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the activism + education issue


MYTH of a passive student generation

ACTIVISM in education, politics, the environment, equal opportunity, accessibility and the community





by KRISTINA WONG, excerpt from her closing speech at the Asian American Studies Conference [pg. 8]


Write everything you want to achieve with your life, what you would like to see in the world, a wish list for what you want to leave behind.


It’s a contemplation on our theme of Activism + Education, which are two concepts that go hand-in-hand. What kinds of liberties do we have as students to take charge and be active in our own lives and in the world?


Don’t let your anger be more oppressive than oppressions.

6 This issue’s cover is by Katie Miyake, third-year Design | Media Arts student and local artistic genius.


Write your obituary today.


Find local heroes among independent artists and writers, and older activists, and work with them.

Find creative ways to tackle injustice.



Have time for yourself and time to take care of yourself.

Be vigilant.





ABOVE: Writer Jeff Chang speaks to a large group of students in Kerckhoff Grand Salon on Nov. 15. His most recent book “Who We Be: The Colorization of America,” is about the racial and cultural transformation of the U.S. over the past three years.




“JOY” FINDS HOME ON STAGE “The Joy Luck Club,” a play produced by East West Players, is now playing. By Ray Luo


Urban immigrant communities are ill-prepared for disasters. By Hyun Cheol Oh

Some of us are good at math and science. So what? By Huong Pham

By Evelina Giang

Grocery shopping just got greener. By Debbie Chong






Filipino students learn about accessibility, visibility and expansion. By Stepfanie Aguilar

HOPE and the youth of Chinatown. By Shirley Chau

UCLA Professor and the first Asian American female TV News anchor. By Andrea Tagle




PROFILE “Beyond Boundaries: Education in Action” [see pg. 8-9] featured notable community activists, from keynote speaker Jeff Chang to Glenn Omatsu, and Judy Chu to Mark Pulido. Kristina Wong, a performer, writer, actor, and filmmaker, stirred the audience with her farcical humor. In her closing, she urged participants to be uplifted and happy rather than “burnt-out activists.”


L.A. parade shows much-needed support for Filipino veterans. By Derrick Oliver

The morning after. By Yung H. Yoo


Recognize that you can’t fix everything.

Find things on a daily basis to be grateful for.


8 | ACTIVISM THROUGH EDUCATION How ethnic studies are deeply rooted in student activism. UCLA Asian American Studies celebrates its 40th anniversary. By Malina Tran

10 | BREAKING DOWN ASIAN AMERICAN VOTING PATTERNS No longer the invisible voter, AAPIs were more important in this presidential election than ever before. How it all went down on Nov. 4, 2008. By ThienVinh Nguyen

ONLINE Seeking community ties with the APA community here at UCLA? Find out more about Pacific Ties, get exclusive content and learn about how we can help you find your medium for self-expression. www.pacificties.org









Jennifer Cho WRITERS

Stepfanie Aguilar Shirley Chau Debbie Chong Evelina Giang ThienVinh Nguyen Hyun Cheol Oh Huong Pham Andrea Tagle Malina Tran Bryan Yoo CONTRIBUTORS

Ray Luo Derrick Oliver

Dear readers: Many people today can’t help but think that activism disappeared decades ago when the counterculture movements of of the 1960s and early 1970s gave way to the disco era, rampant consumerism, yuppies, cell phones and the me generation of the 1990s. Picket lines and picket signs were replaced by Facebook petitions and trendy t-shirts with vague messages like “Save our Planet.” Have we entered a new phase of passive activism where students think that joining a “1 million members and I’ll donate my life savings to charity” group will help fix the state of the world? Yes, it does seem that our generation is more apatheitc towards social issues than our predecessors but that doesn’t meant that activism has died. We often neglect to attribute the freedoms we have today to the activists that have come before us. Because people in the past have championed for the causes they believed in - diversity in education, gender and racial equality, just to name a couple, that we have the opportunity to take classes in ethnic studies, fight for LGTB rights, and to elect the first black president of the United States. No, we are not passive today - we are active today because of those who were active in the past. The 2008 presidential election and the stories in this issue prove that people today still strive to fight for the things that all people deserve - equality, opportunity, and a chance to be heard - for their own stories to be told. Yuri Kochiyama, a noted human rights activist was right when she said, “I don’t think there will ever be a time when people will stop wanting to bring about change.” Pacific Ties is part of that continuing activist tradition. Our dedicated staff members have worked all quarter to bring you stories that inspire and educate and we hope that they will encourage you find a cause that you’re passionate about. I’d like to thank everyone who have supported us in the past 30 years - it’s because of you that we are here today and that we can continue to fight for change. Thank you. MARIA IU Editor-in-Chief

PACIFIC TIES IS ONLINE! Despite the rumors you might have heard, print is not dead. We’re alive and kicking and doing fine, thank you. But be sure to check us out online as well at:




Emily Ho ONLINE TEAM Evelina Giang, Claudia Li, ThienVinh Nguyen

DISTRIBUTION Shirley Chau, Huong Pham, Malina Tran MARKETING Stepfanie Aguilar, Shirley Chau, Jennifer Cho, Debbie Chong, Hyun Cheol Oh

Here you’ll find everything you see in this newsmagazine and more. Find exclusive calendar listings, updates on local, national and international news about the API community and opinionated blogs by our staff. You can comment on an article, enter a photograph to our quarterly PHOTO CHALLENGE, or drop by to see photos of happenings around the campus and in Los Angeles submitted by readers like you...and so much more. You won’t regret it. Also join our FACEBOOK GROUP and FAN PAGE. Make Pacific Ties a part of your life.

YOUR VERY OWN GLOSSARY We cover so many topics and issues here at PacTies that language often gets technical. Here’s a handy little glossary to help you out while reading through the issue. You should know that whenever we talk about APAs, APIs, AAPIs, etc., we are often referring to - Asian Amerians and Pacific Islander Americans who are living in the U.S., unless otherwise noted.


Arvli Ward


Amy Emmert Pacific Ties is a member of the Campus Progress Publications Network. www.campusprogress.org We are located at: 118 Kerckhoff Hall 308 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024 EMAIL pacties@media.ucla.edu PHONE 310.825.1004 © 2008 UCLA Communications Board

JOIN PACIFIC TIES We’ve been around since 1977 and we want talented people like you to join our staff. If you would like to express your opinions, voice community issues, or hone your writing skills and gain experience, then join Pacific Ties! No experience necessary! Positions available in writing, editing, photography, design, and illustration. Apply the beginning of Winter Quarter 2009 at

http://apply.studentmedia.ucla.edu Questions? Comments? Contact: pacificties@media.ucla.edu

Unsigned editorials represent a majority opinion of the Pacific Ties Editorial Board. All other columns, cartoons and letters represent the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board. The UCLA Communications Board has a media grievance procedure for resolving grievances against any of its publications. For a copy of the complete procedure, contact Student Media UCLA at 118 KerckhoffHall, 310.825.2787, or director@media.ucla.edu. The UCLA Communications Board fully supports the University of California’s policy on non-discrimination. The student media reserves the right to reject or modify advertising portraying disability, age, sex or sexual orientation. It is the expectation of the Communications Board that the student media will exercise the right fairly and with sensitivity. Any person believing that any advertising in the student media violates the Board’s policy on non-discrimination should communicate his or her complaints in writing to the Business Manager, 118 Kerckhoff Hall, 308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024

ADVERTISING Pacific Ties wouldn’t be able to exist without the help of our sponsors. We do not receive any school funding from UCLA, so we rely on community support to publish every quarter. We’d like to thank our Fall 2008, Volume 31 advertisers. Please take a moment to check them out, and don’t forget to look for hidden goodies (like coupons). In this issue, FOOD, FUN, and COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT >> - Do you like curry? We like curry! There is great place not too far from here on Saw telle Boulevard called Curry House, yummy yummy in your tummy. - EWP. Say what? I said East West Players! Come support your fellow Asian American brother and sisters in theater.

AA: Asian American APA: Asian Pacific American API: Asian Pacific Islander APIA: Asian Pacific Islander American AAPI: Asian American Pacific Islander AAJA: Asian American Journalism Association APC: Asian Pacific Coalition APALC: Asian Pacific American Legal Center APIUA: Asian Pacific Islander Undergraduate Association HOPE: Higher Opportunity Program for Education JFAV: Justice for Filipino American Veterans MEChA: Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán PAVE: Pilipino Accessibility Visibility and Expansion SEA MIC: Southeast Asian Making Immediate Change SIAC: Student Initiated Access Center TRPI: Thomas Rivera Policy Institute VSU: Vietnamese Student Union

- We hate hate crimes but still exist. Check out OCA’s hate crime workshop on Nov. 22 at the 20th Annual Student of Color Conference at UCLA.

fall 2008 PACIFIC TIES 3


Academic Performance of Children Of Immigrant Families Related to Resource Availability

Compiled by DEBBIE CHONG Kang Suk-hee, 56, has become the first Korean immigrant to be elected as mayor of a U.S. city. Born and raised in South Korea, Kang immigrated to Orange County after graduating from Korea University in 1977. Kang has served two terms as a city councilman of Irvine, Calif. and will be the city’s first non-white mayor. More than two thirds of Irvine’s 200,000 residents are Asian American; the city is home to large populations of Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese and Persians. Beth Krom, Kang’s predecessor, commented that Kang’s victory “demonstrates that the same kind of inclusiveness that people have been embracing at a national level; people are embracing here in Irvine.”

Chen’s Hunger Strike Compiled by SHIRLEY CHAU


Taiwan’s former President Chen Shui-bian went on a hunger strike upon his first day at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County. He was detained on Wednesday, Nov.12, suspected of graft and money laundering. Chen has not been formally charged but could face up to four months in detention without charge to prevent him from colluding with alleged conspirators. He contends that he is a victim of political persecution by the Kuomintang, a political party in Taiwan. Surviving only on water, Chen is determined to continue his fast in protest of authoritarianism, dictatorship and communism. The detention center has turned into the focus for supporters and opponents of the former president. Supporters stood outside the detention centrer to voice support for Chen, with a rally planned for Nov 22.

Asia Media hosts a talk by Tritia Toyota, UCLA Asian American Studies and Anthroplogy professor at the International Institue in Bunche Hall. More on pg. 14.

Asian Americans Encounter Problems on Election Day Compiled by EVELINA GIANG Many of the Asian Americans who voted on Nov. 4, particularly first time-voters and recent citizens, faced problems at the polls when they tried to cast their ballot. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which gathered voter complaints and conducted exit polls, reported that Asian Americans faced long lines and identification problems, but the situations were harder to resolve because of lack of language assistance for those who knew little English. Some individuals also faced hostility and racist remarks from poll workers. Despite these difficulties, Asian American turnout on that day was high.

Compiled by CLAUDIA LI A new study shows that children of immigrants have better academic performance when they attend schools with access to resources. Wen-Jui Han, who has a doctorate from Columbia University, said that the study shows that certain aspects of the school environment are important for immigrant children. Factors that contribute to a poorly performing student body include inadequate teaching materials and crowded classrooms. Han examined 14,000 children, tracking them from kindergarten through third grade. More than half of his studies included native-born non-Hispanic white children. Twelve percent of the children and families in the study were from Latin-American countries, Asian countries and Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. Sixty-six percent were from Latin American countries, and half of that were families from Mexico. The types of schools, percentage of poor or minority students, availability of ESL programs and services, support provided to teachers, and school safety were the factors examined to determine the children’s academic performance. According to the study, Mexican and Cuban children of immigrants given adequate resources improved their reading and math scores faster than the non-Hispanic white children. While children from Central American families with sufficient resources improved their math scores, Asian children (except those from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos) had higher reading and math scores. After all, Han explained, Southeast Asian children of immigrants come from poverty-ridden areas, and school environments have significant influence on their academic performance. Han said these results show the importance of school resources for a student’s academic progress.

NO ENGLISH, NO HELP: Urban immigrant communities ill-prepared for disaster HYUN CHEOL OH// STAFF WRITER // hoh@media.ucla.edu


re Limited English Proficient (LEP) immigrants ready to respond to natural disasters? Based on a joint research by Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI), a large number of immigrants are not ready, mostly due to their lack of English proficiency. How are federal, state, and local governments going to respond when a major natural disaster hits Southern California, an area densely populated with the most LEP immigrants in the country? Southern California is vulnerable to natural disasters. It’s no secret that wildfires and earthquakes are common occurences every year. Just last week, wildfires began to wreck havoc in Southern California. And according to sources from the U.S. Geological Survey, they predict that California has a 46 percent chance of experiencing a magnitude 7.5 or higher earthquake in the next 30 years. The chance of such an earthquake happening is very high in Southern California. Sources from Los Angeles Times said that a massive-scale earthquake could kill 18,000 people, injure 268,000 and displace about 735,000 families.


In past natural disasters, such as the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the government and the disaster service agencies provided inadequate assistance for LEP immigrants. For example, during Katrina, computerized translation devices were unusable because of the lack of electricity. After the Northridge earthquake, one non-profit disaster service organization created a manual with helpful instructions in multiple language, but it was not published due to insufficient funding. Major problems of communication with disaster service responders are language barriers and cultural differences. As a result, LEP immigrants have a higher chance of facing dangerous threats than native-born people and other immigrants who are more comfortable with English. According to some of the key findings by APALC and TRPI, emergency responders rely on bilingual family members to provide translation. And often, the immigrants simply rely on ethnic media outlets as a tool for communication. Cultural difference is another large factor. Some cultures may not interpret the siren as an emergency signal. In addition, a number

of cultures might find female emergency responders as disturbing and refuse to cooperate, because gender inequality is prevalent in some home countries. Based on lessons learned from past catastrophic disasters and recent reports, improving language assistance is critically important. The Asian American Justice Center recom-

mends “improving infrastructure for language and cultural services across federal, state and local governments.” In order to change the system, emergency servics can start by broadcasing emergency messages in major Asian Pacific languages and creating cultural advisory boards to inform the community.































Source: Population, U.S. Census 2003; Foreign Born and LEP, U.S. Census 2000 Note: Figures are for the inclusive population (single race and multirace combined) and are not exclusive of Latino, except for White, which is single race, non Latino. Population figures are not mutually exclusive, therefore column may not sum to the total. Southern California is defined as a seven county area including Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura Counties.

JFAV Protest, L.A. Parade Show Much-Needed Support for Filipino Veterans


ighting, watching, waiting and hoping ... This is what WWII Filipino American veterans have been doing for the past 60 years. Despite the war’s end in 1945, the battle for the rights of Filipino veterans remains very much alive. Although the United States promised Filipino veterans citizenship and full military benefits during the early years of the war, the government rescinded its promise through the Rescission Act of 1946, thus preventing Filipinos from being recognized as active servicemen during the war and receiving any benefits in relation to their service. Beginning in 1993, several bills have been introduced into Congress in an attempt to rectify this. So far in 2008, veterans and their supporters have been focused on three main

DERRICK OLIVER // PACIFIC TIES CONTRIBUTOR // doliver@media.ucla.edu bills: the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act (SB 1315), the Filipino Veterans Equity Act (HR 6897) and the Chat Edwards bill. The original SB 1315 proposal would provide a $900-per-month pension for Filipino American veterans, $300 per month for non-U.S. citizens, or a reduced amount to a surviving spouse and/or children. Although the House of Representatives passed the bill, it removed Section 4, which provided these equity benefits to the Filipino veterans. Filipino veteran benefits were transferred to HR 6897, offering a lump sum of about $15,000 to each Filipino American veteran and $9,000 to Filipino veterans in the Philippines. No provisions were made for widows or children. The Chat Edwards bill apportioned $198 million for veterans.

With these variations in the equity rights, Filipino veterans and their supporters can only wait for Congress to join these versions to a unified bill by the end of the year. These benefits would affect the dwindling 18,000 veterans who are still alive, 6,000 of them who reside in the United States. UCLA students and faculty have joined the Filipino veterans in their struggle for human rights, as seen in the Justice for Filipino American Veterans protest on Oct. 10. A total of about 100 UCLA students, WWII veterans and people from the community staged a peaceful protest along Wilshire Boulevard to voice their outrage over the compromised rights of WWII heroes. Jason Tengco, a third-year political science major and external vice president of Samahang Pilipino, said, “The protest was successful because we garnered attention from a community not familiar with this issue. The participants were energetic and seemed to share a feeling of solidarity.” UCLA students continued this sense of solidarity in a series of events leading up to

The veterans all agreed that the most important thing to fight for is equal rights; money is not the point. “What matters is being treated equally as comrades, not how much. Sometimes a principle is worth better than the dollar. There are many things money cannot buy, like pride or freedom,” Paclig said. The veterans acknowledged their age and understood that they cannot carry on this struggle alone. They implored the youth to involve themselves with associations dedicated to spreading the word. The students answered this plea when Filipino pride came out full force on Nov. 8 at the 8th Annual Veterans Day Parade and Community Fair in Los Angeles. About 20 members of UCLA’s Samahang Pilipino volunteered and showed support. Fourth-year political science major Edith Bell came hours before the event to help set up for the day’s festivities. “It is my senior year and meeting the manongs [a Filipino word expressing respect toward an elder] really made me want to come

The event closed with a traditional Filipino chant that leads to the words, “Isang Bagsak,” which means “All for one, and one for all.” Veterans Day. On Nov. 7 Samahang Pilipino hosted a dinner that featured three Filipino WWII veterans, Rodrigo Ramos, Peping Baclig and Nick Gadia. About 30 students gathered to eat and listen to the heroes’ stories. In the discussion, these men depicted their lives six decades ago as happy-go-lucky youths PHOTOS BY DERRICK OLIVER entering a war that threatened freedom. When Members of UCLA’s Samahang Pilipino gather to support Filipino veterans during the 8th Annual Veterans Day Rally and Parade in they entered the war, they were part of the Historic Filipino Town in Los Angeles. United States Armed Forces Far East, a group working under the United States army that included the Philippine Commonwealth army and Philippine guerilla forces. “We fought for the American flag. In the jungles of Luzon, even in the absence of American officers, we fought for America,” Baclig said. However, their outrage does not only stem from their war experiences. They expressed their outrage and hurt in not being recognized as equals in the eyes of the American government. Chester Abadilla, a fourth-year electrical engineering student and Youth Component Co-coordinator said, “The important thing about equity is that there are so many versions of what equity means. People are confused on what to PHOTOS BY DERRICK OLIVER fight for.” (LEFT TO RIGHT) Filipino veterans, Rodrigo Ramos, Pepping Badig, and Nick Gadia at a Samahang Pilipino sponsored dinner in DeNeve Dining Hall on Nov. 7.

because they personalized what they had been through. I hope to spread awareness and boost morale, even if the [U.S. government] doesn’t support them,” Bell said. The day officially opened with a brief morning program emceed by JFAV Coordinator Al Garcia. After the singing of the Philippine and United States national anthems, various speakers addressed the crowd. The parade that followed featured a crowd of about 500 that was composed mostly of college students. Afterwards, dances, songs, awards and other performances took place in honor of the veterans as well as the volunteers. The event closed with a traditional Filipino chant that leads to the words, “Isang Bagsak,” which means “All for one, and one for all.” The cheers, signs and dialogue that occurred during the fall quarter demonstrate the energy, power and influence that a unified voice can make. With the closing of Congress in mid-October, Filipino Americans hope the three bills can be reconciled during a possible lame-duck session in November. However, this is unlikely due to the nation’s hovering financial crisis. In the meantime, Filipino Americans and all of America have the power to bring attention to the discrimination of this aging generation. Hopefully their fighting, watching, waiting and hoping may one day turn into seeing—seeing their names written down in the history books, not as inferior side notes, but as equals who fought alongside their American comrades to secure the ideals of freedom and democracy.


PAVE-ing Way for Filipino Studies STEPFANIE AGUILAR // STAFF WRITER // saguilar@media.ucla.edu


uring the night of Oct. 17, over 60 UCLA Filipino students found themselves sitting in small groups inside the walls of Kerckhoff Grand Salon, with each group huddled around an object. The objects were familiar to some and strange to others, but that was the whole point. It was an exercise of discovery and learning through participation and education. One of these items was a Filipino dress shirt called barong, mainly worn for fancy occasions barong such as weddings. But most did not know that it originated as a uniform to distinguish between upper and lower classes when the Philippines was still a Spanish colony. This is where it starts: knowing your roots through

education. The event was part of the night’s ceremony called Pilipinos for Accessibility, Visibility and Expansion, a subcommittee of Campaign for Filipino Studies, which is a long-term campaign to retain Filipino students and develop Pilipino American Studies. In recent years, Filipino American students at UCLA have been advocating for an increase in community visibility and representation at their school. PAVE encourages students to dig into their history for a better understanding of how to take action in the present and future. In 1994 the Save Tagalog! Rally at UCLA served to protect the national language of the Philippines. The Tagalog language program

was approaching the end of a three-year contract at UCLA, and students were beginning to feel the need for a more permanent Filipino Studies program. In 2008 PAVE was created in order to set tangible goals for the school year. The first step is to include Filipino-related courses in higher education. In order for this campaign to succeed, students must emphasize important strategies in the process, such as listing Filipino-related courses under one heading at UCLA’s online registrar. To increase enrollment in these courses, these options must be more accessible and visible. “This campus is for students, and we decide what we want to learn and the decisions we make as a person,” said Michael de Vera, a fourth-year anthropology student and Samahang Pilipino Education Coordinator. According to a 2007 U.S. Census report, about 1.5 percent of the U.S. population is Filipino American, and the numbers are

growing. This provides further evidence that a Pilipino Studies program is a necessary addition to not only UCLA but also to colleges across the country. The four million Filipinos in the United States require a generation of leaders and advocates that would fight for their needs and tackle ongoing issues in the political sphere, such as finding justice for Filipino American veterans. By informing the public about the necessity of a Filipino Studies program through educational events and programs, and with the aid of groups like PAVE, the end target may be close at hand. The Filipino community is in need of the same kind of representation that the East Asian communities have received in the past few decades. The ultimate idea is to generate a powerful voice that speaks for the community. And that’s what students like de Vera are working toward. De Vera said, “Taking control of our education helps us be that person that we want to be.”

Immigrant History Contributes to “Typical” Asian Student Stereotype HUONG PHAM // STAFF WRITER // hpham@media.ucla.edu to go into medicine. I suppose there’s always been a certain prestige associated with some careers, especially in immigrant families.” According to the March 2000 Current Population Survey done by the Center for Immigration Studies, 26.1 percent of immigrants in the United States are from Asia, and the number continues to grow. These new immigrants bring with them an increasing influence of morals and values concerning education and work in American society. It is general knowledge that Asian ideals

ILLUSTRATION BY DEBBIE CHONG dchong@media.ucla.edu


he day planner on the desk lies open, showcasing a tightly packed schedule full of appointments for practice job interviews and enrollment deadlines for informational workshops. The message board directly by the desk contains notes scribbled all over it with important contact information for transcripts and a checklist of things to do. It shares space on a cluttered wall of flyers for the pharmacy schools at University of Southern California and University of California, San Francisco. Amidst the flurry of paperwork, Alex Ly, a third-year psychobiology major, sits at his desk studying for midterms while trying to plan out his schedule for the upcoming winter quarter. This year will be his most important year in terms of planning for his graduate school application, and despite the pressure to do well in all his classes and stay on top of deadlines, he remains calm and collected. He knows he needs to keep going at a steady pace if he is going to reach his long-term career goal of becoming a pharmacist. However, like many other Asian Pacific American students, Ly has had to endure being the face of a stereotype that has been floating around for years: the label of being a “typical Asian” with uncanny genius ability in math and sciences. Every stereotype derives from a piece of truth, stretched by exaggeration to affect (usually negatively) a community as a whole, and this one is no exception. In this case, the stereotype might even perpetuate the archaic myth that race is a biological construct that attributes abilities of individuals to their race rather than personal or social factors. However, that piece of truth from which the stereotype originated from has been overlooked; the reasons why many APA students do pursue such fields of study have yet to come out of the shadows. “While my main reason for pursuing psychobiology is because I’ve always been interested in the field, a big part of my decision was family-influenced, “ Ly explained. “I mean, the field of medicine has always been glorified. My parents would always ask what I wanted to be when I grow up and bring up my cousins’ stories of success in medicine. My parents would be open to any profession that I pursue, but they’ve always given a vibe of wanting me

“...the most practical of choices would be to pursue a career in a field that would require knowledge and skills in something more universal—the math and sciences.” “I feel like a lot of the influence comes mainly from parents because they have sacrificed so much, so they expect you, and of course, want you to do well,” said Le. “There’s a lot of pressure to live up to these expectations. There’s a common belief that being a doctor, lawyer, engineer and so on will ensure you money and success.” revolve around success in school and careers; it is believed that the achievements of young people will be beneficial to themselves and the generation that raised them. In an article by Mireille Golbuff, a caseworker for the Des Moines Public Schools in Iowa, she stated that, “education is seen as a privilege and an opportunity.” The majority of


the APA community recognizes that education is the key to success but is concerned that the lack of language skills becomes a barrier to that success, especially in families where English is not their first language. Therefore, the most practical of choices would be to pursue a career in a field that would require knowledge and skills in something more universal—the math and sciences. According to an article by the American Institutes for Research for the Planning and Evaluation Service, the curriculum in China, the home country of many immigrants, is primarily focused on Chinese and mathematics. Other subjects taught are mainly science-based, and few art classes are offered. Japan, another country with a high number of immigrants in the United States, also follows a strict curriculum of mainly math- and science-based teachings. With such an intense curriculum in the East, it’s no wonder why many immigrant parents would push their children into fields of study on which generations before have concentrated. Tran Le, a third-year economics student,

was born in Vietnam and finds himself in this exact position. His family plays a larger influence on his career choices than he does. Though Le would like to pursue a degree in English, he chose economics during his second year for its wide range of career options. “I feel like a lot of the influence comes mainly from parents because they have sacrificed so much, so they expect you, and of course, want you to do well,” said Le. “There’s a lot of pressure to live up to these expectations. There’s a common belief that being a doctor, lawyer, engineer and so on will ensure you money and success.” Despite its false pretenses, the stereotype that APAs are inherently better at certain subjects has continued to spread. However, it is true that many APAs have gone on to succeed in the fields of math and sciences. Perhaps the new discussion on this issue is not a complaint about inaccurate representation but an attempt to understand the systems that perpetuate the myth, an attempt to negotiate a new identity that isn’t built on assumptions and generalizations.

Change in U.S. Should Stir Change in Ourselves


OPINION YUNG H. YOO // NEWS EDITOR // byoo@media.ucla.edu


t’s 6:50 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2008. The hills of Westwood have been rocking the van I’m in, waking me up from my sweet hour-long slumber that marks my everyday commute from my home in Long Beach to campus. In my sleep, I keep thanking God for the UCLA vanpool program. The abrupt stop by Lot 9 gives the van a last shake, and my surroundings seem to scream at me to wake up. I get out of the van and drag myself to Ackerman Student Union, hoping some stranger does not take my designated seat by the elevator. 30 steps away. 25 steps away. I keep telling myself, “You are almost there, Yung. Just keep moving right along.” With just a few steps left, however, I hear the strangest thing. I hear somebody whistling, at the unlikeliest place, at the unlikeliest time. I am confused. This is not supposed to happen. For the past few months, I arrived at school early in the morning and went to Ackerman to crash for a couple of more minutes before I had class – I have never heard anyone whistle. I turn around in search of the early-morning musician. He’s a UCLA custodian with a big smile on his face. As soon as I see him, I realize that his elated expression is one that I’ve seen before. On television just the night before, I watched as a quarter of a million of similar happy faces gathered around in Grant Park, Chicago. Yes, change had come. Barack Obama’s historical victory will be remembered as one of the most important landmarks in the minorities’ struggle to find their place in America. There have been powerful and influential minority leaders in the past, but no one has been able to win the hearts of nearly every American demographic. Fifty-four percent of Catholics, 66 percent of Latinos, 68 percent of new voters supported Obama in the hopes that he would be able to bring change to a nation deeply entrenched in an economic crisis and two difficult wars overseas. His victory transcended skin color and forced us to rethink what it means to be an American. As I sat down in my seat, (thankfully no one had taken it yet), I thought about what it means to not only be an American, but an Asian American in this new America. Is America just a big playground where I can get a fancy job and be comfortable, or can I really make a difference in this land of opportunity? We, Asian American students, are too used to hearing our parents set the bar really high and encourage us to become doctors and lawyers, but do we realize that these bars can also be a ceiling? A limit hard to reach, but impossible to overcome? Are we just after the comfortable lifestyle, or do we dare to search for one that can cause silent mouths to whistle? By now, I am fully awake, and these suddenly important thoughts are beginning to occupy my mind in the quiet dawn after Obama’s victory. By the way, the UCLA custodian was Asian.

OPINION columns, cartoons and letters represent the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Lisa Leong’s article “Will APAs Rock the Vote?” (Winter 2008) speculated whether the dormant Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) voting bloc would finally be awakened. This year’s presidential election saw an unprecedented number of people show up to cast their ballots—including the once elusive AAPI community. Grassroots organizing can be thankless while politics seem ruthless. But as the president-elect has shown, both are far from fruitless. It is ever more critical that we complement the historical strides made on Election Day by getting involved in causes that need our help. No matter what your political affiliation, in order for our community to be effective and truly heard, we need to show that we won’t just show up one day every four years. As the future of America and the AAPI community, let us show that not only can we rock the vote, but we can rock the movement as well. -CAT MANABAT, UCLA class of 2008

ILLUSTRATION BY DEBBIE CHONG // dchong@media.ucla.edu

What difference does HOPE make? SHIRLEY CHAU // STAFF WRITER // schau@media.ucla.edu


ES WE CAN!” resonated around the country, reinvigorating the American spirit as the United States welcomed new president-elect, Barack Obama, as its soon-to-be 44th president. This newfound spirit was most apparent among the youth. Now that the election frenzy has settled, the real work must begin. Here in Los Angeles there are communities that need the help of committed students. One of the many community organizations answering the call to real work is UCLA’s Higher Opportunity Program for Education, a student-initiated and student-run program. A part of the Student Initiated Access Center as an outreach project of VSU, funded by the SIAC. HOPE provides tutoring services, peer advising, and offering workshops to youths at the Chinatown Branch Library, Westminster High School and San Gabriel High School. Volunteers who become a part of HOPE initially look for community service but end up gaining much more. Victoria Chan, a third-year English student, is HOPE’s Peer Advising Coordinator. She has been involved in HOPE for three years and describes her experience with her students as rewarding. “Being with students is inspiring. It’s fun and productive. We learn about each other and how we can better things in our own life and contribute to the rest of the community,” Chan said. This dialogue with students is possible in part because HOPE has a peer-advising component. This sets the project apart from other after-school programs. “We are there to talk to the students and make sure they are personally okay and holistically developed,” said Chan. Community projects like HOPE encourage civic engagement. Ethan Nguyen, a third-year political science and Asian American Studies student, participated in HOPE in high school at Westminster High. He attributes his new

confidence to HOPE, stating, “It helped me develop the side of me that I kept dormant.”

“We learn about each other and how we can better things in our own life and contribute to the rest of the community.” -VICTORIA CHAN Now that Nguyen attends UCLA, he hopes to give back to the program. “I want to help the project grow and offer other students with my background the same opportunities that I received.” What is more beautiful than seeing communities come together to promote education, health and general well-being? By working together with a platform of hope and change, existing youth programs in the Los Angeles community can work in solidarity and make a difference. In order to make a difference in young people’s lives, it’s necessary to start out by reaching out to those who would benefit the most from the help of such programs - the youth. We are all an integral part of our community. In solidarity, “Yes we can!”

To learn more about how you can get involved with HOPE or the Community Programs Office, contact Shirley Chau at schau@media.ucla.edu.

GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? Have your voice heard. We accept all complaints, criticisms, commentaries, suggestions, sarcasm, poems, stories, artwork, photographs (the list goes on). Write a letter to the editor or be a contributor to Pacific Ties. Send work to pacties@media.ucla.edu. MONOLOGUE/DIALOGUE | fall 2008 PACIFIC TIES 7


MALINA TRAN // STAFF WRITER mtran1@media.ucla.edu CLAUDIA LI // PHOTOGRAPHER cli@media.ucla.edu

10 Notable Accomplishments and Milestones for Asian American Studies at UCLA LARGEST ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES TEACHING PROGRAM IN THE NATION with B.A., undergraduate minor, and M.A. degrees.

GRADUATE TRAINING UCLA is one of two major institutions for the graduate training of scholars for the field of Asian American studies.

PUBLIC POLICY Released major public policy reports on the most compelling issues facing APAs, with Professor Paul Ong as the reserach director. Featured in the New York Times, LA Times, CNN, Newsweek and other media.

POST-DOCTORAL TRAINING Provided post-doctoral fellowship training and opportunities for scholars across the nation and the world.

RESEARCH FACULTY Recruited and supported the largest faculty in Asian American studies in the nation, with nearly 40 professors from over 20 UCLA departments.

PACIFIC TIES Founded in 1977, this is the nation’s oldest APA student publication.

GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS UCLA faculty, graduate students, and alumni received more research grants and national fellowships from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund than any other institution in the country.

Source: www.aasc.ucla.edu/archives/35notables.htm


thnic studies are deeply rooted in political and personal spheres. In the late 1960s and 1970s, highly politicized students demanded “relevant education,” which included courses pertaining to themselves ethnically, culturally and personally. During this era, people asserted and proudly proclaimed their unique and marginalized identities. On Nov. 15, “Beyond Boundaries: Education in Action” explored activism in the past, student organizations in the present, and strategies for the future. The event was programmed by the Asian Pacific Coalition and Asian Pacific Islander Undergraduate Association. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Asian American studies at UCLA, the conference sought to increase involvement in Asian American studies and mobilize students through awareness of issues. Such endeavors to unify people through of collective community issues, particularly pertaining to education, have been the basis of Asian American student activism. During his undergraduate years, Don Nakanishi remembers standing in front of supermarkets, nationally boycotting grapes in the late 1960s with fellow members of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. MEChA pro-


motes political action and education for Chicanos, and it served as Nakanishi’s first support group. He attended Yale at a time when diversity meant enrollment of 10 Asians, 10 African Americans, and 10 Latinos in his class. He was involved with the East Coast Asian Student Union, holding annual conferences with other colleges pushing for ethnic studies at a time when less than 10 percent of UCLA’s population identified as Asian. Today, Nakanishi is the director of Asian American Studies Center at UCLA, a university where 40 percent of students identify as Asian American. In the last year of his term, he envisioned a conference that would unify people and celebrate the accomplishments of student activism. As a student activist in the 1960s and 1970s, Nakanishi recalls, “There were different variations of the Civil Rights Movement: the very peaceful, nonviolent forms, the more assertive forms, the emergence of different Asian activist groups, the women’s movement, the counterculture movement with hippies. Students were also pushing for education that was relevant to them, and it wasn’t just students of color pushing for ethnic studies.” Nakanishi views political activity on a re-

HIGHER EDUCATION Worked with leaders on campus and in the community on issues such as potential admissions quotas against APA applicants, tenure for Asian American Studies faculty, affirmative action and circular reform.

APA COMMUNITY DIRECTORY Annually produced the APA Community Directory and the National APA Political Almanac.

AAPI NEXUS Launched in 2003 to address major issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities through research. Focus is on community development, civil and voting rights.

Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” was the keynote speaker at the Nov. 15 conference. He spoke about the necessity of student activism, addressing the large crowd that overflowed the Kerckhoff Grand Salon.

gional basis. Both the East Coast and Midwest have held region-wide conferences since the 1960s, in which time approximately forty colleges attended them and pushed for ethnic studies. The creation of “Beyond Boundaries: Education in Action” is a revival of ethnic studies and collective action. According to Nakanishi,

Pacific Student Union, has ceased to host conferences, with UCLA being one of the last schools to host. Reasons for not having a West Coast conference include the heavy workload, the lack of overarching common issues and the different political climate. However, Nakanishi carefully pointed out that although the Asian Pacific Stu-

“There were different variations of the Civil Rights Movement: the very peaceful, nonviolent forms, the more assertive forms, the emergence of different Asian Activist groups, the women’s movement, the counterculture movement with hippies.” undergraduate years are a time for discovering yourself, and not just ethnically. The broad Asian American Studies courses “have an activist-orientation, such as Asian American law and community studies classes.” But Nakanishi refrains from projecting the conference as reminiscent of his own politicization. “It’s not so much me. It comes down to the students themselves, if they think there’s a need to come out once a year to create a network of communications.” However, the group in the West, the Asian

dent Union has been inactive, the unions on the East Coast and in the Midwest continue to hold national-scale conferences. A lack of a regional conference is not due to a lack of Asian American student organizations or their political investment. For example, in 2007, the Count Me In! Campaign was a UCwide effort to disaggregate the broad categorization of “Asian Americans” in undergraduate applications, helping track groups that have not been adequately represented in the university. Recently, in the spring of 2008, Southeast Asian

Making Immediate Change and the Vietnamese Student Union held a rally, protesting the deportation of 1,500 Vietnamese community members mandated by the 2008 U.S. and Vietnam Repatriation Agreement. In the past 40 years, students have played an active role in pushing for ethnic studies. Nakanishi believed that the conference, which consisted of a panel community speakers and “workgroups” led by student leaders, would draw the larger Asian Pacific Islander group together—a fitting commemoration for the Asian American Studies Center. The conference aimed to increase student involvement in the Asian Pacific Coalition and Asian American Studies, yet its purpose is also to serve student leaders already involved in their respective organizations. With a community member panel and workgroups,

“My soul hangs upon the fringes between two worlds. Boundaries confine me but crossing boundaries defines me.” -Excerpt from a poem by Wayne Tung

learning concentration for the Asian American Studies major. The conference took a “critical look at the history of Asian American studies and its benefit to the community,” Lee said. At UCLA, student activists have struggled to claim ownership and personalize their education within the university. In 1968, members of the Asian Radical Movement took over Murphy Hall, protesting the ethnic studies center’s actions of dividing and placating students. Lee acknowledged “the in-borne urgency of the pe-

and developing Asian American studies for the future. Two difficult issues face the department today: One, Asian American courses are not quite as inclusive of recent immigrant populations (i.e., Khmers and Hmongs). Two, existing Asian American studies and language courses are being reduced or are under threat of budgetary cuts. In response to these pressing issues, the conference promoted discourse through workgroups that not only educated its participants

provide students with resources that will structure their campaign into a tangible process,” said de Vera. While the conference commemorated the Asian American Studies Center’s establishment, this event further acknowledged the existence of student leadership and activism in cultural and political organizations. The conference not only celebrated the accomplishments of the 1960s Asian American movement, but dispeled the myth of a passive student generation and reaffirmed that a conscious student body still existed. Most importantly, the Asian American studies conference demonstrated the boundaries of academia and activism, as we transcend the past into future aspirations concerning not only the API community, but issues within the world at large.

Mark Pulito, a UCLA alumn and former Pacific Ties Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief, and Keith Camacho, currently an Assistant Professor of Pacific Islander Studies at UCLA served as panelists for the conference.

More than two hundred students from all different majors and departments attended the daylong conference to listen to guest speakers, to watch performers and to participate in student -facilitated workgroups.

Students were given pamphlets designed by Jonathan Reinert, a graduate student in Asian American Studies. The event was hosted by Asian Pacific Coalition in partnership of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

Angela Oh, who currently serves as the Interim Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation, was one of the many panelists who spoke at the conference.

the conference sought to mobilize students to riod,” a result of overt racism and little Asian take action and focus on outcomes, namely to representation in the educational system. Howinspire students to be engaged in their commu- ever, there are organizations such as the Asian nity and culture. Pacific Coalition that advocate for For different inhigher education and other issues, dividuals, the Asian acting as the official API voice at American Studies UCLA. Conference signifies Asian Pacific Coalition staff other possibilities. member and Asian American StudLike Nakanishi, ies student Wayne Tung believed fourth-year Asian that the Studies provide “that sense American Studies stuof student empowerment [and] dent Christina Aujean student spirit. Asian American Lee believed the constudies started during the Civil ference would promote Rights era for us to learn about networking among ourselves and our history from ard Bo te Sta ia rn students, faculty and Judy Chu, Chair of the CaLAlifoalum, speaks at the our perspective.” Tung viewed UC d an , on ff Hall. community members. of Equalizati the conference, which focused v. 15th in Kerckho conference on No As the conference’s main on student activists’ role in ethcoordinator and Acanic studies, as an opportunity to convey “how demic Affairs Coordinator for the Asian Pacific much power we have and how much we have Coalition, Lee was simply excited at the thought accomplished in living this legacy, of demandof having “a filled room with people who are ing what is ours.” really excited about the issues we are bringing Despite the successes of student activists who up.” Discussion topics included Queer Asian championed for ethnic studies in the 1970s, the American Studies and history, undocumented Asian American Studies Center still struggles to students, community leadership and the service adapt to the challenging realities of maintaining

on issues and progresses, but worked towards campaigning as well. At the conference, fourth-year Mike de Vera facilitated a workgroup on recent progresses in ethnic studies and campaign strategies. De Vera is Education Coordinator for Samahang Pilipino, a student organization whose purpose is to educate and serve as a voice for the Filipino American community. De Vera hopes to involve student leaders in Samahang’s campaign for a Filipino Studies concentration in the Asian American Studies Department. While the Association of Hmong Students successfully secured a Hmong course in spring quarter, the Pacific Islander Student Association is still advocating for a concentration of its own. In order to have such courses, however, organizing logistics and establishing objectives are necessary components in campaigning. To help visualize progress and develop concrete goals for ethnic studies, de Vera’s workgroup focused on using a strategic chart to plan a course of action, discussing the possibilities of using media outlets, and the importance of campaign managing. The workgroup was meant for organizations to “talk about what they’re doing, what they need, how others can help, and

“There’s always the need to change. There’s always, only now. The struggle for now...so work now, as artists, as organizers, as individual leaders of change. We cannot stop; too much has happened. Our elders and forbearers have created too much for us to leave that legacy aside. The best way to honor our history is to continue to make it. Martin Luther King said... ‘You are now face with the facts, my friend, that tomorrow is today.’ It’s your time now, this is your urgency now. Go out and make history.” -JEFF CHANG



Breaking Down Asian American Voting Patterns THIENVINH NGUYEN // STAFF WRITER // tnguyen1@media.ucla.edu


lthough the American Dream echoes stories of sacrifice and struggle, a persistent hope of achieving success in a foreign land compels many people to assimilate to some degree. For immigrants and the generations that follow them, one indicator of Americanization is the gaining citizenship. With that political recognition of citizenship comes the ability to vote, marking a conscious affirmation that one is indeed a citizen. The changing landscape of America shows that the Asian American population has grown to 14.9 million in 2007 (in 1960, there were fewer than one million Asian Americans), comprising five percent of the population. The majority of Asian Americans are foreign-born, many on their way to naturalization. Based on figures obtained in the 2008 National Asian American Survey before the 2008 election, 65 percent of Asian American citizens would likely exercise their right to vote. Such a breakdown relates to the 35 percent of Asian Americans who are nonpartisan, yet those who do decide on a party tend to lean Democrat (32 percent) compared to Republican (19 percent). On election night, these undecided voters ended up casting their ballot strongly in favor of one candidate: Barack

ese Americans 30 years old and younger are registering Democrat over Republican in a four-to-one ratio. A UCLA Vietnamese Student Union member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “The Vietnamese American vote will still be split in the future, but as the older generations pass away, the majority will be more inclined to vote Democrat since they’re minorities, [are] not high in economic standing, and favor Democratic Party policies.” However, he went on to comment that as someone whose uncle stayed in a POW camp with McCain, he is non-partisan and abstained from picking a candidate on the ballot since none really stood out. Although he and his family “believe in the right to vote,” he asserts that there is strength in remaining non-partisan and undecided during elections. With such a large proportion of Asian Americans being nonpartisan, the researchers of the NAAS study urge such voters to pick a party, since without a party,





“The future of how Asian Americans vote – their patterns and preferences – remains somewhat uncertain...”


Obama. According to a CNN national exit poll, 61 percent voted for Obama, 35 percent voted for McCain, and four percent abstained or voted for another candidate. Indeed, Obama won the vote of Asian Americans, sweeping the previously undecided and non-partisan voters. The future of Asian American voting patterns and preferences remains somewhat uncertain, especially considering the large proportion of non-partisans and the varied voting trends among the many ethnicities and in different regions and enclaves. In California before the 2008 election, 53 percent of Japanese Americans indicated that they would vote for Obama on election day, while 53 percent of Vietnamese Americans were planning to vote for McCain. The strong support for McCain stems from steadfast views that Democrats are communist sympathizers and that McCain, as a Vietnam prisoner-of-war and author of immigration legislation that allowed for the reunification of Vietnamese families, deserves their vote. Aside from varying political opinions that have been shaped by different immigration narratives, cultural values, which can reflect differences among generations, also play a role in voting. Thus, even within the Vietnamese community, there is a generational divide in addition to an ideological one. Vietnam-


they remain disenfranchised and are less likely to play key roles in politics. While there is strength in solidarity, there is also strength in being uncertain during the elections. Emily Bautista, a fourth-year psychology student and president of Samahang Pilipino, finds that there is great diversity among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and that at times, “such diversity is not recognized, and people don’t understand that communities have specific needs.” Moreover, she posits that “sometimes it’s good to be undecided, to be critical of both sides, and to decide what it means to take a stance,” as long as one is “engaged in politics.” Half-Chinese Andrew Kreitz, a third year business economics student and chairman of Bruin Republicans, recognizes that it is difficult to characterize the Asian American vote and that there is strength in them remaining undecided since parties would have to work to win their vote. He contends that although the Republican Party gets a “bad rap as being a party of middle-aged white guys,” there are a number of Asian Americans in Bruin Republicans and prominent politicians in the party. Kreitz’s parents and extended family, who came to the United States at young ages, have conservative leanings because “they strongly feel that it is the best

country in the world, given the opportunities that were afforded to them,” he explained. Kreitz also added that “government non-intervention played a role in their belief of hard work and making it on their own with limited government [sic].” Kreitz believes that it’s important for the party to be consistent and hold on to their set of ideas and to present their message better. This way, the Republican Party’s message (mainly of limited government intervention) can hopefully attract both young and old, as well as people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, without having to cater specifically to any particular group. There are some issues both parties could prioritize to attract Asian American voters. One that 79 percent of Asian Americans deem as their main concern is the economy. For issues such as California’s Proposition 8, which eliminated gay and lesbian marriages, the assumption that Asian Americans tend to be socially conservative is fallacious; a slight majority leaned to the left and voted no on Proposition 8. Because Democrats are known for their liberal stances on social issues, Brandon Harrison, a fourth year history student and internal vice-president of Bruin Dem-

ocrats, asserted that many Asian Americans, a number of them second generation, are “drawn to Democratic values of equality and fairness and realize that the Bush Administration and Republican principles harm the majority of Americans.” There are a number of up-and-coming Asian American politicians in the Democratic Party. In fact, a majority of Asian American politicians in Southern California are Democrats. When asked about whether Asian Americans would remain undecided, Harrison contends, “I think it’s important for Asian Americans to become more involved in the Democratic coalition because the more the community participates in democratic politics, the more their concerns will be reflected the Democrats are offering more dynamic ideas.” Regardless of how Asian Americans vote, it is important that as one of the fastest growing populations in the nation, they continue to vote because their political participation is more pivotal than ever before. As Bautista put it, “To be engaged in politics means recognizing that one can change and influence societal structures.”

fall 2008 PACIFIC TIES 11

THE L.A. ART EXPERIENCE ImaginAsian Center


The ImaginAsian Center, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, is dedicated to Asian and Asian American cinema and culture. http://www.theimaginasian.com/la/

Asian Roots/American Reality: Photographs of Corky Lee For over 35 years, Corky Lee, a New Yorkbased photojournalist, has documented and participated in the progress and growth of the Asian American Pacific Islander community through his photography. His images, which capture the personal stories of those involved in political movements of the 1970s to today,

“Joy” Finds Home on Stage


four-year old child who lost her way after falling overboard encounters the Moon Lady, who appears once a year to grant a secret wish. Instead of wishing for the world, the child merely wants to be “found.” Thus ends one act of Susan Kim’s adaptation of “The Joy Luck Club,” based on the Amy Tan novel which began its East-West-Players run on Nov. 13. The theme of returning home is carried out through the play, which climaxes with the protagonist’s return to China to meet her lost

and daughters are linked by the mothers’ participation in regular games of Mahjong, where they recall both their past lives in China and how they dealt with their children as recent immigrants in the United States. One story depicts a mother who was forced to abandon her twin daughters while fleeing her village attempt to reunite with her children after she settles down in America. In another story, a woman raises her daughter to be a chess champion in America after leaving a loveless arranged marriage in China. These and other

EVELINA GIANG // STAFF WRITER // egiang@media.ucla.edu

will be exhibited at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles through May 31, 2009. http://www.camla.org/

which features original works by students in the UCLA Theater Department’s MFA Playwriting Program, “English Only” will play from Dec. 5 to Dec. 7 at The New LATC in Los Angeles.

English Only: A Fight for Words in America

20 Years Ago Today: Supporting Visual Arts in L.A.

By Annette Lee Directed by Richard Martinez

Japanese American National Museum

In 1986, the passage of the Official English referendum in Monterey Park, Calif., made English the official language of the city. Annette Lee’s “English Only: A Fight for Words” in America looks at the referendum, as well as race and culture in the area during this time. Produced as part of New Play Festival 2008,

“Twenty Years Ago Today” exhibits the cultural emergence of visual arts in Los Angeles over the last 20 years. Showcasing a variety of arts from paintings to films, the exhibition will be running until Dec. 11, 2008 and is free to the public. http://www.janm.org/

RAY LUO // PACIFIC TIES CONTRIBUTOR // rluo@media.ucla.edu to pass on that story,” said Rivera, who wants his nieces and nephews to know “it wasn’t always like this,” and that they “must work hard to get someplace.” Rivera’s work on “The Joy Luck Club” is inspired by his own extended family’s gatherings. “Whenever we get together,” he said, “it’s always storytime.” To make the stories more active, to maintain continuity and to create the illusion of a journey, Rivera employs a strategy he witnesses in his family get-togethers. “When somebody starts a story, someone else continues the story or enhances it,” he recalled. “All of a sudden, there are seven people all telling the same story from a different point of view.” When it came time to direct “The Joy Luck Club,” Rivera felt inspired by these gatherings to ask, “What if all the mothers and daughters are part of the telling of the story, just like in my family?” This idea was the inspiration for a device of successive narration that is not found in the book, and only possible when expressed

daughter in the play. Png herself is married to an American, and has a mix-raced daughter of her own. “The daughters in the play complain constantly of their mothers,” said Png. “They don’t understand me, I don’t know what they want.’” On the other end of the spectrum, Png also feels a connection with the daughter’s character. As someone who also grew up completely immersed in the Western culture, Png feels as if she has lost “the Chinese way of thinking.” She sees “The Joy Luck Club” as a way for Asian Americans to “revisit their cultural background,” to rediscover the “value in Asian thinking,” and to allow our own identity to “make ourselves relevant” in a multicultural America. Other members of the all-Asian-American cast include Katherine Lee, who plays a 9-yearold daughter as well as the grown-up version of her character. Lee plays the cello in scenes where she appears as part of a symbolic narrative device. The main actresses each have their own

“The daughters in the play complain constantly of their mothers,” said Png. “‘They don’t understand me, I don’t know what they want.’” -DEBORAH PNG


Cast memebers at the Joy Luck Club rehearsal. In the photo (LEFT - RIGHT) Ben Lin, Karen Huie, Edward Gunawan and Celeste Den.

twins. Like the performers and director of the play, we also sense that they are returning home by putting on the play, as their Asian American heritage brings cultural influences to the table. Susan Kim’s adaption of “The Joy Luck Club” has been around for 15 years, but it is finally getting its Los Angeles premiere with East West Players, a local theater company. The book on which the play is based on has become one of the best-known novels about the cultural heritage of Asian Americans. Its separate stories about four pairs of mothers

12 PACIFIC TIES fall 2008 | A&E

stories are linked together by a clever narration designed by director Jon Lawrence Rivera to give a sense of journey. “A scene would end,” he said, “but the actors in that scene would continue on for a few moments while the next scene happens.” Rivera himself is a Filipino American who came to the United States when he was 19. In the past, he has directed musicals like “Into the Woods” and new plays such as his previous work for East West Players, “Mixed Messages.” Rivera compares directing “The Joy Luck Club” to acting as a storyteller. “It’s important

through live theatre. Rivera was not the only Asian American inspired by his heritage while working on “The Joy Luck Club.” Deborah Png, who plays the character of Ying Ying, was originally an actress in musicals like “The King and I” and “Mama from China” in Singapore before coming to the United States in 2001. In “The Joy Luck Club,” Png is a woman who marries a womanizing husband in China and kills her own son in revenge when her husband abandons her. After moving to the United States, Ying Ying marries an American. When she realizes her daughter Lena is trapped in a loveless marriage, Ying Ying decides to tell her about her own past in hopes that her history will help Lena make decisions about the present. Png identifies with both the mother and the

associated instrumental sounds, such as those of a piano, those of a recorder, or percussion. Along with music composer Nathan Wang, Rivera designed a play with four musical themes for each pair of mothers and daughters. For example, Jing Mei, the daughter of Suyuan, plays the piano in an early part of the story. From then on, the sounds of the piano act as a motif for the relationship between Jing Mei and her mother. Rivera hopes that the complexities created by having multiple characters played by the same actress can be clarified by the use of an identifiable musical motif.

The Joy Luck Club runs from Nov. 13 to Dec. 7 at the David Henry Hwang theater in downtown Los Angeles.

fall 2008 PACIFIC TIES 13



hen Pacific Ties last interviewed her in 1978, Tritia Toyota was a fresh face in broadcast journalism and was quickly becoming a household name. Throughout her television career, Toyota faced many obstacles on her way to the top. Yet with uncompromising perseverance, she succeeded in breaking cultural and social boundaries, becoming the first Asian Pacific American female anchor and a role model for the APA community. Although she retired in 2003, Toyota continues to push for the advancement of APAs 30 years later as a professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at UCLA. She began her job in the KNBC newsroom at a time when there were no role models to inspire her; she wasn’t ready for what she was getting herself into, Toyota admitted. The first two years were a constant struggle. “I was a good writer; there was no mistaking that,” said Toyota, “but I did not know how to write for television.” It did not help that she was the only APA woman on television. KNBC hired Toyota after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s as part of the “grand experiment,” where three other minorities, a Latino man, an African American man and a Caucasian woman were hired. KNBC wanted to analyze how the public would respond to a diverse team of reporters. Toyota was a young female minority; she had all the odds against her. For a while, to put it simply, the experience was hell.

“The majority of my coworkers didn’t want to work with me ... they would sabotage my work, throw around racial epithets—you name it,” stated Toyota. She fought a constant battle with an audience that found it difficult to accept her, but with the help of a mentor, she got better. A lot better. Toyota said, “The viewing public was equally non-supportive. The hate mail would fluctuate with the economy.” Ignoring those who were rooting for her to fail, Toyota became a respected news reporter and eventually decided she wanted to be an anchor “where the prestige was.” After five years in the business, Toyota reached her goal of becoming the first APA woman anchor on television. Toyota became the face and voice of the APA community as one of the founders of the Asian American Journalists Association. Toyota joked, “Let me tell you, there is life after news, weather, and sports.” The AAJA is a nationwide organization for APAs involved in or interested in journalism and the media. It serves as a tool for networking with people in the industry, providing scholarships for students and information about job opportunities. Toyota and five other founders started AAJA “because [they] really felt a personal responsibility to ensure that Asian Americans got fair coverage in the news.” Starting out with six people on board, the AAJA now boasts several thousand members throughout the United


Tritia Toyota speaks to an audience of students in Bunche Hall about her experiences in broadcast journalism.

States. In 2003, after 30 years in the news industry, Toyota headed toward a new direction. “After a while, I went through so many co-anchors [that] I sometimes forgot their names,” Toyota said. But she wanted to continue her involvement in the APA community. So she went back to school. In 2004 she earned a degree in anthropology, and by 2005, she threw herself into one of her other passions: teaching. As a professor of anthropology and Asian American studies, Toyota enjoys interacting with her students and engaging them in intellectual conversations. She also finds many par-

allels between her old and new careers. Toyota considers both realms of work as ways to “make sense of people’s lives.” Her main message to her students and the APA community is to get involved. “We have to work harder at being informed citizens,” she stated fervently. “We still live in a participatory democracy.” Toyota urges APAs young and old to get involved in nationwide and local politics, not to focus solely on their careers. Although there are more Asian American faces and names in the media these days, the business is still very tough to break into for a minority. Toyota thinks that it’s getting even harder because everything is much more competitive. Toyota stated that above all else, “You have to do something for which you have a passion” in order to do well in the world. Her life is a testament to this statement. She changed her career after 25 years in television, and today’s college students can learn much from her versatility and drive. Toyota’s hugely successful career is an example for not only the APA community but for all minority groups as well. Her story is one that showcases just how far determination can take one person despite all the obstacles and social prejudices that may get in the way. She didn’t let set backs bring her down, she reached out further, to a place where she knew she deserved to be. It only takes one person to pave the way for the thousands who are eager to follow.


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Phone: (858) 278-2454 West LA Location: 2130 Sawtelle Blvd., #200, Los Angeles, CA 90025


Sahara makes life inconvenient DEBBIE CHONG // STAFF WRITER // dchong@media.ucla.edu


oday’s fast-paced world is characterized by convenience. Microwaveable meals, online bill payments and lecture podcasts all make our life easier. But Japanese-American entrepreneur Marc Sahara believes that adding a little inconvenience back into our lives is a good thing. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Monterey Park, Calif., 33-year-old Sahara is the founder and CEO of The Inconvenient Bag, a reusable grocery bag designed to be eco-friendly, affordable and fun. The company launched in December 2007 and is now a rising star in green business. Green businesses strive to uphold practices that are environmentally sound and socially responsible. Why call it The Inconvenient Bag? The paper and plastic bags provided at the checkout counter are convenient for customers but costly for the planet in terms of resources, energy and pollution. It takes conscious effort to provide a greener alternative. “When you bring your own bag,” Sahara explained, “you are making a statement: ‘I am inconveniencing myself, not for the benefit of myself, but for everybody.’” With all of the reusable shopping bags flooding the stores these days, what makes The Inconvenient Bag stand out? “It is locally produced, organic, stylish, and affordable,” said Sahara. He chose to create local jobs by producing The Inconvenient Bag in a Korean American-owned factory in Orange County. The bags are made of hemp, natural cotton and organic cotton, and the designs are printed using water-based ink and vegetable ink. They come in three sizes with a variety of designs and are sold for $20 online and for $15 to $16 in retail stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond. “I want people to see that there is something for everybody. And I don’t want price to be a barrier. I want to make something that everyone can afford,” said Sahara. He believes that all Americans can unite to protect the environment. “I call my bag the Eco-American bag because I believe the bag is for everyone. We are all Eco-Americans!” During his days as a law student at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Sahara joined the Environmental Law Society, where students met to explore and debate environmental issues. “It opened my eyes to my own

wasteful habits,” he said. “I also learned that we as individuals can influence change, and that we can make changes here and now.” Sahara graduated from law school in 2001 and went to work as an associate for an attorney in Montebello, Calif. In 2005, Sahara began doing his grocery

influence on my decision to create this company,” Sahara says. “While in law school, I had only seen a few minorities being a part of the eco-movement. I wanted to contribute as a person of color, and I hoped to inspire other Asians and minorities to join in. We are all brothers and sisters sharing the same planet.”

“I call my bag the Eco-American bag because I believe the bag is for everyone. We are all Eco-Americans!” -MARC SAHARA

RIGHT: Playful designs help Sahara distinguish his environmentally friendly bags from the others on the market. BELOW LEFT: Sahara interacts with a customer at Earth Day LA 2008 at the Los Angeles Zoo on April 19, 2008. BELOW RIGHT: Humble beginnings at the Westwood Village Farmers Market in December 2007.


shopping at farmers markets, where he bought fresh and organic produce. He was disheartened that customers brought their purchases home in plastic bags. “It was an environmental contradiction. But rather than wait for the government to ban plastic bags, I believed we could do something now.” The Inconvenient Bag was born. “Being Japanese-American had a strong

In December 2007, Sahara began selling The Inconvenient Bag at farmers markets in the Los Angeles area. Networking with customers introduced him to trade shows, expos and retailers. His company began producing custom bags for major clients such as Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, Target and the Los Angeles Lakers. The classic-style Inconvenient Bag designs are now sold in major cities nationwide

by Bed Bath & Beyond. At media and community events, Sahara enjoys the opportunities to meet new people and exchange ideas. “People give me sustainability tips that I can incorporate into the bag design or my own lifestyle.” The Inconvenient Bag’s increasing media exposure allows him to meet celebrity fans such as supermodel Josie Maran and radio host Danny Bonaduce. Sahara now works full time developing and expanding his business. Eight people collaborate on The Inconvenient Bag, including its core staff of four. Even with the help, Sahara’s schedule is packed with office work, trade shows, fashion shows, festivals and media shoots. “I just never sleep anymore; I’ve already accepted that fact.” Sahara is living his dream of becoming a trailblazer for Asian Pacific Americans in the environmental movement. How might culture influence the involvement of APAs in environmentalism and green business? “I think that in Asian cultures, we tend to look at the ‘bottom line’ too much,” commented Sahara. “We should encourage Asian-American businesspeople to see that doing things in an eco-friendly way will actually save money and create new business opportunities.” Sahara is excited to see a growing number of environmentally-minded young APAs. “Young Asian-Americans are running businesses differently than the older generation did, and I really believe that they will take it even further than we did.” Sahara encourages young Asian Pacific Americans to embrace their heritage while standing up for their beliefs. His advice? “Don’t be afraid to step out of cultural expectations and stereotypes. It can be really hard sometimes, but it makes you stronger as a person. It makes the overall movement stronger.”

What have you done lately to help out the environment? Let us know at pacties@media.ucla.edu! We’re always interested to find out about the creative things people come up with to do their part. Hey, you might even be featured in our next PROFILE!

QUESTION: PAPER OR PLASTIC OR...? Are plastic bags becoming a thing of the past? They do not biodegrade and are harmful to the environment. Many cities around the world are taking action against the use of plastic bags.

1,000 2007 7

The fine (in Canadian dollars) to people who use plastic bags in the town of Leaf Rapids, Canada. The year San Francisco became the first city to ban plastic bags. The number of U.S. cities who are considering fees or bans on plastic bags - Austin, Texas; Bakersfield, Calif.; Boston; New Haven, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Phoenix; and Annapolis, Md.


Months before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China banned stores from handing out free plastic bags.


As of July 2007, this is how many cents Ireland taxes on every plastic shopping bag handed out to customers.


Million fewer plastic bags used every month as a result of San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags. Source: NPR.org





CLAUDIA LI // PHOTOGRAPHER cli@media.ucla.edu


Mission Pacific Ties is commited telling the stories of real people and we wanted you to be involved. This quarter, we hosted a week-long PacTies Photo Challenge on Facebook to give you the chance to tell the story of the APA community through photographs.

Details We asked participants to submit a photo that reflects the theme of this issue: “Education and Activism in the Asian American Pacific Islander Community.” Here are the winners:




NOW - JAN 11

20 Years Ago Today: Supporting Visual Arts in LA Japanese American National Museum Free for members,included with admission for visitors. Reservations are recommended.

Exhibition features the cultural emergence of the most innovative and exciting visual art made in Los Angeles over the past twenty years.


Picture This! My Life, Your Life, Our Lives: Photographs by Youths from the San Gabriel Valley Chinese American Museum

A 12-week program trained and challenged students to compose stories of their community through black and white photography. Features a series photographs representing a mosaic of everyday life in a place where many call home.

NOV 20

Stereotypes Within Our Culture: Breaking Down Barriers in Your Life FREE | 12 p.m. to 12:50 p.m Student Activities Center

This workshop seeks to address certain roadblocks presented to people, in regards to culture and gender, and overcoming them for success. www.thecenter.ucla.edu/workshops.html

NOV 21

Conference: Recent Developments in the Study of Buddhist Art UCLA Faculty Center | 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

This conference will survey some of the most important recent developments in the study of Buddhist art throughout Asia.

20th Annual UC Student Color Conference (SOCC) UCLA

Students from all across the state will come together to engage in constructive dialogue, planning, and organizing concerning student empowerment, education, and activism.

NOV 21-23

NOV 22

Asian Pacific Health Corps (APHC): Monterey Park Health Fair Monterey Park City Hall

APHC has been devoted to its mission of serving disadvantaged API communities that have minimal access to healthcare and limited financial resources.


48 Hours to Action $6 at the Central Ticket Office (CTO) UCLA Gloria Kaufam Hall, Room 200 6 - 8 p.m.

A dynamic evening of entertainment to observe World AIDS Day. Make art stop AIDS.

DEC 12-14

‘Tis the Season: Celebrate the Holidays with the Three Filipino Tenors Tickets are $35 for Orchestra and $30 for Balcony | 8 pm for Fri/.Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.

The Three Filipino Tenors will warm souls and raise spirits with traditional songs and holiday cheer at the David Henry Hwang Theater.

JAN 16

Henry Lim Performs Dylan 8 p.m. Powell Library Rotunda

Lim will perform classic Dylan songs accompanied on acoustic guitar and harmonica. No reservations necessary.

JAN 19

VCN: Vietnamese Culture Night 7 p.m. Royce Hall Tickets Free at Central Ticket Office (CTO)

A long-standing tradition that draws elements of Vietnamese culture and tradition through a modern perspective. Features an integrated and exciting drama play, martial arts, break dancing, plus modern and traditional dancing.

“For every step back, think of one small victory.” by KRISTINA WONG, excerpt from her closing speech at the Asian American Studies Conference [pg. 8]

SUMBITTED BY Jennifer Ward, third-year, Environmental Science major, Environmental Health minor Photographer credit: Khammany Saengdara – July 20, 2008

DETAILS In photograph: Jennifer Ward, three Thai elementary school students, Gabbie Morales in the Ranong Province of southern

Thailand. As a part of UCLA’s Sustainable Ecosystems Travel Study program in Thailand, students engaged in fieldwork and service learning activities with youth and community members to educate elementary school students about the concepts of sustainability, conservation and political action to push forward sustainable legislation.

QUOTE “Education is always happening, and intertwining academics, service, and interpersonal connections to create positive change is the core of student activism.” -Jennifer Ward

SUMBITTED BY Daniel Pham, third-year, Neuroscience major. DETAILS

In photograph: John Tran at May Day Protest & Rally in LA, May 5, 2008. The Southeast Asian Pacific Islander American community is not known for its activism in American sociopolitical issues, but our generation can easily change this. In this picture, John Tran is representing “ICE”, the Immigration Customs Enforcement that has kept so many families apart and torn many lives.

SUMBITTED BY Also Daniel Pham. DETAILS In photograph: SF! Slate –(Left to Right) George Chacon, James Birks, Elaine Reodica, Gilberto Chacon, Evan Shulman, Jeremiah

Garcia, Homaira Hosseni, Galen Roth. April 27, 2008. The Students First slate has historically represented underserved, underrepresented minority communities. This photo is a throwback to the Black Panthers, during the great era of Civil reform ad represents the change that can come about when students are given a voice.

NEXT CHALLENGE: “What is Your Passion?” Submit a photo that expresses PASSION and tell us how you discovered or realized this as your passion. What are you doing to continue or to pursue your passion? What have been your struggles and/or your accomplishments? Email to Claudia at cli@media.ucla.edu or submit it on the Winter 2008 PACTIES PHOTOCHALLENGE Event on Facebook.

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The Activism + Education Issue

Pacific Ties  

The Activism + Education Issue