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Connecting Cultures

a tribute to REGGIE WONG

by Cliff Wong


few years ago, I had planned to meet with my friend and mentor, Reggie Wong. The meeting was about the upcoming 50th Anniversary of Reggie’s beloved Boston Knights Club. However, something tragic happened to alter our plans. On April 3, 2011, Reggie Wong passed away. His death left an entire community in shock. Immediately after his passing, I wanted to write a tribute to acknowledge Reggie’s life, but I could not. I was too sad. A few weeks later, I stood outdoors among hundreds of mourners at the Wing Fook Funeral Home. We stood, undaunted by the long wait and chilly air. With numbers approaching 1,000, no one seemed to mind the wait. Representatives of all parts of the community, though sometimes divided by politics, stood together as one. We reflected on the end of an era. Even in death, Reggie Wong, the legend, united his community. The event offered a chance to reunite with old friends from the old neighborhood. It was especially gratifying to meet with Reggie’s survivors, who demonstrated the strength of character that one would expect from his family. In some ways, all who grew up knowing him, felt like part of the family. In the 1950s and 60s, Boston’s Chinatown was a small, insulated, ethnic community. Parents were forced to work long hours, which left few available role models for the youths in the neighborhood. Reggie filled that void. Despite his small stature, Reggie was larger than life in his actions and

persona. Reggie’s biological father passed away while Reggie was in his early teens. Reggie had to grow up fast and assume the role of “man of the house.” He mentored his younger siblings and his younger friends as well. Throughout his life, his mentoring continued, and his following grew. Reggie was remarkably skilled at reaching out to all segments of his community. In addition to Reggie’s dedication to his beloved “Knight’s Athletic Club,” he also devoted his energy and leadership to other groups in Chinatown. His prominence crossed borders and extended to other Asian communities throughout the country. Reggie Wong was unique, irreplaceable and revered. Most of all, he is missed. It is with great hope that Reggie Wong’s history encourages people to serve and to support their communities. Reggie would have wanted it that way. For those who didn’t have the privilege of knowing Reggie Wong, here’s a brief bio. He was born in 1943 of immigrant parents and raised in the Hudson Street section of Boston’s Chinatown. Reggie was the second of four children. He graduated from Boston Technical High School as well as Northeastern University’s School

of Engineering. After a one-year stint as an engineer, he decided that engineering was not for him. Since his high school years, he moonlighted at various Chinese restaurants to supplement the family income. While working for Morris Gordon Restaurant Equipment and Supply Company, he developed a passion for the industry. Eventually, he started his own company and provided equipment and supplies for restaurants throughout the region. While Reggie was building his entrepreneurial empire, he also developed an empire of a different sort, that of community service. Due to his compassion, dedication and personality, he became a leader in his community. By the time of his passing in 2011, his resume was unparalleled. In addition to creating the Boston Knights Club, he also contributed to numerous organizations. At one time, he served as President of Boston’s Masons Chapter in Chinatown, National Chairman of the Masons, President of the Boston Consolidated Benevolent Association, Chairman of the Asian National Volleyball Tournament, just to name a few of his many accomplishments. Reggie Wong’s success was due to his character and his passion for making a difference. He was old fashioned in many ways, yet very openminded to new ideas. He was a master organizer who founded clubs and agencies still thriving today. He made friends easily and people gravitated to him. To some, he was the “mayor of Chinatown,” to others; he was simply “Uncle Reggie.”


Connecting Cultures



o his family, he is the first generation born in America. To his friends, he is a hardcore Patriots fan. He had aspired to be a lawyer, and made history as the first Asian American Mayor in the City of Cranston, Rhode Island. Allan Fung’s proudest moment was when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court swore him in, January 2009. His parents, who were standing next to him, witnessed the historic moment, not only for the city, but also for their family. The son of restaurant owners and first generation immigrants grew up to become an American politician. “My parents are my role models. Much of what I saw is the courage that they had in packing their belongings, leaving family and country to come to the United States; all without knowing a word of English, so that the family they were about to start would have better opportunities than they did,” continued Fung, “They are inspirational for me and everything that I do.” Since childhood, Fung was always hard working and mature in terms of academics. “My parents always pushed us to get a good education. They worked long hours in the restaurant. They didn’t want that life for me and my sisters. They always had us study hard and to pursue whatever we wanted as a profession,” he said. But Fung was not only about studying. In high school, he had a “side business” selling candy, and it was prosperous. “I always had that business sense. I think I picked it up from growing up in a business environment,” he said with a laugh. Fung studied at Classical High School in Providence, RI, and it was a rewarding experience for him. His classmate, Angel Taveras, later became the Mayor of Providence. Ironically, both of them were determined to become lawyers at that time. Fung graduated from Suffolk University Law

School in 1995, and practiced for several years before deciding to jump into politics in 2002. “Cranston at that time was going through a fiscal crisis,” he recalled. “I was angry at some of the decisions that the political leaders made, and that encouraged me to run for office.” With the confidence to “turn the city around,” he won the At-Large seat on the Cranston City Council in 2002. Through that experience, Fung realized his passion for politics, public service and how working as a team can make a difference. Although losing the bid for mayor in 2006, he won the election in 2008, and has served as the mayor of Cranston since. Many describe him as a “hands-on” type of mayor. He encourages town hall style meetings and responds to residents’ emails personally. “He is also an early bird and holds himself and his team to high standards,” said Chief of Staff, Carlos Lopez. “I think in my role as mayor comes the responsibility to help the people that you represent, and be a strong voice for them,” said Fung, noting that his philosophy as a politician is to represent well, and that eventually led to his other theme, diversity. With an increasing Asian and Hispanic population in Cranston, Fung

the mayor of cranston By Ke Feng

points out that it is essential to adapt to those needs. In response, the office added two Spanish speakers, and the mayor speaks Cantonese. Fung believes that being Asian has significant meaning. “I think one of the strongest parts of being Asian American is growing up in a minority population where we can see things from different perspectives. In my role as mayor, it helps because I have the opportunity to educate others about the Asian American experience, or the minority experience,” he said. Fung just won a third term in office, and expects to continue the initiatives and revive the city from its economic downturn. Secretly, Fung has his ultimate dream job…being the Commissioner of the National Football League. With that said, the New England Patriots flag hangs proudly in his office, and any comments about him being a football maniac starts to all make sense.


Connecting Cultures


rowing up in Silicon Valley in California, Julia Sun loved her TI-86 graphing calculator. Like many others from this high-tech center, her dream was to become an engineer. That’s a stretch from what she does now; she’s a TV host in New York City. “My life is full of happy accidents,” says Sun. Her first so-called accidental job was in modeling, but what first appeared to be a teen’s way of making pocket money soon proved to be much more. She discovered a new world, and had steady work in the business for many years. Sun made New York her home after California. In the midst of the financial crisis, she was invited to speak at fundraisers and was repeatedly told she’d make an excellent host. It didn’t take her long to prove that true. In her own words, she accidentally landed a gig with JL Global Entertainment’s

Story by Sara Thompson Photo by Liang Kuang

award winning production and began co-hosting its lifestyle and health TV show, Better Body & Soul. At the premiere, Sun told reporters on the red carpet that she had more fun working on the show than shopping on Fifth Avenue. Throughout the years, Sun interviewed the likes of Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and celebrity trainer and dancer, Yue Yin. She also covered traditional news. Last summer, her tape was discovered by Comtex News Network, and she has been anchoring business segments on its Financial News Network ever since. Sun likes to keep things simple when talking on-air. Whether it’s demonstrating the latest tech gadgets or breaking news on events in the finance world; getting the story free of the “smoke and mirrors” is the first thing she executes. She wants her audience

to have a pleasant time watching, yet still be informed. “I provide insight that cannot be found elsewhere,” says Sun, “and I want my audience to become more aware of what’s going on effortlessly.” Sun graduated from Cornell University -- though she thinks one of the reasons the Ivy League institution accepted her is that she signed the application with bright red lipstick. Nonetheless, she welcomes being called a nerd or geek because she was once known as the book-smart girl; scoring in the top 0.1% in the country on the SATs, as well as winning other scholastic distinctions. However, what really sets Sun apart is her passion for life and work, something she believes success is impossible without. It’s easy to feel her passion when you meet Julia Sun, in, or out, of the studio.

A walk in the




By Gloria Yong



ou’re in a movie!” exclaimed Catherine Chan’s classmates as they viewed the trailer for the action thriller, Safe. Only Catherine’s closest friends knew that she was out of school for three months to play a starring role opposite several acclaimed actors, including Jason Statham and South Boston, MA, native, Jay Giannone. In Catherine’s own words, “I play the character Mei, a little girl with a photographic memory that the Chinese triad uses to remember a secret code (instead of computers) to unlock a safe full of money. The Russian mob is also after the safe, so they are also after Mei. Jason’s character, Luke, meets Mei by accident in the subway when she is being chased by the Russian mob.” Catherine had a blast playing Mei. “I got to do cool stunts, and use a fake gun! In one scene, Jason and the bad guys are about to fight, and Mei appears out of nowhere and starts shooting the bad guys, but falls backwards due to the momentum of the bullets!” Catherine also loved doing the funny lines. Her favorite part of making Safe was working with all the cast members. She enjoyed, “Meeting the characters and the celebrities and seeing how nice they were. Reggie (Lee) is the friendliest guy I know. In the movie, Reggie plays a serious action role and when he is not acting, he jokes around and gives acting advice.” Catherine believes her biggest challenge in making the film was portraying the right emotions, “It was kind of hard to get the emotions for some scenes. I’m not the best at doing that, and the hardest parts were the quiet parts.” Catherine’s costar, Jay Gianonne, begs to differ. Jay says, “Catherine has strong senses for a young girl. She not only understands but also has the ability to stay in the moment to make a scene real. That isn’t easy for adults, never mind a child, but she makes it look easy. She is very talented.”

Catherine’s mom, Kirsten, recognized her own daughter’s abilities very early on. “When Catherine was about eight years old, she started imitating what was on television and even took on the role of her favorite characters for fun.” After Catherine finishes a new episode of her favorite television show, she can immediately recall every aspect of that episode, from the colorful wardrobe of the actors to the set that housed the imaginary world of the story. She remembers every line spoken by every character, and then inserts them into casual conversations with everyone she knows. With a love for entertaining and being the center of attention, Catherine started acting classes in 2008. By the end of 2009, she had already finished three short films and one music video. Catherine’s success is partially due to a supportive and loving mom. “I didn’t push her into acting,” said Kirsten, “I just encouraged her. It’s something that she wants, a way to build her confidence. She doesn’t have to be an actress, but with acting, she also learns how to present herself. No matter what career she wants, this is good for Catherine.”

Now in the 8th grade, Catherine has a great future. Jay stated, “I think Catherine has an extremely bright future in the film industry. I know she is going to be a huge star. I knew it when I first met her on set. She is a kind soul and easy going. I see that she is great with taking direction and I was very impressed with her.”

South Boston Actor Jay Giannone

Catherine and Jason Statham in a scene from ‘Safe’


Connecting Cultures

By Linda Sopheap Sou, MHS


he City of Lowell has a rich history of attracting immigrants from all over the world. Today, steeped in cultural traditions, the Cambodian community is the largest immigrant group in Lowell. The Angkor Dance Troupe develops and teaches Cambodian dance, promotes an understanding and appreciation of Cambodian culture, and provides youth development opportunities through positive social and educational outlets. The Troupe is the only nonprofit cultural group in Lowell whose mission is to preserve the traditions of Cambodian performing arts. In 1986, Mr. Tim Chan Thou, Angkor’s Program Director, founded the dance troupe, along with a small group of dancers who learned tradi-

tional Cambodian dance in refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. They brought to the United States a strong desire to practice and perform Cambodian dance, and a passion to teach others. As the heart and soul of the Cambodian American community in Lowell, the Angkor Dance Troupe serves as a foundation and voice of tradition. Over its 25 years of existence, the troupe has created and contributed to the Cambodian dance repertoire, including the addition of American break dancing, the traditional Swva Pol or Monkey Dance (major feature of the award winning documentary, The Monkey Dance), and most recently, the Apsara Dancing Stones.

From left to right: Krisna Thou, Rancia Phin, Monica Veth, Robin Wilson, Channa Sath


By Anna Tsui


Connecting Cultures


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WILLS&TRUSTS: The Basics By Russell Chin, Esq.

WILL A will is a legal document that does four things. 1. It gives your instructions and wishes as to how your assets and property are to be distributed after you die. It is a statement that must be written, signed and witnessed in compliance with your state’s laws. 2. It names your beneficiaries, the people you want to benefit from your assets, as well as details of your possessions. 3. It allows you to choose an executor. A will allows you to choose a person to manage the distribution of your assets. If you don’t have a will, a court-appointed person called an administrator will distribute your assets. 4. You may choose a guardian to finish raising your children. Even if you are a young adult with few assets, you should have a will if you have children. A will can be used to appoint a guardian to care for your children if you die while they are still minors.

Unlike a will, which goes into effect when you die, your property can be transferred to certain types of trusts while you are still alive and the trusts continue to hold the property after your death. Although you no longer own the assets, because your trust does, you still have access to the assets during your lifetime. You can instruct your trust to pay an income to you, and, upon your death, your trustee (or successor trustee, if you were the original trustee) is instructed to divide whatever is left among your designated beneficiaries. How to avoid probate and other unnecessary expenses 1. Set up payable-on-death accounts. 2. Name your beneficiaries, including children, institutions and multiple beneficiaries. 3. Name your beneficiaries for retirement accounts, vehicles, real estate, stocks and bonds. 4. Hold property in joint ownership and alternatives to joint ownership. 5. Create a Living Trust. 6. Make gifts of property and money.

Why should I have a will? If you die without a will in place, you have died intestate. The court will distribute your property and determine your beneficiaries. The court may not rule according to your wishes, so dying intestate won’t be good for your beneficiaries. Without the guidance of a will, the court will name the guardian for your minor children, perhaps a family member when you would have much preferred your best friend. If a person dies intestate, the probate court appoints someone to receive all claims against the estate, pay creditors and then distribute all remaining property in accordance with the laws of the state. The major difference between dying testate and dying intestate is that an intestate estate is distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with the distribution plan established by state law while a testate estate is distributed in accordance with the instructions provided in the decedent’s will (after payment of debts, taxes and costs of administration). The probate process will take longer without a will.

TRUST A trust is a legal relationship, represented by a legal document, in which one person (or qualified trust company), the trustee, holds property for the benefit of another, the beneficiary. The property can be any kind of real or personal property—money, real estate, stocks, bonds, collections, business interests, personal possessions and automobiles. A trust will keep your property from going through probate when you die.


392 Hancock Street North Quincy, MA 617-471-3460



By Anna Ing

C David Yee, General Manager of China Blossom


In 2000, the U.S. Congress honored China Blossom as an outstanding family business


hina Blossom is a beloved Chinese restaurant located in North Andover, MA. This location, the second one, was opened by Richard Yee back in 1960, and has been serving local residents for more than 50 years. Richard came over from Canton, China, in 1951, and learned the ropes at his own father’s restaurant in Haverhill, MA. After a stint in the US Army, Richard honed his restaurant skills in New York City. His son, David, in recent years, has taken over as general manager. While growing up, David, along with his three siblings, dutifully worked in the family business. During college, he would help on weekends and school holidays. After graduating from Boston University, he was in mergers and acquisitions consulting work for a few years. Then, one day, it hit him that he was not happy. So, he decided to go back into the family business. As the general manager of this fine establishment, David emphasizes serving the freshest and healthiest foods that make up their 200-item buffet. He also added that most Chinese restaurants compete based on their prices, but China Blossom focuses more on food quality. A popular promotion, a suggestion from their staff, awards a free meal to one lucky customer who receives a red take-out

box in their to-go order. They also feature a successful comedy night, once a week. David added another promotional avenue, the Spring Dinner and Lecture Series. This venue brings in special guest chefs, professors, and experts in varied fields to speak on the evolution of Chinese Culinary Arts in America, Chinese Religions, Philosophy and more. China Blossom has garnered honors and recognition for their commitment to the community. In 2000, the US Congress honored China Blossom as an outstanding family business. Locally, the town selectmen recognized their 50 years in business and their dedication to North Andover. This past November, China Blossom won the “First Generation” Business Award at the 2011 Family Business Association for Massachusetts; the only Chinese restaurant nominated for this award. China Blossom will continue to share their warm hospitality and delicious food for generations to come.

David and his father, Richard



rthur Kim is a clinician, a researcher, an educator and an advocate. As a doctor, at Massachusetts General Hospital, he treats patients with infectious diseases. With research that focuses primarily on hepatitis C, Dr. Kim’s goal is to develop immune therapies and/or vaccines for this increasingly common disease. Dr. Kim stated that in the last few years, newer medications for hepatitis B and C have become available, and he expects increased demands for hepatitis treatment. Hepatitis C is the major reason for liver transplants in the US. As a health care advocate, he tries to raise awareness of hepatitis among health providers and politicians in order to increase services for hepatitis patients. Among the Asian-American community, there is a stigma attached to these viruses and there are barriers for individuals seeking treatment. He stresses the need for more education and awareness to remove the stigma attached to hepatitis, especially since hepatitis C has recently surpassed HIV as a cause of death in the US. Most people with hepatitis don’t know they carry the virus because they don’t feel symptoms until it’s too late. An unfortunate aspect of this disease is that many people become infected without being involved in risky behavior (such as sharing needles and unprotected sex), but through medical exposure or from their parents at birth. Hepatitis B vaccine exists, raising prospects for prevention if more people are vaccinated. Screening involves a blood test that is covered by insurance in Massachusetts. Dr. Kim noted that immigrants from most Asian countries and children born to those immigrants should be screened. A Los Angeles native of Korean immigrant parents, Dr. Kim went to Yale University where he developed an interest in medicine and subsequently enrolled in Harvard Medical School;

his interest in hepatitis C developed when he met patients suffering from this once little known disease. When not working, Dr. Kim is busy attending his kids’ soccer games. Although he adopted the Red Sox and Patriots, he still roots for the Lakers. His laid-back manner is another hint of his West Coast upbringing. I’ll be rooting for Dr. Kim to discover a vaccine or treatment for hepatitis C in the near future.

DR. KIM By Hoon Chung




11 Hudson St., Chinatown, Boston 617-542-1488

restaurant lounge nightclub

1238 Mass Avenue Harvard Square Cambridge, MA 617 864 5311




“Q Restaurant’s interior reflects the quality and beauty of the delicious food it offers. Aside from the amazing Hot Pot and stunning lounge, Q also features some of the finest sushi Boston has to offer.”

660 Washington st., Chinatown




JUSTIN CHON The following is a condensed transcript of an exclusive AB Radio interview with Justin Chon. The full interview can be heard at

HJ: When did you start your career, and why? JC: I started acting I think around 2001, and I just didn’t want to get a real job. HJ: Being an actor is kind of your job right? JC: Yup. But, you know, I pretend for a living. HJ: Where are you from originally? JC: I was born and raised in Orange County. I went to USC for business. Caller1: Hi My name is Sara from LA. I saw the trailer for 21 & over. It looks really really funny. So I was wondering if your personality is pretty similar to the actual movie. JC: Yup, I would say maybe 50/50. I think I am a little bit calmer. I am kind of like a home buddy. I like to stay at home a lot. Some days I can get pretty crazy like that. I mean I am acting. I am playing a character but I’d say maybe 50% of me there. C2: Hi I’m Britney. So where is your favorite city and why? JC: I really love Paris because it’s just a beautiful city. The food is great and it’s really easy to get around. The subway’s great and it’s just beautiful

and you know, I feel people value life. It’s not all about work and making money. I think they take time to kind of appreciate stuff. I also love the U.S., and Hawaii in particular. I spent a lot of time there and also New Orleans. It’s all for the same reasons, you know. It’s really laid back and has no stress. That’s the kind of life I would like to live. It’s hard, though, being an actor. C3: Hey this is Kevin calling. I’m a Massachusetts local starting in the acting business, as well as an Asian American. So I was wondering what kind of tips you have for anyone who is trying to start off in the acting business? JC: I would say it is a business. The number one thing you can do for yourself is just become the best actor that you can. Take classes, take it seriously. Learn acting techniques, and I think that’s the most important thing. I think everything else falls into the place.

I do. I think it’s a good sign that I’m doing something that is worthwhile. HJ: You have a movie coming up on March 1st, I believe in 2013. I’m very excited about the movie. What did you do to drive your character? JC: Oh, yup, I love the role. My character’s name is Jack Chen. He is a Chinese American kid who is just, seriously, a normal guy and you know the movie is crazy and you know, there is a lot of funny stuff. But the core of it, it’s really about these three guys’ friendships and about when you go to college and when you grow up, people start to drift apart because they just start to have lives. CONTINUED…(at AB Radio)

Photo courtesy of Ella Robinson, Relativiy Media

Host, Hyunah Jang: First, can you introduce yourself for the people who may not know you? Justin Chon: My name is Justin Chon. I am an actor. I am most known for the series Twilight.

C4: My name is Jay Wang, I’m from Korea. I’m calling from NY. I’m a big fan of yours. I already watch you, I really like your work. Why did you decide to be an actor and what’s your goal? JC: I decided to be an actor because I hate working in offices. I gave it a shot and just feel that it’s the only thing that I’m very passionte about. And I don’t ever worry about money. I don’t worry about how much I am getting paid for anything. If I like it, I will do it. I think it’s a good sign if I don’t really care how much I get paid for what


Connecting Cultures



REVIEW 124 Brighton ave. allston, ma 02134 617-254-8888

By Anna Ing


onchon has been satisfying locals who crave the Korean twist on fried chicken. Hailing originally from Busan, South Korea, Bonchon has 18 locations in the United States.  What is Bonchon you ask? It is skinless chicken (strips/wings/drumsticks) ($9.95 to $33.95) breaded, twice fried to crispy perfection and glazed with either a spicy or soy garlic sauce. Be forewarned that the spicy sauce packs a subtle kick that can be overwhelming for some after a wing aor two. Think of them as similar to buffalo wings, but with a yummy, crispy breading. Korea’s answer to the AllAmerican fried chicken is delicious and addictive. Drumsticks tend to be bigger and a little on the dry side compared to the juicer wings. Although

it is twice fried, there is no trace of greasiness. Another pleasant surprise is that the chicken holds its crispiness even a few hours later; when reheated. Amazing! On a hot summer day, a plate of Bonchon and a cold beer go well together. Two sides: a lovely slaw superior to its counterpart cole slaw, as well as pickled daikon (white radish) cubes, are served to soothe diners’ tongues from the spiciness. Bonchon is steadily gaining in popularity. They offer an extensive menu of Japanese and Korean favorites, as well as a selection of Asian inspired cocktails, beers and wines. Next time you are craving fried chicken, stop by Bonchon’s for something a little different, but be prepared to wait in a long line; it’s worth it.


Photography: Lokagroup

1052 Dorchester Ave. 219 Quincy Ave. Quincy, MA Dorchester, MA 617-773-8053 617-265-7171






MS. POPULARITY: In the seven-block radius that surrounds Vancouver’s Asiatown, there are no fewer than 17 bubble tea shops.


t was 30 years ago that Bubble Milk Tea was first concocted in Taiwan. There has been ongoing debate on who was the true inventor of this special handcrafted drink. Two teashop owners, one

in Taichung and the other in Tainan, went to court to debate their creative rights. As it turns out, neither one applied for a patent, nor could prove ownership. Nevertheless, Bubble Tea went on to become one of the more significant Taiwanese food/drinks. In the 1980s, Taiwanese immigrants brought bubble tea to the United States. Although generally called Bubble Milk Tea, there are hundreds of flavors and mixtures. To ensure the quality of the bubble (also called

boba), every cup is made to order. There is no doubt of the popularity of Bubble Tea, but nutritionists worry about unhealthy ingredients. To make the drink tasty, it is usually made with sugar and Coffee-mate®. This is why the milk tea is smooth and rich, and the bubbles are sweet and chewy. Nevertheless, there is a way to make this drink a bit healthier, yet still enjoyable. Some people prefer whole milk and less sugar. Not in the mood for boba? Try half-sweet chocolate milk tea! Bubble Tea time is to Taiwanese as is “afternoon tea” or “tapas hours” in other cultures. Having bubble tea with friends makes for an enjoyable gathering in Taiwan. The social aspect of bubble tea is evident…and now, it’s evident in America. To find out more on Taiwanese food, visit:


David Liu

Jiepang Founder

Could Beijing become the next Silicon Valley?

Despite red tape that makes doing business in China a real hassle for some entrepreneurs, it would be almost impossible to argue that China isn't becoming one of the next hot markets for start-ups. In 2011 alone, 138 venture-backed companies in China went public, raising about $21 billion

-(Inc. Online, VentureSource)

By Anna Tsui

“China is the new America,” stated an entrepreneur at a start-up gathering in Beijing recently. The speaker was referring not only to the seemingly vast resources of the Chinese market, but also the fact that more and more foreigners are picking up Chinese dictionaries and buying one-way tickets to test their luck in the new land of opportunity. Currently, cities like Beijing and Dalian are fertile centers for innovative and dynamic start-up communities. Not surprisingly, many Asian Americans, drawn by the opportunity to create great enterprises in a land of both economic and cultural significance, are heading eastward. For many of these professionals, China is a place to experiment and develop ideas. The networks are vast; upfront capital is minimal and funding is plentiful. As a bonus, the China experience offers not only a viable alternative to the daily grind, but provides a satisfying and liberating journey of self-discovery in a culturally rich environment. Charlie Wang, founder of ValueCap Research, a market research consultancy, was born in Taiwan and grew up in the US. He graduated from Boston College and had a promising career at Fidelity Management & Research until the market crashed in 2008, and he

was forced to consider other options. He took the end of his employment at Fidelity as an opportunity to check out the economic climate in Beijing while learning about his Chinese heritage. Wang created his new company by leveraging previous contacts and establishing a pipeline of clients interested in understanding China from a local point of view. He also provides insight on Chinese companies listed on stock markets in Hong Kong and Singapore. “Many people are interested in China because of its impressive economic growth, but what they often miss is that China is a social development story, and this drives government policy,” says Wang. In turn, the government creates economic policies that have a significant and immediate impact in the world markets, such as the price of commodities. Wang believes that having an Asian American background gives him a big advantage in his industry. Wang suggests making a plan before making the move to China, and, if you are serious, plan on staying for three to five years. Learning Mandarin should be a priority because it helps you penetrate into deeper levels of society. David Liu is the Founder of Jiepang, one of the hottest mobile apps in China today. David was born in the US.

He created a start-up in Taipei before relocating to Beijing in order to ride the huge mobile internet wave. He says that it has been “a blessing to be able to observe and learn from the Silicon Valley and New York City start-ups, and execute and iterate on top of what they are doing.” Contrary to popular belief, not all Chinese start-ups are carbon copies from foreign companies. Although the concept might derive from a foreign counterpart, the company must be focused on serving the unique Chinese consumer. Companies, such as Groupon, found this out the hard way after making a much anticipated entry into China, only to lose out to local competitors (at one point there were more than 2000 competitors) that were more targeted and much more competitive. At the highest point, Jiepang had more than 40 close competitors, some touting their title as the market leader in the location-based service (LBS) space. Eventually, over the course of 18 months, Jiepang was able to develop enough solid relationships with its partners and users that they were able to surpass the other companies that ultimately fizzled or pivoted to other sectors. Endurance, engagement and speed are key factors; otherwise, says Liu, “someone will eat you for lunch.”

about the writer

Anna Tsui is the co-founder of, which is China’s first interactive online health and fitness gaming platform. ‘Wokaishi’ means “I start” in Chinese, and the company just celebrated the launch of its new fitness app, available in the AppStore. She is also a member of the internationally recognized Start-Up Leadership Program (SLP ‘12)





t first glance, Christopher Brown appears to be an average American guy, but beneath the surface, he is a man with a wealth of culture and experience. He graduated from Weymouth North High School, highly decorated in the sport of wrestling. After high school, Chris joined the United States Army, which afforded him the opportunity to travel the world. Through these experiences, he built up an appetite for fine foods, wine and clothing. In the years to come, he cultivated his passion for the culinary arts. Having some experience with the service industry in the Army, Chris had a nice gig working at Gyosai Restaurant in Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston back in the 1980s. Rising from bus boy to bar manager to maître d, Chris

G L A N C E :

describes his time working at this chic Japanese restaurant as “one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life.” The owners, managers and fellow workers grew into a close family, with Chris as the honorary Caucasian of the group. Because of his dedication, loyalty and hard work, he was ultimately entrusted to oversee the business in the owner’s absence. The Gyosai Restaurant immersed Chris in Japanese culture, but there was another international experience that would shape his life. Shortly after Gyosai, he enrolled at Johnson and Whales University for International Culinary/Patisserie studies. Subsequently, he pursued the International Hospitality profession. Chris described his acceptance to Hotel

Cesar Ritz program, a Swiss Education Group teaching International hospitality in Connecticut, as “hitting the international jackpot.” There, he created close bonds with roommates from Taipei, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Karachi, Jeju (Cheju) Island and Jakarta. It was during this program that he also met his Indonesian sweetheart to whom he is married to today. Training at the Hotel Cesar Ritz involved hosting dinner parties for the rich, and Chris caught the attention of a wealthy hotel/casino executive at one such event. He was offered the opportunity to serve as a personal Butler/Valet at the executive’s newly purchased $15 million estate in upstate New York. While holding this position, Chris became highly involved

C H R I S T O P H E R in renovations, working closely with high-end designers, interior decorators and custom cloth makers. Through this collaboration, Chris expanded his appreciation for fine fabrics and custom craftsmanship. Today, Chris is combining his exquisite taste in custom clothing with something we are all familiar with, denim jeans. Blue jeans have been a staple of American culture and fashion since the late 1800s. Jean manufacturing is a huge industry around the world, and most are mass-produced in standardized sizes. But, for the body shapes of not-so-ordinary people like tall athletes, slightly overweight people and skinny teenagers, these mass-produced, offthe-shelf jeans simply do not fit right. After a few years of rudimentarily re-

pairing his own jeans using the farmer’s patch style, Chris was inspired to start up a custom denim jeans manufacturing company: Brown, Deim, currently located in Weymouth, MA. He has access to more than 150 types of denim from all over the world including Japan, Italy and more locally, North Carolina. Authentic recycled 9 mm bullet shell casings for rivets, back pocket weave design, nautical leather back patch and belt loops are a few unique features that distinguish his jeans. The most exciting pair of jeans Chris ever made was crafted for a denim shop owner, living in Fujian Province, China. While communicating back and forth via internet, Chris and this shop owner produced a masterpiece worth more than $1,500, which included custom

B R O W N stitch colors, pocket design and high quality denim. With the help of Jane Yu, a master tailor, pattern maker and saleswoman from China—who once produced designer jeans for brand name companies—Brown, Deim may eventually find its store-front on Newbury Street in Boston. Calvin Klein, Levis Strauss, Emporium Armani, Diesel Jeans watch out…here comes Brown, Deim!

Story by Victor Ng


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iana and Melia Mariano love to introduce themselves with a big smile and a wholehearted, “Aloha!” Melia describes herself as a “Hapa Girl,” part Filipino and part Caucasian. For these sisters, dancing is a large part of their identity. Older sister Kiana, age 14, started dancing at the age of 2, while Melia, age 12, started at 3 years old. Both sisters began competing at the tender age of 4, and hold titles at several prestigious national competitions. Ballet and jazz are their roots. Today, they are also accomplished in ballroom, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary dance. Their mom, Nicole, originally wanted Kiana to participate in an activity, any activity. For her, it was a flip of a coin between dance and softball, but soon saw both of her daughters thrive in ballet and tap classes. Nicole never pushed her daughters into dance; they had a natural drive. Nicole admits that it can be rough, as the girls start practice or attend competitions at 7 am and don’t stop until 10 or 11 pm. The girls grew as dancers, and their relationship gives them a competitive edge. Kiana describes her younger sister as one of her role models. “Melia can be so inspirational…she pushes me to become a better dancer.” Kiana attends Orange County School of the Arts where she auditioned with thousands of other dancers for 20 spots in the school’s dance program. She has gained experience attending the school, and comes home and teaches Melia things she hasn’t seen before. Both sisters welcome criticism from each other. Their mom says that Melia has more flexibility while Kiana has stronger turns. If one learns a movement and the other initially cannot attain it, they work together until it is achieved. The sisters practice so much together that they turned their family’s living room into a makeshift studio. At one point, Kiana turned her own bedroom into a studio as well. The Mariano sisters were the

youngest performers at New York City’s Couture Fashion week in 2011. Both girls are also breaking into singing, acting and modeling, snagging opportunities in television commercials and even performing as backup dancers for Taylor Dane in Las Vegas. Residing in Orange County, California,

Kiana loves going to the beach, hanging out with friends, and shopping, while Melia loves to swim and play with her pets. Nicole divulges that Kiana and Melia wouldn’t be where they are without dance, but it’s readily apparent that they wouldn’t be where they are if they didn’t have each other.




T O “H S!” N U B kie B By Jac

er atcheld

ou may be carrying more fat on your buns and thighs than those steamy buns you’ve eaten hold. How do you get rid of that fat booty and those cottage cheese thighs? Cut out the sweets and make wiser food choices. Don’t forget portion control. What your body does not burn, you store as fat. Unfortunately, because women are child bearing, they are genetically predisposed to storing fat on the butt and thighs to counter balance the growing baby bump. However, that does not mean women are doomed. Mindful eating and exercise can control the fatty deposits in those areas. Here are a few simple exercises you can do to keep those fatty deposits away. Let’s begin with squats. Stand with feet hip width apart, shoulders back, chest high, abs engaged, back stiff. Place your hands behind your head. Now bend your knees and sit back as if you are sitting on a toilet. Be sure to rock your body weight back onto the heels. Keep head up as if balancing a book on top of your head. Squats work the butt muscles (gluteus), abs, back muscles (erector spinae), and all the muscles of the upper and lower leg. Do 10-12 repetitions. Continue with reverse lunges. Start with legs hip width apart, step back with right leg. Landing on the ball of your right foot, bend both knees as if to kneel down. Do not allow front knee to bend pass your toes. Back knee should not touch the floor. In the lunge position, both knees are at 90 degrees. Lunges tone the front, back, and the inner and outer thigh. It also improves balance and core strength. Do 10-12 repetitions. Do both these exercises every other day and you’ll have toned legs and tight buns in no time!


Model: Xanny




Connecting Cultures

Japanese Family Crests, called Kamon, inspired this world-renown monogram By Yurie Okada

Anyone who is interested in fashion, or in recent years, pop culture, is all too familiar with the LV monogram that embellishes the Louis Vuitton bag. Consisting of interlocking initials, diamond points, stars and quatrefoils, the iconic symbol is ubiquitous in our surroundings. It wasn’t always that way, however. Louis Vuitton started his career working as a trunk-maker for prestigious families. He is said to have invented the first flat trunk, as opposed to a traditional round-top trunk, that could be stacked during travels on a train. As his flat trunks gained in popularity, so did the fake versions of his designs. The monogram was actually conceived as a counterfeit

protection measure! What does all this have to do with Japan? In the mid-1800s, Europe was swept with Japonism, an influence of the arts of Japan on those of the West. In 1889, the already existent interest in Japanese art was heightened at the World Fair in Paris, France. Among the art pieces shown, some of them sported Kamon, or family crests. Kamon identifies family and heritage, and up until the 1700s, was only allowed use in aristocratic families. It is documented that Louis Vuitton’s son, George Vuitton, took inspiration from these popular crests to create the LV monogram, which was launched in 1896. I personally find it fascinating

that the things around us we take for granted, like the LV monogram, can actually be a synergy of two worlds connecting. So dynamic and yet so subtle, like a bag hanging in my closet at home. It’s fun to discover where the worlds meet, and I’m sure you see hints of different cultures sneaking into others, melding, meshing and slowly fading into one another. The next time I see a Louis Vuitton bag, I will let my mind drift to the 1800s, when the monogram was new, and so was cultural integration. Then I will let it drift back to the present, and then to the future, where who knows what kind of beautiful creations will result from the combined forces of culture.


JOGO on the



e are all rooting for NBA sensation Jeremy Lin because his story is inspirational and he represents the underdog. In addition to following him on various social media sites, I have been looking at… his skin. Jeremy will age well cuz he’s got oily skin (as evidenced by some mild acne). To help treat some of the breakouts, he could turn to the Tanda Clear+: a high tech way to treat such skin problems. I used it for 10 days straight. Sitting in a friend’s office, she asks me pointedly, “Your skin looks really clear. What are you doing?” Honestly, it had seemed to me that my overall skin condition was brighter and smoother, but this feedback convinces me to stay the

course. Totally worth the $195 price because this is the technology fancier spas use to zap away bacteria. Afterwards, the Luminaze Catalytic Skin Tone Illuminator ($120) is applied. Alternating the nightly rotation with La Mer’s Brightening Infusion Intense ($95) and the Brightening Essence Intense ($260) is how I am getting this A+ game face. Heart that they all have easy-to-use pumps! This mild winter has oddly taken a toll on me. The wind, even my own hair irritates enough to leave splotchy red marks. Products from the oh-so-excellent Somme Institute are used to nourish and soothe. Boost ($40 ) is a warming mask that contains pumpkin enzymes and is G-E-

N-T-L-E. Neckline ($68) is used a lot too because I don’t want a turkey neck and wrinkled décolleté (fancy word for chest area) looking back at me one day. If my hands get dry, I whip out my Berry Blossom Hand Lotion from eos ($3.99). After all the skin TLC, Doctor T’s Supergoop ($42) is my go to paraben and fragrance free sunscreen. The unique needs of Asian women (can we say hyperpigmentation and spots) are why prevention is a must. Shiseido’s hot off the presses Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Ice ($ 25) is swept unto my lashes using a clean finger. Best of all, the lovely turquoise color stays up to 10 hours and makes my eyelids shimmer.




Boston still lacks stories by AsianAmericans, with one exception. Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, a 73-year-old Japanese-American playwright, has written about 45 plays, and has won numerous awards and grants. Rosanna was a 2011 Huntington Playwriting Fellow, and her play, “Before I Leave You,” was performed at the Huntington Theatre in Boston. She is intelligent, witty, hip and composed. Born and raised in Michigan, she has been a Cambridge resident for almost half a century, where she lived with her husband and raised two children. Asian Boston: You wrote your first play when you were almost 40-years-old after writing short stories all your life. What triggered you?  Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro: I was unsuccessfully trying to write a novel that included a chapter on the internment camps and realized that it fell into three sections (the assembly centers, the relocation centers, and the segregation centers), so I turned it into “Behind Enemy Lines,” a three-act play. It was performed at NYC’s Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in 1980. 

AB: Were there any Asian actors then?

flamboyant death seemed to be readymade for the stage.

RYA: Yes, in New York City, but in Boston, where it premiered at People’s Theater in Cambridge, we couldn’t find a single experienced Asian actor when we tried to cast the Japanese American family. The father was Jewish, mother was Portuguese, the older son was Chinese from MIT who had only acted in high school, and the younger son was African-American. Now, many years later, it would not be difficult to find younger Asian-American actors, but it is still very difficult to find an elderly Asian actor.

AB: Tell me about your contemporary Japanese-American play, “Before I Leave You.”

AB: In 1992, you produced a film called, “Japanese American Women: A Sense of Place.” How was your experience? RYA: It was about JapaneseAmerican women’s struggle with stereotypes concerning race and gender. I used to feel that being JapaneseAmerican was to be neither Japanese nor American, but I met so many Asian women while making the film that it has made me feel part of a Pan-Asian community.  AB: Did you feel connected to your Japanese heritage in your play, “Mishima?” RYA: I wrote “Mishima” because I met him when I was a freshman at Radcliffe, and my parents knew him. Mishima’s longing for the old Japan, fascination with the martial arts and a

RYA: It is a play about four friends who are forced to confront old age and death when one of them comes down with an idiopathic illness. It’s as if Death sat down at the table, and one had to decide whether to stay and be supportive or to flee. In Koji, one of the main characters, I was trying to create a complicated man who refused to regard himself as a victim or as a member of the model minority. I hope he came across as totally human and even a bit villainous, the sort of role that most actors like to play. AB: Which direction are we heading and what’s happening in Boston?  RYA:  I love quirky plays like Julia Cho’s “BFE,” which is about loneliness and also the destructive urge to be beautiful in a blonde sort of way. In Boston, Asian theater is blossoming. Last year, there was A.R.T.’s “Wild Swans,” my play at Huntington, Company One’s “Hookman” and Lyric Stage’s wonderful production of “Chinglish.” This year, we have two exciting shows at Company One: “You for Me for You” and “She Kills Monsters.” This is great for local actors: Michael Tow, for instance, has had big roles in three of these shows, and is now well known in the Boston theater community.   


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