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April 2013 • Vol. 21, No. 4
Serving the Asian American Multicultural Community Since 1993
INSIDE Asian Investors Eye DC Real Estate By Jenny Chen
Surae Chinn: AwardWinning TV9 Reporter
Hongtao Li’s Art:
Celebrating Balance, Harmony Page 15
Organization Spotlight: JPS
HIGHLIGHTS The A List Cherry Blossom College Racism Convo with Congressional Women Film Festival Hidden Menu Immigration Monica Bhide Qulture Matters Speak Out: ACA Travel to Turkey
3 20 7 11 22 25 6 24 12 5 16
Washington, D.C.— In 2006 the U.S. housing market spiraled to an all time low, throwing roughly four million families into foreclosure. But our loss was another’s gain. Although the housing market is still merely 52% as strong as it was prior to the housing crash, according to the house sales website Trulia, Asian investors are snapping up U.S. real estate. They view the U.S. real estate market as relatively cheap and the U.S. government as relatively stable, says John Lin, president of Capstar Realty in Gaithersburg, MD. This fervent interest in U.S. properties is turning the real estate market in the D.C. area into much more of a seller’s market as properties in good school districts and booming business areas are sold soon after they go on the market. While Asian investors have always been interested in U.S. real estate, the recent increase in wealth among Asian countries has made it even more common for people to buy U.S. property. But these Asian buyers are not actually buying homes for them to live in. The majority of Asian buyers are buying homes for vacation or for their children. “Many Chinese no longer want to leave China,” said Lin. “They have connections and benefits in China that they don’t want to leave.” However, Lin said, the quality of the U.S. education system is still a draw for many Asian parents and many of them buy homes for the future when their children may study
in the U.S. As a result, the homes closest to good school districts are among the fastest to go. The Xinyuan Real Estate Company recently announced plans to develop multifamily residential properties in New York and other U.S. cities. This project is intended to serve wealthy Chinese citizens who are interested in investing U.S. apartment properties, according to Bruce Hawley, the Senior Vice President, Senior Underwriting Counsel at the Stewart Title Guaranty Company. Businessman Steven Loh told the Wall Street Journal in June of last year that be-
cause the U.S. government is relatively stable, “there is a strong desire among Asian high-net-worth individuals to allocate, say, 10% to 25% of their wealth to U.S. assets.” According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, buyers from China and Hong Kong accounted for $9 billion of U.S. home sales in the 12 months ending in March 2012, up 89% from 2010, making them the secondlargest group of foreign buyers of homes in the U.S. behind Canadians. see Real Estate, page 5
Cherry Blossom Festival See article page 20
Asian Fortune, Past and Future Next month, Asian Fortune is celebrating its 20th year of publication. It is a major milestone for my family, as well as the Asian Fortune family. I want to take this occasion to thank all our friends, supporters and readers. I also want to say a special thanks to all our advertisers through the years. Without you, Asian Fortune would not be here today, providing the only English voice for Asian Americans in the Greater Metropolitan Washington Area—D.C., Virginia and Maryland. As many of you know, Asian Fortune was founded in 1993 by my father, Jay Chen. He came from a newspaper background in China and felt like something was missing when he came to Virginia. He started the newspaper to serve the Asian American community he became part of here. Two months after the birth of my son last year, my father passed away. In the beginning, I kept Asian Fortune running because I felt that was a part of my father that I could still hold on to since his passing was so sudden. I also welcomed the busy schedule to distract me from grieving. Juggling a full-time career in IT, running a paper and caring for a baby as a first-time mom was no easy task. Many times I seriously considered closing the paper or selling it. However, as time passed and as I became more involved in the community, I realized that the paper is crucial for the Pan-Asian communities in the D.C. area. Asian Fortune is the only voice in the nation’s capital for us Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders—particularly during this time when there’s so much at stake. Every day there are policy issues before Congress that will impact on present and future generations and our communities have a right to know about them. I was also beginning to see Asian Fortune from the eyes of former U.S. Commerce and Transportation Secretary
Norman Mineta, who said it “united the individuals, the organizations and the community into a cohesive whole.” I realized that continuing my father’s legacy and serving the community was much more fulfilling than sitting in front of a computer all day long. Starting with this issue, I am now managing Asian Fortune full-time. I have decided to transition from my career in IT to bring Asian Fortune to the next level and to continue my father’s legacy. I am very excited about this, and have set major goals for Asian Fortune to keep the newspaper up-to-date and relevant for all of you. Next month, Asian Fortune is launching a brand new website that will include videos of local personalities and events as well as blogs from intelligent writers. I invite anyone who would like to be part of this new blogging community to contact us. We would like to be more interactive with our reader base (YOU) and hope you will chime in on discussions whether on our social media or through letters and emails. You will be seeing us more often at various AAPI events and functions. We will also be organizing a few of our own. We also plan to expand our delivery locations and add more drops at mainstream locations, so look for us wherever you are! In all these efforts, I will need your support and your help. These past two decades have only been possible because of you and my father. An Asian sage once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Will you join this new journey with me, in the way you did all these past wonderful years with my father? Sincerely, Lily Chen Ma
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from page 1
Asian investors are also buying up commercial real estate—everything from condos to multi-million corporations. Jim Butler, chairman of the Global Hospitality Group, a law firm for hotel owners and lenders, says that Chinese investors especially like hotels because they are generally recognizable brands. “There’s a Hyatt in Shanghai, there’s a Marriott in Beijing, these names are familiar to them,” he said. Butler also said that Washington, D.C. is on the hot list for investment although the current leading cities are San Francisco and New York. While much of the Asian investment comes from China, other countries such as India, Japan, and Korea are also showing a lot of interest, Butler said. In a 2011 survey by the National Association of Realtors USA, foreigners purchased
close to 4% of homes in the U.S. Of this, Indian buyers accounted for 7%. According to the latest survey of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate released in January, preferred property types include multi-family, industrial, retail, office, and hotel. Japan’s Aisin Seiki Company, which makes auto parts pour $120 million in investment into a Michigan facility. Aisin also has built three manufacturing facilities in the U.S. in the last decade and is looking for workers, including in Michigan. Some are worried that all this Asian investment will hurt U.S. buyers. Michael Schumann discuss these fears in an August 2011 TIME article called “Will Asia ‘buy up’ America?” But Butler said that while this new wave of Asian investment is reminiscent of the Japanese real estate shopping spree in the 80’s. “There’s nothing to worry about. It’s a great opportunity for the U.S.” he said.
SpeakOUT Will We Finish Health Reform? By Kathy Ko Chin
It’s been three years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is the historic health reform bill signed by President Obama March 23, 2010. On this third anniversary, there is much to celebrate: better access to key preventive services, the end of many discriminatory practices by insurance companies, near-universal coverage of birth control and easier access to essential health care that women need, and of course, starting in October the promise of a better way to shop for and enroll in health coverage. Even though these are huge wins, there are still major gaps that prevent all communities from being healthy and thriving. Many immigrants are unfairly excluded from reaping the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and existing laws bar many from essential health programs. What do these policies mean in real terms? It means that young “DREAMers”—young adults granted temporary status under the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, will not have access to affordable, preventive care that can help them stay healthy and do well in school. And it also means that migrants from the Compact of Free Association (COFA) nations (including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau)are excluded from the very health programs they pay into, causing devastating effects on their health and economic stability.
It’s time for a reality check. Lack of insurance is a big problem for everyone, regardless of immigration status. But our laws unfairly single out immigrants in ways that prevent them from accessing the health care they need. Four and half million children born in the U.S. have an undocumented parent. The result? Despite qualifying for critical health programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, they are often left out. The intersection of immigration laws and health care programs and eligibility rules creates a lot of confusion for many immigrant families. For example, there are many citizen children who have an undocumented parent. In these cases, the undocumented parent would not be eligible for federal programs (such as Medicaid), but the citizen child could be. Because the laws and restrictions are so complicated and oftentimes quite harsh, there is a chilling effect where parents don’t realize their citizen children are eligible or may be afraid to apply. Undocumented immigrants are barred from the reform law’s new health insurance marketplaces, even if they are able to pay full price for plans using their own hardearned money. That means many will go without critical preventive health care and may be forced to delay care until an emergency arises. That’s why the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum has joined hundreds of social justice groups to urge the administration and members of Con-
gress to include health care in any immigration reform package. The Asian Americans and Pacific Islander community includes a fast growing immigrant population and they’re ready for change. They’ve shown their support for health care reform and an overhaul of our broken immigration policies because they know firsthand the consequences of these intersections all too well. And most Americans Kathy Ko Chin want the same thing. A recent survey by the Kaiser to action so that next year, when health Family Foundation found that 63 perinsurance coverage opportunities become cent of Americans believe that if lawavailable to millions more, all communimakers pass new immigration policies ties realize the full promise of health rethat allow undocumented immigrants to form. earn legal status, those who attain this Kathy Ko Chin is president and chief status should have full access to the executive officer of the Asian & Pacific health coverage options offered by the Islander American Health Forum (APIhealth care law. As we commemorate AHF), a national health justice organizathe third anniversary of this outstanding tion which influences policy, mobilizes moment in history, let’s remember that communities and strengthens programs great strides have been made to creand organizations to improve the health ate a framework for health equity. But of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians to continue to deny hardworking imand Pacific Islanders. migrants and their families affordable health care services is an affront to our Do you have an opinion on a social issue? morals and puts our economic health Send your essay to firstname.lastname@example.org. at risk. Our laws should protect, rather Asian Fortune reserves the right to edit or than restrict our health. reject essays. It’s time that Congress hears our call
Asian Americans Fight to Be Included in Immigration Reform By Susan R. Paisner
Immigration reform is a legislative target on both sides of the Congressional aisle. Terms like e-verify have been bantered around. But how many people are aware of its implications for the AAPI community? “Any immigration reform package must include the perspectives of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). “As the single largest group of new immigrants to this country and as a group disproportionately impacted by our nation’s immigration backlogs, AAPIs have a major stake in the current debate.” Nearly 60% of the AAPI population was born outside the United States. CAPAC recently released its top five priorities for inclusion in any comprehensive immigration reform bill. In addition, the caucus sent a letter to each of the Senate negotiators as well as the Senate leadership, urging them to preserve family-sponsored immigration by protecting family immigration visas, and has repeat-
edly spoken out to the press about specific immigration issues that are important to the AAPI community. 18MillionRising.org (18MR), a campaign working with the Asian American center for Advancing Justice—an orga-
business loAns sMAll
nization comprised of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian American Institute, Asian Law Caucus, and Asian American Justice Center. 18MillionRising.org (18MR)—urges AAPIs to sign a petition that calls for such actions as ending the separation of families wait years to be reunited. Such separations can last from 2 years to 23, according to Erin Oshiro, senior staff attorney at the Asian American Justice Center, something Rep. Chu terms “absolutely unacceptable.” The campaign also supports reforming the 1996 immigration laws that have had a significant impact on Southeast Asian refugees and Pacific Islanders. “We need common sense solutions that preserve the family immigration system and strengthen it to work for all families, our economy, and our nation as a whole,” said Mee Moua, AAJC’s Executive Director. And yet as Asian Fortune went to
press, reports from Capitol Hill said that legislators were considering reducing the number of available family visas, while simultaneously paving the way for highly educated and skilled workers. Not a good idea, said Jaime Farrant, Executive Director of Ayuda, a D.C.-area nonprofit providing a wide range of immigration and family law assistance. “Make sure that low wage workers are included in the package for reform. We hear about movement to support STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and those with higher education—and that’s great that that reform could happen.” But, he added: “We would like to see those who aren’t highly educated, highly skilled, but are contributing to the community, have the opportunity to be right with the law.” Specifically, advocates like Farrant would like to see any reform package contain several critical elements, including reducing the family backlog so members can be reunited with their loved ones more quickly than the current process provides. Oshiro said that any reform bill would need to increase countries’ visa limits (which is directly opposite to what is being discussed in Congress); recapture unused visas lost to delays and paperwork each year, something she descriptively likened to “rollover minutes”; and make the system more inclusive for LGBT individuals. At the moment,, same sex couples cannot sponsor each other. “AAJC, along with many in the Asian American community,” said Moua, “is working closely with Congress in hopes of putting together a package that will reflect our American values and provide fair and humane reform for Asian Americans and other immigrant communities.”
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University of Maryland Encourages Tolerance Towards Asian Americans By Mary Tablante Allison Lee, a sophomore at the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP), feels fortunate to be attending a school as diverse as UMCP. However, Lee also notes that building racial tolerance is an ongoing process, even at a college as diverse as hers. She recalls participating in a discussion on theme themed parties structured around racial stereotypes. Lee said she was surprised, as well as disgusted, to learn that these themed parties promoting intolerance are more common than she thought. “I think people do it because they. . . don’t think about how it could hurt somebody else,” Lee said. “I don’t think everyone plans parties to be racist, but they do it thinking it’s a unique idea. If you’re from a diverse community or background, you’re gonna be more conscious of things you say or do that might affect different cultures, but if you’re not introduced to anything like that, you just have no idea.” This kind of racial intolerance stemming from ignorance is common in colleges across the country. In recent months, a student at Miami University started a Twitter account (@OxfordAsian) mocking Asians. At Duke University, a fraternity hosted an Asian-themed party where partiers dressed up in stereotypical clothing. At Oberlin College in Ohio, school shut down for one day due to a series of hate incidents. Lee said that while it would be nice if schools had a mandatory program about racial tolerance, she thinks education on diversity would be more effective if it came from the students themselves rather than the administration. “I don’t want it to be something that people brush off, because it is a serious topic,” she said. “No one likes the administration telling us what to do, but when it comes from a body of students, people our age, that’s a strong message.” Gloria Bouis, the executive director at the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) agrees. Bouis said education on racial tolerance depends on the subculture of the institution. However, she said that all colleges should encourage awareness. To do this, she said, college administrations must be knowledgeable about the history and contributions of ethnic minority groups. Bouis said that ethnic studies programs like African American studies, Latin American studies, and Asian American studies help raise awareness and increase the student sensitivity to different cultures. She also said stu-
University of Maryland
dents should be given more information so that race education is not limited to a one-time lesson, but integrated more in the curriculum. “The more knowledge [students] have, hopefully the more respect they have for each group where they don’t look at them
extracurricular programming. “It takes the whole village to push for vision of more equitable institution,” Bouis said. Jude Paul Dizon works on bridging the institution’s efforts with student efforts to promote racial tolerance. Di-
MICA holds several events throughout the year help bring awareness to multicultural issues. For example, MICA holds a diversity and leadership retreat every year, which is a chance for a diverse group of people to meet each other and spend a weekend
We live in a society that socializes us to believe in racial differences and treat people differently because of their race.
Jude Paul Dizon
as someone that is a objectified, laughable object,”she said. Bouis added that diversity education should not just be included in the classes students take, but must also permeate all aspects of the campus community and
zon is the coordinator for Asian Pacific American Student Involvement and Advocacy at the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA), which is part of the student affairs division at UMCP. Dizon said that
away together off campus and learn each other’s stories. Dizon said the individual student must have the personal curiosity to branch out from their usual group, but it’s also the university’s responsibility to create spaces for learning and interaction. “We live in a society that socializes us see College, page 8
College, from page 7 to believe in racial differences and treat people differently because of their race, and so a lot of that comes out through our behaviors unconsciously,” Dizon said. “Just being able to dismantle racism in terms of how we treat each other. . .doesn’t go away just because we have laws, or just because we have elected officials who represent other identities.” Dizon said there needs to be more support for ethnic studies programs. “There are only a few Asian American studies (AAST) courses and AAST professors, so even if everyone wanted to take an AAST class, they wouldn’t be able to because there’s a small offering,” he said. But these classroom courses don’t just stop with the students. Dizon said having a culturally component staff and faculty who challenge and invite students to step out of their own experiences is important as well. Mixed Madness month, which featured discussions and entertainment to promote racial diversity throughout the month of March, is a unique feature at
the University of Maryland because not many universities have a month that represents the biracial or multiracial community, Dizon said. It’s just one of the many ways that Dizon and his office are trying to promote racial awareness. Dizon says that it’s particularly important to educate the public on Asian American culture. UMCP celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander month in April (instead of May, which is the official month for Asian Americans due to the school year calendar). “Because of the ways Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been rendered invisible in the case of their historical and contemporary contributions to the United States, it has been important to make one attempt—[our April celebrations are one effort]—to recognize and affirm how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are Americans and have been contributing to American society,” Dizon said. Do you think colleges are doing enough to promote racial diversity? Tweet us your answer@AsianFortune_DC or join the conversation on Facebook!
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Filipino Groups Want Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking By Jem Palo
Washington, D.C.—This is a familiar story: Filipino workers lured into coming to the United States in search of the American Dream, and instead experiencing labor exploitation. Every day, all over the world, human trafficking is a scourge that claims many victims. Whether exploited shipyard workers, or teachers deceived into promising careers, such is the plight of many Filipino migrant workers who come to the U.S., hoping to make a better life for their families back in the Philippines. The latest incident involves workers at the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) oil field company in New Orleans. On February 22 to 25, a team from Igniting Leadership and Action with Women (ILAW) went to the homes of former GIS workers and listened to their stories. Ilaw is a Filipino term for light, or illumination. As part of their campaign to promote justice for these workers, ILAW, Gabriela USA and other Filipino advocates shared victims’ stories at the St. Episcopal Church in D.C. on March 17.
“We were shocked, most of their stories were really compelling. . . We knew we had to share it with our local areas,” said Joanna Quiambao of ILAW. Most GIS shipyard workers are skilled welders, scaffolders and construction workers recruited from the Philippines with promises of high salaries. But former workers who have come out in the open disputed this. When asked for an official statement, representatives from GIS declined to comment, citing a gag order. ILAW Accounts According to accounts Quiambao and her team gathered, workers had to bear heavy construction work of 10,000-ton structures for as low as $5 an hour, working 10 to 14 hours a day. Sometimes on weekends, they were even made to clean the cars or garages of their CEOs. As guest workers in the U.S., they were given fraudulent Social Security numbers, their meager pay often saddled with deductions, and they never saw the remittances sent back home to their families. Their passports were taken from
them. They were threatened to be sent back home if they complained about their labor conditions. Four to six workers shared a 10 ft. by 10 ft. bunk room at the shipyard site itself on the water. It was a room small enough to not even allow “nightmares,” lest they bump their heads on the ceiling, as Quiambao recounted the workers’ stories. Remarked Susan Pineda, also from ILAW: “They say human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery...Professional Filipinos are being brought to the United States with the promise of good jobs. But they end up being exploited. It’s not so easy to accept seeing our kababayans (Filipino word for fellow citizens) suffer these forms of human trafficking.” The community sharing, mixed with artistic performances and video screening, was held at a symbolic time in Philippine history. March 17 marks the 18th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion. Contemplacion, a Filipina domestic worker, was executed in Singapore for al-
legedly murdering the child she was taking care of. Contemplacion’s tragic story mirrors the struggle of many Overseas Filipino Workers: suffering the worst of conditions abroad to make a better life for their families.
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Two Months in Office, Freshmen Congresswomen Discuss Their Experiences in the 113th Congress By Daphne Domingo
Photo by Daphne Domingo
Washington, D.C.—It was standing room only on March 13 at the at the House Visitors Center on Capitol Hill for “A Conversation with AAPI Women of the 113th Congress.” The event was organized by the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Featured on the panel were Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Grace Meng (D-NY) The membership of 113th Congress is historic for many reasons. Gabbard is the first Hindu to hold a Congressional seat; Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is one of first female combat veterans elected to Congress; and Meng is the first Asian American to represent New York. This is also the first time in history that the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus consists of a majority of women. The March 13 panel discussion was introduced by Representative Judy Chu (DCA), the first Chinese American woman ever to serve in Congress, and was moderated by Nancy LeaMond, Executive
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Vice President of AARP’s State and National Group. The conversation ranged from the biggest surprises they encountered during their first two months of service, to the complex current issues they face, including the challenge of painting a picture for the leadership that frames the critical issues facing the 50% of U.S. senior citizens who live on $20,000 or less. Despite stark physical and demographic contrasts between their two states, Gabbard and Meng shared remarkably similar experiences, such as their need to battle shyness in order to
knock on doors while campaigning. They also discussed their involvement with what President Obama called the silent “common sense Congress” on both sides of the aisle; the ideal diversity within their different constituencies; and how important it is to bring compelling stories about the plight of seniors before the public in order to evoke the humanity of the current situation. Both Congresswomen encouraged audience members in attendance at the Visitors Center and online via livestream to register to vote, voice their opinions and get involved.
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Qulture MATTERS Failure Is a Viable Option By Lily Qi
A couple of years ago, when my son was looking for his first college summer internship, I gave him some general advice and urged him to start early, but stopped short of stepping in to make sure he landed a good job. It was hard to watch him struggle, but the frustrations he went through that summer turned out to be so much more valuable than anything I could have possibly taught him through helping or nagging. Besides learning what it would really take to land an ideal internship, he learned that failure is a real possibility. The movie Apollo 13 has a famous line, “Failure is not an option.” This referred to the need for spacecraft Apollo 13 to return to earth safely after a neardisaster moon-bound NASA mission. In that situation, much was at stake, including human lives. That famous line reflects
the can-do spirit that Americans value and a determination to not accept anything less than success. In everyday life, not everything has such irreversible consequences. In order to achieve greater success, we can and should let failure play its role. As parents, learning how to let failure teach our kids the valuable lessons we want to instill in them, rather than lecturing or rescuing them, is a critical parenting skill–even though watching them fail when we can prevent it seems out of the question and against our natural instincts. Today’s American youth have a highly structured life growing up, with far less unsupervised time to explore compared to previous generations. Parents often refuse to even consider letting their children take some risks that may lead to failures, especially when it comes to college choices, majors, and careers. Going to a good college, studying a practical major, and having a clear career path after college seem so para-
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mount that exploration is no longer an option. The proven paths of success that many Asian parents favor may work for a small number of lucky young people who know what to do with the rest of their lives when they are still in their 20’s, but not for most who need a few years or even a decade or longer to explore and figure out what they are good at or passionate about. In fact, the Millennials, or Gen Ys (people born after 1980), are expected to have two or more careers, not just jobs, in their lifetime. This means a lot of exploring, including in uncharted territories. With an overwhelming array of choices their parents’ generation never had to make– choices made possible by globalization, technological advancement and the trend toward interdisciplinary education and professions–it’s a daunting task to sort it all out so early in one’s life. Recently, I gave a talk about career choices to a group of Georgetown University Asian American students, many struggling to balance between their welleducated parents’ expectations for clear and practical career paths and their desire to explore various options before settling down. One student asked what she should do instead if she doesn’t want to major in accounting as her parents prefer. It’s the kind of story I hear over and over again. In most Asian cultures, parents play a strong hand in their children’s lives, often well into their adulthood. While Asian parents enjoy a reputation for being engaged and responsible
parents, we need to update our parenting skills with the changing times, which include resisting the urge to hover over our children’s shoulders, make decisions for them, and rescue them when things go wrong. Helicopter parenting leads to overly dependent children who lack resilience when facing life’s trials and tribulations or who get lost easily when facing complex decisions. Depriving our children of the opportunities to fail may save them in the short run, but can cost them in the long run. It is no secret that Asian Americans tend to perform well in highly structured environments such as academic institutions where rules of engagement are objective and clear, but not nearly as effectively in places where rules of engagement are far more subjective or ambiguous. Having the freedom to explore and fail early on may just be the answer. My son is home this week for spring break. When trying to renew his driver’s license, he found out he had a speeding ticket on record—his first. I could easily pay for him and then lecture him, but how would he learn that a speeding ticket doesn’t care whether you can afford to pay or not? By not paying for him, I am hoping to hand him a gift that will last a lifetime. Lily Qi can be reached at qulturematters@ gmail.com or via her blog site at www. qulturematters.com.
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Surae Chinn, Award-Winning TV9 Reporter Surae Chinn once wrote for Asian Fortune. “It was my first job out of college,” she said. “I wrote about events in the community.” That was late in 1996 until 1997. Well, look at her now. She’s an awardwinning reporter for WUSA-TV9. She also fills in as anchor on occasions. In 2004, she won the prestigious regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her special coverage and a 30-minute newscast on the National Guards in Guantanamo Bay. The Associated Press also gave her an honorary award for Best Documentary. She’s also in demand in community activities. On April 5, she will emcee the Asian American Chamber of Commerce event. She said she loves “being out in the community, specially the Asian American community.” In phone and email interviews, Surae described the award as very exciting and fulfilling. She recalled: “My cameraman Jeff Myers and I worked so hard while at Guantanamo. We were proud of our work. We covered the soldiers day in and day out. It was a miracle that we pulled it off in the first place, doing a satellite shot from Gitmo (Guantanamo) and coordinating everything back to home studio. It was an amazing experience.” Broadcast journalism is her first love. At age 9, she told her dad she wanted to be a TV journalist. She didn’t imagine technology would transform the field in a big way and make it more exciting: “Everything is now 24-7, and because of social media, Facebook and Twitter, people want their news instantly.” Actually, hers was not an overnight success. Like many success stories, she paid her dues. The Virginia Tech graduate worked as a production assistant for NBC-4. Her first on-camera job was at a local cable station in Montgomery County. She went to Dubuque, Iowa “for my first commercial reporting job and first
Photos courtesy of Surae Chinn
By Jennie L. Ilustre
One happy family: Devon Lucie and Surae Chinn with the apple of their eye, Graham Oak Yalong Lucie.
time away from home.” In Lynchburg, Virginia, she was the weekend evening anchor at WSET. Next stop, before coming full circle: Kansas City, Missouri. She spent four years there as a KCTV5 weekend morning anchor. She covered breaking news. She also covered weather and met Mr. Weatherman and Mr. Right, meteorologist Devon Lucie. Devon does the weather report and updates for NewsChannel8, ABC-7’s local news station. The two are now proud parents of 13-month-old Graham Oak Yalong Lucie. (Yalong means second dragon.) Graham was born last year, in the Year of the Dragon. His dad is the first dragon. The first time mom’s pet names for their son? “Grahmmy Graham and Lovebug,” replied Surae, adding, “I never thought I’d enjoy motherhood so much.” In an email interview, her husband proudly noted their son’s timing. “His birthday is February 4, the day before National Weatherperson’s Day! It’s a nice tropical climate most of the time now that Ya Long’s here. Mostly sunny
and warm, with bouts of thunderstorms or a rain squall here and there.”
Comfort Zone Surae is happy to be back. Born in Hawaii, she spent some time there before her family moved to D.C. Her mom, now a government retiree, and her dad, who worked at Delta Airlines, taught her
the values she holds dear–“Family first” and “Work hard and you’ll find success.” They are very supportive of Surae and her sister. Remarked Surae: “They have always been my biggest cheerleaders. I remember acting in plays in high school. One year I was Cinderella. I also played Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and my mother went to every single play. My mom is one of my role models. She has the warmest heart I know.” Surae likewise cherishes her other family at WUSA9. “It can be like working with your friends one moment and the next, a dysfunctional family–I mean that in the nicest way! The tight deadlines make it exciting, tense and stressful. But at the end of the day, it usually all works out.” She recalled: “I was doing a live shot one day, with two minutes before air. The control room is talking to me in my ear: ‘We don’t have a picture. We hear you, but we don’t see you.’ A second goes by as my cameraman tries to figure out the problem. Then, ‘We see you, but we don’t hear you.” This must have gone see Chinn, page 14
LIFELINE Did you know?
You may qualify for assistance in paying your home phone bill. Discounts for basic telephone service are available to eligible District of Columbia low-income residents. Verizon Washington, D.C. Lifeline Plans: Verizon Washington, D.C.’s Lifeline service, known as “Economy II,” offers reduced rates on Verizon’s monthly telephone bill and one-time discounts on the cost of installing phone service. Additionally, toll blocking is available to Economy II customers at no charge. Economy II Service*: $3.00 per month for unlimited local calling. Value-added services are not included (e.g., Call Waiting, Caller ID). No connection charges apply. Also, customers will not be charged for the federal subscriber line charge. Economy II customers who are 65 years of age or older can have this service at a further reduced rate of $1.00 per month. * Full terms and rates for these services, including terms of eligibility, are as set forth in federal and in Verizon’s tariffs on file with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia. Rates as stated here are effective as of September 1, 2011. But, the rates and other terms are subject to change in the future.
Eligibility: District residents who have been certified by the District Department of the Environment’s Energy Office (DDOE) as income eligible may apply for the Economy II program this program. To apply, schedule an appointment with DDOE by calling 311. Households in which one or more individuals are receiving benefits from one of the following public assistance programs may be income eligible.
Food Stamps Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Supplemental Security Income Public Assistance to Adults Temporary Disability Assistance Program
No other working telephone service at the same location No additional phone lines No Foreign Exchange or Foreign Zone service No bundles or packages No outstanding unpaid final bills Bill name must match eligible participant No separate Lifeline discount on cellular or wireless phone service Business lines are not eligible Phone number must match eligible participant Must be a current customer or establish new service with Verizon
Contact DDOE at 311 to apply Surae Chinn’s prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award, in a bookshelf with her broadcast books.
To learn more about the Lifeline program, visit www.lifelinesupport.org.
Chinn, from page 13
703-753-8295 included traveling, yoga, walks with pet dog Melvin and going out to eat. Melvin and Mei Li, the two rescue pets, have adapted to her son’s birth. Melvin was jealous at first. “But he has since enjoyed being near the baby because he has first dibs on Grahmmy Graham’s scraps,” Surae said, laughing. “Melvin and Mei Li, although playing second fiddles now, are very dear to our hearts. We’re a family.”
back and forth for a minute and a half. Finally, I hear, ‘You’re live!’ We have crazy days like that and people at home have no idea.” “Surae has always been one of the best reporters I’ve ever known,” said her husband. “She has the unique ability to
of their profession, he said. “There’s always the prospect of extended work hours for breaking stories or weather coverage. Also, May and November ratings sweeps require schedule adjustments, too.”
True Professional connect with those she’s interviewing, along with being able to convey not only the message in a concise fashion, but also being able to capture the emotion of the story.” They understand the unique demands
Marlene Davenport, NBC-4 producer in Chicago and Surae’s friend, described her as a “true professional, unflappable, with a great sense of humor and deeply passionate about her job.” She worked with Surae at KCTV5 in Kansas City. In a phone interview, she said, “Surae
is one of the most amazing, giving persons I know, always thinking of others. I met her in 2007. I didn’t know anyone in town. It was Christmas, and she was so friendly and warm, and made me feel so welcome and so at home.” “Surae was born to be a mom–she’s so loving and has a big heart,” Marlene added. She said Surae is also good at “balancing her life as a working mom,” something that made Surae giggle when told about it. Remarked Surae: “Oh, I do my best. These days with a one-year old son, I’m busy trying to strategize how much I can fit in one day. It’s juggling family time and trying to see how many errands I can do in an hour.” In her pre-baby life, Surae’s hobbies
How do you see yourself five years from now? I see myself continuing to tell stories in the Greater Metro Washington D.C. area. I love reporting in my hometown and I hope it doesn’t change! How do you like working in the nation’s capital? This is the place to be– there’s so much action and interesting things going on. Last Friday (March 22), I covered the homecoming of USS Arlington, honoring 9-11 victims and the first responders came, and they all saluted the ship. It was very exciting. Who is your favorite newscaster and why? Peter Jennings. He was such a natural and unassuming. I remember reading about him. He said he didn’t think he was very smart. Yet he was smarter and more worldly-wise than most. How has winning the Ed Murrow Award changed you? It’s an affirmation and an inspiration to keep doing great stories day in and day out.
Fitzgerald Auto Malls Reaches Out to Asian Americans By Jenny Chen
Rockville, MD—Jack Fitzgerald started Fitzgerald Auto Malls in 1966. A lot has changed since then. Car manufacturers have come and gone. The demographic make up of the United States has also changed. The DC Metro area, where Fitzgerald Auto Malls is based, has seen a dramatic increase in Asian and Hispanic populations in the last five years. Fitzger-
ald wants to keep up with this shift in demographics. He says that although Fitzgerald Auto Malls’ employees speak a total of 45 different languages, not enough Asian Americans are in the auto business. He is actively seeking to fill that gap because he believes it will better serve his Asian American customers. “If you want to be
Jack Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, addresses reporters at a multicultural press conference.
served in your own language, we want to be able to accommodate that,” said Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald also says that there aren’t enough Asian Americans who participate
in the Fitzgerald Auto Malls’ free monthly Child Safety Seat Inspection. Started in 1999, Fitzgerald said that 73% of child safety seats are incorrectly installed and he wanted to rectify that. Every third Thursday of the month since then, Fitzgerald Auto Malls has been offering free inspections to the public. However, Fitzgerald has also noticed a lack of Asian American parents in the line up of parents waiting to get their seats checked. “[Asian American] babies are just as important as any other,” he said. “Maybe they don’t know about our inspections, but we’d like to get the word out.” On March 21, Fitzgerald hosted a multi-cultural press conference and invited ethnic media in the DC area including Tre Magazine, and Washington Chinese News to help get that word out. Staff at Fitz Auto Mall inspecting car seats.
TheARTS Hongtao Li’s Art: Celebrating Balance, Harmony By Jennie L. Ilustre
Hongtao Li is one of those people who transcends time and place. His art graces museums and art galleries all over the world. He is the first Chinese artist to have his works showcased in Musee de Louvre in Paris. Political VIPs and Hollywood celebrities, as well as the general public, have a collection of his oil paintings in the modern and post-modern ab-
Li’ is known for using vibrant colors to evoke energy. The color, the light and the shadow, express what’s in the artist’s mind at the moment, he said. Color also can heal. He added: “A painting is not just a decoration. A good painting always has a healing power. To me, the process of painting, like music, poetry and other art
stract style. Indeed, his art will endure through the ages. Doubtless his works affirm the truth: He was born to be an artist. He is mostly self-taught. His art, so timeless and universal in its theme–and in his words “still evolving”–is informed by wisdom gained from his culture, early adversities and also interaction with man and nature. Li was born in Dalian, located in northeast China, according to the Wen Dao Journal website. At age ten, he started studying Qigong and other Chinese traditional medicine. (The wikipedia defines Qigong as a practice that cultivates and balances qi or chi, translated as intrinsic life energy.) When his father died, Li dropped out of school to support his four younger siblings and his mother, who was nearly blind. Li was influenced by his mother’s talents. He used to help her make and sell arts and crafts to earn income for the family. His love for his family and his passion for his art (he was also a gifted tenor) saved him. He recalled: “I lost my father when I was 13. Before he died of cancer, my father left me a poetic letter. In one part, he said: ‘When your roof is leaking with continuous rain, when your sail is broken with a headwind coming, you grit your teeth and stay strong. The dark clouds will pass and the fine day will come soon.’ His words are forever etched in my mind.”
forms, is all about balance and harmony. That includes harmony of the internal body, mind and spirit and also harmony with your external environment. Some paintings can inspire and encourage you, give you a positive, uplifting feeling, pleasure and joy.” Li noted about his art: “Most of my paintings are influenced by Chinese culture. This includes WuXing, the 5 stages of movement. Every line or dot or color of the painting represents the whole sense of movement. Also Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, the Chinese ancient classics I Ching and Nei Jing, and the 8 principles of Chinese medicine–yin and yang, warm and cold, internal and external, excess and deficiency.” “In traditional Chinese painting, there was always an abstract and impressionistic freehand brushwork called PoMo,” he explained. “I’ve been influenced by this, as well as by Chinese calligraphy.” Here’s his advice to aspiring artists: “Don’t just use your eyes to paint. Use your heart to paint. Don’t just focus on painting, but open yourself up to other arts and to the world. I’m also interested in history, poetry, calligraphy, and I interact with nature and other species. Be natural and express your own personal feelings. “I use my imagination to visualize images, and then go beyond imagination to the abstract. There’s a famous Tao-
ism saying–‘The greatest image has no shape.’”
UN Exhibit Last March 26 to 29, the United Nations headquarters in New York exhibited 38 of his works. Li said he was very happy to have the opportunity to receive feedback from an international audience. Next month 80 paintings will be presented in Atlanta, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Corporation. Every year, the company showcases international artists. Li is the first artist featured from China. The exhibit runs on May 1-31. The UN exhibit’s theme was “The Greatest Image Has No Shape.” It is taken from a Taoist philosophy. Qi has no shape, he said, adding, “The shapeless image can hold the greatest meaning because the core of Qi is there.” Observed Li: “Harmony is everything, everything requires harmony and balance. In Chinese philosophy, too cold will lead to freezing, too hot to burning. A state ultimately turns into its opposite if you go to the extreme. Just like in painting, too heavy or too light a color can destroy the overall harmony. Artistic harmony requires a balance of color.” Li assembled a collection based on balance and harmony. They mostly represent his recent style, in which he is weaving in more influence from traditional Chinese landscape painting: “I’m aiming for a rich, balanced palette of colors. I have
What paintings by your favorite artists do you have in your collection? I like a lot of artists and I used to collect many ancient Chinese artists. I like a number of American painters, including Braque, De Kooning, Kandinsky, the French Chinese abstract painters Zhao Wu Ji and Zhu De Quen. I also like European masters Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Rousseau and Chinese painters Gu Kai Zhi, Bada Shanren, Qi Baishi, Zhu Da. All of them have their own unique creativity. How has success changed you? Or it didn’t change you? You still like the same simple things in life? The same food? It’s not about success. Nothing has changed for me. I like to eat a wide variety of foods. I choose what to eat based on my health, the season, the climate. And color matters in my diet, too! I learned to cook professionally when I was a teenager, working in a restaurant. I like to cook from scratch, using foods directly from nature and my own backyard–dandelions, wild plants, tree leaves, and vegetables and fruits I grow myself. You’re a healer. How do you heal people through your paintings? The color, the light and the shadow, express what’s in the artist’s mind at the moment. Color also can heal. A good painting can affect the hormones and stimulate or enhance one’s immunity. Color has a healing energy which influences the energy of the internal organs. In see Li, page 18
Various art pieces of Hongtao Li.
painted 500-600 total paintings, but very few with which I’m fully satisfied.”
Life and Art In featuring Li, his art and his exhibits, Asian Fortune is celebrating this extraordinary artist. Jasmine Ma expertly translated the interview, including the excerpts that follow. Did you get the talent to paint from your mother? Or your father? I was influenced more by my mother. She liked jianzhi, the Chinese folk art of paper cutting. She also drew folk art. But I never received professional training.
A Flowy Summer Day.
Travel to TURKEY Moonstruck in Cappadocia ly different purpose. As early as the third century, Christians fled to these caves and even built rock-cut churches and underground cities to avoid Roman persecution. The religious paintings still visible on the ceilings and walls of these cave churches are a testament to the beauty and resiliency of their faith. Some of the most impressive exam-
the owner’s family home into a retreat offering five-star hospitality with all the comforts of the modern world, including an overwhelming spread of Turkish specialty foods for breakfast and an in-house hamam bath. The Kelebek has 36 rooms to choose from, ranging from fairy chimneys to luxuriously decorated Ottoman-style
Photos by Lily Lin
I guzzled down the remainder of my water bottle, exhaling deeply as I surveyed the barren, arid landscape from the window of my airport shuttle. Aside from the highway of asphalt that seemed to stretch for miles on end, I saw nothing but dirt and the occasional shrub on the side of the road. Where was the otherworldly moonscape sculpted by geological de-
Whimsical statues of animals created by the force of nature in Cappadocia
posits of ash, lava, and basalt? Where were the conical formations that burst into vibrant hues of orange and red during sunset? After thirty minutes of squirming in my seat, I spotted the first jagged rock formation in the distance. I could make out carvings in the pale yellow rock face that were used as windows and doorways in ancient times. As we pulled closer toward the small town of Goreme, I began to see the famed fairy chimneys typical of Cappadocia—sandstone pillars, obelisks, and pyramids formed by volcanic eruptions, each uniquely shaped by the wind and water of countless millennia. Lying in the heart of south central Turkey, the Cappadocia region is comprised of several towns with Goreme, Urgup, and Uchisar as the primary attractions with the best historic cave homes for tourists. This area caught my imagination for its bizarre alien landscape, and the novel opportunity to sleep in a cave. Only in the last couple decades have these abandoned cave houses been revitalized and renovated to become near-luxury vacation destinations.
Historic Caves Long before the recent tourism boom in Cappadocia, the caves served an entire-
ples of Byzantine art reside at the Gore- cave rooms graced by marble bathrooms me Open Air Museum. Consisting of a and hamam basins. My room was forvast complex of cave monasteries, this merly used as a stable, and consisted of UNESCO (United Nations Education- a barrel-vaulted and arched living room al, Scientific and Cultural Organization) made of stone connected to a cave bedWorld Heritage site contains a collec- room formed by the porous remains of tion of eleven churches with names such volcanic rock. The front door opened to a as “Snake Church” and “Apple Church.” small rose garden, and offered spectacuEach rock-hewn sanctuary reveals vibrant frescoes with images of Christ and depictions from the New Testament. The proximity to this attraction led me to base myself in Goreme. Since this small town is literally carved from volcanic rock, there was no shortage of options for the experience of sleeping in a cave room. I opted for the Kelebek Hotel, as it was the first boutique hotel in the area and conveniently located within a fiveminute walk to the town center, and a mile from the Open Air Museum. Similar to other cave hotels in the region, the Kelebek was converted from View of Pigeon Valley from highest point in Goreme.
lar views of the town and natural cliffs that dot the Pigeon Valley landscape.
Authentic Cuisine Shortly after arrival, I ambled through the curvy narrow back streets of the Kelebek property in search of dinner. All paths leading out of the hotel were at a steep decline, and I felt my legs bracing against the road to fight off gravity. Tucked into a row of cave homes was a sign for the Topdeck Cave Restaurant. Inside, I could see a few tables arranged neatly and an array of pillows spread around ottomans serving as tables. The owner and chef, Mustafa, had converted his family’s stable into a restaurant that serves traditional Turkish food with fresh, organic local ingredients. The restaurant provides a written menu. However, after two separate visits, it was apparent that the best orders are placed by consulting with Mustafa. The menu changes every day and offers a wide variety of meze (appetizers), soups, and main courses (usually lamb and chicken). A visit to Topdeck requires a big appetite, as meals are made with the same flavors and flourish that is enjoyed by Turkish families in the privacy of their homes. As I feasted on the meze spread of dips, fried cheese, and exotic salads, I tried to savor the moment and imagine what life must have been like for the early Christians who were forced to eke out an existence while hiding among the confines of such darkened and rough-hewn quarters. Occasionally, I would see flickers of patrons’ shadowy forms playing against the hardened lava, illuminated by candles strategically placed into naturallyformed crooks of the rock walls.
Photos by Lily Lin
Example of fresco found in abandoned church in Cappadocia countryside
Cluster of Cave Churches in the Goreme Open Air Museum
Other Things to Do Near Goreme Baglidere Valley Best known as Love Valley, this valley of phallic rock formations is a prime example of the funny shapes created by an eroded landscape of volcanic tuff stone, wind, and weather.
Derinkuyu Underground City Derinkuyu is the deepest underground city in Cappadocia, spanning eight
Famous family group of fairy chimneys: mother, father, and daughter.
During the course of my stay in Cappadocia, it was not the cave living experience that left a lasting imprint—it was an appreciation for mankind’s resilience, ability to adapt to nature’s landforms, and legacy of discovery, religion, and culture through the centuries that would form an everlasting impression.
Neveshir to Goreme for 10 to 15 Euros per person. Alternatively, local travel agencies such as Argeus Tourism & Travel, Euphrates Tours, and Turkish Heritage Tours can also arrange a shuttle to your hotel for a similar cost.
Kelebek Hotel Aydinli Mahallesi Yavuz Sokak No 1 Goreme 50180, Turkey www.kelebekhotel.com Priced from $70 to $230, the room rates include a buffet breakfast and complimentary tea and coffee served all day. A hamam spa offers Turkish bath and massage services starting at $40.
Turkish Airlines offers daily non-stop flights from Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) to Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST). There are two airports serving Cappadocia: Kayseri Airport (ASR) and Nevsehir Airport (NAV). Nevsehir Airport is the newer and better organized airport of the two. Flights from Istanbul to Kayseri run more frequently during the day. The following airlines offer direct flights to Kayseri and/or Neveshir: Atlas Jet (www.atlasjet.com); Pegasus Air (www.flypgs.com); Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com). Many Cappadocia hotels offer private transport service from Kayseri and
Eating There Topdeck Cave Restaurant Hafiz Abdullah Efendi Sokak 15 Goreme 50180, Turkey Food is reasonably priced; Expect to spend $10 to $15 for heaping plates of authentic Turkish cuisine.
stories and 60 meters deep. At one time, this city sheltered approximately 20,000 people with their livestock and food stores.
Hot Air Balloon Rides A trip to the Cappadocia region would not be complete without a sunrise trip with Butterfly Balloons (www.butterfly balloons.com) to view the tops of fairy chimneys while floating effortlessly above the moon-like landscape.
Li, from page 15
life connects here.
Chinese medicine, the common five colors represent the major internal organs. Red is related to the heart and small intestine, yellow to the stomach, spleen and pancreas, white to the lungs and large intestine, black to the kidney and bladder, green (sometimes blue) to the liver and gall bladder. The viewers’ level of appreciation also depends on his or her own individual energy in relation to the energy emanating from the color. Of course, other factors like personal background, personality, culture, etc., come into play. But the color and image draw or repel a person, based on his or her internal conditions and needs. Appreciation of a painting, especially an abstract one, requires not just observing the image, but also using your heart to feel the energy behind the painting. A painting always imparts what the artist feels and wants to express at that moment, and can affect people’s mind, mood, health, even physical feelings. Van Gogh is famous for using his paintings to convey his mood and feelings. You’ve had a difficult life. How has painting healed you? When I immerse myself in painting, it heals me. It puts me in a state of comfort and peace, and when I’m in that medi-
703-753-8295 tative state, my mind moves freely, and I can express my feelings. My paintings evoke positive, open energy. What you do before starting to paint? Do you meditate, pray? Painting itself is comforting and cleansing for the soul. I sometimes meditate or practice Qigong, but not for the purpose of painting. Painting itself is a kind of meditation for me. I have studios in China, Maryland and D.C. Whenever something comes into my mind, night or day, I’ll jump up to paint, even in the middle of the night. What are your plans for the future? Recently, I’ve been changing my style slightly, interweaving Chinese Pomo landscape brushwork painting style more into my work. I’m planning additional exhibits beyond the one at the UN. Please share something about your personal life. Married? I’ve been divorced since 1995 and haven’t married again, nor do I have any children. But I am happy–I have many friends and painting is my lover. Any Chinese saying or proverb that serves to inspire you in your personal life? My personal principle and painting principle are the same, derived from the principles of yin and yang: The greatest image doesn’t have to have a certain shape or pattern.
Smart Urban Living at Crown Discover the future of community living where urban life and style meet tree-lined neighborhoods. Take a stroll to dinner, the gym, or the market. Whatever you desire, you’ll find it here.
Now SeLLiNg iN CrowN weSt Li with Ma Ying-Jeou, president of the Republic of China.
SmartUrbanLiving.com This material shall not constitute an offer or solicitation in any state where prior registration is required. Equal Housing Opportunity. © 2012 All rights reserved VII Crown Farm Owner, LLC. Drawings and renderings are for illustrative purposes only and subject to change.
Donna Brazile, Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, receiving an art piece from Li.
Organization SPOTLIGHT Jade Philanthropy Society By Michelle Phipps-Evans
When Nina Un and Virginia Cheung connected about two years ago, they dreamed of revamping the D.C. Asian American nonprofit scene. “The nonprofits are homegrown in the area, and they’re duplicative,” said Un, a Chinese American who’s the founder of Care to Lunch, a charity-focused lunch series in Tyson’s Corner, Va. “They’re all trying to do the same thing, to address the same needs, going to the same donors.” Furthermore, most of these nonprofits tend to focus on improving the lives of only one ethnic group, which can impose limits on the demographic that they are able to serve, but can’t take advantage of economies of scale. “I’ve been involved in nonprofit work,” added Cheung, an attorney and native Washingtonian Chinese American. “But there was never that Asian voice, I was the only one.” That’s where Jade Philanthropy Society (JPS) stepped in. Besides offering a support system for the area’s many philanthropic organizations, it also recognizes, nurtures and promotes current and future Asian-American nonprofit leaders. The brainchild of Un and Cheung, JPS started late 2011. The women sought other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders in philanthropy to join JPS. By the end of the year, 12 AAPI women—all leaders in their community and actively involved in nonprofits—began meeting to form a working group to increase AAPI participation and support. They emphasize that JPS is not a nonprofit. Its mission is more as a “facilitator” and as a bridge to bring groups and people together. It doesn’t produce direct-service programs but it partners with, and enhances existing programs to increase awareness of these programs, and increase their participation levels and overall reach. “We’re matchmakers, we bring together the major players,” said Herndon, Va., Council member Grace Han Wolf, a Korean American, and one of JPS’s founding members. “We’re opening a gateway for Asian Americans to enter. Nonprofits need more help with brand awareness and with marketing structure.” She said the players may be found in the corporate world, among legislators or in other branches of government. One event they were involved in recently was the reception with the Cherry Blossom Giving Circle and the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy in October. Attendees learned about the needs of the underserved Asian-
JPS Founders Grace Han Wolf, Virginia Cheung (also AALead Board of Directors), Smita Dutta (also AALead Chairman, Board of Directors), and Hong Pham.
Several JPS Founders attending AACC Gala in 2012: (l to r) Nina Un, Grace Han Wolf, Grace Lee, Jenet Ahn, Hong Pham, and Suzanne Kim Dowd Galli.
American populations and how individual and collective philanthropy can make a difference. Three of the co-founders discussed JPS’s mission one Friday afternoon in March after one of Un’s Care to Lunch gatherings at the Marriott in Tyson’s Corner, Va. These offer a forum to raise awareness with a portion of the lunch proceeds going to any individual nonprofit organization. JPS’s other members are well accomplished in the Asian-American community. They include Jenet Ahn, Leona Chan, Smita Dutta, Suzanne Kim Doud-Galli, Rosetta Lai, Rosemary Tran Lauer, Grace Lee, Jennifer Lee and Hong Pham. Together, they voted on the name. “We wanted the name to reflect the membership that included all Asians,” said Un. “Jade is recognized throughout the culture. We didn’t want ethnicity to be part of the mission as the mission is to raise the philanthropic profile (among Asians).” And so, Jade Philanthropy Society was born. The women say that they’ve noticed that Asian Americans don’t receive a lot
of attention from the media or the government. Since Asians are considered model minorities, the assumption is they have are no economic, social or political
needs, said Cheung. However, she highlighted Census data that stated that Montgomery County in Maryland is made up of 14 percent Asians but about 6,000 of them are low income. In the District of Columbia, the city is home to only 5 percent Asian Americans, but more than 13 percent of them are low income. According to White House data, 12.6 percent of Asians live below poverty in comparison to 12.4 percent for the rest of the country. The Jade Philanthropy Society helps Asian American nonprofits make a bigger impact on these Asian Americans in need by connecting organizations together. Many nonprofits depend on funding from outside sources in order to continue doing the work that they do. However, many funding sources don’t understand the need for Asian American nonprofits very well. “For us to get funding from the mainstream, we have to speak up and speak out,” Han Wolf said. Although the society is new, its members are already busy planning events for the coming year. JPS will be supporting the Touching Heart Golf Tournament at Landsdowne Resort and the Asian Chamber of Commerce’s gala. “We want to support and help those who are out there,” said Un. “We want to lead by setting examples. We want to find other (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) rock stars.” For more information, visit the website at www.jadephilanthropy.org. Below: Meet the founders of JPS.
2013 Cherry Blossom Festival Opens With a Star-Studded Performance Washington, D.C.—Now known as the “Nation's Greatest Springtime Celebration,” the National Cherry Blossom Festival is continues to draw over a million visitors to Washington, D.C. said Gregory O'Dell President and CEO of Events D.C. at the 2013 National Cherry Blossom opening ceremony on March 23. The line-up included Japanese pop star Junko Yagami and American platinum singer Andy Grammar in an evening that celebrated a long-time friendship between Japan and the United States. According to the National Park Service, the peak bloom is expected to happen around April 3–6, 2013. Weren't there? Don't worry—catch some footage from the evening online at www.asianfortune.com
Chihiro Yamanaka Trio wows audiences with improv jazz.
C H E R RY B LO S S O M E V E N T S F O R A P R I L
15th Annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk on April 6 Walkers: are You ready to Pursue Justice? The 15th Annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk, an official event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2013. The event will be held at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II (Intersection of D St., New Jersey and Louisiana, NW), rain or shine. The theme this year is “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Justice” and marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk is a historical and cultural event to raise awareness about the Japanese American experience during World War II and to highlight the vigilant role that American citizens must continue to play in preserving the Constitutional rights of all Americans. Check-in begins at 9:00 AM. The Nen Daiko Japanese Taiko drummers of VA will perform at 9:30 AM and the program will begin at 10:00 AM. Additional information on the Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk can be found at www.njamf.com.
Japanese ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki speaks at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony.
Nation’s Greatest Japanese Festival Set for Saturday, April 13 The 53rd Annual Sakura Matsuri—Japanese Street Festival will take place on Saturday, April 13 over six blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW—from near the White House to FBI headquarters. This festival is the single largest celebration of Japanese culture in the United States and is the grand finale to the overall three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Sakura Matsuri celebrates all facets of Japanese culture, including traditional artisans, merchandise, food, and the latest and greatest from hip, urban Japan. We have four stages of performances going throughout the day, with myriad performances of traditional and modern music, and demonstrations of a variety of martial arts. The Festival runs from 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM and admission to the Festival is $5 for ages 13 and up, children 12 and under are free. Additional information about the festival can be found at www.sakuramatsuri.org where you can also buy tickets in advance.
Japanese violinist Nanae Iwata earned a Bachelors and Masters at the Juillard Conservatory.
Junko Yagami is a popular Japanese recording artist from the 1970s singing her greatest hits.
Pink Tie Party, a “Signature” Cherry Blossom Event Washington’s petal partiers gather for the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s signature Pink Tie Party on Wednesday, March 20 at the Renaissance in downtown D.C.. The event features top chefs’ delicious spring, cherry and blossom-inspired cuisine and cocktails. Proceeds from the event benefits festival events and programs. Photos by Ron Engle courtesy National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Right: A Geisha provides entertainment at the Pink Tie Party. Below: A mini lounge was created for Pink Tie Party guests to enjoy.
Left: National Cherry Blossom Festival board chair Kris Rohr with Lorena Garcia and Festival President Diana Mayhew; 3rd is board member Susan Norton with Lorena Garcia and Anna Edwards (co-chair of the Pink Tie Party Host Committee).
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ENTERTAINMENT Korean Film Festival Brings Treasures of Korean Cinema to DC By Yi Chen
Washington, D.C.—Park Chan Wook, an internationally acclaimed Korean filmmaker has won awards from Cannes, Berlin, and Vienna. One of his biggest fans in Quentin Tarantino. He recently made his Hollywood debut with a film called Stoker, a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Shadow of Doubt. In short, Wook’s films were a perfect way to open the ninth Korean Film Festival in D.C.. The festival featured seven of Wook’s films, ranging from the stylized and violent “Vengeance Trilogy” to a lighter and more playful romantic comedy, I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay (2006). Like Tarantino’s films, Park’s work can be very gruesome. Although the
on-screen violence is done highly stylistically and necessary to push the plot forward, the use of sound in some of his films is also highly effective without as much visual shock. Lady Vengeance, for instance, has the lightest brutality but the finest of all three films. Most terrifying moments that would make people shudder are left outside the image frame to our imagination. Actress Lee Youngae delivers brilliant performance as the “kind-hearted Geum-ja” plotting revenge on Mr. Baek, a sociopathic schoolteacher who forces Geum-jac to confess to a crime she didn’t commit, immediately after her release from the prison. Park Chan-wook offers a philosophical resolution to his “Vengeance Trilogy” with
Scene from the film Lady Vengeance.
Lee Geum-ja’s quest for redemption after her revenge. Hatred, compassion and humorous absurdity often coexist in his films. Cinematically Park composes images carefully to create the impression of a real and at the same time a dreamlike world. In Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Park also lets sound do its job effectively to emphasis the viewpoint of Ryu, a hearing-impaired young man who turns to illegal organ dealers for a new kidney to save his dying sister. After Ryu is cheated by the organ dealers and fired at work, he has no choice but to kidnap the factory owner’s daughter. He intends to return the girl after receiving the ransom, but of course nothing goes as planned. The film gets more intense when the factory owner (Shin Hu-kyun) decides to seek revenge on Ryu. Both Shin Hu-kyun’s performance and character development are very strong. Ryu is a difficult character to play because he doesn’t have any dialogue, and Song Kang-ho does a good job. A simple story about revenge and inevitable fate, Park’s tril-
ogy is shocking, violent and visually beautiful. Curator Tom Vick at Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries travels to film festivals such as the annual Busan International Film Festival in Busan, South Korea and the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy every year since 2004 to select films for the annual Korean Film Festival in D.C.. “If 2012 was the year Korean pop music conquered the world with ‘Gangnam Style.’ 2013 is shaping up to be the year that Korean filmmakers make their mark on Hollywood.” Vick wrote in the program introduction. In addition to Wook’s film, this year’s festival features a host of award-winners, including O Muel’s Jiseul, honored at the Sundance Film Festival; Kang Yik-wan’s tender drama Juvenile Offender, the surprise winner of multiple awards at the Tokyo International Film Festival; and Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta, which took home the coveted Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.” Vick also recommended Jang Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night, a young couple’s contemplation,
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On the Web. Anytime. Anywhere. Scene from the film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.
Photo by William Kim
Tom Vick (right), film programmer for the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, stumps South Korean Director Park Chan Wook (middle) with his own thought-provoking question during the Q&A session after the film screening of Stoker.
Director Park Chan Wook and Tom Vick cordially shake hands after the film screening and Q&A discussion about Park’s film career.
dream, and argument about bringing a child into their settled life. The film won both the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the Joenju International Film Festival. Korean Film Festival D.C. 2013 is organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and presented with
the support of the Korean Cultural Center D.C., Embassy of the Republic of Korea. The festival runs through April 21, presenting 18 feature films, a 3D film as well as an experimental shorts program. For more information on the film schedule and venues visit http://www.asia.si.edu/events/ koreanfilm. Photos are courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art.
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Blessing the Food: India’s Sacred Foods and Practices Voyage to America By Devika Koppikar
Bethesda, MD—Food writer Monica Bhide had cooking “cultural shock” when she saw a French chef in action earlier in her career. “While cooking, he took his finger, put it in the sauce and tasted it,” shared Bhide to a crowd of food connoisseurs at a recent presentation in Bethesda. “Growing up in a Hindu household, we never tasted food while it was being prepared because we presented it to the gods first.”
are amazing and it blew my mind.” Inspired by Bhide’s expertise and passion, we are presenting a look at the intersection between food and religion in Sikhism and Hinduism. “Sacred foods are foods that have been sanctified. . . . in some shape of form, the food has been prayed over,” said Bhide. Sacred Foods of Sikhism: “All foods are sacred if prepared with love and reverence,” said Guruka Singh,
Photos by Devika Koppikar
AF A-lister Monica Bhide, an engineer-turned food writer, enthralls the local foodies about the sacred foods of the major Indian religions. She spoke about this topic at a March 3rd Les Dames d’Escoffier seminar in Bethesda, Maryland.
Passage to India Restaurant chef Sudhir Seth, who prepared the foods for the March 3 event, explains what ingredients are contained inside the various foods.
CEO of SikhNet, a worldwide website, that provides news and information for followers and seekers of the Sikh religion. “It is considered sacred because it is prayed and chanted over and it is prepared with joy.” Central to the Sikh faith, is the concept of the langar, or free Served at Sikh gurdwara (temples), the Karah Prasad is kitchen at the gurdwara a sacredpudding made from equal parts of butter, sugar (temple), where everyand flour. one is served vegetarian Thus began Bhide’s interest in the role food and sits side-by-side to eat a simple of religion in preparing, serving and con- meal, Singh said. suming Indian food. Now a well-estabRavilnder Khalsa, a member of the Raj lished and nationally-known food writer, Khalsa Gurdwara in Sterling, VA added, Bhide lectured about the “Sacred Foods “The langar is designed to uphold the of India,” at the March 3 seminar and principle of equality between all people luncheon sponsored by the Les Dames d’ of the world regardless of religion, caste, Escoffier, a professional organization of ethnicity, creed, age, gender or social stawomen in the food, beverage and hospi- tus. In addition to the ideals of equality, tality fields. the tradition of langar expresses the ethWith a 5,000-year-old history, sever- ics of sharing, community, inclusiveness al religions and cultures, “a lecture on and oneness of mankind.” ‘the Sacred Foods of India’ would take Similar to Bhide’s family tradition of five years,” said Bhide, “The traditions not tasking food while in preparation,
Khalsa said, “Strict rules of hygiene and cleanliness are important when preparing the langar – for instance, washed hands, never tasting it while cooking, excusing yourself of service when you’re in poor health. In addition, we often chant banis, mantras, or shabads (special prayers) during the meal preparation. Finally, we bless the meal during the community prayer or ardass near the end of the gurdwara program. As for actual food items, Singh said that the langars serve only simple, vegetarian food mainly to include all people and for health reasons. “This means no meat, fish, or poultry. Rather, we serve foods that are easily digestible like dhals (lentils), yogurt, salad, roti (bread).” Finally, before visitors or worshippers leave the gurdwaras, they receive a handful of Karah Prasad, a sacred pudding made from equal parts of butter, sugar and flour. “‘Prasad’ means blessing. So we present this blessing to visitors before leaving the temple,” said Singh.
Sacred Foods of Hinduism In Hinduism, many food items represent the various gods and goddesses of the religion’s pantheon, said Bhide. For example, rice and grains represents Lord Brahma or the creator. Most sacred, however, are dairy products. “Milk and butter are metaphors for life,” said Bhide. “Because with these foods, you get out what you put in, as in churning butter.” The cow is revered in Hinduism because it represents a divine mother, who provides milk, several Hindu experts note.
One particular dairy-rich dish is the panchamrita or charanamrit distributed by the priests or hosts of a puja, a Hindu religious ceremony. Panchamrita is made of five ingredients (“panch” meaning five) which generally include honey, sugar, milk, yogurt, and ghee. In some parts of India, the ingredients also include basil (tulsi) leaves and dry fruits, said Bhide. Another central principle of Hindu dietary standards is non-violence or ahimsa, said N. Prasad Kadambi, volunteer at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, MD. While ahimsa entails several modes of personal, social and mental behavior, however, regarding food, “ahimsa” means abstinence from causing any pain or harm to any living creature--the principle behind vegetarianism. Most Hindu temples, but not all, follow the principles of vegetarianism in their food preparation, said Bhide. Sri Gopalakrishna, a Chantilly, VA resident and Joint Secretary at Chinmaya Mission Center added that a third principle involves eating foods that elevate the mind for higher purposes or sattvic foods. These include foods that are bland or simple, instead of spicy or heavy dishes. “The food should also be fresh, not frozen, canned or leftover, as these foods lose their vitality and then promote tamas or lethargy,” said Gopalakrishna. Some Hindu sects also prohibit the consumption of garlic and onion, as followers believe these foods encourage one’s aggressive nature, Gopalakrishna said. Does your family observe religious traditions when preparing food? Tweet your religious practices to @AsianFortune_DC or join the conversation on Facebook!
Hidden MENU Annapolis’ Joss Café Serves More than Sublime Sushi There’s more to Annapolis than the famous crab and oysters from the Chesapeake Bay. Joss Café & Sushi Bar on the historic Main St. has been a culinary destination as one of the top sushi restaurants in Maryland. An ideal culinary day trip to Annapolis would start with breakfast at Chick & Ruth’s for some of the best crabcakes & eggs and end with dinner at Joss for sushi and seafood. The menu at Joss may be long, but modest with its sushi fare and various other Japanese staples. Turns out they also offer a plethora of special dishes off the menu. This is one of those restaurants where it pays off to listen to the server’s recitation of their specials, some of which are long-standing like the scallop hand-roll trio. When I asked manager, Boedy, about why they have such an
Photos by Daphne Domingo
By Daphne Domingo
Joss Cafe & Sushi Bar, long known as one of the best places for sushi and seafood.
Could these ebi heads be the best thing you ever ate? Ace of Cakes star, Duff Goldman, thinks they are best fried food he›s ever ate.
extensive specials “menu” versus adding them onto the regular menu, he replied that it was to encourage more interaction between the restaurant and its customers. They get many regulars, and oftentimes, as servers get to know customers’ preferences, they can make better recommendations and suggestions. One such customer, Joel Phillips, has been coming to Joss Café since he first moved to the area in 2006 and proudly exclaims his favorite dish is the ramen. The comforting soup is usually served only at lunch, but even at dinner, Phillips requests the dish. Turns out, many regular customers often have such special requests, including items no longer on the menu which the restaurant will accommodate since they keep appropriate ingredients on-hand for such occasions. Another popular dish is the ebi heads, thanks to the Food Network’s, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. While Ace of Cakes star, Duff Goldman, cited Joss as the best place to go for sushi in all of Maryland, he raved about their fried ebi (shrimp) heads. Lightly dredged in panko and
fried to a perfectly light crisp. Each crunchy bite offers a salty, slightly briny taste, but it’s the texture that accompanies the hearty crunch that wins you over. The heads are essentially saved as each ebi sushi is made to order, and it’s never predictable how many will be available. An order of 4 heads cost less than $5. Other popular requests are usually items previously on the menu, which Joss tries to update frequently, but regular customers still crave. Two items that get requested so often that Boedy is trying to get back on the menu are Tiger’s Eye (a thick cut of fish, stuffed with smoked salmon, lightly grilled, and sliced) and Full Moon (crab meat and scallion, wrapped in salmon, seasoned, grilled and sliced), both served with seaweed salad and creamy wasabi dressing. Less than an hour’s drive from Washington D.C., Joss Cafe is a must taste destination for sushi and seafood lovers. Have you been to Joss’s? What did you think? Tweet us at @AsianFortune_DC or join the conversation on Facebook!
Regulars love Joss’s ramen dish almost as much as they love their sushi.
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20th Anniversary AEF Benefit Dinner a Reminder to Give Back
AALEAD’s 14th Annual Dinner, Moving and Delicious
Washington D.C.—When Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean of the University of California, Hastings College of Law was a child, he was teased mercilessly for being Asian American. He was upset at his parents for not doing more to help but now he says he understands how hard it was for them. It was because of his experiences, Wu said, that he now encourages Asian American lawyers to give back to their communities. Wu’s message was well received among the 300 participants at the 20th American Pacific American Bar Association Education Fund Benefit Dinner. The dinner aimed to raise money for grant fellowships for law students who work with public interest or government organizations. “In India, there is no way that a woman could go back to school,” said Punitha Cloud, who is studying for her law degree at UDC. Cloud hopes to use her law degree to set up a nonprofit to work with rural schools in India after she graduates.
Silver Spring—Over 300 people celebrated AALEAD’s 14th year at the Silver Spring Civic Center on March 21. The evening began in a packed lobby while participants nibbled on hors d’oeuvres and sipped wine from Hollywood East Cafe. Dinner was emceed by NBC4 anchorwoman Eun Yang, who spoke of the importance of Asian Americans reaching out to help each other. Congressman Mike Honda was video conferenced in from California and AALEAD students shared moving stories of how their lives were changed by AALEAD. AALEAD is a nonprofit organization that promotes the well-being of low-income and underserved Asian American youth through education, leadership, and community building.
Photo by Liem Nguyen.
Photo by Liem Nguyen.
Vice President of AEF Jed Wulfekotte opens the dinner.
AALEAD board of director Siu Cheung presents iPad to raffle winner.
Photo by Silvy Song
NBC morning anchorwoman Eun Yang emcees at AALEAD 14th annual dinner.
Christian Oh, Founder of Kollaboration D.C. encourages attendees to bid at Silent Auction.
Photo by Silvy Song
Young AALEAD kids participating at the annual dinner.
Dunkin Donuts honoring local community heroes for giving back to the Washington Metropolitan area. Outstanding individuals included (from l to r) Liz Takounakis, Melinda Woods, Timonius Downing, Christian Oh, Meredith McNerney, officer Paige Miller and Terry Lavoie (front left).
Washington, D.C.—During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., for high level discussions, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida engaged in US-Japan exchanges, including with members of the Japanese American community, at the Crystal Room of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., on February 22, 2013
Photo by Bruce Hollywood
Five JAVA Officials Invited to Meet Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Kishida
L-R: Dr. Craig Uchida, former Chairman of the Board of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation; Grant Ichikawa; Bob Nakamoto, immediate past president of JAVA; Prime Minister Abe; Terry Shima, Gerald Yamada, President of JAVA; and Floyd Mori, immediate past National Executive Director of JACL.
AAGEN New Board Installation Dinner
Departing chair, Tommy Hwang (left), grins slyly after passing the gavel to incoming chair, Thomas Phan (left)
The Union of Chinese American Professional Organizations celebrated its 15th anniversary by honoring six Chinese Americans for their professional accomplishments and contributions to US-China relations. From L-R: Dinny Li, Principal of Hope Chinese School Northern Virginia Campus, Lily Qi, Director of Special Projects for Montgomery County Executive, Dr. Chuan Sheng Liu, physicist and professor at University of Maryland, Dr. Guoliang Yu, bioscientist and co-founder of Epitomics, Jimmy Yang, entrepreneur and social activist, and Lu Wang, actress and producer of Chinese cultural performances.
Newly inaugurated chair, Thomas Phan, honors Dr. James Meng’s dedication the past year as Co-Chair of the Board of Officers in 2011-2012 with a gift of appreciation.
The Asian Festival Executive Committee met with representative of the Fairfax County Officials early March to discuss the 2013 partnership. L to R: Bing Branigin, Asian Festival, Publicity and Promotion, Janine Underwood, Director, USTA, Virginia, Donny Weed, Director, USTA, Virginia, David Lee, AF Sponsorship and Marketing, and Hung Nguyen, Fairfax County official.
Wellness and HEALTH Managing the Mind: Raja Yoga Meditation Practitioners Differ in Approaches to Calming Mind By Devika Koppikar Before her current vocation as a disciple of the Brahma Kumaris, http://www. bkwsu.org, Sister Jenna (Jenna Mahraj), a McLean resident, owned two nightclubs in Miami. However, a series of visions led her to Mount Abu, in Rajasthan, the Brahman Kumaris headquarters. Brahman Kumaris is an international movement that facilitates spiritual knowledge. “In India, I had a profound experience of peace and deflected all my negative memories,” said Sister Jenna. “I came back different. It felt unnatural to go back to my old life. So I choose a more evolved way of living in compassion, service, love and community.” Now established as a spiritual leader, she has traveled all over the world to conduct workshops and retreats. In 2009, Sister Jenna became the founder and director of the Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, where she, along with volunteers and support from the Brahma Kumaris offer instruction in raja yoga meditation or “knowledge of oneself.” “In those days (as a nightclub owner), I was making everyone intoxicated with alcohol. And here (at the Meditation Museum), I make everyone intoxicated with spirituality” quipped Sister Jenna. “I’m in the same profession.” At the museum, Sister Jenna and her associates teach an ancient form of meditation (an umbrella term for ways to relax the mind) called Raja Yoga meditation. “Raja” means king and “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India and basis for many Eastern religious texts. According to raja yoga expert Murugan Balasubramanian, this form of yoga is called “raja yoga” because the mind is supposed to be the king among the organs. Created before written language, a sage named Patanjali recorded the philosophy and practices of raja yoga meditation in the Yoga Sutras around 150 B.C. Sister Jenna, who has practiced this meditation since the early 1990’s, said “the focus of raja yoga meditation is to become conscious of your thoughts that emerge from your soul, identify them, transform the negative thoughts and compulsions into pure feelings which then inspires you to connect with the supreme source (or spiritual center) and contribute to the world. She continued, “Meditation helps you disconnect from damaging habits of thought, feeling and reaction. With raja yoga, we reignite the virtues of the soul.” Balasubramanian, who is not connected to the museum and offers private raja yoga sessions in Loudon County, add-
ed, “In raja yoga, the mind is the instrument for looking inwards and uncovering the self. In order to uncover the self, or our spiritual center, we have to calm the waves of thought. So the first step in raja yoga is to regulate the mind – to check out the outward tendency and allow the mind’s attention inward. When we do this, an individual can discriminate and thereby only allow positive and peaceful thoughts to flow into the mind.” Psychologists say people have more than 60,000 thoughts per day—most of which arise in an eclectic way. For this reason, many meditation schools refer to the mind as the “monkey mind.” “Waves of thoughts rise up and fall away as a result of the impressions we take in from the external world so that sometimes, the mind becomes restless and disturbed and sometimes, it is calm,” said Balasubramanian, who’s originally from Chennai. Sister Jenna (Jenna Maharaj), a Jamaican American whose father is from India added, “There are two factors within every soul—the ‘light part’ and the ‘not-solight part.’ The ‘light’ is made up of love, peace, purity, truth and joy. ALGAE—an acronym for anger, lust, greed, attachment and ego—makes up the ‘not-so-light’ part. While both Sister Jenna and Balasubramanian agree on the basic premise of raja yoga meditation, their approaches toward its practice differ. Through the museum, Sister Jenna and her associates facilitate raja yoga meditation through many avenues including practical workshops on healthy cooking, finances, personal goals, and stress management; exhibits intended to provoke peaceful thoughts and “pure feelings,” and a “quiet room” to sit in silence and become aware of one’s thoughts. The museum also offers daily meditation sessions both in Silver Spring and the Brahma Kumaris’ private ashram in McLean. Regarding meditation sessions, Sister Jenna and her team practice a method called “open eye” meditation, where the practitioner sits up straight in a lotus pose, with his or her eyes open. “The reason for open eye meditation is important because a majority of our lives are spent with our eyes open,” said Sister Jenna. “Open eye meditation trains you to be more connected with internal awareness and the world. In your daily life, if someone comes to you in an angry mood – you can’t just close your eyes and chant until they disappear. Rather, you have to be in internal awareness and real-
es are held during weekend mornings. Currently an I.T. professional, he began learning about raja yoga during graduate school. Stressed out from a competitive academic environment, Balasubramanian sought out Sri Gnana Jyothi Sampangi, a traditional raja Sister Jenna and patrons of the Meditation Muse- yoga master at the Rajayoga um in Silver Spring demonstrate “open eye” med- Bodhana Sevashramam, Inc. itation. From top left to bottom right are Narcisa in Dadapuram, Tamil Nadu. Perju (McLean), Ed Stevenson (Miami), Sister Gita “Only after students have (Silver Spring), Suja Turner (McLean), Sister Jenna fully mastered the asanas and (McLean) and Khelan Dettani (Arlington). breathing techniques, can they proceed to meditation,” ize that they (the angry people) are not in said Balasubramanian, who has mastered a good state.” For Mclean resident Suja Turner, 245 asanas and has been able to meditate learning raja yoga meditation techniques for up to an hour. Suganya Nelatoor, a dentist who lives through the museum and the ashram has helped her deal with taking care of her el- in Ashburn, said that taking the raja yoga sessions with Balasubramanian helped derly parents. “Before, life seemed like a roller coast- her in serving her patients. “Because of my occupation, I had prober. But with meditation, life is more stable and I’m better able to deal with the ups lems in my neck, shoulder and back. But and downs,” said Turner, who was born after taking up raja yoga, I have seen trein Kerala and raised as a Christian in Dal- mendous improvement. I’ve been able to las. “[Raja yoga] helps me gain a sense of use muscles that I didn’t know I had,” said peace instead of blaming others. It allows Nelatoor, who’s originally from Chenme to connect with the core of who I am nai and has taken raja yoga for two years. “Also, the breathing exercises have helped and have a conversation with God.” While Balasubramanian has experi- me calm my mental stress and focus. My enced the same benefits that the Brah- concentration has increased.” For Kamala Azhagan, a banker who ma Kumaris do, he disagrees with their methods, especially “open eye medita- also lives in Ashburn, the yoga poses and deep breathing have helped her improve tion,” he said. According to Balasubramanian, medi- her sleep. She also experiences calmness tation is a state where a person’s eyes are due to raja yoga. “When I am doing the exercises, I’m closed, body is still—almost frozen— and mind is focused on one point for an totally relaxed and my body becomes extended period of time. This takes many light,” said Azhagan, who grew up in Chennai. “But I have yet to do the full years of training. “To calm your mind, you need to do scale meditation because I’ve only pracphysical exercises first. You must take ticed for a year.” While the Brahma Kumaris don’t emcare of your body, then only you can do full meditation. If you go directly to med- phasize the importance of a guru, Balsubitation, it could cause problems,” said ramanian says having one is critical. “Because of my master’s (Sampangi) Balasubramanian. He explained that these problems in- blessings, I am able to learn, practice, clude physical problems such as head- teach and spread ancient raja yoga techaches or drowsiness from sitting in one niques to whoever is interested,” said Balaplace for a long period of time; mental subramanian. “It’s very important to learn problems due to the mind’s tendency to raja yoga from an experienced and trained wander and develop frustrations and not master, because there is a detailed and spedeveloping the right rhythmic calmness cific process that is tested and safe.” due to shallow breathing. To avoid these potential challenges, For more information about the groups Balasubramanian, who holds private discussed in the article, visit: Meditation raja yoga sessions in South Riding and Museum: http://www.meditationmuseum. Ashburn, leads students through the se- org. Brahma Kumaris: http://www.bkwsu. ries of yoga poses (called asanas) and org. Murugan Balasubramanian’s group: deep breathing exercises. His class- http://www.rajayoga.org
AsianAMERICA By Mary Tablante
War II by Japanese military members. The Korean American Civic Empowerment organized the campaign for the memorial.
Soldier Faces ‘Sanity’ Review
First Asian American CEO of Warner Brothers
LOS ANGELES—Kevin Tsujihara, a third generation Japanese-American, officially took helm of Warner Brothers as CEO on March 1, making him the first Asian American leader of a major Hollywood studio. Tsujihara, 47, formerly ran the Warner Brother’s Home Entertainment department. He has been with the company for nearly two decades and will focus on overseeing worldwide operations.
Seattle—A hearing was held March 17 regarding a U.S. soldier charged with killing 16 civilians, most of who were women and children, in Afghanistan. Army prosecutors said Robert Bales, a veteran of four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, acted alone, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Bales. These shootings were the worst case of the slaughter of civilians by a rogue U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War, reported Reuters. The review will end May 1.
Public School Namesake SAN FRANCISCO—A public school east of San Francisco could be the first to be named after a Filipino American. The school would be named after farm worker heroes Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, according to the Asian Journal. The activists fought for the rights of farm workers in California and helped unify Filipino and Mexican farm workers. One out of five students in Union City, Calif., are Filipino-American.
Mapping Muslims NEW YORK—The first openly gay Asian member to serve on a federal bench was confirmed March 4. Pamela Chen is part of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In the past, she was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice Department and a criminal defense attorney.
Comfort Women Memorial Bergen County, N.J.—A memorial to comfort women was dedicated in New Jersey for International Women’s Day. The memorial recognized the women, mostly Korean, who were forced into slavery in World
Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims,” was released March 11 and details the monitoring of Muslims by the NYPD since 2002. The report can be found on the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund website, aaldf.org.
Race Card Project
Michele Norris started a project called “The Race Card Project” to start a conversation about race and identity. On the Race Card Project website, people can submit their thoughts on racial and cultural identity using just six words. One submission was a postcard showing a photo of a mixed-race family with the words, “No word for what I am.” Another participant wrote her six words: “Ask who I am, not what.” There are thousands of submissions that can be viewed on theracecardproject.com.
North Korea The Pentagon is planning to add missile interceptors on the West Coast after North Korea threatened a missile strike against the U.S., according to Reuters. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said bolstering missile defenses would “intensify antagonism.”
Washington, D.C.—On International Women’s Day March 8, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry presented the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards to nine women. Among the honored was the 23-year-old victim of a brutal gang rape in India. The incident inspired protests across India to end violence against women. Other award recipients included Ta Phong Phan, a Vietnamese dissident blogger, and Malalai Bahaduri, an Afghan army officer working to stop drug trafficking.
Film Festival was held March 14 to 24. The festival aims to highlight the diverse stories of Asian-American filmmakers and artists and bring those stories to a wide audience. The films featured this year included a documentary on Jeremy Lin entitled, “Linsanity,” and “When I Walk,” a documentary about filmmaker Jason DaSilva’s struggle with multiple sclerosis.
AALEAD’s Executive Director Honored
CAAM Fest SAN FRANCISCO—The annual Center for Asian American
NEW YORK—American Muslim civil liberties groups released a report that documented the New York Police Department’s extensive surveillance program targeting Muslim Americans. The report, entitled “Mapping Muslims: NYPD
Service Award March 14. She was recognized for her dedication to low-income and underserved youth in the D.C. metro area, according to AALEAD’s website, aalead.org.
Washington, D.C.—Asian American LEAD’s executive director Surjeet Ahluwalia received the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund’s Community
St. Johnsbury, VT—The Asian American Journalists Association criticized a Vermont newspaper for publishing a poster that showed Chinese calligraphy-type font in an advertisement for a high school state championship basketball game March 7. The poster read, “Go ‘Toppers, Fry Rice,” in reference to St. Johnsbury Academy and Rice Memorial High School. Rice Memorial won the game, and the newspaper, the Caledonian Record, defended their decision to print the poster.
April Calendar April 2, 2013 Fol Chen at the Black Cat Since 2009, the Los Angelesarea collective that is Fol Chen has created their signature sound from field recordings, an electronic junk drawer, and warped vocal transmissions. Fol Chen calls their genre “Opera House,” a name lifted from Malcolm McLaren but recoined as beat-driven electronics with grand, operatic gestures and lyrically dense storytelling. Cost: $12. Doors open at 8 pm. April 4, 2013 Taste of Japan Taste of Japan will be held on Thursday, April 4, 2013 from 7:00–9:00 pm* at the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square (801 K Street, NW Washington, D.C.). Enjoy food from premier Japanese restaurants in the metropolitan region of Washington, D.C. and sample sake and craft beer by brewers direct from Japan. Cost: $100 April 5, 2013–May 11, 2013 Jewels of Asia Gala, Asian American Chamber of Commerce
April 5, 2013–May 11, 2013 Passage from India: Works by Siona Benjamin and Maureen Drdak The College of Fine Arts & Communication and The Asian
Arts & Culture Center at Towson University present a Passage from India: Arts by Siona Benjamin and Maureen Drdak, Friday, April 5 through Saturday, May 11 in the Center for the Arts Asian Arts Gallery located at the corner of Osler and Cross Campus Drive. The exhibition opens Thursday, April 4, 7:30 to 9 p.m. with artists’ talks and reception on Saturday, April 13, 2–4 p.m. The events are free and open to the public.
years in the making and DVRP is still going strong. DVRP started as an all-volunteer organization and has grown to serve over 600 survivors of domestic violence in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We invite you to join in sharing our successes at the Moving Forward Reception, where we’ll be toasting 17 years with food and drinks. For more info, e-mail email@example.com. This is a free event and open to all.
April 6, 2013
April 11, 2013
Asian Art and Culture Day at the Workhouse, National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 The Workhouse Arts Center presents Asian Art and Culture Day at the Workhouse, National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013. From 11am–4pm the day will feature demonstrations, performances, participatory workshops, presentations and exhibitions featuring Asian art and culture. All activities are FREE. For more info, contact marketing@workhousearts. org or 703-584-2900
The United States, China, and Global Governance: A New Agenda for a New Era This report is a part of the Initiative on China and Global Governance, a three-year project undertaken by the Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business with support from the Henry Luce Foundation. The initiative has included 30 research projects, multiple articles, three books, four international conferences, the Chinese industry-U.S. Government roundtable series, and the for-
mation of a global governance experts group. This takes place at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 5th floor. Event starts at 2pm. April 12, 2013 Color Me Blue: Dance Performance and Lecture Artist Siona Benjamin collaborates with classical Indian dancers who assume the roles of characters in her work in a performance entitled: Rang de Nila (Color Me Blue). This event takes place at Towson University Asian Arts & Culture Center University Union PAWS at 8pm. April 24-25, 2013 Committee of 100, 22nd Annual Conference
Lama of Tibet who will deliver the Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace on Tuesday, May 7, at 10 a.m. in the Comcast Center. The Dalai Lama is an international force for peace, nonviolence and religious harmony, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The lecture will be free and open to the university community and the public; however, tickets will be required. Information on ticket distribution, parking, transportation and other details will be posted at www.umd.edu/lecture on March 8. Please check the website for updates. Questions, contact Neil Tickner at (301) 405-4622. Thursday, June 6
Visit by the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
AAGEN 9th 2013 Annual Leadership Training Conference and Awards Banquet, Crystal City Doubletree Hotel, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202. Visit www.aagen.org for conference details and registration.
The University of Maryland, College Park, Md., will welcome a special guest to its campus: His Holiness the 14th Dalai
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Washington, D.C. http://www. committee100.org/ Tuesday, May 7
April 7, 2013 Joni Chan Piano Solo Recital Pianist Joni Chan will be performing at the Music Friends Concerts, performing a 70 minute program works by Chopin, Ravel, and Prokofiev at the Alden Theatre, Fairfax. Chopin Nocturne Op. 62 No. 1 in B Major Chopin Scherzo No. 4, Op. 54. For more info, contact: Gwendolyn.Jones@fairfax county.gov or 703-790-0123 April 10, 2013 Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (A/PI DVRP) Moving Forward Reception Celebrate the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project’s (DVRP’s) successes in 2012! Seventeen
A S I A N PA C I F I C A M E R I C A N H E R I TA G E M O N T H
in the May issue of Asian Fortune
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AACC Chamber Award Gala recognizes business (Public & Private Sector, For profit & nonprofit) and business leader of Asian & Pacific Islander descent which have made outstanding contributions to the Metropolitan D.C. business community and economy. Join AACC for 2013 Chamber Award Gala featuring Cocktails, Dinner, Awards Ceremony, Auction and Culture Performance! 7801 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043
(Editor’s note: We welcome public service announcements from readers. Please submit your event at www.asianfortunenews.com/events on the 15th of the month or earlier. Events listed here are subject to change, so readers are urged to check with the organizers.)
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A Language company is seeking bilingual individuals for interpreting positions in DC/MD/VA. For more information, contact Latoya at Latoya@ad-astrainc.com or 301-408-4242 ext 1.
Full-time & Part-time/Accounting & Payroll Assistant—Barry & Associates, Inc. Full-time & Part-time/Accounting & Payroll Assistant needed. Requirements— Should be computer Literate, full charge bookkeeping experience. Reception and basic accounting knowledge needed. For more Details email at rab.john922@ gmail.com
Business Event, Social Gathering, Anniversary, Baby Shower, Graduation or Birthday Party? The International Cultural Center’s Social Hall provides ample space (2360 sq ft) for a variety of events. Great discounted rates available starting from $250. For questions and availability, contact us at 240-396-5350 or email at staff@ theicc.net
Rome Custom Tailor in Iverson Mall $35K—Established Business for over 30 years, profitable, owner retiring, low rent, great location, plenty of parking, close to D.C., lots of storage space, all sewing machines and equipment in store are included, call owner at 301-423-5360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 240-3881818
A group of Asian Christians is starting a non-denominational, evangelical, contemporary church is Rockville, Maryland. No passing of collection plate. Email email@example.com friendship and whatever else mutually be decided. Please call Mr. Pam (301) 559-5961
Company in Centreville, VA recruiting for “Full-Time/Part-Time” Labor, Maid & Housekeeper job for Residential & Commercial work in Centreville, VA Area. Health Insurance provided. Must be U.S. Citizen or have U.S. Permanent Resident Card “Green Card.” Please call Teresa or Lai for interview at (703) 447-3876
SERVICE Language/Private Tutoring rates starting:$12. www.pajamatutors.com Community Center Available for Rental Looking for a great place for your next
SM (65) teacher (retired) seeking gentle, kind, single, divorced, widowed female 4070 for long term relationship. I am familiar with Asian culture. My interests are prayer and meditation, volunteering, physical fitness, and quiet times at home. If interested contact Ivan (202) 400-7120. SWM (46), McLean, VA, seeks single Asian female (30–48) for long-term companionship. I am educated, adventurous, fun loving, financially and emotionally secure, well-traveled, and kind. I am seeking a SAF with similar qualities. tccwdc@ gmail.com.