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ASIAN BOSTON

SPRING 2011

Levy Li

miss malaysia

Cover Story

Dr. Bishal Mainali

Dr. Michio Kaku

the man from kathmandu

OUT OF THIS WORLD

Leverett Wing

apiavote executive director

Jennifer Nguyen banh mi ba le

Alice Leung of Top Sprouts business spotlight

Jeremy Lin

harvard goes to golden state

Dr. Jim Yong Kim

president, dartmouth college

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Contact Information AsianBoston, PO Box 52137, Boston, MA 02205 Attn: Leo Anthony p: 617 275 4249 e: info@asianboston.com w: asianboston.com AsianBoston Merchandise & Advertising Merchandise: asianboston.com Advertising: info@asianboston.com Front Cover Credits Photo of Dr. Michio Kaku by Rob Klein Front cover sponsored by Club Thermae Salon & Spa 20 Hudson Street, 3rd Floor, Boston p: 617 830 6854 w: clubthermaesalon.com

guess the building

This issue is dedicated to the memory of ‘Everyone’s Uncle,’

REGGIE WONG Boston Knights

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Page 18

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Dr. Mainali

4-5 6 7 8 9 12 13 14-15 16 17 18-19 20 21 23 24-25 26 27 28 29 30-36 37 38 39 40 42-43 44 45 46

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Jeremy Lin Dr. Jim Yong Kim Dr. Michio Kaku Cover Story Levy Li Leverett Wing Thu Ha HELP for Laos Business At First Glance Cliff Wong / Thai Royalty Part V Medical Monthly Around The Country New York City Around The World Casting & Media Jan Lamb Ramesh & Kavitha Wah Lum Banh Mi Ba Le Restaurants Chinatown Main Street (CMS) Automotive Kim’s Jewelry Mandy Chan Entertainment Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Style & Beauty Health & Fitness

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Barbara Beauty Solutions barbarabeautysolutions.com For Herin, Tiki, Yan, Annie, Erroll James Goka Love gokalove.com For Dorothy, Jennifer, Thanie

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Al Young Alexa Margarian Ana Y. Leon Angel Lak Anna Ing Anna Tsui Cholthanee Koerojana Clifford Wong Edna Lee Gloria Yong Gunnar Glueck Jackie Batchelder Joanne Choi Julie Pham Marianne Ruggiero Mariko Kanto Mark Ge Michael C. Tow Russell Chin, Esq. Seong-Hoon Chung Suchi Dubrenski Victor Ng Virginia Payne William C. Tran Yurie Okada Zara Dedi

Photography

Brian Kwok Carlton SooHoo (Photo Editor) Charles Daniels Christopher X. Wong Darren Tow Gunnar Glueck Igor Rumyanstev James Wang Jeff Moy Oxana Dmitrieva Rob Klein Vincent SooHoo

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Deborah Lee Elaine Lau Tony M. Yee

AsianBoston 8-Ball Pool Tournament Please visit Asianboston.com for complete details


JEREMY LIN The kid can play

By Al Young

Photo from Rocky Widner/NBA Photos/Getty 1

ASIAN


For Jeremy Lin, there’s no place like home. Following a stellar four-year college career at Harvard, Lin is right where he hoped to be: back in the San Francisco Bay Area, playing with his favorite NBA team, the Golden State Warriors. ‘‘Obviously, playing in the NBA is a dream come true,’’ said Lin, after signing a 2-year, free-agent contract with the Warriors last July that reportedly guarantees him half of his rookie salary estimated at $500,000. “But it’s really a dream come true playing for a team I grew up cheering for.’’ Born and raised in Palo Alto, California, some 20 miles away from Oakland’s Oracle Arena, where the Warriors play, Lin’s homecoming was an improbable 8-year journey that began in high school. Eight years of obstacles, skepticism and an unrelenting determination to prove himself constantly at every level he’s played.

The buzz about Lin’s Asian heritage and basketball talent began around his junior year at Harvard, when he finished the season as the only Division I player in the country to rank among the top 10 of his conference in every statistical category, and earned the first of two All Ivy first-team honors. By his senior year, national media attention from Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and the Washington Post continued to fuel his reluctant celebrity. Not to mention the hundreds of YouTube clips, blogs, and websites about him — including JeremyLin.net, which received 20,000 hits the day he signed with the Warriors. A year ago December, when Harvard played at Santa Clara University, 15 miles from Palo Alto, there was a capacity crowd that included a few hundred Asians sporting Jeremy Lin T-shirts and holding up ‘‘Lin’s 4 Real!’’ signs, playing off his jersey number. His teammates

scholarships, Lin chose Harvard, where he majored in economics and graduated last May with a 3.1 grade-point-average. At Harvard, Lin’s game’s steadily blossomed. In his 2009-10 senior year, Lin averaged 16.4 points and 4.4 assists and led Harvard to its winningest season ever at 21-8 and first post-season tournament since 1946. He was also a finalist for both the Bob Cousy (best point guard) and John Wooden (player of the year) national awards. Lin finished his Harvard career No. 1 in games played (115) and was the only player in Ivy League history to record 1,450 points (1,482, 5th best at Harvard), 450 rebounds (494), 400 assists (406), and 200 steals (225). One of the highlights of his career came as a senior in a six-point loss to 12th nationally ranked UConn when he turned in a 30-point, 9-rebound, 3-assist performance, shedding the stigma that Ivy League players can’t ball

It won’t get any easier this season as Lin, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, tries to prove he’s capable of being a backup to the Warriors’ two star guards, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Playing in the NBA as a rookie is stressful enough, but Lin will also be scrutinized as the league’s first Taiwanese American player. Lin’s parents emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the 1970s. Lin credits his dad, GieMing, a computer engineer who fell in love with the NBA when he got here, for teaching him and his two brothers the game and spending hours together after school practicing fundamentals at the local YMCA. While Asian-born players such as Chinese superstar Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets and compatriot Yi Jianlian (Washington Wizards) are no longer a novelty in the NBA, Asian American players are still a rare breed (Wat Misaka, a Japanese American born in Ogden, Utah, was the first in 1947, when he played in three games for the New York Knicks). ‘‘I’m aware of all that, but I’m just going to be focused on playing basketball,’’ said Lin, a devout Christian, with a humble, unassuming demeanor. ‘‘I’m a basketball player. Everyone wants to focus on me being Asian American. But, me being a basketball player, and me being Christian, is more important to me than just being simply Asian American.’’ ASIAN BOSTON

said, ‘‘It was like Hong Kong.’’ Lin did experience playing in Asia three days after signing with the Warriors when Yao Ming called and invited him to Taiwan to play in his charity game. The Taiwanese fans loved him, too. However, being Asian American also has its drawbacks. On every level, people have doubted his athletic prowess partly because of his ethnicity. Even on the court when he proved he had game, Lin has endured his share of racial taunts. ‘‘It’s hindered me in terms of people’s perception of me,’’ Lin said. ‘‘I’ve always been an underdog and never got that immediate respect, partly because I’m Asian American. That put a chip on my shoulder and really motivated me. In the end, it’s only made me a stronger person and basketball player.’’ Despite leading Palo Alto High to the Division II state championship in 2006 as the senior captain and being named the Northern California Division II Player of the Year, Lin never received one NCAA Division I scholarship offer. His top three choices, Stanford, UCLA, and Cal showed little interest other than walk-on offers. So, Lin turned his attention east, where Brown and Harvard, a pair of Ivy League schools, came courting and gave him official visits. Even though Ivies do not offer athletic

Photo by Gil Talbot

“I’ve always been an underdog and never got that immediate respect, partly because I’m Asian American. That put a chip on my shoulder and really motivated me. In the end, it’s only made me a stronger person and basketball player.”

with the big boys. After graduation, Lin worked out with eight teams before last June’s NBA Draft. He went undrafted but remained undaunted. In July, the Dallas Mavericks invited Lin to play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he impressed in five games off the bench. He averaged 9.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in nearly 19 minutes a game. But, Lin made an indelible mark in the final game against the Washington Wizards, going head-to-head with John Wall and upstaging the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick to wow the crowd and pro scouts. After his summer league performance, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavericks and the Warriors came calling with contracts in hand. For this Harvard grad, it was a no-brainer. ‘‘I’m ready to play at this level,’’ said Lin, who scored the first two points of his NBA career against the Lakers in the Warriors’ third game of the 2010-11 season. ‘‘I’m just going to be me, and hopefully everybody can embrace that. I’m looking forward to playing with the Warriors.’’ Likewise, many fans -- especially his growing legion of followers from the Bay Area’s large Asian community -- are looking forward to seeing him play and having him home again.

inform. entertain. relate.

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Story by Victor Ng, Photo by Pierre Virot, courtesy of dartmouth.edu

O

n July 1, 2009, Dr. Jim Yong Kim became the first Asian-American to assume the post of the 17th president of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school strong in liberal arts. There are several reasons why this man earned this prestigious position. Growing up in a big sports high school in Iowa, Kim displayed his leadership at a young age by quarterbacking the football team, playing point guard for the basketball team, and he was the valedictorian and president of his high school class. Having hard working, education-oriented parents, Kim piled on the academic achievements, like magna cum laude from Brown University in 1982, M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1991, and

a Ph.D. from Harvard University, Department of Anthropology in 1993. Dr. Kim wanted to improve health conditions in developing countries, like Haiti, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and the U.S. He played an influential role in organizations such as Partners in Health, World Health Organization, Global Health Delivery Project and Incentives for Global Health. In fact, Time Magazine named Dr. Jim Yong Kim one of the top 100 most influential people in the world (2006), US News & World Report named him one of America’s 25 Best Leaders (2005) and in 2003, Kim received the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Award.” Change to our country’s health care delivery is just one of the challenges that President Kim will be initiating at the college, having great resources such as the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. There is an opportunity to create a solution to a global issue and it won’t be long before we feel the impact of his work. Thank you, Dr. Kim, for your pioneering and leadership. www.dartmouth.edu

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ASIAN BOSTON

Paving

THE

IVY WAY


“Michio Kaku? Oh, I like him,” says Stephen Colbert, the humorous host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Apparently, Colbert is such a huge fan of the celebrity theoretical physicist from Manhattan that he invited Dr. Kaku on the show for a talk about string field theory, which Colbert satirically remarked as “the craziest type of physics.” Crazy as it sounds; as co-founder of string field theory, Dr. Kaku believes that this super force is the answer to Albert Einstein’s infamous “unified field theory” or, the “theory of everything.” Born to Japanese immigrant parents in Palo Alto, California, which later became known as Silicon Valley; Michio realized early in his childhood that his parents were poor and if he was going to go to college, he would have to do it on his own. He recalled that it was at age 8 that his life changed after reading about the death of Einstein, the father of modern physics. It was frontpage news and had a picture of Einstein’s desk and an unfinished manuscript on top. Fascinated by this mystery, Michio had to figure out what that manuscript was and why Einstein couldn’t finish it. Perhaps, he could help complete it! It turns out that it was the unfinished unified field theory manuscript, “the theory of everything - one equation, perhaps only one inch long, that would solve the creation and [evolution] of the universe, the formation of the planets and the stars, the creation of life on earth and even maybe love!” Dr. Kaku exclaimed. This fascination along with his enthrallment about a world of rocket ships, aliens, ray guns, and traveling to other stars and galaxies (which arose from watching Saturday morning cartoons, like Flash Gordon) influenced his life and introduced him to the world of advanced physics. Instead of playing sports or flirting with girls in high school, Michio was occupied with building atom smashers or playing with antimatter. Evidently, those scientific extracurricular activities took him to the national science fair where he was noticed by a famed theoretical physicist who’s also known as “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” Edward Teller. At the time, Teller was recruiting bright young minds and sending them to Harvard University to become brilliant physicists of tomorrow. Upon graduating summa cum laude and number one in his class at Harvard, Michio declined Teller’s offer to work on a “Star Wars” system to build nuclear weapons and hydrogen warheads to defend against the Russians. After all, his passion was set in completing Einstein’s dream – the theory ASIAN BOSTON

of everything. “That meant working on an explosion that’s bigger than the hydrogen bomb, which is the Big Bang Theory – the biggest explosion. It’s the creation of the universe,” he thought. Since then, Dr. Kaku and many other Japanese American physicists have made tremendous progress in the development of string theory. One of their primary targets is to create a new class of particles called sparticles. “If we can create super particles, then that would go a long way in verifying the correctness of string theory,” he explained. “The theory of everything states that all matter is made out of tiny little strings instead of point particles. String theory is made up of sub-atomic particles that are notes on vibrating strings. Physics is nothing but the laws of harmony on the strings. Chemistry is nothing but the melodies you can play on these vibrating strings,” Dr. Kaku continued. With such a knack for easy explanations of physics, it’s no wonder he’s considered one of the most charming and charismatic physicists today! This is also evident through the popularity of his many books including the New York Times Bestseller, Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel. In addition, he shares his knowledge and discoveries on his two radio shows that are broadcast over 130 radio stations around the country. His hit TV show, Sci-Fi Science, debuted last year with the highest rating on the Science Channel and going on its 2nd season. He loves the perks of his job as he takes a TV crew around the world, for the BBC and the Discovery Channel, to major laboratories and picks the brains of more than 300 of the world’s top scientists. His winning personality and triumphs in the field have won him respect from colleagues, international recognition and high profile one-on-one meetings with Stephen Spielberg and James Cameron. “This is a fun job!” he smiled. As he continues to engage the public, he reiterates that science is everywhere and that everything around us is a by-product of science. That all the inventions around us, computers, machines, transistors, lasers, the internet and telecommunications all come from physics. He reminds us that it is the engine to prosperity and that anything is possible... so we may not be too far away from that vacation to Venus in the near future. That’s why the world has taken him more seriously than only, “a Japanese man with crazy long hair talking about science…” as Colbert jokingly stated on his show.

cover story

DR. MICHIO

KAKU

IS A THEORETICAL

PHYSICIST, A BEST-SELLING

AUTHOR, AND A TV STAR

Story by Julie T. Pham, Photos by Rob Klein

Above, Dr. Kaku with Nick Sagan, son of famed Carl Sagan

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Story by Suchi Dubrenski Photo by Carlton SooHoo

a woman who includes among her most exciting experiences shooting live bullets at the China Gun Club shooting range in Kowloon, Hong Kong. See more at: www.levyli.com

Rwoman

woman is destined to be the next Martha Stewart or Oprah Winfrey, given her diverse skill and talent set combined with her ambition and seemingly inexhaustible energy. Despite all that the future holds for Levy, there is still a refreshing sense of modesty. Levy stated, “I want to leave a remarkable footprint in this society, be a real ambassador and make our country of Malaysia proud.” Still, as with all individuals of profound achievement and noted celebrity status, there is also Levy Li the person. A peek behind the public persona illuminates the catalyst driving her: a passion to learn, excel and take risks. Her hobbies include traveling across the globe to learn cultural differences, and learning an array of languages that would leave even the most skilled linguist gasping in astonishment. All this from

enaissance

L

evy Li is a one woman show of dynamic proportions whose grace, style and energy has made her one of the most successful women of her generation. Levy is a student, model, spokesperson and entrepreneur. A Malaysian of mixed Chinese and Thai descent, Levy was Miss Malaysia 2008, and represented her country in the Miss Universe pageant held in Vietnam in June 2008. Levy graduated in 2004 from SMK Subang Utama and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, majoring in Broadcasting at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia. In 2009, Levy became the first Miss Malaysia winner to further her studies at Harvard Extension School in Boston, Massachusetts. Due to her interest in the current global crisis, she passionately chose to major in environmental studies. During the summer of 2009, Levy completed a digital filmmaking and acting course at New York Film Academy and learned the art of improvisation through Improv Asylum in Boston’s North End. Levy started her career as a professional model and spokesperson after her success in winning the Miss Malaysia title, which was her first participation in a beauty pageant. Levy is actively involved with Malaysia International Fashion Week, Stylo, MODA, and has been featured in many international and local magazines. At the age of 18, she began her first startup company, an online fashion business in Malaysia, and was quickly trumpeted as one of the country’s bright young entrepreneurial stars. She’s been appointed both Wacoal Malaysia ambassador and Shiseido Malaysia ambassador. This year, Levy hit the runway in Boston, Massachusetts, with Christian Siriano and Yigal Azrouel Spring Summer collections. In June, Levy began work on her second start-up company with three fellow Harvard Business School students. This start-up is a social enterprise project, Chauffeur Safe, which launched in Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, this Renaissance woman has accomplished so much, so quickly, there doesn’t seem much left to do. But, she may be just warming up. Politics, business, non-profits, broadcasting or the high-powered fashion industry await this multitalented woman and any career path chosen will almost immediately feel the Levy Li imprint. One can’t help but think that this


L

everett Wing jokes with his trademark gregariousness that, yes, he has a problem with a certain Earl. In this case, Hurricane Earl (downgraded from a much anticipated hurricane to a mere tropical storm) caused a lot of issues for previously held vacations, and, importantly, threw a wrench in the launch of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) Boston. Congressman Mike Honda of California was unable to fly in because of Earl’s predicted chaos. Thus, the well-dressed crowd of supporters gathered in downtown Boston on Friday, September 3. Leverett, executive director of APIAVote, and his staff put on their program, which included a lively, powerhouse panel. Sonia Chang-Díaz, state senator, and Lisa Wong, mayor of Fitchburg, were among the speakers. The evening was a notable success if measured by attendance, quality of program, and raising APIAVote’s visibility. Assuming many responsibilities is a day in the life for Leverett. Some of the hats Leverett currently wears or has donned in the past include: executive director of the Asian American Commission (AAC), member of the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) board, member of the Joslin Diabetes Center Board, one of the founders of A Spoonful of Ginger event, WGBH board member, advisory committee member at Color Magazine, NAAAP (National Association of Asian American Professionals), advisory board, and president and general manager of his family’s

ASIAN BOSTON

company, Lee Wing Management. His unflagging commitment, experience, passion and political connections are one of the many reasons that Leverett is ideal as the executive director for APIAVote. Leverett’s 11 years in the Massachusetts Senate, working for former Senate President Tom Birmingham, taught him how to navigate the world of state politics. APIAVote is a non-partisan organization that “works with partners to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” and promotes civic engagement nationwide. Leverett took over the reins about a year ago. When asked about the organization and its direction, he had these thoughts: “I think we need to start laying the foundations for the 2012 presidential elections. We have our plan in place for the 2010 mid-term elections. I would like to expand the number of states we are in.” When asked about some of his most memorable experiences working for Tom Birmingham and being in the State House, Leverett shared that Tom Burmingham declined an invitation to meet Vice President Gore on the tarmac at the airport because he was going to his daughter’s hockey game. Leverett said, “I was like, Wow. Family is the most important thing.” Family is on his mind a lot these days. Leverett credits his mother and wife for their support and enabling him to do what he does. He candidly shares, “My mom worries that I am spread too thin. She will be very blunt with me. I take a lot of pride

in doing things right.” Taking an idea, giving it his all and running with it is the essence of what Leverett brings to the table. Maybe that is why he enjoys watching the Boston Celtics so much. He views a super charged live manifestation of opportunity meets talent meets commitment, and this combination relaxes him. These days, Leverett may not be the only Asian face on the scene, but that is the way he likes it. He can take credit for paving the way one event and one committee at a time.

man of many responsibilities

LEVERETT WING By Joanne M. Choi, Photo courtesy of Leverett Wing

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Connecting Cultures


HELP for Laos: A Conversation with Manivone Thikeo By Marianne Ruggiero

C

an one person change the health care system of a country? Manivone Thikeo, clinical psychologist and native of Laos, says yes, and she’s going to make it happen. Dr. Thikeo is the Executive Director of HELP: Health Enhancement for Laotian People. I recently met with Manivone at her home in Cranston, Rhode Island, where she lives and works. As I sip raspberry tea in a sunny kitchen, she talks alarming facts: Laos is the most bombed country in history. Its people’s traumas have gone untreated due to the lack of a mental health system. In response, Manivone assembled a team of top mental health professionals who assessed the country’s needs and created a comprehensive treatment plan, soon to begin. She will return to Laos in December to work as its first Clinical Psychologist. The source of Manivone’s dedication to those in need is made clear as she talks with quiet intensity about her childhood. She was four when the Communists seized control in 1975, and her life thereafter was marked by poverty and pain. She recalls a growing awareness of her father’s alcoholism; evenings spent hiding under her bed while the sounds of gunfire and human suffering filled her ears; caring for a beloved older cousin in the final stages of cancer when she was just 12. The cousin’s final wish was that her young caregiver would grow up to be a nurse, but Manivone would eventually enter medical school in Vientiane, Laos, to become a doctor. “When I first saw American dorms, I couldn’t believe the luxury,” she remarks. “Mine was like a jail cell. We were served two meals a day; one bowl of soup was shared by five students.” After seven years, Manivone applied to graduate school in the U.S. Luck or fate had brought her to the attention of Atsuo and Haruko Fujimoto, a Japanese couple who sponsored her studies at Boston University’s School of Public Health, and legally adopted her. “New culture, new everything… how did you do it?” I ask. She answers, “I knew I had to produce a thesis within a year, so I started putting it together soon after starting the program. It was tough with the language barrier.” She managed to get the thesis (on HIV in developing countries) and her Master’s Degree done in one year. At her graduation party, Manivone met Thanongphone Chantharangsy, a software ASIAN BOSTON

engineer and native of Vientiane; they married in 2002. After working as a Clinical Case Manager, in Boston and in Providence, Manivone took a giant step by applying to URI’s PhD program in Clinical Psychology. Accepted from more than 400 applicants, she was the program’s first Laotian candidate. Studying a field that did not exist in Laos opened up worlds of possibility; her dissertation was on “Cambodian and Laotian Cultural Beliefs and Attitudes towards Seeking Help from Professional Psychologists.” “Mental disorders aren’t recognized in my country,” she explains. “People are simply piba, crazy.” HELP will seek to overturn these notions about piba through education and by introducing therapeutic treatment. Manivone will be working in Vientiane’s Mahosoth Hospital, where one of the country’s two psychiatrists practices. Supported by national and international health organizations, she will direct an intensive mental health training program for doctors and nurses. “How will you help people from outlying villages,” I ask, “who would never seek professional treatment?” “Through outreach,” she answers. “They won’t come to us, so we’ll go to them. Laotian people don’t say ‘I feel sad or troubled.’ We need to look for physical manifestations of disorders and gradually get people talking about feelings.” A media campaign is planned, and I have no doubt that this soft-spoken, but determined young woman will be a persuasive spokesperson. As the sun sets, Manivone talks about the family’s move to a new home halfway around the world. As if on cue, her 4-year old son Kelvin bursts into the kitchen, armed with a toy helicopter. Manivone looks at the carefree child, perhaps recalling the little girl whose childhood ended abruptly at four. “I plan to write a book about my life, not for myself, but for people who face problems in life. I want to show that no matter how tough things get, they can make it through.” I leave with Kelvin’s laughter echoing behind me and with the certainty that Manivone’s vision for a new Laos will come true. Not overnight, maybe not next year, but gradually she is going to change the face of health services in her country. www.helplao.org

Manivone Thikeo

Laos Bombings: 1965-1975

During the Vietnam War, the US spread combat operations to neighboring Laos. Laos experienced more than 30,000 casualties during the bombings, more than 20,000 people have died since bombing ceased in 1974 due to leftover unexploded munitions, and many more tens of thousands were needlessly displaced. A UN report notes that Laos is, per capita, the most bombed country on the planet, with .84 tons of explosives dropped per person from the years 1965 to 1974 (www.peterslarson.com)

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Immigration: Surviving the THE FRAUD MARRIAGE INTERVIEW Married couples must pass an immigration interview in order to secure a green card for the alien spouse. If the officer suspects fraud, your next interview could be with the Fraud Unit. All interviews are conducted with the spouses in separate rooms and the results are compared. What triggers suspicion of fraud? Even truly married couples can be suspected of fraud for many reasons: personal characteristics, lifestyle or language differences, disparities in age, race, class, religion, education or variances in living quarters. Typically, fraud interviews are conducted in the U.S. after the consular interview or when one applies to remove conditions on a green card. The Fraud Unit interview will be far more intense, probing and extensive. Having an attorney present is strongly recommended. Spouses placed in separate rooms will be asked a set of identical or near identical questions. If the answers don’t match up well enough, each may be subjected to additional questioning until one of them makes a mistake, confesses or is able to convince the fraud investigator that the marriage is genuine.

Some officers may falsely state that one spouse has confessed to fraud to get a reaction from the other spouse. There usually is mention of fines, penalties and jail time. One officer may be harsh while another appears helpful. One may be asked to sign a document confessing that the marriage is fraudulent. Do not sign anything without an attorney present. Be sure to write down or memorize the officer’s name, often displayed on the desk or ID badge. Bring a matching set of house keys. If you are temporarily separated from each other, bring a letter from your school, marriage counselor or clergyman attesting to your marriage and efforts to work through any problems you are having. It is impossible to anticipate every ques-

By Russell Chin, Esq.

tion that an officer may ask in a fraud interview. Questions often concern your relationship, each other’s personality, employment, the wedding ceremony, relatives, children, values, house, and the particulars of the rooms in the house, technology, floor layout, colors and furniture. Remember to bring adequate and proper documentation to the interview to help avoid the Fraud Unit interview. Examples of documentation include: wedding invitations, proof of joint accounts such as bank statements, club memberships, tax returns, credit card statements, phone/utility bills, rental agreements, car insurance and vehicle titles. Examples of personal documentation include birth certificates of mutual children, family photographs, letters and emails between each other, cell phone records, hotel and airline receipts of your trips and visits together, and holiday greeting cards to and from both of you. Cooperation is important throughout the immigration process. But, it is also important to maintain good records and to be prepared for contingencies. A good attorney can assist you through this process, but avoiding fraud is the first step.

Behavioral Roadblocks to Successful Investing By Michael C. Tow, CFP

Many investors are in search of the next stock that will hit it big or a mutual fund that will have the returns like the Magellan Fund in the 1980s. If only they could identify that stock or mutual fund and then they could be successful in investing. However, successful investing is more about a person’s investing behavior rather than finding the stock that will be the next Microsoft. Let’s look at two investor behaviors that are roadblocks to successful investing. Let’s take an example of a person who wants to start to invest. Since they have a long-term time horizon and would like more diversity than one stock, they decide to invest in a mutual fund. But only after a few months, the mutual loses money. They wait a few more months and the mutual fund

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loses even more money. Investors may feel like they were burned, and then decide they don’t want to invest or have anything further to do with mutual funds. Investor psychologists call this the “Snake Bite Effect.” When a snake bites you, you become very cautious. The “Snake Bite Effect” is when a person loses money and becomes risk averse to that type of investment. Now a mutual fund may be good for this investor over the long-term, it would be detrimental to their investment plan if they avoided this type of investment entirely. This is similar to what happened to many people over the last few years. Many investors lost money in mutual funds and became risk averse to the point where they were hurting themselves. People who lose money don’t always be-

BUSINESS

come risk averse. In fact, they might exhibit a “Break Even” behavior. This is most evident at racetracks. The behavior of gamblers who bet on long shots increases at the end of the day, as people want the opportunity to break even without risking a lot of money. This also can happen with investors. Some investors, who lose a significant amount of money, try to make back the money and break even by buying more risky and aggressive investments. This investor without such a loss would normally not want to invest in this risky type of investment. Once an investor takes undue risk, this becomes one of the biggest investor mistakes. Being aware of your investing behavior biases and the potential harm these behaviors can have on your investing goals is a big step to becoming a successful investor!

Connecting Cultures


Greenhouses

Coming to a Rooftop Near You

Story by Ana Y. Leon

W

hat if you could get more local than vegetables from the nearest farm—for Bostonians, a mere seven miles from the State House? What if you could access fresh herbs and leafy greens all year round? Is Boston ready for this shake-up? Alice Leung, Founder and CEO of Top Sprouts, a company ready to “integrate rooftop greenhouse systems” across the country, thinks so. She wants to bring fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs closer to you—as close as your rooftop—all year round. Her idea stems from a trip to New York’s Science Barge, “a self-sustaining renewable energy project.” The Science Barge, recently relocated to Yonkers, NY, is a sustainable urban Greenhouse powered by a biodiesel generator, wind turbine and biofuels. Its crops are grown hydroponically in a closed loop environment, using mineral solutions in water instead of soil and reducing water loss by as much as 10 times when compared to traditional farming methods. Its mission, like Alice’s, is to educate urban dwellers in sustainable living. She says “Educating the general public on the issues of the current agricultural system and knowing that food travels thousands of miles to the northeast during winter.” This is her motivation for working in the green industry, after earning her MBA from Babson College. Before her trek to business school, Alice served as community organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association for three years. She worked side-by-side with Boston’s Chinatown residents to overcome language barriers, increase community involvement, and advocate for a voice in new developments in the neighborhood. During this time, a number of large housing developments moved into the area creating a “ripple effect in which hundreds of families saw a shocking increase of rent by 1025%.” Despite these battles, she remained invested in tackling immigrant issues including housing, access to better jobs, education and helping those looking for a better quality of life.

With her dedication to community, Alice, the sales and marketing force, and the Top Sprouts’ management team (Akshay Kolte, director of finances; Del Mandawe, who oversees project construction) is geared up to start construction of their greenhouses. The structures are pre-fabricated with an aluminum frame, hard plastics and glass. For it to be environmentally sustainable, a closed-loop system (some or all of its output is used as its input) is installed. Alice explains, “Constructing a closelooped system eliminates the problem of run-off,” which occurs when water flowing along the ground becomes contaminated. The greenhouse will use passive cooling in the summer and thermal blankets in the winter, allowing plants to thrive year round. Situating the greenhouse atop buildings adds another heating element by capturing waste heat the building emits. Supermarkets with large refrigeration units, bakeries and restaurants with ovens, and even old buildings, emit a great deal of heat making them ideal sites for rooftop greenhouses. Alice notes that, “Top Sprouts is not introducing new technology. Instead, we are fitting the mechanics together so that their environmental and social impact makes agronomic sense.” Top Sprouts will have a Greenhouse grower planning and maintaining a growing calendar that focuses on the needs of the community. As a start-up, they are still figuring out the best model for selling the produce. For now, they are considering wholesale to restaurants and grocery stores, which will allow these businesses to offer fresh, local greens and herbs year round. Their first greenhouse will launch atop a 30,000 square foot building, containing a bakery, in Boston, MA. The team is looking for funding from investors interested in the green industry and potentially government grants. The next time you are in the city, don’t forget to look up; you may see a rising glass structure growing tomatoes and basil in December.

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

15


Thriller Writer

Gordon Mathieson

Bridges East-West Gap By Suchi Dubrenski

G

ordon Mathieson writes with passion, intrigue, and most importantly, a spirit of greater understanding between the Asian and non-Asian communities. The driving force behind The Color of Ice, his latest tale, was and is to highlight Chinese and Chinese American characters in contemporary, non-traditional or stereotypical roles. He also visualizes this novel as a film. Quite simply, Mathieson believes this novel has screen potential for showcasing Asian American actors in a new and fresh way previously unseen either in prose or film format. It is an opportunity for young, talented Asian American actors to delve into roles previously deemed commercially and aesthetically uninspiring and often relegated to a producer’s slush pile. Mathieson hopes to change all that, and with only 5 main characters in the story—4 Asian and 1 American. He also hopes Hollywood will take notice. A prolific writer, Mathieson is preparing to launch his next literary project in the young adult genre: The Becky Bing mystery series Hook Island and Summer Games. Each will feature Becky Bing, a 16-year-old Chinese American. She is a “modern-day Nancy Drew” stumbling across serious crimes she must solve on her own. Becky, a high school junior, is smart, confident, edgy, feisty but also compassionate. As with The Color of Ice, the Becky Bing series emphasizes the Chinese culture and Chinese language where appropriate; educating and enlightening readers about Asian Americans embedded in a good story. Gordon Mathieson has written fiction for nearly ten years. In addition to his own work, he has helped people by ghostwriting books and memoirs for others. After 30 years 16

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in the Information Technology field, most of which was at Yale University, he now writes novels that have been part of his professional and personal psyche for decades. Prior to working in the computing and information field, he was a Mandarin Chinese translator for the National Security Agency where much of this experience inspired his latest release The Color of Ice. This experience leading up to the novel is encapsulated in one phrase according to Mathieson: “It was all around the Chinese language.” From this foundation, his knowledge, appreciation and love of the Chinese culture grew. Mathieson experienced his own cultural epiphany as a young Air Force cadet stationed in the Pacific. He vividly recalls writing home in a letter citing his misguided understanding of China and the Chinese culture in a naïve but astonishing nature. “Boy, these people are so different from the way we live,” wrote a young Gordon Mathieson. Bewilderment quickly gave way to a common sense understanding of the cultural divide. “Within months I was saying you know what, they really aren’t so different at all. They’re just like all of us,” he recalls. This understanding evolved into a reverence of China, its people and culture; a love and emotional bonding that has spawned numerous deep and personal friendships between Mathieson and Chinese, both in Asia and with Chinese Americans. The genesis of the novel The Color of Ice is from Mathieson’s belief that the Chinese and Chinese Americans are, even today, not well understood by Westerners. To that end, he wrote the novel as a means of educating as well as entertaining readers. “I always had a place in my heart for Chinese people.” Mandarin plays a pivotal role in the

AT FIRST GLANCE

novel’s plot development. “The language is very integral to the plot. For those people who aren’t familiar with Chinese language or Chinese culture, they’re going to learn a heck of a lot by reading this story.” The Chinese American culture has not always been given its fair due when it comes to telling great stories with Chinese American characters. Gordon Mathieson brings a new literary awakening.

Cover of Gordon Mathieson’s latest tale, an Asian-themed story called ‘The Color of Ice”

Connecting Cultures


TIME } WISDOM } VIRTUE The man who had the greatest impact on my life was my late father, who was a Chinese herbalist, the last in a long line of an honorable family tradition. As a first generation Chinese-American, I experienced cultures, the many virtues as well as the deficiencies. I took for granted many of the virtues of my heritage. My perception of cultural strengths and weaknesses was distorted. To me, assertive people prevailed; the meek failed. When reminded of our ethnic stereotypes, I frowned. My role models were exemplars of Western-like strength and assertiveness, movie stars or sports figures. They were the antithesis of my father; the stereotypical Chinese immigrant: a patient, trusting and humble, industrious, gentle man. My father was invariably decent and trusting of others. As an adolescent, I failed to appreciate these attributes; instead, I perceived many of his mannerisms to be symbolic of weakness. If a regular customer was short of cash, my father would say, “no problem, pay me tomorrow.” If he found money that didn’t belong to him, he would search, unrelentingly, until he found its rightful owner. He always did so much for so many, asking for so little in return. What kind of business sense was that? How would he ever make his fortune? How

foolish I thought him to be, always giving, and seldom taking. As the years passed, however, I came to realize what a special person he was not only to his family, but also to those he came into contact. My father rarely lectured; instead, he led by his example. Not so surprisingly, I’ve grown to be so much like my father. When people mention that I am like him, I swell with pride. I hope that I can be the positive example to others that my father was to me. As a guidance counselor at Boston Technical High School, I am in a position to shape young minds. I hope to make a difference, for my community and for the wider educational community. Much of our hope for change depends upon the attitudes of our young people. How can I make a beneficial impact on the leaders of tomorrow? The best way to begin is to set that good example, and to be as genuine as possible… to be like someone I once knew. The rest of it – caring and empathy – will come naturally. My message to young people is to seek and to emulate proper role models. They may be much closer than you realize. Respect others, work hard and value honesty and integrity. Whatever your endeavor, set a good example for yourself and for others. Go that extra mile, enrich someone’s life, and make a difference. Sounds somewhat corny, perhaps,

By Cliff Wong

but in these dark and difficult times, a breath of fresh air is in order. I credit my late father for all my worthwhile deeds and accomplishments, however modest or impressive. True, as a youngster in the inner city I was far from being a model citizen. Time and wisdom coming from a source greater than I, has enabled me to appreciate life’s greater virtues, and from where they derived.

Photo by Igor Rumyantsev

Part V: Trail of Thai Royalty in Massachusetts 1916-1928 During Dr. Sayre’s mission in Siam (Thailand), he became a good friend to Prince Mahidol of Siam, who later became the father of two kings, King Anandha (Rama VIII) and King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). From 1926 to 1928, Prince Mahidol, with his wife and their children: Princess Galyani Vadhana, Prince Anandha, who became King Rama VIII, stayed in Massachusetts while Prince Mahidol completed his studies. The king’s family spent time with the Sayre’s family at their home in Cambridge and their summer home in West Chop. At the time, Francis Jr. was 11 years old, Prince Anandha was one and Princess Galyani Vadhana was three. Dr. Sayre and his wife were invited to have an audience with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on His Majesty’s Birthday on December 5, 1953. The king conferred upon Dr. Sayre the Royal Cypher medal encrusted with the king’s initials (Por-Phor-Ror), all in diamonds. It was noted in Thailand’s ASIAN BOSTON

historical records that Her Majesty Princess Suvadana, a princess consort of King Rama VI, praised Dr. Francis Bowes Sayre when he came to Thailand in 1962 to visit H.R.H. Princess Bejaratana, the only child of King Rama VI. Princess Suvadana said, “Chao Khun, you are the great friend of my husband and our country. We are glad to welcome you.” Chao Khun is an informal pronoun used to address a person with the nobility title Phra-Ya (similar to “Lord” in British nobility). King Rama VI bestowed the noble rank of Phra-Ya Kalyanamitri, which means Phra-Ya, on Dr. Francis B. Sayre, who is a “true friend” to the royal family. When asked why Prince Mahidol chose Mount Auburn Hospital for his wife to deliver the baby, Dr. Sayre said, “It’s a good question, I don’t know.” In Dr. Sayre’s book, Glad Adventure, he noted about the birth of King Bhumibol Adulyadej: “His second child Prince Bhumibol, was born in a hospital in Cambridge close by our home so that they could be near Jessie and me.”

Prince Mahidol returned to Bangkok. Before leaving, he wrote to Dr. Sayre, “We are sailing next Sunday. I am therefore obligated to use this very unsatisfactory means of saying goodbye to you. Nevertheless, I want you to know that I am deeply grateful to you for all the world of good you and Mrs. Sayre have done for us while we were here…I will never forget your kindness. It has been the purest pleasure to have been associated with you and to have learned to know both of you. Thanks forever! ... My wife joins me in sending our most affectionate regards to you and Mrs. Sayre, and best love to the children. Mahidol.” Dean Sayre remembered Prince Mahidol and his family well. At each of our visits with him, he shared his fond memories of Prince Mahidol’s family and their close relationship with his family. Story by Cholthanee Koerojna, President of KTBF

inform. entertain. relate.

17


Story by Seong-Hoon Chung, Photo by Christopher X Wong

B

orn in Kathmandu, Nepal, Dr. Bishal Mainali went to medical school in his home country, and is now is living his American Dream. When asked how he ended up coming to America, he explained that the medical schools in the United States do not produce enough graduates to fill the residency slots around the country. Out of about 21,000 resident slots available per year, about 4,000 are filled by medical school graduates from abroad. Dr. Mainali applied and got in after passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination. The process is extremely competitive but he said he got “lucky.” He said the discipline instilled in him as a student in Nepal helped him pass the rigorous examination he had to take in order to come to the U.S. Arriving in 2003, Dr. Mainali spent a year interviewing for various residency programs across the country, traveling to almost 40 states, which he said was a great way to learn about a new country. Dr. Mainali eventually moved to Boston where he completed a residency program at Caritas Carney Hospital, a Tufts Medical School affiliated program. While at Caritas Carney, he participated in a research study on liver diseases and completed a clinical rotation at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. After completing his residency in internal medicine, he accepted his first job as a doctor at Lawrence General Hospital. The Lawrence area is considered an underserved area where doctors are in short supply. Because of this, medical school graduates from foreign countries who finish their residency programs in the U.S. have the option to serve in these areas in exchange for becoming eligible to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. After a 2-year stint at Lawrence, Dr. Mainali moved to Lowell General Hospital where he is currently serving as a hospitalist. The hospitalist is the fastest growing career field for doctors, said Dr. Mainali. A hospitalist is a doctor who takes care of patients who are admitted to a hospital with serious illnesses such as heart or kidney failure. He believes in achieving an affordable yet highly advanced health care system in America. He said currently there is a shortage of primary care doctors, which causes many patients to wait months for an appointment or they seek medical care too late in the disease/illness process. He believes that one of the reforms needed is sufficient incentives for doctors to start or join primary care practices in order to improve patient wait times. This would ultimately reduce health care costs associated with emergency department 18

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visits because patients sought medical care too late. Dr. Mainali said his job can be quite stressful, but extremely rewarding when able to diagnose and treat patients successfully. Whenever he can get away from the demands of his work, Dr. Mainali likes to travel and enjoy outdoor activities. He said the wildest thing he has done is sky diving — not once but three times so far. He has also taken on ice climbing. Being from Nepal, he said he enjoys hiking and someday hopes to climb the Himalayas. Dr. Mainali recently hit another milestone in his busy life. On July 4, he married an American doctor whom he met at work and they bought a house near Boston. Being Hindu, he said, they had two weddings — a Hindu ceremony and a traditional American wedding. He hopes someday he and his wife can open a private clinic to serve day-to-day medical needs of patients. A soft-spoken man who exudes humility and yet is focused and driven to achieve his goals and ambitions, Dr. Mainali’s American Dream has only just begun.

MEDICAL monthly

Connecting Cultures


Story by Seong-Hoon Chung, Photo by Christopher X Wong

B

orn and raised in New Jersey to Taiwanese-American parents, Dr. Jennifer Lin attended Harvard University where she majored in biochemistry and went on to attend Harvard Medical School where she completed the rigorous Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program. This program’s website proudly states that “HST graduates will work at the very

ASIAN BOSTON

SKIN DEEP with Dr. Lin

frontiers of human medicine, always pushing the boundaries and often achieving breakthroughs that will shape the future of health care for generations to come.” After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Lin spent a year at Stanford for an internship in internal medicine. She then returned to Harvard to complete her residency in dermatology. She was attracted to the com-

MEDICAL monthly

bined research and clinical program offered by Harvard. With such an impressive training record, Dr. Lin is now tackling various skin ailments through research and clinical practice. Dr. Lin said she devotes about 80% of her time to research and 20% to clinical practice. Her research interests include skin cancer, skin pigmentation disorders and wound healing. One of her current research projects involves manipulating cancer stem cells to look for predictors of which will metastasize, a medical term for the spreading of cancer cells from one part of the body to another. Her clinical practice is through Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Dr. Lin emphasized the importance of prevention and screening for skin lesions and moles, which can lead to deadly skin cancers. Staying out of the sun is the most important way to slow down signs of aging, says Dr. Lin. Regarding Asian-Americans, she said they generally have great skin. She said acne and dry skin, however, are common in Asians but there are more treatment opportunities available now. I couldn’t help but ask whether her parents pushed her to excel when she was young. Dr. Lin admitted that they did, but said that at some point, she learned to push herself. She handles pressure and stress by doing yoga and exercise. Let’s hope that Dr. Lin will someday achieve breakthroughs in the treatment of skin cancer and other skin ailments.

inform. entertain. relate.

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D

on Lee writes eloquently on a variety of subjects, and he conveys that talent, diligently. Author of the story collection Yellow and the novels Country of Origin and Wrack and Ruin, Lee blends humor, pathos and the seedier side of life quixotically and melodiously without ever losing his sense of reality. It is in the ordinary that Don Lee finds inspiration for his craft culminating in a varied world of odd characters and surreal events where the everyday is anything but ordinary. In the short story “Oriental Hair Poets,” Lee captures the absurdity of poetic justice in the form of a hippie poet flushing away thousands of gallons of her landlord’s water to wreak havoc on a rival poet. It is the overtly ludicrous seeking triumph over the cynical that catapults us into the literary world of Don Lee.   Don Lee, a teacher of creative writing at Temple University, isn’t shy about introducing us to this world. Don Lee, the writer of literary fiction, started in the traditional manner. Using yellow legal pads as a tool, Lee began work on his first novel the old-fashioned way. Writing two pages per day, three days per week he finished the first draft of his first novel in a year and he has been producing entertaining fiction for readers ever since. Flipping between short story and novel formats, Lee demonstrates unequivocally that those people also can teach. The short story versus the novel introduced this literary craftsman to separate landscapes. “The short story form in itself is a great way to begin writing,” says Lee, “It’s a good way to learn craft.” The novel, however, is different and requires a larger landscape and greater thought than the short story. Lee admits it can be daunting. “People get really intimidated. It was really terrifying for me,” says Lee about writing his first novel. Lee’s extensive plots in the short stories in his collection Yellow made the transition less problematic for him. Voice as opposed to audience is always a vexing conundrum for any author, but Lee maintains perspective throughout the process. Anticipating the next hot book trend in the immediate future is fraught with potential pitfalls. “You’re really going down the wrong road,” warns Lee advising against writing that which is not inherently authentic or unique to the author. Following your inner voice with minimal concern for what is popular is the advice of this talented veteran. Understanding what motivates young writers to select one literary teacher over another often involves star power. Students 20

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seeking celebrity authors for instruction to tap into the vein of literary superstardom may find themselves disappointed. Teaching and writing is a delicate balance that doesn’t always work for every author, particularly, if the instructor is a well known or celebrity author. “They may not have as much time or dedication to the students themselves,” cautions Lee. Nonetheless, Don Lee relishes the challenges, excitement and rewards both offer. “I’ve somehow been able to find a balance and compartmentalize it,” responds Lee, acknowledging there are sacrifices involved. “Your own recreational reading pleasure goes by the way side.” The job of craftsman and instructor is a tough one, but a job that is doable for the right person. Finding time to write and teach intimidates some, but not Lee. “The job takes as long as you have. Any time you have, you just grab it.” Don Lee is that right person.

breaking

THE MOLD Story by Suchi Dubrenski

“I’ve somehow been able to find a balance and compartmentalize it” -Don Lee Elaine Ng BCNC Executive Director

AROUND THE COUNTRY

Connecting Cultures


Hisanori Takahashi, former NY Met:

“My parents always told me to go after your dream and to have fun along the way. An important part of success is having fun.�


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ASIAN | BOSTON CASTING & MEDIA Thanie’s photo by Goran Sisic

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Connecting Cultures


I

arrived in Beijing this summer speaking no Mandarin and knowing almost no one. I had no idea where I was going to live or what to expect from my time in China. I was only aware of my reason for coming— to immerse myself in learning Chinese language and culture. I enrolled in a one-year program at the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), a well-known institution for Chinese language learning. My foundation of Mandarin is rocky at best. My parents initiated a half-hearted attempt to send me to Chinese school as a child and many years later, I gave another half-hearted attempt during a semester at my university, neither stuck. Rather, it reinforced my fear of the language, which created a void that grew as the years went by.

the opportunities knowing Chinese presents, whether it be increased communications with family, work opportunities, or having a sense of grounding and personal identity. Merrill Sua was born in the Philippines and raised in Canada. He sees opportunity in “today’s China.” For Sua, not only is this trip a lesson in his family’s past heritage, but it is

the immigration experience of our respective families. One gets the sense of wistful hope in the midst of crowded chaos. Lisa Loo, from Vancouver, Canada, says about her initial immersion experience: “My language skills are less than a preschooler’s… I am basically illiterate in China.” Alluding to the words of Confucius, in

“For years, I was haunted by a growing sense of imbalance. So I took a chance, quit my job and used my savings to fund my studies here.”

ASIAN BOSTON

Being

CHINESE-AMERICAN also a means for him to shape his future career. Sua left his previous sales job at a major corporation to pursue his study in Chinese. For him, this is a chance to go after something valuable that may pay off personally as well as professionally. In Beijing, every day has its own unique set of triumphs and challenges. The sights, smells and sounds are reminiscent of our local Chinatowns, but upon closer examination, not everything is so familiar. The journey of the returnee is vaguely similar to

AROUND THE WORLD

IN

To my surprise, I discovered many Chinese people from around the world staying in Beijing for similar reasons, to get reacquainted with a culture that was lost somewhere in time and use this knowledge to redirect their current objectives. I spoke with some Chinese students at my program to learn their reasons for coming to Beijing. For a few others and me, this journey is marked with excitement and fear. There is a sense of wonder and alienation from both cultures. In Beijing, we look like natives but sound like foreigners while the situation may be reversed in our home countries. Many experienced anxiety in situations when they were learning and speaking Chinese at a young age. Jennifer Wu, from Columbia, South Carolina, says, “Chinese meant failure and incompetence in my eyes. I was one of the oldest in Chinese school yet one of the children with the worst Chinese... I was too scared to speak Chinese, even to my own family.” Wu hopes her year here in Beijing will be the starting point of mastering the language and bridging family ties. Everyone has said that his or her experience learning Chinese as an adult is slow but much more rewarding. Now, they are able to appreciate the reasons why they decided to embark on this journey and can understand

CHINA

Story by Anna Tsui, Photo by Merrill Sua, Jennifer Wu pictured in foreground

order to embark on the journey of a thousand miles, the traveler must be brave enough to take the first step, and strong enough to take the ones thereafter. The first step is the most difficult, yet it is the most essential.

inform. entertain. relate.

23


CASTING & MEDIA

CASTING & MEDIA

Panospin Studios

ABCM gives all types of Asian talent an opportunity to be selected for several media avenues, including movies, commercials, promotions, and print ads. Photographer: Carlton SooHoo Assistant: Jeffery Engel Location: CCBA Building, Chinatown, Boston Models: Dorothy: Charlestown, ma Annie: Newton, ma Tiki: Boston, ma Erroll James: Concord, nh Thanie: Danbury, ct Yan: Boston, ma Jennifer: Watertown, ma Herin: Somerville, ma


Lak’s Café Angel Lak is president, producer and director of AsianBoston Television (ABTV). She is also an actor and filmmaker. Angel is introducing Lak’s Café here to spotlight the many dedicated professionals in the entertainment industry who brought her inspiration, such as the first guest, Jan Lamb, a successful DJ, actor and comedian from Hong Kong.

Photos by Jon Miguel

angel@asianboston.com

Jan Lamb, along with his radio partner, Eric Kot, hosted a popular show in Hong Kong called ‘Soft & Hard Core Kids’ in the late 80s and 90s. As one of the top voice-over artists with many TV commercials and movies to his credit, Lamb performed in his first stand-up comedy show in 2005, and has every year since. His most impressive performance was in 2008, when he turned part of his show into a mini concert, singing popular songs with his own comical lyrics, accompanied by surprising choreography. This year, he took his comedy career to another level with his first world tour: China, Macau, Malaysia, Toronto and San Francisco, to name a few. With assistance from Lamb’s public relations company, CR2 and Tai Pan Tours (Toronto), I was able to attend his comedy show in Toronto, and then chat face-to-face with the voice that I grew up with. Angel: I loved listening to your shows when I was a kid because of the funny style, such as 26

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your legendary ‘prank calls’ (phone calls to say stupid things to fool people). What made you adopt that style? Jan: There were many different styles of radio programs back then: serious, educational, emotional, but none with comedy. For a young man who just finished school, I thought being funny was the best approach. I actually considered myself a ‘pet dog’ to the audience to help make everyone happy. I’m in my 40s now, and I still want to make the people laugh, but only with a more mature and deeper voice. A: You actually studied design and had originally applied for a design position at the radio station, but ended up becoming a successful comedian, how did that materialize? J: Back in the 80s, subjects like fashion, graphic design, and hotel management were for those kids like me who were not good at school but needed to find a career to start their lives. Although I became a comedian instead, I am still a designer. We are all designers of our lives,

lak’s café

even the hawkers on the street are designers too. They have to design how to write the price tags, display their goods and yell out to pedestrians for their attention. A: How much support do you get from your family and friends? J: Friends give me harsh and constructive criticism, which is hard to take sometimes, but it serves the purpose of a big slap on the face to wake me up from mistakes and weaknesses. For my family, their greatest support is to leave me without worries by taking care of their own lives. This enables me to work and pursue my career. A: What kind of job do you think you would do if not a DJ or comedian? J: Ha-ha… I think I would be jobless. Working at the radio station and being a comedian gives me a feeling of existence. Without these jobs, I would feel lost.

Connecting Cultures


RAMESH AND

KAVITHA Story by Edna Lee

W

hen I first met Ramesh Yechangunja at a sports club, I said to him, half jokingly, “You are a computer guy, I guess?” A little surprised, he answered, “How do you know?” As eight of the ten Indians I know are doing computer related work, I have this impression that most Indians in the U.S. are working high tech jobs. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Bangalore, the number one IT city in India, Ramesh came to the U.S. in 2000, to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur in the high tech industry. While Ramesh was pursuing his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering at Penn State University, he had already joined a small high tech start-up company. Ramesh prefers small companies because it allows him to work in multiple roles, assume greater responsibilities, and be the main force in developing and directing the company. Ramesh is now the COO of Yantric Inc., a spin-off company from MIT, doing cutting edge research and development in the field of haptics, the science and technology associated with skin and touch. Ramesh has enjoyed the challenge and the prospect of company growth. He has a deep love for the high-tech industry: “I want to apply advanced science and technology to solve practical problems, to develop high tech products that will be a great benefit for the society,” stated Ramesh. Besides his love for high tech, Ramesh also loves traditional Indian family values.

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Ramesh met his wife Kavitha Narayan in India through a traditional arranged marriage. Kavitha has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and worked for a top technology company in India before she married. When asked how they look at the arranged marriage, Ramesh said, “I have always been very comfortable about arranged marriages. My parents have helped to filter the girls to match the family background, living habits, personalities, education and so on; you just need to worry about whether you like the girl.” Kavitha agreed and said, “I can accept both arranged and love marriages. But if I like a man, and my family doesn’t like him, I still will say no to him.” To them, family is most important. They told me that in India, both arranged marriages and love marriages exist, you can’t tell which one is dominant. “It’s really dependent on the person, the family, the culture of the ethnic group, and the circumstances,” said Kavitha. The couple tied the knot in India in June 2010, in a traditional style wedding. After the wedding, Kavitha moved with Ramesh to Boston, MA. Kavitha enjoys making artistic candles in her spare time, and would like to incorporate that into a home-based small business. She is also very interested in learning and practicing interior design. Looking at this happy couple, I firmly believe that tradition can exist in this modern high tech world. I cordially wish them to have a successful and fulfilled life.

inform. entertain. relate.

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Wah Lum Kung Fu

Athletic Association Story by Gloria Yong

F

rom Bruce Lee, to Jackie Chan, to Jet Li, these figures introduced and shaped our perception of Chinese martial arts in modern day pop culture. But how did Kung Fu really pave its way onto America’s doorstep? Over 40 years ago, Grandmaster Chan Pui brought the Wah Lum Tam Tui Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu style to Boston. Grandmaster Chan started the first school open to anyone who would work hard to master the art, emphasizing diversity and discipline. In 1980, Grandmaster Chan built the first Kung Fu temple in the USA in Orlando Florida, which became the headquarters for the Wah Lum System, and continues to provide authentic Kung Fu training. The seeds planted by Grandmaster Chan in the Boston community flourished into the Wah Lum Kung Fu Athletic Association. Headed by Sifu Bob Rosen, the Association has been part of the Chinatown community since 1985. Sifu Bob Rosen describes the mission of the Association, “To continue the proud tradition of developing first rate martial artists through the rigorous physical training of Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu, balanced by a philosophy that stresses self control, respect for others, fellowship and hard work.” The Association continues to help with many Chinatown Community events by providing Lion Dancing and Kung Fu performances. Sifu Mai Du is the Chief Instructor at the Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy in Malden. She began her studies under the 28

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instruction of Sifu Bob Rosen at the Wah Lum Association in 1988. Sifu Du became a certified Wah Lum instructor in 2000, by Grandmaster Chan and opened her own school in 2006. Mai’s school represents the 9th generation of the entire system. In my interview with Sifu Mai Du, she described how she became enamored with the martial arts she watched on TV after immigrating to the United States. Her brothers practiced judo and aikido while her parents practiced Tai Chi. It came as no surprise when, at the age of 12, Mai asked her parents if she could learn Kung Fu. Making the trek from Chelsea to Chinatown with her sister four to six times a week, Mai described the school and the martial arts as a way for her to connect and explore both her Vietnamese and Chinese heritage here in the United States. As stories are passed down from generation to generation, so have the techniques and forms embodied in Kung Fu. More so, Mai discovered a place that personified the roots of Chinese culture within its teachings and where the teachings are a vessel for history and tradition to emerge in the present.   Since starting her school, it has won Best of Malden for Martial Arts, 3 years in a row. Mai describes Kung Fu as a means to embrace her identity, culture and herself with pride while learning time management skills, gaining confidence, discipline and a strong respect for hard work. Her school is a “center for healthy development for all.” www.wahlumpai.us

Connecting Cultures


BA LE

BANH MI

Story by Alexa Margarian, Photo by Vincent SooHoo

Y

ou may want to give yourself some extra time if you happen to stroll into Banh Mi Ba Le on your next lunch break, and not because the service is slow. You won’t want to miss anything. Banh Mi Ba Le, a Vietnamese sandwich shop and market, is a charming, colorful gem located in Dorchester, MA. The owner, Jennifer Nguyen, is as welcoming as she is dedicated to her business. Customers are treated to pleasant conversation, and leave filled with delicious food reminiscent of a home-cooked meal. Customers are not the only ones with something to be happy about. The community is also lucky to have Jennifer, who frequently gives back to her community with donations to such organizations as Boy Scouts of America. Established 15 years ago by her sister, Jennifer took over ownership in 2000. “I changed things little by little,” said Jennifer. She updated the store’s look by arranging displays in a way that customers can see everything easily. “I looked at other Vietnamese communities for ideas on how to make my business the way it is today.” She recently had a bakery built on the side of the market where the baguettes are made fresh daily. ASIAN BOSTON

A prepared-food section on one side has everything from to-go meals of beef and noodles to mangos pickled in vinegar and chili. Opposite stands a tropical fruit smoothie bar where you can also get bubble tea and refreshing iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk. At the front of the store, you can find a variety of pastries. Flavored puddings of bright green, pink, and yellow hues are sure to bring anyone inside.

“But the beef sandwich is really the business,” Jennifer explains, as she points to the counter where they assemble everything. Customers can also choose chicken, cured pork, tofu and meatballs.

To start, Jennifer splits a fresh baguette, spreads butter on both sides and adds thinly sliced strips of beef, cucumber, carrots, cilantro and onion. The result is simple, yet so satisfying. The crunchy vegetables combined with the tangy BBQ beef complement one another so well; it’s no surprise that some customers travel all the way from New York and Connecticut to eat there. Keeping the customers in mind, she strives to maintain low prices so everyone can try new menu items. For a $3 sandwich, you can’t go wrong. Jennifer was kind enough to show me how she prepares the BBQ beef every day by marinating it in sauce. When I asked Jennifer how she makes the sauce, she respectfully declined to reveal her secret recipe. But her secret to success is one that she is proud to share: “I treat my customers like family…they support me, so I have to work hard for them.” What a great deal…friendly service and affordable prices.

Banh Mi Ba Le

1449 Dorchester Avenue Boston, MA 02122 (617) 287-9988 inform. entertain. relate.

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HAPPY FAMILY FOOD MARKET, INC.

restaurant 11 Hudson St., Chinatown, Boston 617-542-1488 happyffm@verizon.net

lounge nightclub hongkongharvard.com

1238 Mass Avenue Harvard Square Cambridge, MA 617 864 5311

30

ASIAN BOSTON

RESTAURANT

Connecting Cultures


SUSHI

restaurant

HOT POT FULL BAR CHINESE CUISINE

“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.” -Examiner.com

660 Washington st., Chinatown

857-350-3968

theQusa.com

NEW JUMBO SEAFOOD RESTAURANT NewJumboSeafoodRestaurant.com

Photos by Lokagroup.com

5-9 Hudson Street, Boston, MA T: 617-542-2823 F: 617-654-0507

NEW GOLDEN GATE 66 Beach St., Boston

(617) 338-7721

ASIAN BOSTON

RESTAURANT

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31


Photography: Lokagroup

1052 Dorchester Ave. 219 Quincy Ave. Quincy, MA Dorchester, MA 617-773-8053 617-265-7171 32

ASIAN BOSTON

RESTAURANT

Connecting Cultures


By Anna Ing, Photo by Vincent SooHoo

RESTAURANT

REVIEW:BUBOR CHA CHA Located in the former Grand Chau Chow restaurant at 45 Beach Street in the heart of Boston’s Chinatown, Bubor Cha Cha’s elaborate interior with cloud covered ceilings and tropical inspired decor stands out among the neighboring businesses. Bubor Cha Cha is named after a Malaysian dessert soup, served either cold or hot, consisting of coconut milk, taro, yams/sweet potatoes and corn. Since opening, the menu has gone through some changes and now boasts dim sum, Taiwanese dishes and a variety of Malaysian choices. We started with the delectable Penang Satay Beef Skewers as an appetizer. They

were marinated to perfection and the accompanying peanut sauce was an excellent combination. Our entrees included the Sarang Burong, which consists of shrimp, chicken, baby corn, snow peas and black mushrooms served inside an edible deep-fried taro bowl. This dish is a tasty blend of Chinese influences in Malaysian cooking and is a solid, standard dish. If you love oysters, you have to try the Grilled Fresh Oyster (originally a special item and now on a regular menu item). The oysters come with heaping amounts of garlic and other spices that don’t overpower the taste of the oysters. Our next course was the Sambal Udang, a tasty

shrimp dish made with onions, peppers and a Malaysian shrimp paste sauce that differs from the salty kind used in Southern Chinese cooking, like my mom made. Make sure to try the coconut or chicken-flavored rice, as they are both delicious and a step up from the usual white rice. The service was very attentive and the wait staff knew all the dishes and made some great recommendations. Boston really needed another option for Malaysian food and this is a welcome addition. 45 Beach Street, Chinatown, Boston 617-482-3338 buborchacha.com

RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH: FISH MARKET

ASIAN BOSTON

RESTAURANT

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Delicious Chinese Cuisine & Cocktail Lounge 4 Bourbon St., Peabody, MA

978-535-5000

70 Beach Street

(Between Hudson St & Oxford St) Boston, MA 02111 (617) 338-0808

HUGE BUFFET DAILY FUNCTION ROOM KARAOKE Restaurant & Lounge

Route 3A 211 Bridge St. Weymouth, MA

781-337-1856 34

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CATHAYCENTER.COM

RESTAURANT

Open Daily 11:30am-2am

Connecting Cultures


FUNCTIONS, WEDDINGS & EVENTS

acacia?

Sunday Brunch 10am-2 pm

Weddings, Showers, Corporate Events & Private Parties Catering American Fine Cuisine and Authentic Chinese Cuisine

275 Turnpike Road, Westborough, MA (508) 366-6526 www.AcaciaFunctions.com EASY ACCESS FROM THE MASS PIKE ROUTE 90, ROUTE 495 and ROUTE 9


GREAT TASTE BAKERY & RESTAURANT

Unique 8 HairPlace

Orders to Take Out

GREAT B.B.Q.

bostonunique8hairplace.com

bostongreattastebakery.com

bostongreatbarbecue.com

17A Hudson Street Boston, MA 617-728-3168

Dim Sum Bakery Congee Noodles Rice

15 Hudson Street Boston, MA 617-728-8699

HOURS: 9am-9pm

61-63 Beach St., Boston 617-426-8899

HOURS: 8am-8pm

Sun-Thurs. 7:30am-10pm Friday & Saturday 7:30am-11pm

Photos by Keiko Hiromi

HING SHING BAKERY

67 Beach St., Boston, MA

CALL 617-451-1162

Nam Bac Hong Natural Chinese Herbs 75 Harrison Avenue

617-426-8227

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK

MALAYSIAN CUSINESE S.M. 685-691 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111

Photo by Lokagroup.com

617-451-6373

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penangusa.com

Vinh Sun BBQ

58 Beach Street, Chinatown, Boston 617 338 1368

ASIAN BOSTON

Ph: 617-542-9373 Fax: 617-423-3905 65 Beach Street, Boston

RESTAURANT

Connecting Cultures


AUGUST

MOON

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

AUG. 14TH 2011

Free to All! Supported by CBP

Organized by the CCBA, Chinatown Main Street, and Chinatown Business Association. Contact info: chinatownmainstreet.org or contact Courtney Ha at 617-350-6303, courtho@gmail.com

ASIAN BOSTON

MEDIA GROUP


a b AUTOMOTIVE REVIEW

Story by Gunnar Glueck, top photo by Johnny Won

2010 AUDI

S

o, I started out knowing that my next car would be somewhat practical, yet would need a unique and understated attitude too. Where would I start? Well, the 2010 Audi A4 was an obvious contender from the get-go: evil LED daytime running lights in front, Quattro, and a fuel-efficient, peppy 4-cylinder 2.0L turbo manual. After learning of the Stasis Engineering Touring package (specifically engineered for Audis) online, the decision immediately became an easy one. Upon delivery, I was awe-struck. I didn’t know whether to focus on and appreciate just the Audi A4, in and of itself (with Premium Plus package), or start exploring how sick the Stasis package made the car. Well, it’s been about 8 months, and I can more clearly assess both the car and the custom extras more objectively. Overall, the A4 2.0T doesn’t leave room for much griping: light steering, nicely weighted clutch, comfortable cabin, and attractive sheet metal (did I mention those sinister LEDs up front?). As a daily driver, it does everything you’d want; hauls up to 5 comfortably and confidently with Quatrro all-wheel drive, and looks good doing it. Like most things, once the shine and ‘newness’ wears off, the complaints slowly surface. Besides being a capable, sporty 38

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A4 2.0T +

sedan, there are some areas yearning for improvement. While comfortable enough, the leather seating could be more supportive, most notably on hard-cornering. The interior looks nice. It’s clean, it’s simple, and is seemingly filled with high quality materials. However, you’ll wonder why all those plastic knobs and buttons couldn’t have easily have been fitted with rubberized finishes. The multi-media interface can also be unintuitive and frustrating; with so many separate buttons in the center console, I found myself learning the voice-operated commands more quickly than I would normally have. One especially annoying feature occurs when using the navigation. Instead of the display always defaulting to the nav screen after using other functions (telephone, radio, etc.), you must press the ‘map’ button to have the map screen re-appear each time, even after you close out of other screens. But, the Stasis Touring Package makes everything worth it! I was hesitant at first, with the 20” wheels, low pro tires, lowered ride height, increased hp/torque, sway bar, and dual exhaust with 4” stainless outlets. I wasn’t convinced that this is a car that could be comfortably driven on New England roads. Boy was I wrong... this setup is surprisingly forgiving on bumpy, uneven pavement, yet stays flat on turns and maneuvers

AUTOMOTIVE

sharply. The extra horsepower/torque grunt not only makes going down the street to get milk a blast, it helps to distinguish you from the many stock examples you’ll pass by on the way there. Simply put, the A4 2.0T with Stasis Touring Package is an awesome balance of performance and drivability, with a singular cool factor.

“The clean yet aggressive stance, mesh-style 20”s, and bass-note exhaust make for a sophisticated vehicle that draws respectful attention.”

Photos by Gunnar Glueck

Connecting Cultures


C

hris (Seungkyu) Kim was born in South Korea. He has been in the U.S. for 27 years, and he’s been in the business of selling and repairing jewelry for the last 25. Kim’s Jewelry is located in the Midtown Mall, in downtown Worcester. Chris runs the business with his brother Paul (Sehyung) and other family members. The Kim family chose downtown Worcester as a business location because it provides a desirable target market and affordable rent. A few years ago, Chris and Paul decided to take their passion for jewelry to an academic level, and subsequently graduated from the Gemological Institute of America. As gemologists, they also make customized jewelry. The Kim brothers credit their success to experience, educational knowledge of jewelry, and excellent customer service. They take pride in treating their customers with integrity. Their business mission is to provide the best quality jewelry at the best prices. Furthermore, affordable pricing allows the Kim’s to enjoy a substantial advantage over the competition. Chris highlights that even with their reasonable price points, there is no compromise in quality; they always strive to market superior jewelry. For 25 years, Kim’s Jewelry has given its blessing to many couples who’ve bought their

engagement or wedding rings there. In addition to gold and diamond jewelry, the store is very popular for its collection of watches for both men and women. This is also the place to go when you need watch repair. Should you want to buy a nice gift for your favorite couple, you should consider going to Kim’s to buy a “His & Hers” pair of watches.

This is not the last stop for the Kim brothers. In the future, they plan on expanding their business and creating a franchise called Express Jewelry with stores in different cities and states. Given their 25 years of successful business, there is no doubt that they will make their dream a reality.

Story by Zara Dedi

GOOD CALL. Photo by Carlton SooHoo

ASIAN BOSTON

inform. entertain. relate.

39


Virginia

Payne

C ha n Ma nd y

pictured

on left

M

N A H C ANDY

Stor y by

“Lights, Camera, Action!” are the all too familiar directives for Mandy Chan, an actor in more than 50 movies. These days, Mandy finds himself giving these commands from behind the camera. I recently met Mandy through my Kung Fu teacher, Mr. Latecki, of Chinese Martial Arts (CMA) of Acton. Mandy has been running a martial arts film production program at the CMA studio for more than a year, and I kept hearing about this “awesome” teacher from students there. Our initial meeting was extremely relaxed and informal. My first impression was that, Mandy, unlike many in the movie business, is anything but pretentious. We conversed in Cantonese and both felt quite at ease. He was forthcoming in sharing his personal history. A Hong Kong native, Mandy’s family moved to Boston when he was 12. Growing up in the streets of Boston’s Chinatown, he practiced Martial Arts with good friends such as Donnie Yen and John Tsang (the current Secretary of Treasury in HK). At an early age, Mandy aspired to become an action movie star after watching Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon.” With help and encouragement from Donnie Yen, he moved back to HK to launch his acting career, appearing in movies ranging from action to drama and comedy (many with Donnie as the main character), 40

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such as Iron Monkey, Fist of Fury and Legend of the Wolf. He also appeared in Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. After 15 years in the movie business, he remains humble, and still insists that his childhood friend Donnie was his mentor. His colleagues Yuen Woo-Ping and Yuen Cheung-Yan were also his mentors, from whom he picked up his stunt and fight choreography skills. Although excited at first to be in front of the camera, he soon realized that he was less suited to be a performer. Before long, he set off to reinvent himself by expanding his behind the camera skills that would eventually enable him to perform the tasks of action choreographer, action director (Circus Kids and The Green Hornet), and assistant director (Red Wolf), as well as post-production work. He felt that the diversity of pre-production and post-production work allowed him more creativity while enabling him more “control” in molding the final product. His expertise in front of and behind the camera gave him great opportunities to expand his horizons by traveling all over the world to film in China, Thailand,

Taiwan, Yugoslavia and South Africa. For the past 10 years, Mandy had to embrace changing video technology in order to evolve his craft. Without any formal training in computers, he worked twice as hard to become proficient with the PC and MAC and video software such as Pinnacle and Final Cut Pro. He currently owns SkyLab Entertainment, providing a wide range of services in short films, documentaries and commercials. He also tutors students at Bunker Hill Community College, assisting them with shooting with a green screen, and helping them resolve technical difficulties. In addition, every Friday night he teaches KungFu students at CMA the “magic” of movie creation, from acting to choreography and stunts, camera angles, lens usage, lighting essentially everything from pre-production to the post-production process. His wide range of knowledge is inspiring and he’s extremely accessible to his students. Everyone finds him incredibly patient and innovative, and he is particularly astute at rewriting and redirecting scenes when they don’t work. When asked what makes him happy, Mandy says that he enjoys teaching and helping others solve problems. He emphasizes that being his own boss allows him to “play” the many roles of fight choreographer, action director, screenwriter, editor and producer. He also added, sounding philosophical, “We’re born with nothing. Nothing is something. Something is everything. All we need is time.”

Connecting Cultures


www.quincymc.org


ryoko ray seta In her home country of Japan, Ryoko Ray Seta is an established singer, dancer, choreographer, model, songwriter and actress. Born in Kyushu, she spent her childhood in Germany and grew up in Yokohama; she is now studying Music Business and Management at Berklee College of Music in Boston. This versatile performer first started as a dancer at age 3, and went to London Royal Ballet School at age 13 as the youngest scholarship recipient. She also mastered various dance styles, and is a natori (master) in Hanayagi-ryu style, a traditional Japanese dance form. As a singer, she also had an early start at age six, and debuted as a singer/songwriter when she was 17 (she released her Indie-label CD, Emotions). Choreography, modeling and acting all started when she was 18. Ryoko’s exceptional talent is evident in her powerful singing voice, with a 3.5-octave range from C below middle C up to high A, covering both alto and soprano. Her high belting voice allows her to sing wide variety of musical theatre pieces, in addition to classical and R&B. On stage, Ryoko was one of the finalists

for the role of Eponine at “Les Miz” audition in Japan. When she auditioned for “Beggar’s Opera,” the director, John Caird (of Royal Shakespeare Company) said, “You are my Eponine!” Subsequently, he arranged for her to audition for “Les Miz.” In films, Ryoko was scouted to appear in “20th Century Boys,” based on the Japanese comic book of the same title, starring Masaaki Karasawa. In the future, she would like to utilize her education in music business and management to manage her own performing career. Like her inspiration Michael Jackson, she wants to achieve that level of perfection as a performer. She says, “I want to spread the Genki (Japanese term for healthy or energy) Power!” When asked about her strengths, she promptly answered, “I’m always ready! I have exceptional mental strength and high level of concentration.” After graduation, Ryoko would like to build her career in the U.S., and explore possibilities as an Asian, a woman and an entertainer. Story by Mariko Kanto, Photo provided by Ryoko

Story by Mariko Kanto, Photo by Darren Tow

YUSA: I got into a motorcycle accident when I was 23, and was told I could no longer walk. Before the accident, I was studying hospitality and hotel management, but after the accident, I decided to pursue what I really wanted - my love for music. I also wanted to study English, and the nurse at the hospital told me I should go to “handicap-friendly” America. AB: How was life in the U.S. at first?

yusaku iida Every day, I’m blessed with meeting extraordinary people who can bring laughter, energy and joyful tears. Yusaku Iida is one of them. He makes us call him “Yusa,” because “Yusaku” sounds too close to “You Suck!” Yusa is a voice and guitar performance major at Berklee College of Music in Boston. ASIANBOSTON: Why did you decide to be a singer and study in the U.S.? 42

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YUSA: My intention of coming to America was for rehabilitation and independence as a handicapped person. I studied ESL in San Francisco, and then moved to NYC for five years to continue ESL and study music. I had my first U.S. concert there. AB: How do you describe your music? YUSA: My music is like a healthy diet. Since I started devoting myself to music, I never get depressed. I want to serve a “happy meal” to my audience. AB: You have such a luxurious voice, but does the wheelchair make it difficult to project your voice?

RAINBOW BRIDGE

YUSA: I use the muscles around the stomach to compensate for its weakness. Also, I laugh a lot, which makes me sing better. It also helps to have a naturally big voice and wide vocal range. AB: You are a big fan of Michael Jackson. Is he your biggest musical influence? YUSA: Yes. I was 10 when I heard Michael’s “BAD.” It was like an extraterrestrial encounter. I also want to promote peace and harmony publicly like he did. I want to sing my heart out, and bring freedom to people. Let’s be happy! AB: Where do you get that energy? YUSA: Partying! I love talking to people, and suck up energy from them! AB: You recently performed in “tickle Tickle TICKLE!” for Actors Refuge Repertory Theatre in Boston. What’s in store for you now? YUSA: I’m getting ready for concerts in Tokyo and Osaka. myspace.com/yusaku_iida

Connecting Cultures


G: When did you start playing music?

C. SPENCER YEH

Photo by Meg Clixby

C. SPENCER YEH

Y: Shortly after we moved to the U.S., my parents asked me to pick an instrument to learn. My siblings had learned piano and one other instrument (cello, clarinet). I don’t know why, but I picked the violin, and that was that. I wish I had done something a bit more fundamental or flexible, but no point in worrying about that now, really.

G: You recently played a show with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. How did that go in your opinion, and what was it like meeting him?

C. SPENCER YEH

By Mark Ge

C. Spencer Yeh is a Brooklyn-based artist who releases music under the name Burning Star Core. He is one of a few Asian Americans in the experimental music world and has dozens of releases under his belt. His music can sound like meditation songs, and his albums often blur the lines between genres of noise and avant-garde music. I sat down with C. Spencer for an email interview this summer. G: Where are you from? Yeh: I was born in Taiwan, but after a couple of years, my family and I moved to Canada. From there, we moved to the U.S., and I’ve been here ever since. I spent my early teens in Cincinnati, Ohio, and went to school at Northwestern University. From there, I moved back to Cincinnati, and recently relocated to Brooklyn, New York.

J

apanese pianist Yoko Miwa has earned a reputation as one of the jazz world’s lyrical, melodic, and accessible players. What’s consistently impressive is her ability to deliver complex and challenging musical ideas in a compelling and yet frequently gentle and inviting way. She has released four CDs on major labels in Japan, and has become a critically acclaimed and internationally recognized touring performer and educator. Born in Kobe, Japan, Miwa studied classical piano from the age of four and then eventually studied with jazz organist/ pianist Minoru Ozone (the father of the well known Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone). She won a scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and after graduation became the personal accompanist for Grammy award-winning jazz singer Kevin Mahogany. In 2001, Miwa was a featured performer in Washington D.C. at The Kennedy Center’s “Mary Lou William’s Women in Jazz Festival.” The Day We Said Good Bye (Sunshine Digital, Japan), Miwa’s fourth CD as a leader, was recorded by the Yoko Miwa Trio at WGBH Studio One. The trio, comprised of Miwa, Kendall Eddy (acoustic bass) and

Y: I met Thurston a few years ago at a festival in Minneapolis that our respective projects were playing. I’d been a big fan of Sonic Youth and associated projects since I was a teen. Since then we’ve jammed together in various groups as well as shared bills. Once in Brussels, a trio I performed with opened for Sonic Youth, and later on we all sat in for “Expressway to Yr Skull,” which was fun. He’s just one of those people who remain active and interested in what’s going on, and that energy subsequently helps push the scene along. I’ve actually met many people through him who have turned out to be some of my favorite people to work with. For example, cellist Okkyung Lee, who was part of this big-band lineup Thurston pulled together for this festival in Victoriaville, Canada, a few years back. Okkyung and I just did a tour of Europe as a duo earlier this year, which was fantastic. She’s a great jammer -- we plan to record properly at some point.

Mark Ge is a writer and poet living in Northampton, MA, where he works as a freelance editor. His work can be seen in the latest issue of Out of Nothing magazine coming out this fall.

Scott Goulding (drums), played together in the same room, so the recording captures the immediacy and energy of a live performance. The CD contains two originals, one of which, the title track, Miwa dedicated to two of her friends who had recently passed. “I adapted the songs for a piano trio, but also figured out where to take liberty for improvisation. I want to make them my own, but still recognizable enough so you know what tune it is without having to look at the title on the CD,” she says. She’s forged a prominent place in the city’s jazz scene. The Yoko Miwa Trio is a favorite at the area’s jazz venues and has been a house band at Ryles since 2002. Her 2009 sold-out debut at Scullers Jazz Club filled the popular club. The trio has appeared on “Eric in the Evening” on WGBH, featured on the National Public Radio show “Jazz After Hours,” and was interviewed live on the popular radio show “Voice of America,” which is broadcast worldwide.

Yoko Miwa trio By Suchi Dubrenski

scinsctiniltlilalattiinngg

ASIAN BOSTON

the area jazz scene.

quick views

inform. entertain. relate.

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AMERICANA HOLD ON AMERICA By Joanne M. Choi Photo courtesy of eksproductions.com

F

ists fly around the room. The woman before me is sweating profusely, breathing hard and waiting for me to punch harder, faster. The shouted instructions--“Keep your fists elevated! Protect the face area always. Remember the punch sequence 1-2-1”--trigger some dormant part of my psyche and my tired arms get a second wind. The sun’s mid-morning rays stream through the windows and reflect off the room’s padded octagon and boxing ring. Renewed interest in this sport started in 2009, after conversations with Cung Le, the movie star owner of Cung Le Universal Strength Headquarters, who is well known in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) circles for his skill, and, for defeating MMA veteran, Frank Shamrock. Wimps need not apply in this arena... my 5th MMA class is a confusing, arduous task and was undertaken to write about this sport from firsthand experience. Beacon Hill Athletic Club’s (BHAC) North Station location in Boston, MA, has transformed part of its facility into a MMA haven. The gym’s location right across from the Garden is ideal. In Massachusetts, MMA was welcomed with open arms as MMA fights generate plenty of revenue for the respective organization, fighters, merchandising arms and the surrounding bars. TD Garden in Boston wants this business. This is what my research tells me: MMA is getting bigger and money talks. In many respects, MMA is a gritty sport with its well-earned bad-ass image. Gone are the days of no coverage, scant mainstream interest, no sponsorship money filling the coffers, and being considered a fringe sport for angry men. The MMA world is filled with enough Shakespearean rivalry, grudges, hard knock beginnings, and relationships gone bad to rival many an angst filled Korean soap opera. Kazushi “Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba is a skilled fighter and has bested four members of the Gracie clan: Royler, Royce, Renzo and Ryan. Ken Shamrock is famously estranged from his adopted brother Frank Shamrock. Their adopted father, Bob Shamrock, passed away in January 2010, and was a father figure to many boys like Ken and Frank who came ASIAN BOSTON

from troubled backgrounds. Yoshihiro Akiyama’s 2006 win against Kazushi Sakuraba caused an uproar in Japan; he later admitted to applying lotion to his body and was disqualified and his prize money revoked. Incidentally, Yoshihiro Akiyama was born Choo Sung-hoon and is a Japanese of Korean descent. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of Asian and Asian-American MMA fighters in the scene seeking ways to complement their MMA skills. Given the potential for injury, popular MMA fighters are becoming their own “brand” perhaps in preparation for the days when active competition is no longer possible due to injury. MMA fighters are a versatile bunch: South Korean fighter, Hong-Man “Techno Goliath” Choi, also sings and acts. Cung Le acts and owns a gym. Yoshihiro Akiyama owns a gym in Tokyo and appeared in Nike commercials in Japan. Aaron Petruccelli (who is Korean/Italian), from Methuen, MA, is currently getting a graduate degree from UMass. He said, “I could see myself in the next fifteen years owning my own gym and playing the role of a coach when I am no longer able to fight.” MMA fighters are rewarded for unleashing a primal rawness. The combination of fame, money, ego and pain are a sure fire way to birth rivalries and deepen existing hatreds. This sport is one of the closest modern iterations of the ancient gladiator spectacles and comes with sweat, blood and injuries. The mélange of various martial arts and fighting techniques add to the “whatever goes” visual presented to spectators. Love it or hate it, this sport is not going away. www.sherdog.com

inform. entertain. relate.

27


Jo oN the Go! Photo by Carlton SooHoo

For the Guys Out There...

Did you think I’d forget you? No, way! Here are your must have items! Wheatgrass is not just for drinking. How about taking a shower with it? Lush’s new gel was a hit with both male testers and me. According to one test, the gel felt fresh and cool like an early summer morning breeze. He also shared, “The essential oils perk up the senses and the light grassy aroma fills the shower while leaving a nice clean feeling. Like a shot of nutrient filled wheatgrass for the body.” Another tester said he really liked the product and it “lathered well and smelled good.” Lush products are good and always worth it. Slap some Weleda Moisture Cream on your face because moisturizing is not only for women, and it helps reduce after-shave irritation. One male tester for this product noted that he liked the fragrance and the silky smooth consistency that easily spread over his skin. “It was very smooth and quick to apply.”

H

ello AsianBoston! After living in the Boston area for a couple of years, I have returned to my home country of Japan. I will always carry the New England spirit with me no matter where I am in the world, and hope to continue contributing to this wonderful magazine and cause. I am originally from Tokyo, but currently reside in Okinawa, the Southern-most island of Japan. The climate is tropical with temperatures ranging from highs of 60 degrees in winter to 95 degrees in the summer. The island has a rich history from when it was its own country and trading hub to many Asian countries, to its integration into Japan in the early 1600s, to the international melting pot it is now. Because of its long history as a trading hub, a strong Chinese influence can still be felt in the color, architecture and food of the local culture. As a mainland Japanese, I am fascinated by this land where people speak Japanese, but look and feel a bit different. One of the things that struck me when I landed in Okinawa is that many people, men and women, seemed to be wearing Aloha shirts…to work! The tellers at the bank, the cell phone clerks and post office workers warmly greeted me in colorful short-sleeved collared shirts. Is it casual Friday everyday here?

manl

productsy. Upon further inspection, I found they weren’t Aloha shirts, but what are called Kariyushi shirts. Originally called Okinawan shirts, they were created in the 1970s to promote Okinawa. Gradually gaining popularity as formal attire, they were eventually renamed Kariyushi, meaning “celebratory” in the local dialect. What deems a Kariyushi, a Kariyushi is that they must be made in Okinawa (the textiles can come from out of the prefecture), and they must sport a pattern that has roots in Okinawa. Now, when you visit Okinawa, you will not shout out, “Wow! They all wear Aloha shirts here!” as I did, but instead nod knowingly and tell your friends that the locals are wearing Kariyushi shirts, and that they are the official wear of this tropic land.

SHARING

STYLE

For more information or questions, email Jo on the Go: jog@asianboston.com

‘Kariyushi’ shirts are quite commonly worn in Okinawa

For more information or questions, email: info@asianboston.com

with

Yurie Photo by C

ASIAN BOSTON

And the final step before you head out is to grab your BaileyWorks’ Super Pro bag. These bags are “built for life in the saddle.” It will take you from the subway to work to the gym to Happy Hour and home in style. Because of the reversible/replaceable split strap, you choose how to wear it on your body. These bags are incredibly roomy for their size. A tester for this bag thought it was “well-made, fashionable, and it fit a ton of stuff easily.” According to him, the bag feels smaller when worn on the back considering the amount of stuff you can put in it. “The material is durable and feels like it can hold up to a long Northeast winter. The inner lining and flap is waterproof; great for taking home sweaty gym clothes or getting caught riding in the rain.” To order your own Super Pro messenger bag, visit www.baileyworks.com

oo arlton SooH

STYLE & BEAUTY

inform. entertain. relate.

45


BIG DAY

Congratulations! You have the ring, you’ve set the date, and you’ve picked out a gown. One problem, you are out of shape! Here’s how you can get “Wedding Gown Ready” in only six weeks. If you don’t already have one, start a food journal. A food journal is a way of tracking your caloric intake. Write down every morsel of food you eat and everything you drink (even water or zero calorie drinks) for at least one week. See where you can make adjustments in your eating habits, and then make modifications, such as smaller portions, skipping high caloric snacks or mindless binging. Choose a cardio exercise that you enjoy (minimum of 30-40 minutes a day) and add some weight training. Start with lunges for legs, gluts and thighs. For knee safety, I prefer reverse lunges. Stand with feet flat on the floor, directly below your hips and your hands on your waist. Step back with one leg as far back as possible landing on the ball of that back foot, bending both knees to a 90° angle. Return leg and repeat with other leg. Do at least 12 with each leg. If you have difficulty maintaining balance, do this exercise with one hand on a wall, counter or chair. 46

ASIAN BOSTON

By Jackie Batchelder, Photo by Carlton SooHoo

For your back routine, lie on your stomach with arms by your side. Keep hips and legs on the floor, lift chest off the floor and hold for 10 seconds. Work up to 10 repetitions. Shoulder work requires some lightweight dumbbells or heavy cans of soup. Be sure that you have a set of each that weigh the same. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and with weight in hands by your shoulders. Lift arms overhead alternating for the total amount of 24 to 30 repetitions or until muscle fatigue. After a short rest, lift arms out to your sides at the same time, to shoulder level and down, 12-15 reps. Repeat movement again this time lifting arms to the front only to shoulder level, 12-15 reps. Firm up the chest and arms with one exercise, push-ups. Get down on your hands and knees, hands are out wide, lower your chest between your hands toward the floor and come up. Work up to 10 reps, and as you become stronger, lift off the knees and do it on your toes. Last but not least, sit-ups. Lie on your back, bend your knees and lift upper back and shoulders off the floor. Hands behind your head but do not tug, and lift as high as you can and hold a few seconds, then lower… repeat this until muscle fatigue. Follow this routine, and not only will you look fabulous on your “big day,” you will also improve your health and lower your stress level!

health&fitness

READY FOR THE

Jackie Batchelder

Bridal Bootcamp Trainer at BodyFit Located at New Star Community Art School...392 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA 02170 www.bodyfitquincy.com 617-901-0035

HEALTH & FITNESS

Learn to Protect Yourself with

Brazilian

Jiu-Jitsu By Angel Lak, Photo by Kenny Quon

For the past 2 months, besides my regular workout in Muay Thai and Heated Yoga, I have started a new sport: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). A martial arts and combat sport that focuses on grappling and ground fighting, BJJ was derived from the Japanese martial art of Kodokan Judo in the early 20th century, and was based on a number of schools (or Ryu) of Japanese Jujutsu from the 19th century. I was first introduced to this sport by Kenny Quon, the owner of Best Way Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Quincy, MA. Kenny states that it’s one of the best self-defense programs for women. It has techniques for joint locks, choke holds and leverage, and allows smaller fighters to subdue much heavier and/or stronger opponents. Having trained in Muay Thai (Muay Boran) for a couple of years, I am becoming more confident in fighting while I am on my feet, but ground-work training was missing from my current regimen. Being female, and considering a large percentage of street assaults, physical/sexual abuse and domestic violence, which end up on the ground, it is important to know what to do should you find yourself in that situation. I found that BJJ, especially the grappling, enables me to maneuver on my back and understand the physics of using angles and speed versus brute strength. For more information about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lessons for women, contact Angel Lak at hupsinghaven@gmail.com

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


Asian Boston Issue 7  

Issue 7 (Asian Boston Magazine)

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