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Spring 2013 | Campus

A Northwestern Publication 1

NU Asian

Dear readers,


here aren’t many things we find more compelling than the lives of other people. We don’t immediately connect with everyone’s stories, but when we are drawn to one, there are few more powerful tools to move people. Through the experiences of others, we can transcend the few decades that belong to our own lives and live a thousand other lives. And when we are done exploring the world, running powerful organizations and countries, living in destitute poverty, fighting in wars, and living daily, ordinary lives through the eyes of others, we can come back to our own lives as changed people, alive to the whole range of possible human emotions and experiences in which we may one day find ourselves. It is regrettable that all of these peoples’ lives will not fit within these pages, but this issue we tried bringing you the stories of a few individuals, most of whom we are already connected to by virtue of being Northwestern students, who all find their motivations and significance in different ways. From the Northwestern students who filled this campus with memories before us (Starving For Change, pg10), to the students are building their lives now on campus (Miss Representation, pg 7; The New Norm, pg 12 My Father’s Daughter, pg 26), and even to the Alumni who show us a picture of what life might be like after graduation (NU Grads Around the World, pg4), this issue brings together the people of our past, present and future. I’m immensely grateful for the experience that working on NU Asian has been this year and even more thankful for the people across the campus to whom it has brought me closer. Thanks to the staff, who have cared enough about the magazine to see it through a time of great transition, and thanks to our contributors and readers, who continue to support us. Cheryl Wang Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief

Cheryl Wang

Creative Director


Yang Yu

Managing Editors

Tony Kim Jeremy Seah Jun En Victoria Huang Satugarn Limthongviratn

Web Editor Assistant Web Editor Business Director

Andrea Kang


Yuri Han Vickie Huang

Web Designer Bloggers


MEET OUR STAFF Jorene Ooi Nalin Natrajan Cheryl Wang Siyu Zhao Justina Lin Jia You Priyanka Mody Andrea Kang Yujia Ding Victoria Huang Carrie Hsieh Rohan Zhou-Lee Giyun Park Judy Suh Elena Westbrook Melody Yin



Joon Young Kwon Priyanka Mody Yujia Ding Yunita Ong Alexander Wong Denise Zou Emily Park Joyce Lee Kerri Pang

Adviser Special Thanks to:

Louie Lainez g

Spring 2013 | Campus

Con tents Campus

Chicago & Beyond

NU Grads Around the World


Miss Representation


Starving for Change


The New Norm


May the Best Man Win


Era of The East


The Brothers Kim


Inernational Edge


Nead a Read?


Small Pleasure


My Father’s Daughter



NU Grads Around the World NU Asian

By: Justina Lin, Cheryl Wang, Victoria Huang

See what these Northwestern Alumni have been up to since graduation.


n her sophomore year at Northwestern, Lydia Hsu had her heart broken by her highschool sweetheart. In her devastation, she missed the deadline to apply for the creative writing major offered by the English department, the path she had set her heart on. Suddenly, a lot of her future plans had become irrelevant. Having been jolted into exploring her options, Lydia looked to get involved on campus and joined groups such as GES, NUCHR, Jumpstart, and the Center for Talent Development. In re-examining her pursuits at Northwestern and her goals for the future, Lydia focused on her passion for teaching, hoping to fight against socioeconomic and educational disparities in society.

Name: Lydia Hsu Graduating Class: 2011 School: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Major: English Literature and African Studies with a teaching certification Illinois Type 09 Secondary License in English Language Arts from the School of Education and Social Policy 4

Along the way, she became very involved the African-American community on campus, becoming an executive board member of the African Students Associations, completing an African Studies adjunct major that the Department of African Studies created for her, and eventually leading an African Studies seminar. Lydia ended up taking a class called Race and Tribe in Modern Africa which introduced her to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She was fascinated by the events of the genocide, but even more so by the reconciliation demonstrated between friends and neighbors who had been complicit in murdering each other during the conflict but were now willing to rebuild the country together. She knew she had to go to Rwanda and see it for herself. And so started a chain of events that saw

Lydia obtain undergraduate research grants to go help develop educational curriculum in a recovering, post-genocide Rwanda and then receive a Fulbright scholarship after graduation to go back and continue her work with education. Lydia didn’t just work there, she built a life there, helping young Rwandans build soup kitchens, teaching English, becoming a journalist for the Rwandan national newspaper, performing regularly at one of the country’s most important hotels as a classical pianist—even starting her own business there, a marketing firm called K-TEAM. And what has all of this taught her? “Sometimes the worst things that happen to you in life are the greatest lessons and greatest blessings. If you can take those trials and embrace them, they can become the greatest tools that help you navigate your life,” she says. Furthermore, she discovered that “everyone in the world fundamentally wants love and empathy.” As Lydia met high-profile people ranging from world leaders to celebrities through her work as a journalist and pianist, she discovered that “no matter who these people are and what they’ve accomplished according to social standards… all they’re looking for is love and someone to understand. That is something integral to my philosophy on interacting with and helping other people.” Since then, Lydia has done research in Berlin, studying the role of educational curriculum development in post conflict societies. She was also called to New York as a recovery analyst in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, working with organizations like the New York Police Department to get the city back on its feet. And on top of that, she’s taken the time to do some extensive travelling throughout Asia. Her experiences after graduation have made her consider pursuing politics or business in the future, seeing potential in them for bigger, top-down impact. Lydia, now 24, will be attending graduate school at Harvard this fall to continue studying development in post-conflict societies. Despite all the experiences she’s had, she is still not done figuring out her goals and plans for the future. Her advice to this year’s graduating class is to avoid letting the societal definition of happiness, which might include social standing or a certain type of security, dictate your pursuits. Lydia bases her approach to life on a Greek word, “eudaimonia,” which she explains as the pursuit of true, long-lasting contentment in a meaningful, well-lived life. She sees that many of her peers are “trapped by imaginary restraints” and pursuing unfulfilling paths, and she advises the class of 2013 to simply “live fully, and focus on eudaimonia.”

Spring 2013 | Campus


ishing to discover more about the community development that she learned about in her Social Policy curriculum, Sharon Kim does community development with Language, Education, and Development (LEAD) Asia. Living in a village in the southern Philippines, she works alongside ethno linguistic minorities, generally indigenous people groups that tend to be geographically isolated, marginalized, and very poor. Through LEAD, Sharon encourages community members to play an active role in their own development. My job is not to prescribe solutions, Sharon explains, “but to challenge the villagers to think of [next steps] themselves.” Sharon first became interested in community development through the Social Policy component of her curriculum at Northwestern. In the future, Sharon hopes to continue her work in village development, hopefully specializing in one particular area in the field.

Culture is an asset. In my work, I come across minority groups whose cultural vibrancy and language could fade away within a few generations. The more I interact and work with people from across the developed and developing worlds, the prouder I am to be Asian-American.

>What advice do you have for

graduating seniors?

Just the advice of Stephen Colbert, a fellow NU grad: “Life is an improvisation…No one is leading, you’re all following the follower, serving the servant. You cannot ‘win’ improv…And like improv, you cannot ‘win’ your life, even if it might look like you’re winning… So no ‘winning’. Instead, try to love others and serve others, and hopefully find those who will love and serve you in return.”

Major: Social Policy and Business Institutions Program


annah Chung grew up loving art and science and always wanted to study both. Her classes at Northwestern and the different talks she attended inspired her to combine those two interests. One of those events was Design Chicago, where she learned how to design for social impact. Collaborating with peers who shared her vision, Hannah helped launch Design for America in 2008. Guided by Segal faculty Elizabeth Gerber, students brainstormed projects to solve complex problems.

Graduating Class: 2009 School: McCormick School of Engineering Major: Mechanical Engineering

Graduating Class: 2012 School: School of Education and Social Policy

>What is something important you have learned since graduation?

Name: Hannah Chung

Name: Sharon Kim

One of the first projects she tackled was Jerry the Bear. An interactive learning tool, Jerry the Bear helps children with type-1 diabetes learn good health habits. As she worked more and more on the project, Hannah realized that this was how she wanted to spend all her time. “I think I took at least 10 independent studies to work on DFA projects”, she says with a chuckle. DFA teammate Aaron Horowitz felt the same way. Together they created their very own start-up company, Sproutel, which continued the project. Gripped by inspiration, Hannah couldn’t wait until graduation to start. Moving to Providence, Rhode Island her senior year, Hannah finished her last quarter of Northwestern

classes via Skype. Two years later, Sproutel has taken off. “It’s a very dynamic work environment,” says Hannah, “you get to wear a lot of hats.” From fundraising, to managing business logistics, to traveling nationwide, to tweaking prototypes, each day is different. “I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur,” she says. “I just followed my gut.”

>What do you recommend

for people finding their passion and getting motivated? I believe in project-driven education, it’s very effective. Ask yourself, what is a problem I want to solve…what process do I need to take to get there?

>What are cool memories

from your work at DFA and Sproutel? Traveling and testing Jerry out with children. Sometimes we get pen pal letters from the kids, saying, “Hi Jerry, how are you, I miss you!”


NU Asian


he former Editor in Chief of NU Asian, Nathalie Tadena was set on a career in journalism all throughout her time in college. She worked for the Daily Northwestern all four years and served as the Editor of NU Asian her junior and senior year. Her proudest accomplishment during her time in NU Asian was taking the magazine from a black and white publication to one printed in color. Today Nathalie is a reporter for the Dow Jones Newswires and credits Northwestern for preparing her well for her first job. She loves the fast pace of the newsroom and the way her job allows her to learn about a huge variety of industries and sectors. However, in her time out of college, she has found that she is not done exploring her interests. “In college I thought all I wanted to do was be a journalist,” Nathalie says. “And then when I got out of college I realized there are a lot of other career paths that I didn’t really consider that started to interest me.” Nathalie is considering applying to business school in a few years, crediting her experiences as a business reporter with teaching her about finance and corporate structures and developing an interest for business.

>What are some important

things you’ve learned since graduation?

Most of my first relationships with professors and administrators were in Medill. Once you enter the real world, you don’t necessarily have those same kinds of mentor figures, you really have to seek them out... in many companies it’s kind of every man for himself, your boss doesn’t necessarily have to care about you, you could just be another employee to them. So what i realized is that i really do have to be proactive about finding a good mentor, finding a good support system because it’s not inherent in the corporate world, in the real world.

>What advice would you give

to graduating seniors?

It’s important to keep challenging yourself, make sure you’re still growing as a person after graduation, whether that’s making sure you get involved in some sort of extracurriculars or take extra classes, I think it’s still important to keep learning even though you’ve graduated from college.


s an undergraduate, Meixi Ng was most proud of her involvement with the International Students Association (ISA) as co-founder, as well as the creation of ISA World Cup, a yearly 2-day soccer tournament and celebration of the richness of culture across nations. She continues to work to achieve social justice internationally. Since graduating, Meixi Ng has traveled around the world on a Circumnavigator’s Grant, traveling to Guatemala, Singapore, Ghana, South Africa and Australia to visit schools and conduct research on education in marginalized communities. She has also co-founded the Amber Initiative, a Singapore-based institute that advocates to make positive changes for youth in their communities.

Name: Meixi Ng Graduating Class: 2010 School: School of Social Policy Major: Social Policy and International Studies


Today, she co-directs a youth leadership program and runs a curriculum of tutorial programs inspired by her experiences abroad, with the Math and Art programs at a local secondary school in the Normal Technical (NT) stream, the local academic system. She is currently working to set up a program which specifically works to coach teachers in the pedagogy of tutorial relationships and start the network of teachers and learners at school.

Name: Nathalie Tadena Graduating Class: 2011 School: Medill School of Journalism Major: Journalism

>What made you decide to

work on social justice and education?

At 11, my parents sent me on a trip with other kids to go to school in the slums of Hyderabad and I was amazed at the other kids passion for learning and wondered why that wasn’t so in my own country, Singapore, even though we had nicer-looking schools and facilities. It just didn’t seem fair. So that seed was planted during my stay in the slums.

>What advice would you have

for graduating seniors?

It’s easy to get caught up in the doing doing doing, you know and you forget to thank your bus driver or don’t pay attention to the little things other do for you or that you could do for others. So to be faithful in the small things, like being excited for your students, for taking that small extra time every day in whatever it is to be a light, that’s where the strength of your work lies.

Spring 2013 | Campus

By Nalin Natrajan


NU Asian


n a small-town in Indiana, Eunice Greenaway, an Asian-American adolescent, is about to compete in a small-town beauty pageant with her best friend Natasha Day. Eunice will navigate stereotypes as well as the stresses of the pageant and growing up in a bid to find herself and her sense of identity. Pageant Girls tells the fictional story of how Eunice deals with the many pains and pressures of growing up while trying to fit in and overcome stereotypes as the only Asian-American competitor in the pageant. I had the opportunity to interview Pageant Girls’ director Nina Rogers to gain more insight into this upcoming student-produced film. Rogers, a junior double majoring in Asian-American Studies and Radio, Television and Film, founded the Multicultural Filmmakers’ Collective and is the writer and director of Pageant Girls.

Q: Could you tell me a bit about what inspired you to write and direct this film? A: I came up with the idea over a year ago. I wanted to create something that spoke to some aspect of the Asian-American experience. I drew on my own experiences growing up in small, all-white towns in Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as taking part in dance competitions when younger. I also wanted to create a film that incorporated femininity and ethnicity.

Q: What might be some of the implications of such a film at NU? A: To my knowledge, there have not been any student films made at Northwestern that 8

speak to a particular ethnic group in the United States. I helped start the Multicultural Filmmakers’ Collective because Northwestern did not seem very welcoming to people of color. I think my film will show people a different view of Asian Americans – I am not into stereotypes.

Q: Did you have any concerns when you decided to begin working on this film? A: I needed to be careful in because it’s difficult to balance filmmaking technique while taking care to preserve authenticity in presenting an Asian-American experience. I had to take care because identity and appearance often go hand in hand. Everything has to be intentional especially when you’re dealing with

the topic of race. I needed to balance what people would have expected from a film about an Asian-American experience with what the actual experience was. I enjoyed making the film though and just had to be conscious of the decisions I made in filmmaking and note that I was working with people not so familiar with ethnic studies.

Q: How has production been going? A: We filmed over 40 hours straight as of April 23rd. Most of the footage has been filmed at this point. I am really lucky to work with a very organized group of people. My producer, Hannie Lee, even reminds me to eat my vegetables like my mom would. That being said, it has been very time consuming that has made

Spring 2013 | Campus

it hard to apply for internships… Despite the hard work though, the good thing about being director is that everyone sympathizes with you.

Q: Where have you been filming? A: We’ve been filming all over the place: a theatre in Des Plaines, a Catholic High School in Wilmette and parking lots on Dempster. We wanted to create a generic midwestern town with what Hannie described as a “Janky Glam” aesthetic [an aesthetic that was described to me as something like faded glamour - think a small town theatre that has a nice facade that would have look great had it been maintained. This aesthetic was achieved with the sets and filming locations like a theatre in des plaines,

parking lots on Dempster Street.]

money for specific products or projects.]

Q: How did you get funding and equipment?

Q: What are the plans for release and what do you hope for from this film?

A: A number of grants: $3K from Studio 22, $1K from School of Communication and some money from the Asian American Studies department. Mostly the School of Communication and Studio 22 provided our equipment. We had to pay for some specialized equipment and to book locations though. A lot of money went into that, transport and other expenses such as food that was required for the cast and crew, but not central to the filmmaking. Despite the grants, we are still looking to raise more money through crowdfunding on Kickstarter. [Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website that lets individuals or organizations raise

A: The film will debut at an on campus film festival on June 8th for student films from Women’s Filmmakers Alliance, Niteskool and Studio 22. After the Northwestern Debut, I want to submit my film to a bunch of film festivals. An online release will follow a year after [due to film festival guidelines]. I really hope the film raises awareness and breaks from Asian American stereotypes.


NU Asian


n April 12, 1995, around 150 students marched after a rally at the Rock, chanting, “No program, no peace!” with signs that read, “We will not be ignored.” The march ended at the office of Henry Bienen, Northwestern’s president at the time, and challenged him to answer to the students gathered outside his doors. After the march, students went on a hunger strike that would last for 23 days in demand of the establishment of an Asian American studies program.

Starving for Change

By Carrie Hsieh

Remembering the events of the hunger strike that changed our campus

Since 1992, students had pushed the administration to start an Asian American studies program through various means like petitions and documentation. Asian American Advisory Board (AAAB) submitted a 200-page proposal to the administration with over 1200 signatures and several letters of support from faculty members. It discussed the need for Asian American studies as a discipline, as well as outlining the implementation and potential curriculum of the program. It called for the hiring of six professors with one to serve as the program’s director. Bienen agreed about the value of the Asian-American experience, assuring AAAB he would pass the proposal to the Curricular Policies Committee (CPC) so they could talk about how to effectively improve the curriculum. AAAB then submitted an amended version of the proposal, making a compromise of only hiring two professors and one director within the next four years. The response was no better: the administration said they lacked funding resources and declined to give a concrete answer. It was within this turbulent climate of frustration and activism that Sumi Pendakur would begin cultivating a passion and knowledge for advocacy and social justice. Pendakur—a freshman at the time—came to Northwestern on the pre-medical path but soon abandoned that track, getting involved with the multi-cultural and political communities on campus. She joined the Indian Students Association and Lotus, a South Asian political and social justice student group. Recalling these administrative excuses, Pendakur said she understood that it would be expensive to hire a full-time faculty and offer new courses, yet this did not excuse the administration. She stressed the importance of knowing the specificity, history, language and politics of the Asian-American experience. “The American educational system is unfor-


tunately structured to support the status quo. Our issue was that as a premier educational institution, Northwestern was behind the times when it came to offering this program,” she said. “It was a combination of frustrating and learning a lot. All of us, as 18 to 22 year olds, were forced to learn how to work with people who held a lot of power, who could make or break decisions, who didn’t see things how we did.” Students began to organize forces to demand an actual commitment from the administration. On April 12, after the rally and march, 17 students began the hunger strike. Pendakur found the strike compelling and immediately went to learn about its purpose. Afterward, she signed up for a sympathy strike, fasting for two days in support of AAAB and their goals. Pendakur emphasized the importance of various student groups forming a coalition and publicly supporting the strikes. For Members Only, Casa Hispaña and Bisexual Gay and Lesbian Alliance (BGALA, now known as the Rainbow Alliance) were at every one of the hunger strike rallies, with Lotus and the Black Greek Council also displaying of support for AAAB. “They would speak with us, for us,” Pendakur said. “That’s really important and the point of allyship. Our experiences and struggles are connected, and so our liberation is connected too.” After 23 days, students ended the strike because they realized the administration would not budge on their offer: four Asian-American studies classes. These four classes served as a possible foundation for a future program as long as students continued to push for permanence. AAAB and the strikers, especially the graduating seniors, felt they had failed. While the strike failed to produce a program, it reinvigorated student activism, built a coalition between students groups, inspired parallel strikes on other campuses and thrust the issue of Asian-American studies into public consciousness. More importantly, Pendakur said the strike kicked off another four years of activism. AAAB continued to hold rallies, protests, marches and educational seminars, even teaching classes about the Asian-American experience because there were no professors to do it. Pendakur said she learned a lot from older strikers and then in later years was able to mentor younger students. She stayed involved with AAAB, becoming the secretary

her junior year and then AAAB’s chair her senior year. “One thing the administration does is say, ‘We’re gonna wait out the students.’ For example, year to year, if transitions don’t occur or under other circumstances a club will peter out,” Pendakur said. “To be part of a movement and organization where we sustained one another through a seven year struggle, to be able to accomplish that, our students communicating and mobilizing one another, was really exciting.” During Pendakur’s senior year, Eric Sundquist came in from UCLA as the new dean of Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Pendakur said he had a sympathetic mindset about Asian-American studies and helped the students move forward. “At UCLA, I had seen the success of such cross-disciplinary programs, and because of my own interest as a scholar in ethnic American studies I was familiar with the best scholarship in the field,” Sundquist said. “The student activism, in its first stage, preceded my time at Northwestern. [The students] were at every stage instrumental in advocating for a program and helping to think about the kind of program that might work best at Northwestern.” In 1999, AAAB helped the administration interview candidates to head the new program. In 2000, an Asian-American studies program was finally established as a minor with two core faculty members. “It took a while, but a year after I graduated it all got solidified,” Pendakur said, “Granted, it’s not the biggest program, and I donate every year to keep it at Northwestern, but it’s there. It’s there, and it came entirely out of student struggle, and that’s a big deal.” Northwestern’s Asian American Studies Program now has four core faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and lecturers. For Pendakur, the struggle was worth fighting for. “There are students every year who can now learn and be educated, educate one another, and make change in society. Whether they become social workers, go to law school, etcetera, they have a perspective that their colleagues might not have. It’s one more ripple in the pond,” Pendakur said.

Key players Henry Bienen

Former President of Northwestern. In a letter to the strikers, he wrote, “[Dean Dumas] and we, have done our part; it is time you did yours by working with us, not against us, to bring the Asian-American experience and culture to the curriculum in a permanent, meaningful way.”

Grace Lou

President of AAAB and key organizer of the strikers. In an editorial in The Daily, she wrote “AAAB remains unsatisfied with the four classes and never accepted them as a final compromise… we will not cease our fight until concrete plans for an Asian-American studies program have been made.”

Peter Dallos

Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. In a letter to The Daily, he wrote, “Those of us who came to this country voluntarily did so to become Americans, not hyphenated-Americans…More Asian studies are needed and wanted. We do not, however, need any Asian-American, Irish-American, Italian-American and who-knows-what-else American studies.”

Charles Chun

One of the original strikers who fasted the longest, 12 days. He spoke to The Daily about finally dropping out: “My stomach really started hurting, and it wouldn’t go away. I wanted to keep going, but my body told me I had to eat.”

Responses: Movements inspired on other campuses by the Northwestern hunger strikes:

Stanford Over 300 Stanford students signed a statement supporting the strikers. Eight Stanford students began their own 24-hour fast, gathering with signs that said, “Solidarity Fast for Asian American Studies at Northwestern”


Spring 2013 | Campus


April 13: At midnight, AAAB held a candlelight vigil at midnight in solidarity with the strikers. Twelve hours later, members of the Conservative Council protested the strike by handing out pizzas at the Rock. April 16: Seven out of the orig inal 17 strikers dropped of the strike after living on just juice, vitamins, and water for four days. They cited their declining health and academics as their reasons. April 17: A crowd of over 200 people rallied and protested to support the remaining strikers. Their rally began with music from a traditional Korean percussion group. April 18: As more of the original strikers dropped out, AAAB President Grace Lou called for students to sign up for “serial strikes,” meaning they would fast and camp at the Rock for one to six days. April 20: The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Lawrence Dumas, wrote a letter to AAAB saying he had committed enough funds for four Asian-American studies courses for the 1996-1996 school year. The next day, AAAB rejected the Dean’s proposal. April 22: Sophomore Eric Salcedo dropped out of the strikes, leaving only one striker left. April 23: This was “Day at NU,” an opportunity for newly admitted students to visit the campus. Around 300 students attended a rally at the rock, handing out flyers to the visiting students and gaining exposure for their movement. April 26: Junior Charles Chun, the last striker, dropped out and therefore ended the strikes. He fasted for 12 days and lost 20 pounds.

17 students carried out a sit-in for ethnic studies at the office of their President, and 200 students protested and picketed in the outside courtyard

Columbia Students formed an ad hoc committee for Asian-American studies 11

NU Asian

By Jorene Ooi

Is interracial dating becoming commonplace?


he question has been weighing on my mind since a dinner with my girlfriends at the beginning of the quarter. As we gabbed and gossiped about our boy troubles over stir-fry and Coke, the realization dawned that all three of us—a diverse group of young, liberal co-eds at a college notorious for its hookup culture—were dating men of other races.

rant was interracial.

Chloe[*], who is Chinese, has been in a relationship with her Jewish boyfriend for over a year. Things are starting to get serious between Polina, a Russian American, and her Nepali partner. I’m a Malaysian Chinese, and for designs not of my own choosing, my past few dates have been with white guys.

During one of our girly catch-up sessions, I finally posed the question to Chloe. “It’s a new norm,” Chloe asserts, citing the prevalence of interracial relationships among her social circles. “Maybe for the older generation, like our parents, it’s still a big deal, but for us who are involved [in interracial relationships] it’s totally normal.”

Even the couple seated next to us in the restau12

The general consensus seems to be that a paradigm shift has indeed occurred: interracial dating is on the rise. A Pew Research Center report indicates that public attitudes toward interracial marriage are increasingly positive, as interracial marriages rates hit an all-time high. But is it the new norm?

Chloe’s comment underscores an important point: while for the younger generation, racial difference isn’t as pertinent of an issue as, say, who pays for dinner, it remains a thorny subject with parents. Vera[*], a first-generation Chinese-American who has been dating her South-Asian boyfriend for over a year, asserts this problem is particularly pronounced with immigrant parents. “For parents who are immigrants in this country, it’s hard for them to understand interracial relationships, and many of them—at least the ones I’ve talked to—want their kids to stay within their own race.” Vera’s parents, who are from China, primarily speak Mandarin, although they know English. Vera thinks they would be more comfortable

Spring 2013 | Campus

speaking Chinese, and so the language her partner speaks becomes an important consideration for her. Even if her partner speaks Mandarin, Vera believes that cultural differences would still be an issue with her parents. “That might be slightly better, but I guess it also wouldn’t be the same as having a person of the same race. Because there’s still that factor of cultural background, like their parents, and the way they were raised, and that’s going to be different,” she says Vera sums up her beliefs about the generational difference, saying, “I don’t think [my boyfriend and I] ever had any arguments related to different cultures. The only aspect [of our relationship] that is affected by culture is what our parents think. We both consider ourselves Americans in the way that we act, or the things that we like.” Even though racial and cultural differences do

not take center stage for the younger generation, they still make for some funny or awkward moments. Chloe and her boyfriend, Kevin, have a running joke about gender roles in their relationship. “I had heard before—I guess around the time we started dating—to be wary of Shanghai women because they make their men do whatever they want,” joked Kevin. Chloe explains. In Shanghai, where Chloe is from, men in the family stereotypically do the cooking and housework, or at least assume a less gendered role in their relationships. Kevin and Chloe attest their relationship has been a learning experience for both of them. “I learned a lot more about Judaism. I knew almost nothing, and now I have even gone to Shabbat with Kevin,” says Chloe. Similarly, Kevin has learned about some quirky aspects of Chinese culture, such as medicinal tea. However, because some parents have reservations about interracial relationships, couples

such as Kevin and Chloe may eventually face stronger opposition when lifelong commitment enters the picture. Kevin explains his parents’ stance on his relationship with Chloe, “They’re fine with me dating her, but they don’t want me to marry her.” Similarly, Vera thinks her parents are not staunch opponents of her relationship because they do not perceive it as a serious commitment. However, she believes her mother would eventually try to “push her toward a certain direction” in terms of her partner’s ethnicity. Interracial dating, then, may only be a “norm” on college campuses, where noncommittal, short-term relationships are all the rage. Perhaps when we’ve reached the stage of life where we’re all ready to settle down and start families, the considerations we have in choosing a partner will have changed. But for young college students, interracial dating seems to be here to stay.

[*] Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of our sources.

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NU Asian


hat happens when our superheroes—Captain America, Wol-

This year’s heated contest featured five candi-

After the catwalk, the contestants competed

verine, Batman, Spiderman and

dates—Benison Choi, Rohan Zhou-Lee, Jona-

in a round of charades, acting out words for

than Tsay, Josh Chang and Brian Zheng—each

one another to guess. But the highlight was

representing a superhero with wide-ranging

the Q&A session, during which they expressed

Don’t worry, five handsome Asian boys on

abilities, from reciting up to 50 digits of pi in

their views on masculinity, stereotypes and the

campus will back them up as they compete for

5 seconds to imitating Andy Serkis. The can-

Asian identity.

Superman—all lose their super powers?

May the Best Man Win By Jia You

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the studliest Asian man of all?

the 2013 “Mr. Panasia Contest.” Northwestern’s Asian Pacific American Coali-

didates vied for votes from the judges and the audience while demonstrating their intelligence,

When asked what defines a Pan-Asian identity,

charisma and talents.

Zhou-Lee expressed skepticism with the idea

tion hosted the annual pageant on the evening


of a single Asian identity. As someone with

of March 2nd, with the theme “Man in Action.”

The pageant started with the formal wear

Chinese, Indian and Filipino heritage, Zhou-Lee

The organizers hoped to combat the culture

presentation, during which Zhou-Lee awed the

didn’t think the Asian community, encompass-

stereotypes of Asian guys and masculinity in

audience in a long skirt. Tsay demonstrated his

ing a diverse range of distinct cultures, could be

the media through a competition which would

charisma with a gang of black-tied men, while

so easily categorized together.

showcase the talents and attractions of North-

Choi, Chang and Zheng opted for the company

western’s Asian men.

of pretty girls on stage.

“Pan-Asian identity is a very American-centric

Spring 2013 | Campus

notion,” he said.

“Asian-Americans are already a minority in this

the audience chose Zhang to receive the title of

country... so Asian-Americans can feel exactly

Mr. Congeniality.

Tsay addressed the question of masculinity,

how internationals feel on campus,” he said.

noting it’s a fluid concept that varies across

“[Internationals] don’t have much courage to

It definitely surprised me,” Zhou-Lee said after

culture and time.

reach out to Asian-American students because

the event. “But the focus should not be just

of language and cultural gaps.”

on me. I hope the contest brings more campus

“It’s like the notes in your notebook—they

awareness to issues such as racial stereotypes.”

are constantly scribbled, wiped out, improved

The talent show pushed the contest to a climax.

upon,” he said, adding that the key is just to

The audience fell quiet when Zhou-Lee sang

take pride in oneself.

and Chang played the piano; they hummed with Choi as he struck chords on the guitar, danced

As an overseas student from China, Zheng

from their seats to Zheng’s rap performance,

offered his suggestions on reaching out to

and laughed with Tsay’s elaborate skit featuring

international students from Asia, calling for the

singing, fighting and piano performance.

university to hold more events for international students to interact with American students.

After a period of intense deliberation, the judges crowned Zhou-Lee the 2013 Mr. Panasia, and


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allet has a legacy rooted in France and

ballets are the strongest that world has seen. In

Russia, in the sixteenth century courts

the 2013 Grand Prix de Lausanne, one of if not

of Louis XIV and the Mariinsky The-

the world’s greatest ballet competitions, three

“Americans see [Asian ballet schools] as a dif-

atre and Bolshoi ballets. But in this century,

out of the eight scholarship winners hailed

ferent kind of training shouldn’t be considered

powerhouses in the Far East have risen. From

from eastern Asia: Zhang Jinhao of Shang-

legitimate,” says Annie Chang of Northwestern

the cultural revolution of China to the Tokyo

hai’s Liaoning Ballet School, Li Wentao of the

University, who at the age of 13 joined the

Ballet, the Asian continent has bolstered a

Beijing Academy of Dance, and Yamamoto

Normal Ballet Company. “It’s an activity that

wealth of legends in ballet.

Masaya of the Yokokura Aiko Ballet School.

aligns well with [many Asian cultures] because

How is it that the United States, in sharp con-

there is a lot of discipline involved...But I

In South Korea, male dancers are excused

trast, has fallen off the world stage as a ballet

would say that when we discuss stars there

from a military draft should they place first or

contender? And as a country with a declining

aren’t a lot of role models.”

second in any international competition, and

ballet culture, why don’t they give more rec-

thus all men who stand in any of the Korean

ognition to the talent coming out of Asia and


look to emulate it?

But now Asians and Asian-Americans are

Spring 2013 | Chicago &Beyond

back on the rise in American dance. Indeed,

Christopher Wheeldon and John Neumeier.

popularity thanks to his performances in

the greatest Asian ballet star in the U.S. is

Other Asians making waves include Hee Seo

the television show “So You Think You Can

inarguably Tan Yuan Yuan, who began her

of South Korea won the 2003 Grand Prix de


training in the Shanghai Dance School at 11.

Lausanne and 2003 Grand Prix at the Youth

Although she joined a year later than normal,

America Grand Prix in New York. She now

Despite the fact that the U.S. has forgotten its

she graduated in only four years. Her inargu-

performs as a principal, the top tier dancers

own legacy in ballet, the rest of the world has

able rise to stardom in the San Francisco Ballet

in ballet companies, for the American Ballet

most certainly recognized that ballet effec-

can be attributed not only to her impeccable

Theatre. Ma Cong, who trained in the Beijing

tively belongs to Asian nations now. From

technique, but also her great stage presence

Academy of Dance, is a rising star from the

Chinese communist to Korean folkloric, the

and sense of character. This lone ballet star

Tulsa Ballet. Taiwan-born Edwaard Liang

globalization of ballet, one should take pride

performed classical ballets such as Swan Lake

was raised in California and is now one of the

in the prowess of Asian nationals in ballet.

and Giselle to working and worked under

world’s leading choreographers. Alex Wong,

contemporary choreographic legends such as

formerly of the Miami City Ballet, rose in 17

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Spring Spring 20132013 | Chicago | Chicago &Beyond &Beyond

By Cheryl Wang


f you’ve ever looked for a place to spend a few hours away from the pace of Northwestern campus life, you might have come across a coffee shop on the intersection of Main and Hinman called the Brothers K Coffeehouse. Located by a Metra, Intercampus shuttle and El stop, the coffee shop is seated in a prime spot amongst neighborhoods of graduate students and young families. The name of the shop is a nod to The Brother’s Karamazov, widely

considered the best work of great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. But what most people don’t know is that the owners of the shop are two Korean brothers, Brian and John Kim, who lend the name its double meaning. I meet John on a sunny Wednesday afternoon to discuss his shop over a mug of coffee. On nice days, the shop sets up tables out on the sidewalk where customers sit together and chat, while those looking to get some work done

sit inside among the bookshelves and warm, brown-toned décor. The shop is kept in good supply of pastries by Bennison’s Bakery, Blind Faith Café and other local businesses, offering cookies, danishes, donuts, quiches and more. I pick a stuffed pie with buttery spinach and onion filling and a cup of black Café Americano to savor while I get to know John. John, 38, decided to open the place eight years ago when a friend suggested to him that he could successfully run a coffee shop. He’d

previously worked at Starbucks but thought he understood the culture of specialty coffee enough to give people a different kind of experience with coffee. His wife’s job as a pharmacist gave the family a level of financial security while trying to start a new business, and his younger brother Brian, who was between stints after a golfing career, moved to Evanston to run the shop with him. Brian, 37, is often in the shop in the mornings, sometimes having

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a cup of coffee with his customers out front, and John might be found in the afternoons working the register or attending to dishes in the back. When they’re not running the shop, John spends time with his three young sons while Brian often plays golf.

allowing one of their customers to host an open mic night the first Saturday of every month and a local poetry magazine to hold a poetry reading the last Friday of the month. But mostly, they want the shop to be an undisturbed, quiet space for the customers.

It’s important to the brothers that the shop feel like a welcome, open place. They try to get involved in the interests of the community,

When asked what his favorite part of running the shop is, John replies without hesitation, “The people.” He explains, “[The employees]

tend to be talented in different areas, whether it’s music or art... and so the staff that we work with are always pretty great and creative, and then our neighborhood is great. It’s a good mix of people. We get to meet a lot of interesting people that do a lot of interesting things.” I ask John if he gets to spend much time with the customers, and he replies, “Lots of little time. Lots of

little interactions. And then some of them become friendships. [Like] our poker games with customers... A lot of our friends have come out of people that come in and like our place.”

Spring 2013 | Chicago &Beyond

What do you mean by Asian? by Vickie Huang

Source: The Asian Population: 2010, US Census Bureau, March 2012


Asian American Studies Program

Minor in Asian American Studies Join Asian American Studies and learn to be a leader for our global and multiracial 21st century society. Build lifelong community with quarterly field trips and meals with faculty, learn from award-winning teachers, and be inspired to changed the world. It takes 7 classes to fulfill the minor. To learn more about the minor contact Professor Jinah Kim or visit


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recent startling trend shows that Asians educated in America are actually returning back to Asia for work experience. According to the Institute of International Education, one of the world’s largest international education organizations, over 13,500 Americans worked in international internships for credit or worked abroad from 2007 to 2008. Working in an internship abroad has many benefits: it can open up networking opportunities on a global scale, provide valuable international experience and add a competitive edge to make a resume stand out. Universities have also begun incorporating international work experience into their curriculum. “More and more US students are looking for a 4-12 week international internship as part of their US university requirements,” says Jeff Palm, Executive Director of CIS. “We expanded our offering in 2011 to meet this demand.” Northwestern students certainly seem aware of the potential in international internships.


For Weinberg junior Allison Hung, her international work experience actually began the summer before her senior year of high school when she interned at a global cosmetics firm. She spent the next two summers doing auditing and financial advisory work at an accounting firm in Taiwan. “Interning in the firm was an experience unlike any other,” she says. “Once you prove that you are competent in both Chinese (Mandarin) and English and you can complete tasks efficiently and effectively, you become a very valuable asset to the team.” As an Economics major with a minor in Japanese Language and Culture, Hung’s education and multi-cultural childhood helped her a lot. Hung says that her internships in Taiwan provided her with valuable business experience, as well as communication and quantitative analysis skills, which helped her land interviews later on.

But more than that, one of the most memorable aspects was the people she worked with. “I loved the people there and loved my teams – I think people are just super friendly and they always try to “take care” of you…I always loved eating out for lunch as a team on a daily basis.” Similarly, Weinberg junior Daniel Zhou has spent two summers in Asia, working for HSBC, the largest bank in Hong Kong, during the summer after his freshman year. Zhou also emphasized the positive experience he gained from his time at the company. However, it did come with challenges. Having grown up in international school, Zhou sometimes felt it was harder to communicate with everyone at the company who mostly spoke in Cantonese. But he did not let that hinder his experience there. “Because I was willing to learn and get along, they accepted me a lot more,” he said. “They just appreciated the fact that I was trying to

Spring 2013 | Chicago &Beyond

learn the language there. I still felt like they included me. I always went to lunch with my bosses. Whenever I go back to HK I still try to meet up with them.” Getting along with the people at the company and fitting into the company culture is key, regardless of the country. According to Catherine Ian, an HR correspondent at DeVry University, the most important element to consider when hiring a new job applicant is the organization’s cultural fit. Fortunately, in a quickly globalized world, today’s companies are increasingly looking for international backgrounds to add to that fit. More and more countries in Asia search for diverse backgrounds to add to the workplace and to generate new ideas. Over the past ten years, multiple new programs have been added as firms in Asia increasingly recruit both interns and graduates from around the world. “I think interning is becoming a growing trend in Asia …” Hung said. “People are starting to realize the value of gaining professional experience during your college years and how it gives you an advantage in job search later on.” Talent acquisition worker Catherine Ian echoes this sentiment. “If the applicant has work in an international background, that diversity could help tremendously in their future role. Diversity can generate different ideas.” Another HR representative, Erika Hayashai,

also agrees. As an employee of PASONA, a company that directly links up international students with opportunities overseas, Hayashai sees many opportunities. From her experience, she believes that more than ever before, companies are intentionally recruiting internationally to find more diverse applicants. “I would say that if you have an international background, that will help you a lot for your variety of work idea,” she said. “It depends on the job but basically, lots of companies are starting to have strong international connections all over the world, so I would suggest students to get a chance to have the experience,” remarks Hayashai. For her, the more important thing is to find a company that fits the person, within an environment that he/she is comfortable in.

into the states, you have dreams of getting a job here and staying here,” Zhou reflects. “You think that your status as an international student won’t affect you. But be prepared for the not to give you the same treatment as American citizens.” What to do about it? Look for opportunities in both countries and be open-minded during the process. “Don’t be demoralized and expect extra challenges going in,” he advises. Zhou believes that he is very lucky to have had the opportunity to intern where he has, in fields that he is interested in. “But as lucky as I was”, Zhou comments, “luck favors the well-prepared. It’s really about a mixture of opportunity and preparation.”

While that appears to be the trend in Asian companies, the situation is slightly different in America. In contrast to Asian companies that heavily enlist foreigners, the reverse seems to be true with American companies and international students. According to Zhou, finding an internship in America as a non-citizen presents bigger challenges than one might think. “After going through the whole recruiting process, I am more realistic about the options here. As an international student coming

Asian American Student Journalists


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Relax with Asian-American literature this summer. By Priyanka Mody


hether you’re bored on a beach or seeking respite from your daily nineto-five internship, reading can always provide an escape. In each story, the authors seek meaning and understanding of the Asian American experience.

Interpreter of Maladies: In her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of nine short stories, Jhumpa Lahiri weaves together the nuances of the South Asian immigrant struggle in a foreign culture—a culture that is both accommodating and alienating at the same time. Though Lahiri’s stories are filled with dramatic flair, she displays an acute sense of wit and sheds light on the often-misunderstood difficulties of fitting in. Each short story introduces a different set of qualms: the death of a newly settled immigrant couple’s newborn, Mr. and Mrs. Das’ seemingly successful relationship hidden by a dark secret, and much more. Lahiri’s writing keeps the reader on edge from story to story in just under 200 pages.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms: With subtlety and deliberateness in her writing, Gail Tsukiyama’s prose creates a poignant and 24

telling novel. The story takes place in 1939 and features two young brothers, Hiroshi and Kenji Matsumoto who live with their grandmother on Tokyo’s Street of a Thousand Blossoms. Both boys have contrasting dreams: Hiroshi strives to take on the bold and esteemed practice of sumo wrestling, while Kenji’s more quiet disposition leads him into the intricate and artistic world of Noh performance, a Japanese-mask drama. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the horizon and the fallout that would haunt the country for an eternity, the brothers find their lives and their passions in a state of turmoil and unexpectedness.

The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: The conversation around parenting never seems to get old, and Amy Chua’s take on raising children is one that comes with much criticism. Yet, whether or not you agree with the public’s hype and media’s reproach surrounding her book when it first came out, you should take the time to see for yourself. Chua’s book forces the reader to reconsider what has been labeled the “Asian way” and the “American way” of doing things. On her website, she states her reason for writing it was based on her own parents, and “while I definitely have regrets, if I had to raise my girls all over again, I guess I would basically do the same thing, with some adjustments.” Although

Chua’s narrative evokes a level of discomfort and shock, she not only defends but also explains her choices as a mother in a powerful and convincing way that both questions Asian stereotypes and clarifies the truths of being Chinese American.

The Kite Runner: While much attention is focused on his newly published book, And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini’s first novel is worthy of a revisit even if you’ve already read it before. Friendship, loyalty and betrayal unravel in a surprising way throughout this emotional and moving novel. The narrative is initially set Kabul and follows the lives of a young boy from an affluent family, Amir, and his best friend and Hazara servant, Hassan who has a talent for flying kites. However, the harsh and gritty realities of life under the Afghan Taliban regime along with the Soviet Union intervention force Amir to move to California. Hosseini’s novel is full of surprise and authenticity as he describes the unsettling and heart-wrenching reality of Amir’s homecoming after many years.

Spring 2013 | Chicago &Beyond

By Andrea Kang This Korean egg roll dish called “gae-ran mah-rhee,” (which literally means egg roll in Korean) is a simple side appetizer. Humble yet savory and satisfying, gae-ran mah-rhee can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes, making it the perfect addition to your weeknight meal.

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 6 minutes Total Time: 11 minutes Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 scallion, sliced thinly, 1 slice of ham, sliced into small squares (optional), 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional),Salt to taste

2. Add sliced scallions and the sesame seeds and ham if you’re using them. Mix everything together. 3. Bring a small pan to medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. 4. Once the pan is hot, pour the egg mixture into the pan, swirling around to create an even layer.


5. Let egg cook for about 3 minutes, until edges crisp up.

1. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl.

6. Season with salt to taste.

7. Gently scrape edges of egg off pan with a spatula. 8. Fold one side of egg into the center. Fold over the other side. 9. Flip the egg roll over, seam side down. 10. Let cook for 3 minutes, until eggs are set. 11. Cut egg roll into 1/2 inch-thick slices and serve hot.


NU Asian

Being a daughter doesn’t come naturally.


ince arriving in America with my parents at the young age of three, I had settled into my role as the obedient, respectful first-born child. And growing up, I always felt resigned my father’s expectations.

what hesitantly, I agreed to consider it. I went through with my idea of transferring and in the fall of 2012 found myself living alone with no familiar faces 2,000 plus miles from any familiar, comforting smile.

My father comes from a working class family in China. He was the first son, for whom his parents had the most hope of entrance to a top institution and a great future. He went on to one of the best institutions in China, came to America on full scholarship and then landed a very stable job as a software engineer.

By transferring, I sought to run away from the confusion and feeling of disconnect with my peers and family. Initially, it worked. I buried myself into my studies, forgot about what I wanted to do and just focused on my coursework and whatever my father asked of me. Over time, however, this took a toll on me, and I started to see just how hurt I was from obliging to what my father had to say. I knew this path was unsustainable, and I eventually decided to pursue medicine and continue to study biology.

This had been the most stable, rewarding and gratifying future for him, and therefore the best possible for me, my father’s daughter. Expecting me to follow in his path, he was very upset when I declared my Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics major at UCLA. In finally taking a step away from my father’s watchful eyes towards my own passions, I was surprised to find that something still felt astray. And this feeling of confusion and discord with my father made it difficult to be invested in my life at UCLA or feel at peace with myself. When I made the decision after sophomore year to transfer to Northwestern, my father seemed pleased. He saw it as a chance to finally get me to change majors, to turn towards the path of biomedical engineering (he let up on changing my mind about biology sometime in my first two undergraduate years). Some26

In my time here at Northwestern, I have slowly come to assert myself and what I find makes me genuinely smile. I also work in a research lab here, and I can’t help talking about my current project and just how much the field of biochemical research means to me. The ability to finally study what I desire and to pursue what I want does not come with complete relief. When I told my father about my decisions, he still seemed apprehensive. Why spend so long in school? How are you going to earn money? Who will support you? What will you do with your career? Questions my father asked me every time we talked cast a shadow of doubt over my career decision.

However, at the same time that I decided to make my own decisions about my career path, I also decided to approach my father with a greater sense of empathy. I started to hear, not just listen, to his rationale, and amazingly, this gave me a greater sense of relief from the pressure and tension I had always felt between us. I saw his motivation for pushing me to my very best and realized that I can understand the goodness of his intentions while being firm in my own dreams. In the end, I have let go of trying to be the person he wishes I become and have started finding my own identity. It may only be with time that my father and I come to resolve our differences, but until then, it is okay to put down the weight of others’ expectations. It is okay to disagree. And it is just fine to be yourself.

Spring 2013 | Chicago &Beyond


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Nu Asian 2013 Spring  

Nu Asian 2013 Spring