang instantly put me at ease with his reassuring smile, friendly demeanor and his knowledge. Those qualities seamlessly transitioned him into the existing practice. The two practitioners complemented each other well. They have similar demeanors and philosophy. Dr. Roth seemed very comfortable to have his patients of 40 years treated by Dr. Hwang. At the age of eight, Dr. Hwang emigrated with his family from Taiwan to California. While in high school and through college, he had the opportunity to work for his family dentist, from doing chores to setting up dentures. This part-time employment, originally intended to subsidize college expenses, ultimately paved his decision to become a dentist. He earned his DMD 18


degree from Boston University with honorable mention, and received further training in AEGD residency. Working as an associate, Dr Hwang aspired to establish his own practice. Years of dental office experience provided many fundamentals that served him well in this endeavor. “To be proficient in dentistry is imperative, but to be a business owner, one must want to be the chef and chief bottle washer.” Dr. Hwang, with his dental hygienist wife Peggy by his side, did just that. Through technology upgrades and streamlined management, they transformed the office, while not overwhelming the patients and staff. This practice in an affluent community with a 7% Asian patient base continues to grow, while retaining more than 90% of the existing patient pool. To those who aspire to be a dentist, he has this advice, “You have to like to work with your hands. Although science is the basis of dentistry, dexterity is the ingredient of the trade, like those of an artist or a carpenter.”

f you see Michelle Villarta on a weekend afternoon in downtown Boston, you would think she is like any other woman out for a stroll or doing errands. That’s what I would have thought had I not known that she is a pediatrician working at Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center (RoxComp) in Boston. Behind a youthful, goodnatured face is a woman who exudes maturity, confidence and vigor. As a general pediatrician, Dr. Villarta is responsible for children under 18 years of age dealing with issues ranging from early childhood development to counseling teenagers on various adolescent issues. Dr. Villarta is a recent transplant from Michigan. As a Filipino-American born and raised in Michigan, she attended medical school at Michigan State University and completed her internship and residency at University of Michigan. She then worked at a private clinic in rural Michigan before deciding to move to Boston, which she described as “the best city.” Her first exposure to Boston was when she worked as a research assistant in the Department of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, prior to attending medical school, and right after graduating from University of Pennsylvania. The research involved children with chronic diseases, especially asthma, and the affect it had on them after their families lost government resources such as welfare and food stamps.

When asked about the most challenging aspect of her work at RoxComp, she responded, “Making sure I’m addressing all my patients’ needs, and not just their medical issues, because often there are environmental and social factors that affect their overall well-being.” When not in the business of saving children’s lives, Dr. Villarta likes to listen to live jazz. So next time you find yourself in a place where there is live jazz, look around and maybe Dr. Villarta will be in your company, winding down after a long day at work.

Patients are a Virtue By Seong-Hoon Chung

Photo by Vincent Soohoo

Connecting Cultures

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Dr. Howard Li

Dr. Joseph Russo is a board certified Harvard trained Plastic Surgeon who has been in private practice in Newton Centre since 1991. Listen to Dr. Russo live every Saturday, from 12-1 on WRKO 680 AM.

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the chinese Frank Sinatra J

ack Soo was born on October 28, 1917, as Goro Suzuki. Although his Japanese-American parents lived in Oakland, CA, they decided to give birth to their son in Japan, but Goro Suzuki was actually born on the ship before it touched ‘The Land of the Rising Sun.’ So began the tumultuous life and career of one of America’s most beloved and versatile performers. Suzuki attended Oakland Technical High School, and worked as a farm laborer and eventually as a contractor while honing his singing skills. Suzuki attended and graduated from UC Berkeley, earning a degree in English. This was also the time his nightclub career was flourishing in San Francisco as a singer, comedian and an impersonator of famous celebrities such as Bing Crosby. Suzuki was well known as a singer in the Oakland Japanese community. In 1941, Suzuki, along with his family, was interned at the Tanforan Assembly Center in South San Francisco and then at Topaz Relocation Center, Utah, along with thousands of other Japanese Americans who were detained during World War II. With little to do inside the relocation center, Goro Suzuki became the master of ceremonies for the entire camp, launching semi-professional productions for thousands of people… keeping alive an indomitable spirit of creativity. After one year at Topaz, Suzuki was released and moved to Cleveland under the Chinese name Jack Soo; a deliberate decision to avoid any animosity towards Japanese-Americans. When Goro Suzuki returned to the West Coast, he arrived as Jack Soo, and became a popular act at Andy Wong’s Sky Room and Charlie Low’s Forbidden City in San Francisco, which featured all Chinese performers. In 1945, Soo married former model Jan Zdelar, whom he met in New York. They had three children: Jayne, James and Richard. By the late 1940s, Soo was 20


performing with Joey Bishop, playing Bishop’s straight-man in 1949, for a year and a half, and by the 1950s, he had a flourishing Las Vegas nightclub act. As an unofficial member of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Rat Pack,’ Soo was lauded as ‘The Chinese Frank Sinatra.’ It was at Forbidden City where Soo was discovered by Gene Kelly, who offered Soo the role of nightclub announcer Frankie Wing in the Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway production of The Flower Drum Song in 1958, and soon was packing his bags for New York City. After earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Frankie Wing, Soo was elevated to the leading role of the nightclub owner and romantic lead Sammy Fong, and was chosen to play the same role in the film version of the musical, which was released in 1961. It was Soo’s role as Anthony Franciosa’s poker-playing ex-Army buddy turned con-artist valet in the television series Valentine’s Day that catapulted Jack Soo to television fame. Soo was the first AsianAmerican co-star of a television show, and parlayed this success into several TV movies. Soo’s career had its dry spells, but his nightclub roots would again resurrect his career. Danny Arnold, producer of the Barney Miller television show, remembered Soo from his nightclub days and vowed, “If I ever make it, I’ll come back and get you,” and he did. It was the role of Sgt. Yemana that finally offered full scope to Soo’s quietly engaging but nonetheless formidable comic prowess. Soo continued working on Barney Miller until his death from cancer on January 11, 1979.


Jeff Adachi’s documentary You Don’t Know Jack reveals how Jack Soo’s work laid the groundwork for a new generation of Asian-American actors and comedians. “Jack’s gift was the ability to inject his persona into a few brief exchanges, thereby making his comedy look effortless without wearing his ethnicity on his sleeve,” said Adachi. In an era when Asian-American entertainers routinely risked community shunning for accepting stereotypical roles, Soo refused any role he thought demeaning. Adachi sums it up succinctly, “As a man who loved and specialized in English, Jack Soo always believed he was a part of the American experience, emphasis on American.” For more information about the film and upcoming screenings check out Story by Suchi Dubrenski, with special thanks to Jeff Adachi for his generosity.

Connecting Cultures





id you know that? Well, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true. A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that in January, Vietnam exported 139,000 tonnes of coffee, an increase of 2 per cent over the same month last year. In fact, Vietnam is second only to Brazil in tonnes of coffee exported. France introduced the coffee bean to Vietnamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Central Highlands during its colonial rule in the 19th century, and coffee and Vietnam have been inseparable ever since. Vietnamese coffee is of the Robusta variety, a particularly strong blend of coffee prevalent in espresso, and despite a plunge in global coffee prices early in the decade, Robusta is poised to explode in price and consumption. Robusta is only a fourth of the global coffee production, but with Vietnamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s government aggressively developing coffee plantations in the highlandsin addition to a burgeoning U.S. appetite- the future of Robusta is bright. Vietnamese coffee is all about the brewing and grinding techniques. The brewing style is low-tech, using a simple metal filter called a Phin. It is the breakdown of sugars, oils and fats resulting in the oxidation and fermentation of the coffee, once exposed to the air, which makes it sweet.










Coffee is the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second-most widely traded commodity, second only to petroleum -According to TechnoServe


For those who enjoy their coffee strong and sweet, Vietnamese coffee is a fantastic treat. In Bostonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Chinatown, Pho Hoa makes an especially creamy delight. The mixture of coffee with chicory and condensed milk produces the rich, dark cup of coffee, making the experience more of an event than simply a quick caffeine boost on the way to the office. Last year, Vietnam shipped abroad 662,000 tonnes of coffee, or 11 million 60-kg bags of coffee valued at US$1.383 billion, down 26% on year in terms of volume but up 3.8% in terms of value, General Statistics Office said. Vietnam now has around 500,000 hectares under coffee cultivation, exporting 850,000 tonnes of coffee to 70 countries and territories worldwide yearly. As high end coffee brands expand beyond their borders, the future of Vietnamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coffee industry looks rosy, indeed.

2009 Top coffee producers in the world, in millions of bags Financial Express, March 2010



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Daryl Luk, pictured at left


ew England Chinese Information and Networking Association (NECINA) is an incredible organization that serves as a platform for entrepreneurship and leadership development. Founded in March, 1996, a group of individuals from the original Wang Laboratories started this venture to capture the spirit of the late, great Dr. An Wang. Dozens of Chinese technology professionals who majored in electrical engineering would assemble to brainstorm and share experiences to build a network of professionals to advocate for new technologies and business opportunities outside of their careers. NECINA has become


he city of Cambridge, first settled in 1630, was named after the prominent University of Cambridge in England. Such distinction inspired the city to establish institutions like Harvard University (1636) and MIT (1861) known to have educated such powerful icons as John Adams, John F. Kennedy, Ben Bernanke, Kofi Annan, George H.W. Bush, Barak Obama, and a young Asian American named Leland Cheung. Currently a Harvard Kennedy School of Government student studying for his Masters in Public Administration, Leland will be majoring in ‘Cambridge Politics 101’ during his next two years at City Hall. On November 3, 2009, Leland Cheung became the first elected Asian American Cambridge City Councilman serving an estimated population of 101,388, 12% Asian residents and 20% students, in the fifth most densely populated city in the U.S. Cambridge utilizes the council/city manager form of government by means of a nine-member council appointing a city manager to serve as the chief executive of the city, and selecting a mayor from amongst themselves, unlike Boston where the traditional form of mayor-council government relies on the mayor for total administrative authority. 22


Story by Victor Ng, Photo by Vincent SooHoo

one of the best run professional organizations serving diverse industries including software, telecom, networking, bio-informatics, venture capital finance, law and more. The other missions of NECINA is to maximize Chinese American contributions to the information-centric high technology industries by offering the highest quality educational programs, conferences, seminars, other activities around advanced technologies, emerging business opportunities and new management technologies. NECINA also serves as a unique bridge for American and Pacific Rim technology companies to exchange information proactively, develop mutual understanding, form delegations and create business opportunities. In his earliest recollection, Daryl Luk pursued a special interest group on eBusiness and software. The cutting edge technology of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) inspired Daryl to become the lead person in Story by Victory Ng, Photo by John Marcus

A Vanguard in Cambridge

this group. Daryl was asked to step into the VP role, which eventually resulted in two terms as President in 2005 and in 2009. Daryl’s proudest accomplishment was initiating the Youth Entrepreneurship Service (YES) Program. “Planting the entrepreneurship seeds into young minds to develop strong skill sets” is what Daryl expects to achieve from this program. He emphasizes that in addition to working for a good company, there are other ways to be successful, like starting your own business venture. This program, now in version 5.0 (5 years), is free for approximately 150 high school students creating 30 business plans that compete for cash scholarships and internship opportunities during the five Saturday classes. YES is only one of the many programs that NECINA proudly touts. Worldwide IT delegations and corporate support maintain this association’s livelihood for the potential of attaining the American Dream.

Cambridge has more financial resources than most cities because of its world-renowned schools, biotech and high-tech business tax base. The city has fared well during this difficult economic climate. But that will not stop the newcomer Councilman Cheung from challenging the city council to be more accountable, responsive and transparent. Councilman Cheung attributes much of his success to the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), where he served as National Vice President. “As a member of NAAAP, one gains a deeper appreciation for the challenges of being Asian in America,” says Cheung. He has lived with his family all over the U.S., and in Cambridge for the past five years. The campaign experience and leadership role as National VP at NAAAP reinforced his sense of possibility and purpose in Cambridge. Leland Cheung makes a great impression on everyone he meets, especially when he meets you while driving his red, environmentally-friendly scooter. We wish him the best of luck as he serves Cambridge, an eclectic community, and Boston’s neighbor along The Charles.

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AsianBoston Casting & Media is a division of AsianBoston Media Group, and was formed to give all types of Asian talent an opportunity to be selected for several media, including movies, commercials, promotions, and print ads. The following was created to promote designers and retailers, and to showcase aspiring local models, and actors. We encourage you to consider hiring our local talent by visiting the Casting & Media page at Photoshoot Location: Westin Boston Waterfront

Clockwise: Camie (Dorchester, MA) outfit: SooDee Michelle (Quincy, MA) outfit: Drea Designs, jewelry: Nine of Hearts Kevin (Dighton, MA) outfit: Riccardi Kathy (Providence, RI) outfit: Drea Designs, jewerly: Nine of Hearts Lianna (Quincy, MA) outfit: Soodee Wilson (Wayland, MA) outfit: Riccardi Kathy (Providence, RI) outfit: Drea Designs, jewerly: Nine of Hearts

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A CUT ABOVE THE REST By Gloria Yong, Photo by James Wang

At 12 years old, Darren Le shared his recipe for creating curls with his grandfather. As Darren rolled a piece of paper around a pencil and fastened the arrangement with an elastic band, his grandfather commented, “We would

be so rich if you charged 10 dollars a haircut in America!” Present day, Darren Le is a stylist at Mizu for Hair, located at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Boylston Street in Boston. Darren has been featured in Stuff Boston and Boston Magazine, with an impressive portfolio that spans photo shoots from Los Angeles to New York. Darren immigrated to the United States from Vietnam at the age of 14, carrying the weight of high parental expectations. His mother chose Boston specifically, anticipating that her son would attend Harvard University. At the age of 16, Darren started working in his aunt’s salon and that experience was confirmation of his passion for hair and design. Juxtaposed with cultural and family expectations, Darren decided to attend UMASSAmherst, pre-med for the first two years, switching to business and finally settling into kinesiology. Two weeks into his first job out of

ha thai : good balance


a Thai and I first met by phone. She introduced herself as an entrepreneur with the mission to empower women to \ with the help of the beauty and wellness products she markets through her home-based business. Wait, what? Is she saying that using some beauty products can empower women? Now I’m intrigued and want to know more about her. Ha and her family escaped Vietnam to come to America when she was seven. When her family moved to Boston, she faced the challenges of making it in a city that was not as diverse as it is today. After finishing school, she married the man of her dreams, had two children, and then became a full-time mom. Ha was living the life she once dreamed, until misfortune struck her family. Her husband was struck by a debilitating health condition. With



school, he quit, finding the work un-compelling and impersonal. Immediately, Darren applied to cosmetology school, and after sharing the news with his mother, they did not speak for the next 3 months. Going against his mother’s wishes was Darren’s first step in embracing his own identity. Darren mentioned that he “Never questioned if it was the right thing.” Despite the past, Darren recently purchased a house for his mother. Darren had his mother watch the Joy Luck Club with him hoping that she would gain a glimpse of the Asian American perspective. After the movie, he asked for her thoughts, and his mother replied, “That you should listen to your mother!”

“The haircut is an opportunity to be inspired for change, even if a client just comes in two times a year.” The cross cultural differences may always be present, but Darren has discovered what it means to be Asian American: finding appreciation for the opportunity to pursue his own identity and his own passion in the states. He alternates visits to Vietnam and Hong Kong every year, stating that he “Loves being Asian as well.” As Darren welcomed me at the salon, I was immediately greeted by his sincere, warm and dynamic temperament. Darren believes in a connection with the client in order to create. He also applies his basic tenet to each client; that we need to be in tune and happy with ourselves to be happy with what we receive, including a hair creation.

By Zara Dedi

her husband the only income-provider, Ha knew she had to take charge of their financial destiny. For Ha, a 9-to-5 job was merely a trade of time for money, as spending time with her children was precious to her. She knew she had to become an entrepreneur in order to have control over her time and the family’s finances. The woman I finally met at a coffee shop was pretty and soft-spoken, with a smile that adds warmth to her business persona. Not only is Ha an entrepreneur, she is also a financial consultant and an advocate for a healthy lifestyle. Ha believes that, between family and business, you must be able to balance the two in order to achieve happiness. Her aspiration is to assist women to look and feel their best through the use of quality cosmetics (such as the Motives Cosmetics she markets), which Ha believes are increasingly performing a social

Ha Thai

role. By that, she means that cosmetics change a woman’s view of herself and her confidence by helping her look beautiful. Ha continues helping others on their journey, and in the future, she wants to open an orphanage someday. Want to know the secret to Ha Thai’s successful enterprise? She is happy to share her expertise with you... feel free to contact her at

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*'.2 *12' *'#.6* By Al Young

For some people, gambling can become extremely problematic with potentially devastating social, financial, and emotional consequences. Warning signs of problem gambling, and the more serious forms known as â&#x20AC;&#x153;pathologicalâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;compulsiveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; gambling, can include being preoccupied with gambling; betting increasing amounts of money over time; unsuccessful attempts to stop or control gambling; and chasing losses. Various studies across the country indicate that gambling addiction in the Asian community has risen, especially among recent immigrants. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When they come to a new country, there are all types of stress, plus the language and cultural barriers,â&#x20AC;? says Chien-Chi Huang,

Asian community program manager for the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So sometimes itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to turn to gambling as a way to escape, to seek excitement, to be entertained.â&#x20AC;? For Asians seeking help for problem gambling, there are many barriers. Some people frown upon ideas such as therapy, and there was a lack of culturally relevant services and outreach. But the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, a private, nonprofit health agency founded in 1983, recognized that need.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;â&#x20AC;Śin its mission, the Council makes it clear: it does not oppose gambling.â&#x20AC;? In 2006, the Council, dedicated to reducing problem gambling, implemented the Asian Initiative and hired Huang to run its fledging outreach program. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most people think it is a moral issue,â&#x20AC;? Huang says of problem gambling. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to change

that perceptionâ&#x20AC;Śdestigmatize it. We want people to understand this is a health issue.â&#x20AC;? The Asian Initiative includes conducting workshops on gambling with agencies that deal with Asians; increasing public awareness with informational pamphlets and videos available in various languages, and much more. The Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s service is provided through a 24-hour confidential Helpline and a new online â&#x20AC;&#x153;Live Chatâ&#x20AC;? with Helpline specialists. But in its mission, the Council makes it clear: it does not oppose gambling. Huang champions the Asian Initiativeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cause. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If people choose to gamble,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Huang says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;they should be educated enough to lower their risks and make informed decisions on how to gamble safely and responsibly, and not to overdose.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

If you, a friend, or family member is in need of help for problem gambling, contact the Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Helpline at 1-800-426-1234 or

the wind

of change is coming... where will you be when it settles? AsianBoston model Jia-Wen Photo by Carlton SooHoo

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Maria Capuano Motives Senior Make-up Artist 617 325-1336 ASIAN BOSTON


Offering Motives International Cosmetic and Anti-Aging Skin Line from Loren Ridger to upscale salons and spas. Featured in Prestige Magazine 2009 Market America Unfranchise Business Opportunity & | inform. entertain. relate.


By Gloria Yong

Front: Wingkay Leung 梁永基, Michael Wong 黃國威, Chuck Wing Soohoo 司徒卓榮, Steven Yung 翁英宏, Lucy Chin 陳黃瑞金, Gilbert Ho 何遠光 Back: Robert Chan 陳喜田, Peter Chan 陳務枝 Story by Gloria Yong, Photo by Darren Tow

Among the hustle and bustle of Boston’s Chinatown, there is always one constant that the neighborhood sees played out every night and has come to rely on, and that is the familiar faces of Chinatown Crime Watch (CCW). Gilbert Ho and Michael Wong, both former presidents of CCBA, are two of many who walk the streets of Chinatown 365 days a year. When I met with Michael Wong, commonly acknowledged as the pillar of Boston’s Chinatown Crime Watch (CCW), he was equipped with a walkie talkie strapped to his shoulder, a whistle around his neck and reflective stripes decorating his blue vest, as he was ready to go on patrol. A few years ago, with a plethora of purse snatchings in Chinatown, then CCBA President Roman Chan formed the CCBA Safety Committee. The Safety Committee reached out to the Boston Police Crime Watch division, leading to the creation of the CCW in 2005, 28


along with core members Frank Chin and Michael Wong, with financial support from local individuals, business owners and family associations. With a generous donation from Warner Brothers, as scenes from The Departed were shot in Chinatown, and the successful community fundraising, the CCW secured its position in the community. The goal of the Crime Watch is not for volunteers to directly stop a crime. However, CCW volunteers are trained to spot suspicious characters and to describe suspects effectively so they can provide detailed descriptions to police. The CCW prevents crime by reporting real time incidents by calling 911, in effect becoming the eyes and ears for the Boston Police. Evenings with the CCW can be uneventful, but evenings can be highly rewarding as well. Gilbert Ho recalled an incident of an idle SUV at a green light near the Chinatown Gateway. CCW dispatcher Diane Lau peered in and noticed empty bottles of liquor exposed. With a strong stench of alcohol permeating from the driver who had passed out with the engine still running, Diane immediately took the keys out of the ignition. She averted a drunk driver on the entryway of one of Boston’s two major

highways. On another evening, a fight broke out between six homeless men on Beach Street. The CCW immediately called the Boston Police in both cases. The Chinatown Crime Watch is the union of families, residents, workers and visitors. Many volunteers do not live in Chinatown but grew up there, or were prior residents, and consider the neighborhood their second home. The driving force of the CCW is the volunteers; their commitment and dedication are keys to this successful crime watch model. Featured in both Boston and Chinese newspapers, the CCW volunteers are the “Ambassadors of Chinatown.” Gilbert cheerfully revealed, “Visitors approach us for restaurant recommendations, for directions, or they just want to say hello!” Surveys show that crime has dramatically decreased and residents feel safer. He recalled an evening when, “A lady resident locked herself out in the middle of winter without a jacket. She sought out the CCW and we helped her into her home. She could have called her children or her neighbor, but instead she reached out to the CCW for help.” The CCW, at its core, is a welcomed community resource.

Connecting Cultures

%*70 5+56'45 By Joanne M. Choi


ngela and Jennifer Chun came to New York City in the early 1980s to attend Julliard, the prestigious arts college. The sisters are duo violinists who socialize, travel, practice, and perform together. Their connection is palatable, synergistic and natural. The KoreanAmerican siblings seem to function in their day-to-day lives like twins. Their public personas demonstrate that practice, sacrifice, and determination can lead to financial and artistic success. The “Do what you love and the money will follow” philosophy finds weight here. The first half of getting to know the Chun sisters occurred in London. A posh Indian restaurant in Kensington served as the setting for a pleasant lunch. The conversation with the sisters resumed three months later in their NY base camp. Angela possesses a lively, upbeat, playful side that puts people at ease. Her pleated purple Issey Miyake dress complimented her wavy dark hair. She and her sister adore his dresses--they are easy to pack and wear on the road. Discussion turned to what it took to get their first CD “Fantasy” released. The success of the CD is testimony to the fact that the sisters are no overnight success. Angela explained that in 1998, they had a contract with Samsung, and then unfortunately, that section of the company closed down. They ended up canceling the initial contract and years later recorded with Harmonia. Their second CD, “Bartok 44 Violin Duos” was just released in January 2010. Over the course of an elaborate dinner, Angela opened up about more ASIAN BOSTON

than just music. She was honest about what she thinks Asians can and should do. “We need role models and I always feel that we need to go out and be more visible to society.” She talked about steps like giving back to their schools. Angela is a bit of a gourmet cook, “I like to try anything! I am a pretty good cook. I can cook Korean quite well.” She is also interested in writing.

Finishing is not the ultimate goal. It is about the learning process, becoming better. At this point in the discussion, Jennifer joined us. She is sophisticated, well-groomed, and fashionable. Her make-up and hair are immaculate. Jennifer loves traveling, meeting people and living her public life, but she also enjoys the quieter moments at home. Jennifer shares that she randomly bought a book on Buddhism. “I am more and more getting into Buddhism. Not as a religion but as a philosophy.” They have been gearing up for a


concert in Aspen, Colorado, and are looking forward to the three weeks of music saturation. Jennifer shares, “It is an extremely hard road, but if you really believe in it, you have to do it. Right now, I am extremely busy, but extremely happy about it.” She continues passionately, “I was never pushed to do it. I wanted to do it. I wasn’t happy when things weren’t going the right way but you have to do what you have to do.” In Angela‘s opinion, “Finishing is not the ultimate goal…it’s the learning process, becoming better. You have to be happy whatever you do.” Both Angela and Jennifer come across as living embodiments of the artistic life. That they have met everyone from Margaret Thatcher to the Dalai Lama and traveled the world in style are only bonuses. When asked about where they want to be in ten years, Angela responds half jokingly, “Top of the world!” Jennifer turns to her sister and asks, “Aren’t you on top of the world right now?” Most would say pretty close.

“Bartok 44 Violin Duos” is the Chun Sisters’ second CD, released in January, 2010

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By Anna Ing, Photo by Vincent SooHoo




ing Do Baguette & Pastry is housed in a big, clean space, with an attached restaurant, located on busy Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester, MA. I must say that bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) is one of King Do’s specialties, and their secret is the excellent French baguette (bread), which is made fresh daily. The barbecue beef bánh mì came with generous amounts of beef studded with slivers of cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, and slathered with sliced jalapeños (if you like spicy), fish sauce and mayo. The bread was nice and crispy and the beef tasted wonderful.

There is a variety of bánh mì at affordable prices, all under $4 (with tax). King Do also offers Chinese, Japanese and Thai menu items. The appetizer, gỏi cuốn, includes pork and shrimp slices with rice vermicelli threads and plenty of herbs; this was delicious. The small order of lean flank and tendon phở served with chewy rice noodles in a piping hot beef broth came with fresh bean sprouts, slices of lime and fresh basil. One of my favorite dishes is Cơm tấm with grilled pork chop served over rice with shredded slivers of pork skin. The pork cake is served with pickled

daikon and carrots, with a side of nước chấm (fish sauce) for dipping. The service was attentive, and they went the extra mile to make sure everything was fine and that I had an enjoyable experience.

King Do 1225 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA


(Near the Red Line at Savin Hill station)




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Photo by Carlton SooHoo

Assistant: Dianne Wiroll






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Festival Join us for a Family Friendly Cultural Festival, Martial Arts Performances, Asian Folk Dance, Fashion Show, Vendors, Restaurants...

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By Christopher DeMorro

.+0%1.0/-5 L


incoln has undergone an identity crisis in the past few years, struggling to find its niche in the overcrowded luxury car market. Adopting a confusing naming scheme with vastly different cars separated only by a single letter (MKS, MKT, MKZ) hasn’t helped things. But Lincoln finally seems to have forged an identity of its own, and no car represents that better than the MKS with optional EcoBoost engine. EcoBoost is the name of Ford’s new line of twin-turbocharged engines. The premise is that the EcoBoost engines can deliver the same power and performance of larger engines, with the fuel economy of smaller engines. The first engine to receive this moniker is a 3.5 liter V6 engine, which when fitted to the MKS produces 355 horsepower and 355 lbs of torque. This is a vast improvement over the MKS’s base 273 horsepower V6 engine, although it still delivers impressive mileage of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. And with a torque curve as flat as the Bonneville Salt Flats, the MKS always has plenty of power on tap. It can go from 0-60 mph in six seconds, and runs down the quarter mile in fourteen seconds flat. And it needs every horsepower it can get, because the MKS is heavy. Even for a Lincoln. The MKS tips the scales at a whooping 4,300 pounds, and you can feel it. This is because 38



the Lincoln MKS is laden with lots of luxury features like Ford’s Sync system, a voice-activated navigation, music, and computer all rolled up into one. The MKS also has 12-way power seats, a great sound system, 6-disc in-dash CD changer, optional sunroof, and a plethora of other optional accessories. Opting for the EcoBoost also adds an all-wheel drive system, great for those New England winters. But is it worth it? The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is a great looking car on the outside, although the inside could be better. The ventilated leather seats are great, and the dashboard definitely gives off that spaceship vibe. But there are a lot of cheap-looking plastic pieces all over the car that detract from the interior, especially for a car with a $48,000 base price ($42,000 without the EcoBoost option). The handling is too hard for a luxury car, and too soft for a sport sedan, leaving it in a weird limbo that isn’t all together uncomfortable, but again, could be better. Still, taken as a whole, the Lincoln MKS EcoBoost offers a nice blend of performance and luxury. It isn’t perfect. But, if you enjoy being pushed back in plush leather seats every time you mash the accelerator pedal, the Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is a modern day hot rod Lincoln.

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ave you ever seen someone jump ten feet straight up in the air? ...or balance their entire body off the end of a spoon? It happens everyday at the Shaolin Temple.

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Now, for the first time ever, the Monks of the Shaolin Temple have authorized the Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center to invite martial arts instructors and students to China to receive authentic Kung Fu training at the Shaolin Monastery. Students of all levels will receive intensive personalized training directly from the Shaolin monks and their disciples. Each participant will receive an official certificate of training, bearing the signature of the Head Monk. See you in China in 2011...

Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center

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Cosmopolitan Girl Singer/Songwriter GUIA RIVERA By Chris Garcia

Photo by Jam One


Guia Rivera Photo courtesy of BLM Fine Arts


ylon Pink is an edgy pop-rock band

formed in Hollywood, California, in 2008. United by a mutual love for Guns n’ Roses, fashion, and all things pink, the electro-rock group embodies the Hollywood lifestyle, blended with a dose of anime and rock n’ roll. With Kaila Yu at lead vocals and Kitt.E.Kat on bass guitar, TJ McDonnell on drums, Theresa Houston on guitar and DJ Shy on the turntables, Nylon Pink recently launched their new single, “Hello Drama,” which is a fitting lead single as it is also the brand name for their newly launched jewelry line. Nylon Pink is a multimedia sensation; they currently host their own self-titled show on, where they spotlight like-minded artists. Prior to Nylon Pink, Kaila was a seasoned solo artist. She is a triple threat: actress, model, singer and one of the top viewed on MySpace with more than nine million hits. She was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as an artist to watch for in 2007. She was picked by Stuff magazine as one of the 100 sexiest

ith a style of music she has coined “eclectico,” Guia Rivera is immersed in hiphop, dancehall, Latin jazz, R&B and Middle Eastern sounds. Her influences come from the cosmopolitan lifestyle she was introduced to as a young girl. Guia was born in San Fernando, Philippines. Her mother was a graduate of Santo Tomas, Asia’s oldest university. Her father, just before she was born, joined the US Navy. Her grandmother began shaping her destiny by teaching the precocious child to recite storybooks and Catholic prayers in English, and training her in social graces as a flower girl for Saint’s Day processions. When Guia turned three years old, she moved to Greece. The family was stationed at Neamakri Naval Base on the Aegean Coast. In Athens, she was exposed to the magic of storytelling, meeting Greek author Pavlos Valassakis who creates illustrated books of classic Greek myths for children. This introduction to good literature later provided the foundation for her songwriting, concise in describing her emotions with aural imagery. Guia first came to America at the age of eight by way of Norfolk, Virginia, where

her father was assigned for duty. An uncle gave her a Mariah Carey cassette, so Guia would mimic her high notes and as a third grader, she would organize concerts with her neighborhood friends. Her family moved from Virginia and eventually settled in the northern Chicago suburb of Grayslake, Illinois. Her first breakthrough in the music industry came from winning a Chicago-wide Spanish singing contest called Heineken Estrella, sponsored by Heineken and Univision Radio. Her brother’s longtime friend and Grammy nominated producer Soundtrakk produced her first radio single, “Camaleon.” The single played on national mainstream Latin radio simply because Univision Radio host Luis Jimenez liked her song. Guia’s music is now reaching supporters as far as Sweden and China. Guia is blessed with originality in her fresh musical approach, natural style, and undeniable charisma. She says her purpose in her career is one that hopes to honor God and heralds music as a gift that must be shared.

women online and has appeared on countless magazine covers, including Stuff, FHM magazine, House of Roses, and many others. DJ Shy is on the keyboards and turntables and was the first female mixer at the No. 1

top 40 radio station in America, 102.7 KIIS FM in Los Angeles. She kicked off the 2006 Bud Light-MAXIM Exposure Tour, which touched down in 45 cities throughout the United States. Drummer TJ McDonnell comes from a talented lineage; he is the son of the legendary drummer, Slim Jim Phantom from The Stray Cats, and is a seasoned touring musician. Kit.E.Katt is on the bass and is the designer/stylist for Hello Drama Jewelry, whose past credits include designing for Victoria’s Secret, Tonetto, La Blanca and Volcom. She has also designed for musicians and actors such as Weezer, Guns n’ Roses, Pussycat Dolls, Kiss, Buckcherry, Hilary Duff, Rose McGowan and many others. Rounding out the group is the very talented Theresa Houston on guitar, counting Prince as one of her influences. She has toured nationally and it also a talented songwriter. and

Story by Dan O’Callahan, photo by DJ Imagery



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ECNNYKVJ $'40+%' Story by Mariko Kanto Photo by Sandy Kim


ince moving here 10 years ago, Canadian-born Bernice Liuson Sim has been active in the Boston film and theatre scene. This year, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with her in “Srey Neang,” a story about child slavery in Asia, which she wrote and played the title role. Bernice is a powerhouse who is also a producer, filmmaker and fundraiser, in addition to raising her three children with her husband of 14 years. AsianBoston: How did you get into acting? Bernice Liuson Sim: As a child, I always loved it. I would put on plays with my sisters, and perform for my family and neighbors. My formal training is in Meisner technique from the Actors’ Workshop in Boston. AB: What do you like about acting?

BLS: I like acting because it is a part of me—my way of expression and it’s exciting because the focus is always new. AB: What do you think of the Boston theatre/film industry for Asian actors and our involvement in it? BLS: Limited in material, but not necessarily limited in resources. Perhaps, some of us are not fully committed to arts because of family pressure to succeed, and sometimes the arts are considered impractical and a luxury. AB: You are passionate about acting and it has become a life work for you. What role in society do you want to play? BLS: I’d like to continue to tell stories like “Srey Neang,” where I feel like I’m doing something for a greater purpose, and giving a voice to people who are

not heard. That’s when art becomes a vehicle for change. Theatre allows us to tell the story, engages people in it emotionally, and provides an option to care enough to do something about it. AB: Have you always had strong social consciousness? BLS: My mom used to call me her “little red soldier,” who would die for a cause. AB: What do you want to see Asian actors do? BLS: We need to create. But, part of the problem is that Asian actors don’t want to come out of the woodwork because some of us don’t want to do Shakespeare or Arthur Miller, but want to do something that tells our story. AB: As a community, what can we do for the arts? BLS: Space. Not just physical space, but give a voice to Asian actors. There are companies that have done that locally as well as nationally and internationally, but, there’s more. Where is it? I want to see more. AB: What are you working on now? BLS: Producing two films. One is a documentary titled, “Stark Review - Heart of Boston Theatre.” The other is “Good Woman of Manhattan” by Wendy Lament. Also, I’m performing “Srey Neang” again for Regis College, and I’m involved in two theater companies: Theatre Espresso & Dramatic Results.

#P#OGTKECP4QEM$CPF As unique as the name, The Ricecookers, the all-Japanese alternative rock band uniquely blends their music with lyrics written both in both Japanese and English. In addition to their formal training at Berklee College of Music, each band member has a solid background in music. Kota (guitar) and Daisuke (base) attended the Pan School of Music in Tokyo where they are from. Tomo (vocal), born and raised in Mexico, started playing violin at age six, and sang in his high school choir and musicals. Sohei (drums), Kyoto native and the youngest in the band, started playing Wadaiko (Japanese drums) at age six. Based in the Rock City of Allston, MA, this five-year-old band practices three to four times a week. In 2007, they self-produced an album, “First Blood.” The Ricecookers just released their second album, and the composers, Tomo and Kota, say it’s an album that’s rhythmical and easy listening. When asked what their performances are like, Tomo replied, “At first, people don’t expect to hear American Rock from four 42


Japanese guys. But when the music starts, it’s evident they are enjoying the music. There were times we contemplated whether to pursue music as a career,” Tomo continued, “but we never stopped improving ourselves. You can always do better than your best.” Team effort is stressed. Sohei says, “We’d like to fully utilize the uniqueness and sensitivity of each member, without getting caught up in minor issues.” The band will begin a Japan tour in 2010, and will promote their new album titled “Four of Our Songs.” The record label is Bowinman Music Publishing/Zazou Production Inc., and the CD is available at iTunes and


Photo by JCPage

Story by Mariko Kanto

Connecting Cultures

A Bright Pearl

By Liwen Wang

Each movement whether a glance or a subtle tilt of the head, has to start with your breath. Each movement must be focused and deliberate. As long as you practice, you will get it right… Surrounded by several eager looking students, Zhou Na repeatedly explains the details of a set of movements from a Chinese folk dance. After several drills, the students start to comprehend, and the result is an energetic and elegant flow of movement. Zhou Na was born in Hebei, China. She began studying Chinese classical dance at the age of four under the tutelage of her mother, a prominent soloist dancer in Hebei. Ms. Zhou followed her love of dance and went to various dance schools, studying with many master instructors in China, and received numerous awards for her achievements in performance and choreography. After earning a bachelor’s degree from China’s Central University of Nationalities, also known as Minzu University, she came

to New York University where she studied modern dance techniques and researched teaching methods. After obtaining a master’s degree of Dance in Higher Education, she moved to Massachusetts and began to perform and teach. As founder of the Bright Pearl Dance Academy, her students have performed at several events where they displayed a gifted mastery of authentic Chinese dance. Ms. Zhou designed a special curriculum for dancers of all ages, and helps students develop their body instruments and understand dance choreography through the analysis of other dance artists, refinement of their own creative ability, and setting personal and team goals to obtain maximum levels of proficiency in dance. For more information, please visit

Zhou Na,

founder of the Bright Pearl Dance Academy. Photographed by Carlton Soohoo

noha ahmed:

Ascending the stage By Zahin Ahmed (sixth grader), Photos by Carlton Soohoo

When summer was approaching, the students at Lexington High School could not wait until the end of school, except for junior Noha Ahmed. Instead of taking out the sunscreen and preparing to head to the beach, she took out her ghungru (bells) and prepared for her ‘Arangetram,’ an Indian classical dance graduation. Summer, to her, meant hours of rigorous practice to perfect every beat, hand gesture and eye movement. This was her passion, her ultimate culmination of 11 years through this art form of dance in Bharat Natyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi styles. Arangetram means, “Ascending the stage.” In the past, this would be the first time a guru (teacher) would allow her shirsha (student) to perform in front of a public audience. Although this custom is not maintained presently, this occasion is still the


greatest achievement in the life of an Indian classical dancer. Noha started dancing at age six with Mrs. Neena Gulati, who has been teaching for 35 years at Triveni School of Dance in Brookline, MA. From her graduating class, Noha was honored to be one of two students who performed her Arangetram as a solo. Accompanied by five musicians including her guru, Noha put on a flawless performance, dancing on stage and captivating her audience with intricate footwork, eye-hand movements with changes of bodywork from flexible to sculpturesque, on to a ninth piece to a Bengali song that pays tribute to her Bengali cultural heritage. Noah achieved her Indian classical dance graduation, and she feels blessed to have this gift of dance. She’s proud to have achieved this very important milestone in her life.

performing arts

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la carmina! By Joanne M. Choi, Photos by Andrew Cheung


f you love Hello Kitty, and in your ideal world she is dressed up in an elaborate black and red gown complete with fangs, tats, and requisite spiked boots, then La Carmina wants you to join her world! This multi-tasking girl ascribes to the “Harajuku” way of dressing à la Gothic Lolita. Songstress and designer, Ms. Gwen Stefani of “No Doubt” may have introduced en masse to the U.S. fashionistas that quirky, cute, street style that Tokyo gals pull off effortlessly, but La Carmina has always resided in this Harajuku world. “It is something that I was always into. I went to Hong Kong and Tokyo a lot growing up…I was able to pick up the clothes while in Asia.” Her love of Japanese fashion led to co-designing a cute-meets-Gothic fashion line, which will be revealed and sold on her website ( early this year. Currently, La Carmina is busy doing a blitz of publicity on both coasts for her 44


72 recipe cookbook, “Cute Yummy Time,” which illustrates how to make food cute and animal shaped. One can transform a simple bagel into a singing crab or a boiled egg into a chick. She recently flew to Tokyo to be on the travel show “Bizarre World” with Andrew Zimmern, and she appeared on NBC’s Today Show as well. La Carmina confides that her family is “excited that I am able to do this.” It isn’t a great leap to assume that her Vancouver-based family first expected her to utilize her law degree from Yale. La Carmina explains, “I have always loved alternative cultures and I went to punk rock shows as a teen. I soon realized that a law career wasn’t for me.” As she was trying to figure out what she wanted, she started a blog in September 2007. She described blogging as “liberating” and explained, “Professional blogging is a job. I do get income from the blog.” Not surprisingly, she is busy with the book tour, maintaining her blog, writing

for, and uploading Goth Cooking videos. We discussed some potential inquiries and deals. I was sure she wouldn’t turn down a deal with Muji (the Gap of Japan) if it came up, but she ends with these thoughts, “I am more realistic. You figure out a plan of action. It is not productive to have a pie in the sky mentality. Once these relationships develop organically, that is the way to tease how it will come out.” As I write this piece, it strikes me that La Carmina is part of the new wave of Asian Gen Y’ers in the “biz.” In conclusion, she is mature and has a business mind, although she has only logged a few years along the media avenue. When asked about the future, her answer is free and forthcoming, “My agent and I want to get started on something else. I want to do something diverse and unexpected. Do it all. Have my hands in everything.”

Connecting Cultures

Goth-Loli Fashion

Outfit by Yamamoto




Yurie Photo by Carlton SooHoo


apanese fashion has many faces, as made apparent by names such as Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Goth-Loli, Nigo, Hello Kitty, Uniqlo, and Muji. Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto represent Japanese high fashion at its best. Avant-garde and slightly dark, their brands combine traditional suppressed Japanese aesthetics and modern ideas. The merging of these principles make these designers stand out, even in the infinitely creative and ever evolving world of high fashion. Goth-Loli, from the Harajuku area of Tokyo, combines styles of Goth and Victorian fashion. Generally, girls dress in lace and tulle in colors varying from black to soft pink. Men accompany them in tuxedos and platform shoes. A fascinating fashion phenomenon, Goth-Loli has captured the imagination of Japan followers worldwide. Nigo, a designer who emerged from the Harajuku street scene, started A Bathing Ape, a brand coveted all over the world, especially amongst sneaker-heads and other street-wear lovers. Hello Kitty is the cute character loved around the globe by children and women alike.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, it is the epitome of Japanese “kawaii” culture. Kawaii loosely means cute, and is applied to clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behavior and mannerisms. Muji and Uniqlo are the equivalent of GAP in Japan, presenting consumers with quality but affordable fashion basics. Currently branching out into more fashion forward apparel, as well as expanding their operation into the U.S., U.K., France, China, Korea and other Asian countries, they represent the new face of Japanese fashion, previously known for its eccentricity and higher price point. My love of Japanese fashion stems from this wide range of choices. I can walk the streets of Tokyo in high couture one day, slip into designer sweats the next, trade them for T-shirts and jeans, then put on crazy colors and wacky shoes, all without anyone batting an eye. I am proud to see the quality and sensibilities of Japanese fashion being accepted more and more on the world stage, and hope my articles can continue to help spread the word and spark interest among AsianBoston readers and fashionistas everywhere.


Oh, the Things We Do for Beauty...

Photo by Carlton SooHoo


efore plunging headlong into my bathtub, I clumsily clutched at the shower curtain in a last desperate effort to break my fall. Luckily, only four shower curtain rings were broken! Just seconds before, I had serenely rested my leg upon my sink, and that’s when the trouble began. Beauty maintenance is sometimes about mundane rituals and there are those times that it’s about trying something new to jump-start some needed skin pampering. Yes, I want to take care of my skin, but have recently neglected myself…the usual stress and lack of sleep. I call upon dear La Mer to help me get back on track. Rubbing La Mer’s body serum into my dry skin, especially the elbows and knees, starts the healing process and it smells wonderful to boot. The hand treatment lovingly attends to dry and cracked fingers. For three nights in a row, I rub the moisturizer into my skin and wait for it to work. These products are


simply incredible! According to my mother, my skin became transformed (softer, less tired looking) the next day. Armed with a rejuvenated complexion (Murad’s Clarifying Mask helped as well), it’s time for Benefit and the arsenal before me to look cute and fresh. I apply the lemon aid to my eye lids in order to have an even color and as a primer for my shadow. Next, the “big beautiful eyes” contour kit to make my eyes pop. The handy mirror and the two labeled brushes help to distinguish between the base and shadow shades. I carefully draw a dramatic black line via Hourglass’ calligraphy liquid eyeliner, which quickly became my favorite new liner, and end with a quick powder application of Benefit’s Hello Flawless and a single coat of their Badgal mascara. One of my strongest memories is of playing with the empty ivory and gold compacts and containers my mother gave me. A wistful six-year old girl looked into


the mirror and imagined a transformed, sophisticated woman…haven’t we all done that, girls? Feel free to share your experiences with me at

Some of Jo’s favorite beauty products. Try ‘em!

inform. entertain. relate.



By Jackie Batchelder, Photo by Carlton Soohoo

trengthening the abdominal wall is essential for maintaining good posture, alleviating lower back pain, preventing injuries, improving athletic performance and looking better. The first step to a better mid-section is to look at what you eat. Cut back on processed foods and only take in as many calories as the body needs. An active lifestyle is important to trimming overall body fat. Your abs are like any muscle group you train, it should be done every other day so that you have recovery time between workouts. The number of repetitions is 10-25 for one to three sets of abdominal exercises. If you can perform more than 25 reps for each exercise, you are either doing them too fast to make a difference, or executing with improper form. Maintaining proper form throughout an exercise will help alleviate injury. Remember, it’s not how many reps you can do, but how well. Here are two examples of ab exercises that recruit the most muscle fibers. When done properly and consistently, you will see results immediately. Inverse crunches: For this exercise, you will need a pole. A solid table leg will work too. Lie on your back and brace one shoulder against the pole. 46

Grasp the backside of the pole with both hands about 18 inches up and grip it hard. Lift your legs up towards the ceiling holding a slight bend at the knees. Lock them into this position. Your lower back should be flat on the floor at this point or very close to it. Exhale as you bring your pelvis up towards your rib cage until you are resting on just your upper back and shoulder blades. With control from your rectus abdominus, slowly roll your back down to the floor. Be sure not to come down with a flat back. Repeat as many as you can with proper form and execution. Side abs lift: Lie on the right side of your body with legs extended, hips and feet stacked vertically on the floor. Support your upper body up onto your right elbow and forearm, place your left hand on your left hip. Now, lift your hips off the floor. Balancing on the side of your right foot, hold the position for 5-10 seconds then lower. Do as many repetitions as you can with correct form and alignment. Keep in mind, if you are taking in more energy (food) than your energy expenditure (exercise), then all the ab exercises in the world will not minimize your waistline. A more active lifestyle will give you the results you want.



Photo by Darren Tow


YKVJ#0)'. ANGEL’S WORKOUT: -Muay Thai kickboxing once to twice a week -Heated yoga once a week -Gym, 3 to 4 days per week Muay Thai: Warm up, then jump rope for 10 min.; 3 sets of 20 sit-ups and 20 push-ups, punches and kicks on sandbag for 20 minutes. Practice Muay Thai forms for 20 minutes. Heated Yoga: 90 minutes, doing different yoga poses in a 90º temperature room. Gym days: Strecthing for 10 min. in a heated sauna room; cardio (interval running 20 min.) one day; mountain climbing machine for 15 min. the next day; Stepper for 15 min. for another day; 2 sets of 50 sit-ups and 50 push-ups. One day off each week is a must. I believe diet and nutrition is crucial for a well-balanced body and mind. Bodies need carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and fiber in the proper amounts for the best results. By exercising and eating a balanced diet, this helps me to stay healthy. Angel is a Nak Muay (student of combat), and chose to practice martial arts in order to stay in top shape for her acting pursuits. Please consult a physician before starting any workout program.

Connecting Cultures





inform. entertain. relate.


Asian Boston Issue 6  

Issue 6 (Asian Boston Magazine)

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