an APAC publication
Spring 2012 Issue 8, Vol. 2
THE DATE DOCTOR JT Tran’s journey from aerospace engineer to professional pickup artist
PLUS: “Doing Good” with The Jubilee Project Poise, Practice and “Pageant Prison” Classic Cures Chinatown’s Best Hot Pot
Dear readers, Like it or not, diversity’s become the watchword on campus. Incidents of racial insensitivity have left us knee-deep in heated debates that have taken blows from student groups and administrators alike. It’s left us wondering, “Are we still One Northwestern?” But race has been and always will be an issue. The question simmers constantly, just bubbling under the surface, but every now and then, it boils over. That may seem dramatic, but minorities continue to struggle generation after generation. It’s our turn at the soap box to speak up about who we are, and we’re doing so, loudly and clearly into our megaphones. On campus, the Asian NU Project is encouraging the discourse during the month of May (p. 10). And now that we have a better look at what it means to be a racial minority, where do we go from there? It’s a question we pose throughout this issue, as we look into what the Asian-American identity means. For some, it’s an obstacle, and overcoming it means embracing a wholly different path. Our cover story (p. 19) details the unexpected transformation of JT Tran, an aerospace engineer-turned-professional pickup artist, who realized his Asian-American identity and the misconceptions attached to it impeded his love life. Another writer takes a closer look at the growing trend of double eyelid surgery, as more and more patients undergo the procedure to fit a popular Asian perception that double-lidded eyes are more beautiful (p. 22). But then again, some things never change. The time-honored remedies using teas and acupuncture are still practiced to cure common ailments by those passionate about tradition (p. 14), and the Jewish and Chinese cultures share a surprising history and remain just as connected today (p. 8). Moving forward, the innovative spirit of Asian-Americans remains strong, as The Jubilee Project continues to bring change through their philanthropic videos (p. 16). I am incredibly proud of the hard work our staff put into assembling this spring issue. There’s no doubt the Asian-American identity is evolving, and NU Asian is committed to amplifying the Asian-American voice at Northwestern, no matter what happens next. As always, thank you for reading! Shirley Li Editor in Chief Interested in getting involved with NU Asian magazine? Please contact Shirley at Shirley.Li@u.northwestern.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check us out online: visit nuasian.wordpress.com for more!
Our Editors Editor in Chief Shirley Li
Creative Director Erin Kim
Business Director Gladys Wu
Managing Editors Cheryl Wang Wendi Gu
Photo and Art Director Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman
Web Editor Jia You
2 | NU ASIAN
APAC President & Assistant Editor Pavan Krishnamurthy
Meet our staff Writers Vanessa Dopker Wendi Gu Yoona Ha Alison Ho Erin Kim Martin Kim Pavan Krishnamurthy Hyerin Lee Shirley Li Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman Kerri Pang Jeremy Seah Jia You Denise Zou
Designers Hilary Fung Yuri Han Alyssa Keller Erin Kim Stephanie Kim Shirley Li Luke Siuty Marketing Team Yoona Ha Alison Liu
Special thanks to: Chicken Shack, Koi, Norris University Center, Soulwich
Published with support from Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. Online at CampusProgress.org
Photographers Alice Liu Elena Westbrook
Adviser Louie Lainez
NU Asian magazine is an APAC publication and is funded by the Student Activities Finance Board.
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SPRING 2012 | 3
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(MISS KOREA) PHOTO COURTESY OF CRYSTAL KIM | (ART) PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW BAE GALLERY | (JUBILEE PROJECT) PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JUBILEE PROJECT | (SUSHIRITTO) PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSHIRITTO | (SOULWICH) N. NICHOLSON-KLINGERMAN / NU ASIAN
Campus 6 7 8 10
Club Profile: Martial Arts Profile: Miss Korea Hillel & PAAL Asian NU Project
Chicago to Int’l
11 12 14 16 18 19 22 24 25 26 28
Hot Pot Chicago Art Gallery Traditional Remedies The Jubilee Project Politics Cover Story: JT Tran Beauty & Plastic Surgery Death of a Soldier North Korea Asian Leaders Fang Lizhi
29 Fusion Foods 30 Asian Glow 31 Soulwich
29 SPRING 2012 | 5
Practice self-defense with Northwestern’s martial arts groups. By Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman it’s very studentfocused. Students are in leadership, students are in charge; they do a lot of the training, a lot of the leading.” Students are the ones who take ownership of the club, and there is no hierarchy of belts. Those who are color belts or just learning can also take a leadership role. Plus, students new to tae kwon do can achieve their black belts by the end of their four years if they work hard. However, Kim says that most aren’t here for the belts, but for the training instead. “Everyone wears [the belts] but that’s not why we’re here,” he says. “We’re not just here to get belts. We’re here to train. We’re here to get better.”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Learning a difficult martial art like Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one thing; becoming a skilled instructor and president of a club after only two years of training is another. Calvin Lee, a senior and double major in music cognition and psychology, achieved just that. Lee’s roommate, Joe Spiro, introduced him to the sport the summer before his sophomore year and began training at the club and at the Ultimate Fitness boxing club. Almost immediately, Lee became fascinated with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. “I like the concepts behind it, the idea of winning a fight with minimal effort and not even needing to hurt your opponent,” he says. Along with taking classes at Ultimate Fitness, Lee also began practicing with the Northwestern club which at that time was not as structured as it is now. Most of the time was spent sparring, and the club presidents didn’t teach technique or run drills. After becoming president of the club his junior year, Lee
implemented more techniques and drills into their practices in addition to sparring so that newcomers could learn the basics of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, demonstrating his commitment to the club. “I decide the practices, I choose what techniques to go over [and] I coordinate other activities we do, like self-defense seminars,” says Lee. The club now includes about 40 members and provides classes for other similar martial arts such as judo, muay Thai and kickboxing. Lee says he believes everyone should learn different styles of fighting, including sport and self-defense defined martial arts, for the best chance of winning a fight or getting out of a dangerous situation. “The best thing you can do to prepare for self-defense is to expand the number of options you have,” he says. “Always be able to adapt. I feel like that’s what self-defense is really about.”
6 | NU ASIAN
N. NICHOLSON-KLINGERMAN / NU ASIAN
Tae Kwon Do Even after a long practice, Tae Kwon Do Club President Ji-Hoon Kim is still smiling. Although he’s a sophomore majoring in computer engineering, Kim has time to train for his favorite sport, which he began practicing in middle school. Dedicated to the art, he has already achieved a first black belt. While he enjoys the art itself very much, he also enjoys the environment, and the club at Northwestern is more than accommodating. “It’s not really about tae kwon do,” he says. “It’s about how hard the people train. The club I found here is really good, [has] great quality training and a lot of great people to train with which is also important.” The fact that a lot of the training is student-run sets Northwestern’s club apart. “Other places outside the university [are] really instructorand master-led,” says Kim. “Here,
From Spotlight To Student Life
Miss Korea second runner-up Crystal Kim talks pageant glamour and freshman year. By Alison Ho
lacing third in the Miss Korea 2011 competition was not what Crystal Kim had expected. In fact, being in the competition itself was never in her plans. Though people had encouraged Kim to enter the pageant growing up, she had always brushed the idea of it to the side and never took it too seriously. Kim, a Weinberg freshman, graduated high school in May 2011 when she found herself with an awkwardly long amount of time before starting freshman year at Northwestern. “I was just brainstorming what to do, and I thought of internships and traveling with friends,” she says. “My mom saw that the Miss Korea age eligibility changed, so she was like, ‘Maybe if you want to, you could try it out.’” Kim first entered a local Miss Korea pageant in her hometown of Los Angeles, Calif. Then 17 years old, Kim was the youngest competitor, raising doubts that she would place at all. Lacking pageant experience and a private coach, Kim was advised to simply have fun with the process and to not have high hopes. Instead, Kim was crowned Miss Korea Los Angeles, qualifying her in the National Miss Korea competition in Seoul, South Korea. Though she was hesitant to spend her last summer before college away from her family and friends, Kim was under contract to compete abroad. “I actually had a whole plan for the summer to play with my friends,” Kim says. “But this completely changed everything.” At the end of June, Kim flew to South Korea to train for the competition. While the Miss Korea pageant may seem glamorous, the contestants must undergo a month of intensive pageant boot camp or as some call it, “Pageant Prison.” In July, the girls enter
a facility guarded by 24-hour security in the Korean countryside. The 54 contestants go through days of constant dance practices in heels, walking exercises, leadership seminars, photo shoots and hair and makeup lessons, a task she found particularly challenging. “People think I’m such a girly girl on the outside, but I’m very lazy,” she says. “I’d rather sleep than get ready and put on makeup or do my hair.” With the rigorous training, the exhausted Kim often slept only three hours a night. Going into the final pageant, Kim says she had no expectations of anything above a small award. On top of her lack of pageant experience and young age, Kim’s semi-fluent Korean and American citizenship discouraged her from putting stake into winning any significant place. But when the top seven women were announced, Kim was stunned to hear her name announced as the second runner-up for Miss Korea 2011. “I seriously turned blank,” Kim says. “After that
was the Q&A portion, and I didn’t know what to say.” Not wanting to take a year off from academics afterward, Kim arrived at Northwestern just in time for Wildcat Welcome. Though Kim appreciates all of her Miss Korea experiences, she says she looks forward to being a much more involved student. Still, she has kept herself busy on campus. Kim has been involved with ASG, joined the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and applied as a Peer Advisor, though she had to turn it down due to Miss Korea obligations. “It was hard balancing it,” she says. “But I’m really happy that I got this kind of experience.”
PHOTOS COURTESY STUDIO WONKYU
“People think I’m such a girly girl on the outside, but I’m very lazy. I’d rather sleep than get ready and put on makeup or do my hair.”
ABOVE: Crystal Kim; LEFT: After the Los Angeles Miss Korea pageant
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Jews In China
Professor Pan Guang looks into the surprising connection between two cultures. By Jia You What do Jewish and Chinese cultures have in common? As Professor Pan Guang, vice chairman of the Chinese Society of Middle East Studies, explained to 200 students and community members at the McCormick Tribune Forum on Feb. 13, the history between the two people dates back several centuries. Jewish merchants from Iran and Iraq traveled along the Silk Road to China, settled in the city of Kaifeng and built a synagogue there while assimilating into Chinese culture. However, most of them have lost their Jewish cultural traditions after centuries of assimilation and intermarriage.
More recently, about 25,000 to 30,000 Jews arrived in China after 1938 as Holocaust refugees when escaping to other countries, including the United States, became impossible. “The Jews were persecuted, the synagogues destroyed, so many people escaped,” Pan says. “But most countries closed the door. Shanghai became the only city that opened the doors for the Jews.” Politically, Chinese Jews were a very active group. They formed a variety of political parties and groups across the spectrum, even founding their own Labor Party in 1947.
Among the Jewish politicians born in China was Harbin-raised Mordechai Olmert, a founder of Irgun, a Zionist paramilitary group. Economically, Chinese Jews also made significant contributions. The Sassoon family founded the bank HSBC, and their Shanghai office later became a landmark building, the Peace Hotel. The Kadoorie family was a key supporter of the Daya Bay Nuclear Station in Shenzhen. The Russian Jews were famous for their fur store in Shanghai, a chain that resembled a mini-department store.
Tracing The Path To A New World First Wave:
7th Century Jewish merchants from Iran and Iraq traveled along the Silk Road to China, settled in the city Kaifeng and built a synagogue there while assimilating to Chinese culture.
8 | NU ASIAN
British Jewish merchants traveled to Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong for trade.
“You do find [in Chinese culture] the idea of spirituality, the idea of the importance of every entity and every life around us. That’s very much part of what we see in Jewish mysticism.”
Today, Jews play an active role across all spheres in China. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body, has included two Jewish members, Israel Epstein and Sidney Shapiro. A group of Jews in Shanghai also built the Shaul Eisenberg and Shanghai Diamond Exchange Center and received special policy from Beijing to import duty-free diamonds to Shanghai. In March 2008, the Jewish synagogue in Shanghai hosted its very first Jewish wedding. Pan says Jewish and Chinese cultures are similar in many respects. For example, both Jews and Chinese tend to live in extended families with three or four generations. “Both Chinese and Jewish cultures value education and the family,” he says. In fact, the similarities between Jewish and Chinese cultures could help explain why
After 1881 Russian Jews escaped to China as refugees and settled in the northern city Harbin, where they built a synagogue and Jewish schools.
Jews could flourish in China, says Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, director of the Tannenbaum Chabad House Jewish Center at Northwestern University. “What’s important is that the Chinese government doesn’t see Judaism as a conflict to their value system,” Klein says. “You do find [in Chinese culture] the idea of spirituality, the idea of the importance of every entity and every life around us … That’s very much part of what we see in Jewish mysticism.” Michael Simon, executive director of the Lous and Saeree Fiedler Hillel Center on campus, says he hopes cultural curiosity might also translate into more interaction between Jewish and Chinese students on campus. “It doesn’t even have to be a panel or a lecture,” Simon says. “It could be an ice cream night.”
About 25,000 to 30,000 Jews escaped to Shanghai, one of the few cities that welcomed Jewish Holocaust refugees.
After 1938 PHOTOS COURTESY OF ORACLE EDUCATION FOUNDATION, TRAVELCHINAGUIDE.COM, INFOPLEASE.COM
SPRING 2012 | 9
The Asian NU Project aims to explore cultural identity. By Jia You
coalition of Asian-American student leaders on campus is ready to make some waves. “Asians generally have this psychology of being more passive: They don’t want to create a stir; but then without a stir things usually don’t get changed,” says Pamela Hung, a Weinberg senior and one of the organizers of the Asian NU Project. The Project is a new campus effort aiming to raise awareness during Asian-American Heritage Month in May for the multifaceted nature of being Asian at Northwestern. “We want to show that Asians are a diverse group with many things to offer,” Hung says. “We are not just in this little box.” Students involved in the Project are set to organize panel discussions on racial selfsegregation and the division between East Asian and South Asian students, as well as hold an Asian pride rally on campus. “It’s a great way to use the month of May as an inroad to larger discussions of race and politics at Northwestern,” says Pavan Krishnamurthy, president of the Asian Pacific American Coalition and another organizer for the Project. “We just want to make sure that the campus is very aware that there’s a large presence of Asian-American and that presence is accepted.” A central theme the Project explores is the idea of shame. “A lot of times you may not feel
that it’s okay to really express yourself at the very core of your being,” Krishnamurthy says. “And that could be very stereotypically Asian things or very un-stereotypically Asian things.” For Asian students, shame could manifest itself in many ways: shame to talk about the anime one reads, shame to hang out with students outside one’s ethnic group, shame to associate oneself with other Asian students.
“A lot of the Asian students here aren’t aware of the rich Asian-American activism that has been on campus,” Hung says. “So we want to bring that back.” But with a large Asian population divided into different ethnicities, one of the organizers’ biggest challenges is uniting the fragmented community. As Krishnamurthy points out, the “Asian race” itself is an artificial creation with which not everyone identifies. Still, to him, the artificial term carries tremendous organizational potential. “It becomes strategic, politically and socially, to accept maybe this kind of awkward label, but use it in a very effective manner, even though it may not totally describe your identity,” he says. And identity, with its multifaceted nature in particular, is exactly what matters to the Asian NU Project. Krishnamurthy says he considers himself an Asian-Indian-American – with one element sometimes outweighing the others. “That type of mobility of identity allows me to associate softly with different things at different times, which can be very empowering,” he says.
“They don’t want to create a stir; but then without a stir things usually don’t get changed.” “It really affects a lot of our day-to-day interactions,” Krishnamurthy says. “There’s a lot of layers to it, and it does manifest itself subtly, but nevertheless substantially.” The Asian pride rally at the end of May aims precisely to counter that kind of shame and encourage people to express their identity, he says. To Hung, the Asian NU Project is also a tribute to the history of Asian-American activism on campus, including a 23-day hunger strike in 1995 that led to the establishment of today’s Asian American Studies Program.
Full disclosure: Krishnamurthy writes and edits for NU Asian, an APAC publication.
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chigago & int’l
Boiling Down To The Basics Get a taste of Chinatown’s best hot pot. By Wendi Gu Mandarin Kitchen 2143 South Archer Ave. (between Wentworth Avenue & 21st Street) Chicago, IL 60616 This is another all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant for $16.95, and you get a pretty comprehensive checklist of fresh veggies and meats. There are three broths to choose from: spice, regular and nutrition, but most patrons seem keener on the spicy. The hot pot also comes with three sauces: barbeque paste, peanut sauce and garlic in soy sauce to add some flavor to the boiled ingredients. Oh, and don’t you dare forget to BYOB.
Lao Sze Chuan
A. KELLER / NU ASIAN
2172 South Archer Ave. (between Wentworth Avenue & 21st Streete) Chicago, IL 60616
W. Cermak Rd.
S. State St
S. Wentworth Ave Rd
Here, it’s all about the sauce. There’s a nifty buffet table with a wide range of sauces varying in spice and flavor that you can dump at will into your hot pot. However, they don’t offer all-you-can-eat, so prices can add up. A soup base starts at $3 per person, and veggies and meats range from $3 to $6. But one thing that Tao Ran Ju has over all the other restaurants is service. Chinese or American, all customers will be helped, even if they don’t know what they’re doing. The staff offers full explanations before you over-boil your beef or accidentally eat raw noodles.
S. Princeton Ave
2002 South Wentworth Ave. (between Cullerton Street & Archer Avenue) Chicago, IL 60616
S. Canal St
Tao Ran Ju
As difficult as it is to find authentic Szechuan food in Chicago, Lao Sze Chuan, located in the middle of Chinatown Square, does not disappoint. Patrons gather here for the allyou-can-eat hot pot for a reasonable $16.95 if you go with two people (single restaurant-goers pay $19.95). The broth is delicious. Opt for the “MaLa” if you’re into spice, but the blander, chicken-based broth isn’t bad either. Perhaps the beef is fattier than I’d like, but you can’t blame them for being authentic. Service isn’t great if you don’t speak Chinese, but maybe that can be your excuse to start taking some classes in the Program of African and Asian Languages on campus.
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ANDREW BAE GALLERY
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The Asian Aesthetic
Chicago’s Andrew Bae Gallery showcases Asian-American art. By Jeremy Seah A venerable haven for contemporary Asian art lies at the heart of the River North art district in downtown Chicago: the Andrew Bae Gallery. Established by owner Andrew Bae, the gallery showcases a wide range of Asian artwork mainly originating from Korean and Japanese artists. There are paintings, sculptures, art installments, photography and more. Rather than exhibit a whole plethora of Asian artists, the gallery instead chooses to focus on a relatively small group of handpicked artists, adopting a philosophy of originality and quality craftsmanship when selecting works for exhibition. Since its founding in 1990, the Andrew Bae Gallery has steadily grown in reputation and recognition. It has worked hard to introduce the Chicago public to dedicated artists who display a variety of sensibilities in Asian art. Other than providing a space for Asian artists to showcase their works, the gallery also publishes catalogues, monographs and specialized books dedicated to its artists. Today, it is the epicenter of the Chicago
Asian arts scene, representing, sometimes exclusively, some of the most prominent and talented Asian artists around. With 14 artists currently on its roster, ranging from painters to sculptors to visual artists and photographers, something new and unique can always be found at the gallery. Walking past the gallery doors, the wood-paneled floors and open interior gives visitors a tranquil and soothing environment in which to enjoy the art on display. Four different shows are put on rotation every year, with each show accompanied by lectures, literature and gallery events, allowing patrons to understand and connect with the artwork on a deeper level. Describing his selection as “Asian aesthetics with universal appeal,” Bae strives to discourage the stereotypes surrounding both Asians and the genre of contemporary Asian art. With his splendid gallery gaining recognition for showcasing the best and most creative pieces that Asian artists today have to offer, the Andrew Bae Gallery is excelling at doing just that.
The Andrew Bae Gallery in Chicago showcases a variety of Asian-American art.
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Trying Out The Traditional Replace over-the-counter drugs with these four time-honored remedies. By Yoona Ha
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alternative healing methods a try? These remedies come in many shapes and forms, but try these unique Chinatown customer favorites for an alternatively better you.
Y. HA / NU ASIAN
inding a way to ease your ailments doesnâ€™t always mean searching for a stethoscope or popping pills from a bottle of Aleve. Instead of relying on regular doctor visits and man-made drugs, why not give these quirky Chinese
Tea Among the many varieties of herbal and animal brewery, seahorse teas and five flower teas are customer favorites at Nam Bac Hang, a store that sells traditional Chinese herbs. According to Nam Bac Hang employee Yuge Huang, seahorse tea is a brew of dried seahorses that boosts energy and treats conditions such as circulatory problems, high cholesterol, wheezing, abdominal pain and toxic swelling. A more popular and affordable alternative to seahorse tea is the Chinese five flower tea, or Wu Hua Cha, usually made out of Japanese honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, pagoda tree flowers, kudzu flowers and cotton tree flowers. This cup of tea is known for detoxifying, immunity-boosting and stressrelieving the body.
Vacuum Cups Vacuum cupping is a process in which a practitioner attaches fish bowl-like glass cups to your body. The air under the cup is heated by a naked flame which consumes the oxygen inside and forms a vacuum, allowing the cup to stick to the body through suction. It’s a form of acupuncture that detoxifies the body and stimulates blood circulation. According to Chinese medical practitioner Jin-Hong Ngan from Chicago’s Jin & Tonic Wellness Co., vacuum cupping alleviates stress, back and muscle pain, and even the common cold and flu. The only downside to getting cupped is the small rings of bruise marks that last for at least two weeks.
Gua Sha As Ngan puts it, “People have a love and hate relationship with Gua Sha because it’s really good for you, but it really hurts.” Gua Sha is a method of treatment in which oil is poured over areas of tension, and the patient gets scraped with tools for a detoxifying and stress-alleviating relief. It’s painful because the process involves some bruising, but after the bruises settle, but the pain is worth is the gain.
Y. HA / NU ASIAN
Moxibustion Moxibustion is a practice that uses mugwort herbs. The herbs are rolled up like blunts, lit and left to smolder on the skin. This unusual burning treatment surprisingly does not scorch or hurt, but rather evokes a warming sensation as it is taken off immediately. The herbs stimulate the nervous system and helps ease blood circulation as well as tensionridden parts of your body. ON THE OPPOSITE PAGE - A Chinese medicine store in Chinatown; ON THIS PAGE - Top: Seahorses and dendrobes are used for brewing tea; Bottom: Jars of natural remedies line shelves
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Behind The Scenes With The Jubilee Project O
n his 22nd birthday, Jason Lee was just settling into a new job and a new city. But he decided to step out his comfort zone that day when news of the Haiti earthquake broke. Though he claims to be a terrible singer, Lee grabbed his guitar to busk in a New York City subway, hoping to raise $100 for earthquake victims. While the funds fell slightly short of his goal, he posted the video on YouTube, encouraging viewers to donate directly or share the video with friends as Lee pledged to give one penny per view.
“It clicked for me that you can use videos and social media for a good cause, and I think that was the genesis,” he says. “I felt like I needed to do something that was bold, and I really had to put myself out there to try something. I thought it would be a lot of fun and a good gesture to raise money and awareness for Haiti.” And it did, as he ended up raising more than $700. With that, Lee teamed up with his older brother Eddie and friend Eric Lu to start The Jubilee Project, “making videos for a good cause,” as their mission statement goes.
Now, two years later, the group has released more than 60 videos and raised more than $30,000 for various organizations through its pledge-per-view model, which allows anyone to donate and show support. The Jubilee Project’s most popular video, “Love Language,” has attracted almost 2 million views and raised more than $2,500 for the American Society for Deaf Children. “A little bit of effort can go a long way,” Lee says. “You don’t always have to give your money or your time. We want to enable and equip everyone to help and do good.” As the three each come from different backgrounds – Jason is in business, Eddie works for the government and Lu attends medical school – The Jubilee Project covers a variety of issues they’re passionate about, including those involving Asian-Americans. “To some people, we’ve become role models for the Asian-American communities,” Lee says. “Few people use YouTube for a good cause, so we want to be the vanguard for that. We’re really proud to be representative of our community.” The group has grown in ways its members never fathomed, prompting a college tour and even the creation of high school clubs. Sometimes the trio finds it difficult to juggle The Jubilee Project with their fulltime jobs or studies, but “hearing people’s stories in reaction to our videos … inspire and challenge us in many ways that keep us going,” Lu says. For Lu and the Lee brothers, The Jubilee Project has become a passion and something they will continue to do. “We also have a long list of issues we’d like to address and combat,” Eddie says. “If this is indeed something we are meant to do, I guarantee that we’ll pour every ounce of our heart into it.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE JUBILEE PROJECT
The philanthropic trio talks about the power of doing good. By Erin Kim
Making Charity Viral The Jubilee Project believes “Doing Good is Contagious.” Take a look at some of its most popular videos and what organizations the trio helped.
16 | NU ASIAN
Garnering the most views for the group, “Love Language” tells the “story of a boy who meets a girl and falls in love,” according to the video’s description on The Jubilee Project’s YouTube page. For the month it was released, sponsors donated $10 for every thousand views the video received. All the proceeds went to benefit the American Society for “Love Language” Deaf Children. 1.82 million views November 2010
“The Waiting Game” follows the story of a couple, one who waits and the other who is always late. Donors pledged a penny per view to Liberty in North Korea’s The Hundred, which seeks to rescue a hundred North Koreans. With “The Waiting Game” reaching almost 10,000 views, The Jubilee Project raised more than $2000, with the help of its sponsors and viewers.
From left to right: Eddie Lee, Jason Lee and Eric Lu, members of The Jubilee Project
“The Waiting Game”
Almost 150,000 views July 2010
Gaining the attention of GOOD magazine, “A World Without Moms” honors moms around the world in light of the popular holiday. Through a penny-per-view sponsorship, The Jubilee Project raised about $1700 for Every Mother Counts. The non-profit organization works to raise awareness about maternal mortality in developing countries. “A World Without Moms: Happy Mother’s Day” Almost 1 million views May 2011 SPRING 2012 | 17
Rocking The Vote The Asian-American presence can change U.S. politics. By Pavan Krishnamurthy
sian-Americans and politics normally don’t go hand in hand: With only six members of the U.S. Senate who have ever been of Asian descent, Asian-Americans may have some right to feel disenfranchised. But this could be changing. A number of Asian political organizations in the United States and plenty of grassroots movements with numerous Asian-American participants emerged during President Barack Obama’s campaign; groups such as Asian Americans for Obama, AsiansVote and South Asians for Obama recently mobilized their efforts. This marks a shift for Asian-Americans, who have been largely painted as being uninterested in the political process. Obama has been perceived as keeping Asian-American interests in mind; the president celebrated Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year this year, and he also has plans to construct appropriate foreign policy with Asian leaders, having met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping earlier this year. Plus, Obama’s Hawaiian roots have framed him as very “Asia-friendly.” In the 2010 Census, 38.6 percent of the Hawaiian population was found to be Asian-American or Pacific Islander. In turn, Asian-Americans tend to swing blue in the voting booths. The Institute of Politics at Harvard University recently published a survey that found that 47 percent of Asian-Americans between the ages of 18 to 24 consider themselves Democrats, while only 15 percent align themselves with the GOP. This political leaning is a recent phenomenon. Asian-American probusiness, anti-communist attitudes within the Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Chinese population along with socially conservative Korean, Indian and Filipino Americans helped consolidate Republican power for some time.
In fact, during the 1992 presidential election, Clinton was only able to rally 31 percent of the Asian-American vote, in comparison with 2006, when the Democrats controlled 62 percent of that population. High levels of education, parental affiliation and immigrant backgrounds helped push the political inclination of the population. Plus, the Internet has furthered the dissemination of information and has allowed individuals to develop remote, online communities that can be politically mobilized. As technology and society continue to develop in the United States, we may see large political shifts caused by demographic developments and the broad use of community organizing. To get a better understanding of Asian-American youth, NU Asian asked 115 Asian-Americans at Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Loyola University and other local institutions about political ideologies, finding a leftleaning population.
Liberal — 47.8% Moderate — 40.9% Very liberal — 8.7% Conservative — 2.6% Very conservative — 0.0%
Did not vote — 14.8% Voted — 18.3% Could not vote — 67.0%
Victor Shao talks diversity and his new role Northwestern’s latest Associated Student Government election had plenty of focal points, but tackled diversity relations in particular as a result of the discourse on campus. NU Asian spoke with ASG President-Elect and Weinberg junior Victor Shao about his background and hopes for next year.
What inspired you to campaign?
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More diversity and inclusion initiatives, from increased Multicultural Student Affairs resources and staffing to a diversity-based curricular change, is something that we are prioritizing because we do feel that is something lacking. The newly formed ASG Diversity Committee has a lot of potential, and we plan on working closely with other groups on campus to make sure things get done. We’ll be releasing a comprehensive plan for ASG in the upcoming weeks, so be on the lookout.
How do you feel about Asian/AsianAmerican representation in politics in the United States?
We as a community can sometimes seem softspoken and out of sight. Leadership is about failing in order to succeed. It seems that there is a cultural difference for Asian-American communities to be more conservative and less risk-taking, which hinders leadership. There isn’t really an easy solution, but I think it has to start with developing members of our community into good leaders.
H. FUNG / NU ASIAN
I really found my passion at Northwestern during my sophomore year, when I joined ASG and Camp Kesem. Both of these organizations share one thing in common: making someone else’s experience better, whether it’s a student at Northwestern or a child whose parents are affected by cancer.
What types of policies do you think you will can establish that uniquely engage Asian/Asian-Americans on campus?
The Asian Playboy “World’s Best Asian Pickup Artist” JT Tran breaks down the ABCs of attraction. By Kerri Pang
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E. CHOW / NU ASIAN
Asian men have small penises. Fact? Nope, says Vietnamese-American pickup artist JT Tran, who calls the claim the biggest stereotype people have about Asian men, and the one that aggravates the special treatment of Asian men. “We’re considered as effeminate and not as dominant,” Tran says.
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JT TRAN
JT Tran is the founder and CEO of ABCs of Attraction, which offers pickup courses for men.
uch an image damages Asian men’s chances in the dating arena, Tran says, and it’s his job to help. With this philosophy, the selfproclaimed “Asian Playboy” is on a mission to see everyday Asian men become their own heroes – by training them through boot camps run by his company, ABCs of Attraction. Tran, based in Los Angeles, was voted the Best Asian Dating Coach for four consecutive years at the World Pickup Artist Summit. But, Tran says, “This was never intended to be a business.” In fact, his current field has little to do with the college degree in aerospace engineering he obtained from the Florida Institute of Technology. Following graduation, Tran moved to California and took up a six-figure salary job as a rocket scientist. He lived beside the beach, began surfing and drove around in a luxury car. Yet, as ideal as his life was, one component was missing: the dream girl. Despite trying mixers, happy hours, blind dates and even speed dating, no girl wanted to date him. “Even eHarmony rejected me because I was too cerebral and analytical,” Tran says, laughing. “I realized I sucked with women. That was my turning point. No one liked me.” That was nearly a decade ago. Today, Tran is the founder of ABCs of Attraction, a company that aims to equip Asian men with self-confidence and the practical ability to attract women they desire. Selfdescribed as the “Asian dating coach,” Tran explains the teaching method as an all-encompassing, holistic approach that deals with how men think, act and speak. “These boot camps are three days and three nights and they suck,” Tran says. “What we’re doing is essentially pushing these guys to grow and become the men they were supposed to be.” Tran remembers delving into the party scene four to six nights a week while still holding a 9-to-5 job as an aerospace engineer. His explorations, both adventures and misadventures, went into his blog, one that evolved to gain a large following of Asian-Americans. “It wasn’t simply all braggadocio,” Tran says. “Essentially, I had the first Asian-American dating blog from the male perspective.” Given his results-oriented mind as an engineer, Tran studied the psychology behind dating and bases the programs of ABCs of Attraction on psychological studies. He implemented the methods in the real world and documented his results. “I put myself out there and was not afraid that I was going those issues. I’d have good nights, and I’d have just humiliating nights,” Tran said. The blog also gave Tran his first unofficial client: a Chinese-Canadian mother who was worried about her oftbullied son. Given the vast need for a practical and active solution for the struggles that Asian men were facing, Tran found an increasing number of opportunities to be a spokesperson on the issue. “People started coming to me because no one dared to ask the question of how
Through his business, JT Tran hones the art of seduction and encourages shy Asian men to develop confidence and communication skills.
race affected dating. And if it does, what does one do about it? Do Asian men really need a specific Asian dating coach? Yes!” he says. “The issues that Asian men face are different from what Caucasians face.” According to the Pew Research Center, three in 10 Asian newlyweds in 2008 married outside their ethnicity or race. Within this category, the rate of out-marriage among female Asian newlyweds was twice that of male newlyweds.
identity as the “Asian pickup artist” entails a negative connotation. Some may view his lessons as gimmicks and presume that pickup artists like Tran are womanizers. However, the founder offers another perspective. “We’re all confident around our friends, but all of a sudden guys get nervous talking to a beautiful girl. In that scenario, he is not being true to himself. He has become someone who’s scared, anxious and unconfident,” Tran says. “We’re simply giving him the ability to be himself in front of her.” The journey doesn’t stop there. Tran refers to ABCs of Attraction as a mechanism of social change and says addressing Asian men’s struggles in the dating sphere touches a larger social issue. One of Tran’s pupils, 23-year-old Ben Junya, moved to California from Illinois less than a year ago after being inspired to pursue greater dreams by Tran’s boot camp. Junya attests to the larger picture and purpose behind ABCs of Attraction. “I learned not just about pickup but how to structure my life, to use my powers for good and not evil, to leave people better than you found them and how you have to improve your lifestyle if you want to attract women,” Junya says of his experience with the program. As a Thai-American, Junya was drawn to ABCs of Attraction because it was geared towards Asian men. He attributes many struggles that
“Even eHarmony rejected me because I was too cerebral and analytical. I realized I sucked with women.” As society reinforces these stereotypes, Asian men are increasingly unable to break out of established labels. According to Tran’s experience, the biggest stereotype women have about Asian men is how they only date within their race. He says that it is based on the psychological concept of heuristics, where women simply do not consider Asian men as potential lovers because of that pre-conceived stereotype. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Wayne Gretzky said, ‘You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take,’” Tran says. “The mistake is not trying, not putting yourselves out there [and] trying to protect your ego instead of embracing risk.” Nevertheless, it is inevitable that Tran’s
Asian men undergo to their “tiger moms,” and is intent on socializing his children in the future so they will not have to suffer the same complexes many Asians do. “When I go out at night and I see a pretty girl and approach her, she automatically thinks that I’m an asexual creature because I’m Asian,” Junya says. “ABCs really taught me to embrace being Asian and not be afraid to stretch my feathers out and show the world who I am.” Junya’s testimonial points to how the dating issues Asian men face stem from deeper underlying sources shaped by cultural upbringing. Even worse, such fundamental issues are hindrances not only to dating prospects, but also to opportunities in society. To Tran, this realization is especially crucial for college students, who are at a formative stage of their lives. “College students should start to realize that specializing in academic prowess will still leave them handicapped when they enter into the real world,” Tran says. “Confidence in dating women also translates into confidence in the job.” In fact, Tran thinks that college is the time when it will be the easiest to get a date, a girlfriend and subsequently get married. He encourages Asian and Asian-American men in college to solidify their values and identity while they are still able to do so. “If you don’t get the groundwork settled, you’ll suffer from a deficit for the rest of your lives, spending time trying to play catch-up. It’s like compound growth: You want to get your deposit in as early as possible,” Tran says. “You don’t know what the edge is until you step off.”
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The Price Of
Double eyelid plastic surgery reflects Asian perception of perfection. By Denise Zou
How would you define beauty? Different countries have different beauty ideals based on race or culture, and while some argue that attractiveness is the same for all cultures, one thing is clear: People are always looking to enhance their beauty.
Known as Asian blepharoplasty, double eyelid surgery is a procedure growing in popularity among AsianAmericans. The cosmetic surgery adds a crease to make the eyes look bigger by slicing open the eyelid. The end result is meant to allow the eyes to look more proportional, and about 50,000 Asian eyelid surgeries were performed in 2007, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
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In an interview with NYC24, Dr. Edmund Kwan, a plastic surgeon based in New York City, says the surgery is in line with Asian beauty standards that favor larger eyes with well-defined folds. “They don’t want to look white,” Kwan says, explaining the procedure does not and is not meant to hide a patient’s true ethnic identity. “They just want to look better.” - Shirley Li
PHOTO COURTESY OF YUKARI TANAKA / CREATIVE COMMONS
What is double eyelid surgery?
“The bottom line is that Asian eyelid surgery is really thinking about the inner beauty that is already in your eye.” says the eyelid can pose many problems. In fact, the Asian eyelid has anatomic features that have more supraorbital fat, which comes down and makes Asian eyes look a little puffier. This, in effect, makes some Asian eyes look smaller. Dr. Lee says, “What I tell my patients when they come in for their eyelid surgery is that given what they want between different styles of crease, their eyelid will tell me what it wants me to do, not what the patient wants herself.” Lee, who has studied and taught surgery in Korea, says a culture of surgery has become more prevalent in Korea and Japan and warns against the procedure for solely cosmetic reasons. “The bottom line is that Asian eyelid surgery is really thinking about the inner beauty that is already in your eye,” he says. “It isn’t about making your eye look like some movie star that you like.” Still, Lee says, no patient ever walks in asking
to look less Asian by creating a double eyelid. “They all understand an idea of what their eye can be. They understand Asian beauty,” he says. “Surgery can have complications, and it is not something you take lightly.” But when the surgery’s completed, consequences can add confidence and a fresh self-image. To Kim, the issue has become more accepted, and the perception of surgery itself has evolved. “It’s really fascinating. Especially in the past few years, it’s become less of a hush-hush sort of deal,” she says. “Not everyone wants to say that they did plastic surgery, but some people are very proud. They tell everyone what changed about them and they flaunt it.” ON THE OPPOSITE PAGE: Before and after double eyelid surgery; ON THIS PAGE: Clockwise starting from left - Body scrub for skin cleansing; A face “shaping” device advertised in Japan; Various beauty and skin care products lining the shelves of a store
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SEASMOKED (FACE SHAPING DEVICE), IMAKE (BODY SCRUB), VANCITY ALLIE (BEAUTY PRODUCTS) / CREATIVE COMMONS
When it comes to East Asian cultures, beauty fads from V-line face massagers to skin whitening products have become ubiquitous, and the phenomenon of double eyelid surgery has caught on as the Asian beauty trend. Weinberg freshman and second runner-up in the Miss Korea competition Crystal Kim is no stranger to the stress of beauty on girls. “I think Asian culture gives beauty more weight than it should,” Kim says. But besides using tools to reshape facial structure and skin creams to control paleness, East Asian women have become particularly inclined to double eyelid surgery. Dr. Charles Lee, an assistant clinical professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, says Asians opt for double eyelid surgery not just for image reasons, but for biological ones. From ingrown eyelashes that irritate the eye to functional problems, Lee
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Private Danny Chen
One soldier’s death spotlights race relations in the U.S. Army. By Hyerin Lee
On Oct. 3, 2011, a 19-year-old soldier named Danny Chen was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in an American military base in Afghanistan.
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(CAMOUFLAGE) S. STRANDGAARD / CREATIVE COMMONS
ince the day he arrived at the base in August, Chen was allegedly harassed and humiliated. On the day of his death, Chen was scheduled to report for guard duty at 7:30 a.m., but forgot to bring his helmet and water. After being punished by having to crawl back to the tower while being pelted by rocks, Chen finally reached the tower before a superior dragged him up the steps at 8 a.m. At 11:13 that morning, he shot himself to death. According to a USA Today report, there were about 280 American soldiers who committed suicide that year. Chen’s case speaks for the hardships that soldiers with ethnic backgrounds might face in the army. Eight men, Chen’s white superiors in the army, were charged in connection with the suicide. These fellow recruits had called him names like Chen Chen, Jackie Chan or Ling Ling, and forced him to speak Chinese. In his letter home, Chen wrote, “No idea how it started but now it’s just best to ignore it … I’m running out of jokes to come back at them.” While new soldiers occasionally get “smokings” from their drill sergeants for making mistakes, the punishments and hazing that Chen had to endure were extreme and discriminatory, because the military can be especially tough on Asian-Americans who tend to be regarded as “forever foreigners.” Lisa Lowe, an Asian-American studies professor at the University of California, San Diego, says that “Asian is always seen as an immigrant, as the ‘foreigner-within,’ even when born in the United States and the descendant of generations born here before,” an idea that resonates with Chen’s story. He was harassed for having an Asian appearance although he was born and raised in America. Though he fought for the United States with his life on the line, he was not accepted as a fellow American soldier. The eight men apparently involved were initially charged with involuntary manslaughter, as well as negligent homicide and various other allegations. But on March 6, the military decided to drop the manslaughter charge that could have led to a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Wrapped in controversy, the results of the trials continue to grip race relations, setting precedence for determining how to resolve discriminatory conduct in the military based on race and ethnicity issues. But for Chen’s family, justice may be too late.
Keeping Up With The Kims
North Korea is grappling with the transition of power.
H. FUNG / NU ASIAN
By Martin Kim Kim Jong-il is dead, just another reviled dictator who died or was ousted in the past year. But Kim Jong-il’s death was not a result of a revolution or a push for reform: The dictator allegedly died of a heart attack while aboard a train. Power shifted to his third son, Kim Jong-un, in a move that dispels hope of change in one of the most repressed nations in the world. The news of the dictator’s death was met with muted caution by South Korea and its allies. While the government is still on alert, for the most part, the South Korean government remains content to merely wait for new developments to arise. Part of this silence had to do with the quick transfer of power. The North Korean government has been quick to assert its steadfast support of Kim Jong-un, and transition plans have been in the works since 2008, when Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke. As the New York Times reported, the late dictator made his son a four-star general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party in September of 2010. The nation has also been quiet during this succession. Other than a strongly worded statement that affirmed that its policies toward South Korea have not changed, North Korea has remained absorbed in the succession and mourning rituals for Kim Jong-il. Several human rights organizations and NGOs have
noted that human rights violations by the North Korean government are ongoing, and that Kim Jong-un may even have participated in such violations. While the BBC pointed to anecdotal reports of possible reform, it is unclear who would benefit from such changes. The intellectual elite of North Korea is apparently pushing for reformed economic policies, but a move toward a more capitalistic state will not necessarily lead to political restructuring, and may only further benefit the entrenched elite. South Korea may also pose an obstacle for reform. The BBC reported on a live-fire exercise recently held on a disputed Korean territory — North Korea responded with condemnation and promises of repercussions. Kim Jong-un may have to act aggressively in order to maintain his grip on the military. The balancing act of appeasing the military apparatus in a highly militarized state and also pushing economic reform may be too much for the young ruler to handle. The most ominous words about this succession come from the book, I Was Kim Jong-il’s Cook, by Kenji Fujimoto, who claims to have been a chef for Kim Jong-il and his family. Fujimoto once described Kim Jong-un as exactly like his father — not a recommendation by any means. One can only hope that Kim Jong-un will rule in a different way from his father, despite the blood running through his veins.
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Watch The Throne
Catch up on Asia’s lesser-known leaders. By Vanessa Dopker The death of Kim Jong-il and subsequent accession of his son, Kim Jong-un, as the political leader of North Korea stole the headlines at the end of last year. His widely publicized death, however, has left other Asian political leaders at the wayside in terms of international news. Here’s what they’ve been up to:
Hu Jintao General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Since appointed general secretary of the Communist Party in 2002 and president of the People’s Republic of China in 2003, Hu Jintao has been motivated by his goal to achieve “stability” in China. In 2012 and 2013, Hu will step down to allow for current vice president and self-proclaimed “supreme pragmatist” Xi Jinping to take over as general secretary of the Communist Party and president.
Mahinda Rajapaksa President of Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa, a staunch nationalist, faces some questions in his second term as the political head of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, which experienced civil war from 1983 to 2009, is currently under international scrutiny for alleged massacres of ethnic Tamils and war crimes against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. H. FUNG / NU ASIAN
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Yoshihiko Noda Prime Minster of Japan Since being sworn in September 2011, recently appointed Prime Minister Noda has focused his attention on negotiating Japan’s position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. Noda supports this controversial economic agreement, which would lower import taxes, to the dismay of Japanese farmers.
Lee Myung-bak President of South Korea President Lee heads into his last year of the five-year presidency, with “mixed” reviews. Lee’s administration has been characterized by ambitious foreign and economic policies, the latter of which has been coined “MBnomics” in Myung-bak’s honor.
Thein Sein President of Burma (Myanmar) & Aung San Suu Kyi General Secretary of the National League for Democracy Recently instated in 2011, President Sein serves as the executive of the strictly military-controlled Burmese government, which has been accused by the international community of extensive human rights abuses. Notably, Nobel Peace Prize winner and government opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi leads the National League for Democracy party, which proposes reform.
Yingluck Shinawatra Prime Minister of Thailand The first woman and, at age 44, youngest prime minister of Thailand to serve in this position, Shinawatra was elected in 2011 following the Thai political crisis of 2010 in which “Red Shirt” protestors rioted in Bangkok in support of Shinawatra’s older brother and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Hassanal Bolkiah Sultan of Brunei As the ruling, absolute monarch of Brunei, Sultan Bolkiah holds all political power in this Southeast Asian country. Sultan Bolkiah has held the throne since 1967, when his father, then Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien, unexpectedly abdicated the throne for his son’s accession to power.
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The Death Of A Dissident
One of China’s greatest activists dies at 76 after a 22-year exile. By Wendi Gu
Top Left: Fang Lizhi; Top Right: Peking University, where Fang studied; Middle: Tiananmen Square; Bottom Left: University of Arizona in Tucson, where Fang taught; Bottom Right: Chinese flag
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(FANG) VOICES OF AMERICA | (PEKING UNIVERSITY) J. WALSH / CREATIVE COMMONS | (UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA) K. LUND / CREATIVE COMMONS} | (TIANANMEN SQUARE) E. KIM / NU ASIAN | (FLAG) M. MENDLER / CREATIVE COMMONS
ang Lizhi, one of the most notorious dissidents in China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died on April 6 in Tucson, Ariz. Mr. Fang was 76. According to his son, the cause of death is unknown. Fang gave voice to the 1989 student movement after publishing a letter denouncing then-leader of the Communist Party in China Deng Xiaoping, calling for the release of political prisoners. The Tiananmen Square Protests on June 4 led to the death of hundreds of student protesters shot down by Chinese troops. Originally one of China’s most wellrespected scientists, Mr. Fang was admitted into China’s most prestigious university, Beijing University, at 16 years old to achieve a degree in theoretical physics and nuclear physics and later became the vice president of the University of Science and Technology. But Mr. Fang later found that his efforts to open up the post-Mao Zedong political system and pave the way for democracy were met with extreme antagonism from his government. Many of his comrades and fellow intellectuals were killed in the protest, and fearing the same fate, Mr. Fang went to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to seek protection. President George H. W. Bush allowed for Mr. Fang to enter America, which exacerbated relations between China and America further, provoking a “year-long diplomatic standoff with the Chinese that ended after secret negotiations,” according to the New York Times. In the United States, Mr. Fang taught physics at the University of Arizona in Tucson for 20 years up until his death. According to colleague Elliot Cheu, he was extremely devoted to science. “It was always kind of fun to interact with him, he always had some very interesting problems that he would bring to bear,” Cheu told ABC News. “He was thinking. Even at this stage of his career he was fairly well-versed in physics and really understood the material and had a deep understanding of how things worked — which is kind of the mark of a real physicist.”
East Meets West Meets South
The sushirrito. The Vietnamese-French sandwich. What’s next? By Shirley Li
E. CHOW (SUSHI BURRITO, / NU ASIAN SUSHI LINE) PHOTOS COURTESY OF SUSHIRRITO | (BANH MI SANDWICH) THEDELICIOUSLIFE / CREATIVE COMMONS
hen it comes to Asian cuisine, pan-Asian restaurants can offer everything from sushi to Thai noodle dishes. But beyond mixing Asian flavors, ambitious eateries have taken to reinventing foods across continents to cater to America’s cultural diversity. Such fusion foods have enjoyed popularity in the United States since around the 1970s, when American restaurants in California adapted French and Japanese cuisines to create a unique, “fused” culinary style that has since spread nationally. In recent years, fusion cuisine has become “as mainstream and as American as the proverbial apple pie,” White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford told IIP Digital. As an Asian-American born and raised in the Philippines, Comerford injects Asian traditions and flavors into her dishes for Obama and visiting officials. But for the rest of us, restaurants around the country are having chefs support fusion foods. In New York City, the Vietnamese population has spawned hubs for banh mi, a classic VietnameseFrench sandwich that combines the flavors of French meats and breads with Vietnamese and Chinese vegetables. Using traditional Vietnamese ingredients, the banh mi mimics French sandwiches, using baguettes to hold the Asian filling. “New York has a history of being open to creative ideas,” Fred Hua, chef and owner of Brooklyn’s Nha Toi, told the New York Times. On the opposite coast, creative chefs have also combined components of Asian cuisine with other cultural tastes. San Francisco-based Sushirrito unites the flavor of Japanese sushi with the size and styling of Mexican burritos to create “the sushi burrito.” The mouthwatering handheld sushi roll has become a hit in the Bay Area with its Asianand Latin-infused ingredients, including traditional salmon and tuna with unusual additions of plantains and melted pepperjack cheese. The experimental fusion cuisine can cater to many tastes and will likely continue to populate restaurants around the country. While making sushi the size of burritos may appear a gimmick to some, the variety is endless when it comes to fusion foods.
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Ban The Blush
Choose one of these quick fixes to combat that dreaded glow. Wikipedia calls it “alcohol flush reaction” to be politically correct, but let’s be real guys: It’s called “Asian glow.” It occurs because Asians often lack an enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol. Lucky us: Because of this, we are more susceptible to esophageal cancer and are the butt of jokes as the shiniest partygoers. The problem is, the only real cure to Asian glow is sobriety, which isn’t a fun option for anyone. One trick that many have found useful, however, is the antacid:
One pill about 30 minutes before your first drink should do the trick, but Zantac contains ranitidine, which increases blood alcohol content. So if you’re planning on drinking more than just a little, we recommend not taking Zantac or else it won’t be a night to remember, because you won’t remember much.
Pepcid AC The god of antacids, Pepcid is often the go-to for many Asian partygoers. However, make sure you differentiate between the original Pepcid AC and Pepcid Complete — the latter completes the effect much better. Maybe it’ll even treat that heartburn for you. Take one pill about an hour before drinking, and you’ll be golden. But browning out is another infrequent side effect of Pepcid, so again, be careful with your drink intake.
Tums This common household over-thecounter drug is absolutely useless except, maybe, as an antacid. Perhaps this goes to show that you should only use a product as it’s advertised.
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(GLASS OF WATER) CIPHER / CREATIVE COMMONS | (TUMS) SANDY POORE / CREATIVE COMMONS | (ZANTAC) USER182 / CREATIVE COMMONS | (PEPCID AC) COLLIN GRADY / CREATIVE COMMONS
SANDWICH GOT SOUL campus
Spice things up at Evanston’s newest pan-Asian eatery. By Jeremy Seah
(SANDWICH) G. WU | (CHIPS, MENU) N. NICHOLSON-KLINGERMAN / NU ASIAN
ffering sandwiches with an Asian twist, Soulwich brings together the best of Indonesian, Burmese, Thai and Singaporean flavors to create a unique panAsian culinary experience. While one usually pictures a sandwich stuffed with ham or salami, expect more exotic ingredients such as Burmese coconut curry or wasabi teriyaki chicken. Located near campus at 1634 Orrington Ave., Soulwich offers a convenient alternative to Evanston’s more traditional sandwich joints, such as Potbelly’s or Rollin’ To Go. Variety isn’t exactly the name of the game at
Soulwich, with only eight signature sandwiches and three salad boxes to choose from. But this lack of choice is made up for with the fresh ingredients and interesting mix of flavors in each sandwich. Owners Ash and Bhavini Patel take pride in grinding all the spices themselves, and their bread is baked locally. Stand-out items on the menu include Sandwich #2: a combination of Paneer fig, goat cheese, homemade fig spread and caramelized onion, creating a pleasantly sweet taste. Sandwich #4 also features an intriguing concoction of Indonesian ginger
BBQ, homemade BBQ, red cabbage and infused caramelized onion to add a delicious Asian zing. All sandwiches are served with homemade slaw or homemade chips with a choice of original, wasabi or Burmese flavoring. However, the sandwiches tend to get soggy really quickly. Feasting here will definitely be a messy affair, so don’t expect your sandwich to stay in one piece after the first bite. But if you’re in the mood for tasty Asian flavors conveniently packaged in ready-to-go, decently affordable sandwiches at $8 each, Soulwich is a terrific joint to visit.
Top: Soulwich sandwich; Left: Fresh chips can accompany a sandwich as a side; Right: The outside menu gives an accessible preview of selections.
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Asian Sandwiches With A
1634 Orrington Ave. 847-328-2222 Tuesday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.