The Stanford Daily Magazine VOLUME I
Religion on CAMPUS p. 6
May 5, 2017
Despite deep roots at Stanford, Cantonese doesn’t fulfill the language requirement p. 18
A quiet passion p. 10
Andi Sullivan p. 14
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The Stanford Daily
Volume I, Issue 6 May 5, 2017
OPINIONS 04 The art of productive debate Columnist Nick Pether on the boring answer to improving debates: focus on reason and logic
News 06 A Profile oF FAITHS Claudia Heymach speaks to students for whom religion is a major part of life on a somewhat areligious campus
Arts & Life 10 Review of ‘A Quiet passion’ Carlos Valladares examines the poetry behind the Emily Dickinson biopic 13 Q&A with The director Terence Davies on approaching his “most autobiographical film”
LIGHTROOM A collection of managing editor Robert Shi’s photos in Japan — p. 24
14 Persevering through injury Star soccer player Andi Sullivan isn’t letting a torn ACL dampen her spirits
24 Photo gallery Robert Shi captures the collision of ancient and modern in Japan
the grind 18 Cantonese at Stanford Samantha Wong explores the history of Cantonese people in California and why the language doesn’t fulfill Stanford’s graduation requirements 22 Hidden talents Surrounded by Olympic athletes, geniuses and star musicians, writer Emily Schmidt examines the lowkey talents that all students here have
28 POETRY Juliana Chang’s “Revolution” and “Saturday Chinese School”: reflections on language, family and life 32 CrossworD Contributor David Steinberg’s latest creation
On the cover: Photo illustration using image of immigrant workers in California, courtesy of Placer County Museum 3
How can debate drive social c By Nick Pether
ne of my favorite things about Stanford is that I have yet to meet anyone here who isn’t both unhappy with at least some aspect of how the world is run and frustrated at their own inability to sway others to their cause. It means I am surrounded by people who care. It also means that everyone here has a lot of investment in the following question: How do I best persuade people to help me fix this terribly broken world? The answer is very boring: Use reason and evidence. I recently came across a post titled “Guided by the Beauty of our Weapons” on the blog Slate Star Codex. The post explores a lot of people’s apparent cynicism about relying purely on facts and reason as a vehicle for convincing people to change their minds on important issues in order to drive meaningful social change. The post examines opinion articles like Nathan Robinson’s “Debate Vs. Persuasion” and Tim Hartford’s “ The Problem With Facts,” both of which argue that their respective political outgroups (Trump supporters and Brexiters) are somewhat resistant to facts and logic and need to be convinced by other means. Both authors seem convinced the answer is more engaging rhetoric and narratives that go beyond pure, cool facts and logic. I’m pretty on board with the blog post’s thesis: Perfecting our focus on reason and evidence is a much, much better idea than looking elsewhere for ways to persuade. There are some compelling reasons to opt for persuasive tactics that aren’t what Robinson calls “purely logical debate.” It often doesn’t work (that whole ‘the other guys are resistant to facts and logic’ angle). It doesn’t scale, it takes a lot of time and energy to persuade one person of something and to drive meaningful social change, you often need to persuade a lot of people. However, I think the two core problems are the following: A “purely logical debate” is often anything but and often doesn’t really change anything. What do I mean by the problem of “purely logical” debate being anything but? It’s in line with a lot of arguments I’ve heard in favor of skepticism against experts or technocratic 4
elites: Privileges like education, institutional backing, informedness and even just wit make it easier to deceive people, especially if you want to persuade a comparatively lessinformed audience. If I know a lot about a given topic, I can pick out lies that aren’t easily refuted and seem plausible. If I’m an expert statistician and everyone believes I’m an expert statistician, then I can say anything I want about my complex data no one else knows how to interpret and people just sort of have to believe me. Apparently attending an elite institution like Stanford means I can write whatever tinfoil hat wearing nutjobbery about Russia I like and the NYT will publish it. You can also make yourself look very smart by dropping some zinger in a public debate, even if it misrepresents someone’s argument completely. Come to think of it, the entire field of rhetoric can pretty much be summed up as “inventive ways to sound
more right than you are.” I think most people are slightly aware that it’s easy to use things that look closely like facts and logic to deceive people. I’d even go so far as to speculate that this phenomenon is partially to blame for the rise of alternate approaches to epistemology such as postmodernism. Needless to say, there’s a better way to address this apparent weakness of “purely logical debate” than abandoning it. You do it better instead. Scott of Slate Star Codex argues that a debate worth paying attention to must meet the following minimum standards: 1) It should involve at least two people with opposing views actually engaging with and listening to each other (rather than writing op-eds like this one); 2) Everyone must actually want to be there (see any public rants on unsolicited devil’s advocacy); 3) It must be conducted in “the spirit of mutual and
CHRISTIAN GOODEN/St. Louis Post-Dispatch
collaborative truth seeking” (no “personal attacks or ‘gotcha’ style digs” and a mutual acknowledgement one might be wrong about something); 4) There’s no cheering audience waiting with baited breath for some biting zinger; and 5) Everyone agrees to stick to the subject at hand. If you’re like most people then it’ll probably be hard to remember the last time you experienced a debate or discussion like this. There’s a reason for this: It’s hard to do. But Scott points out that debates that are done properly come with a significant benefit: They’re unfairly biased towards truthfulness. Meet the five standards for useful debate mentioned above and it’s quite hard to get away with deception or sloppy reasoning. But there’s another reasonable argument for opting for ‘persuasive’ tactics that aren’t logical debate, even when done right. It’s that debates are toothless. While the obvious up-
side of using debate to persuade people over violence or other exercises of power is that there’s less fallout and you only get an advantage if you’re actually correct, the downside is that the outcome can be inconsequential. If I’m genuinely not interested in changing my mind or behavior, I have no real incentive to engage in a proper debate over what I should believe or do or to change anything after I lose the debate. This can be a real problem when the stakes are high. Say I benefit enormously from pumping dangerous chemicals into the local water supply. The locals, reasonably upset about this, make the case that I am poisoning them, and ought not to poison people. If the only means they have of getting me to stop is to make a convincing argument, but I genuinely don’t care what happens to them, then they’re in a lot of trouble. I might choose not to give them my time of day for a debate. I might make a
few rhetorically-focused arguments as to how my toxic sludge is actually great for them and ignore them when they point out how transparently false that is. Regardless, nothing changes. The solution seems to be to ensure we rely on relatively objective means of solving disagreements, like debates that meet the above-mentioned minimum standards. However, we need to pair these objective means with mechanisms that push people into such debates and ensure that the outcome actually means something. Courts are a supposedly objective decisionmaking process with enforcement mechanisms attached, but they need not be the only system for resolving disagreements about high stakes issues. I would like to see a culture where people begin debating issues by finding the crux of their disagreement, identifying what different beliefs about that crux would imply in terms of what actions they should take and committing out loud to make those changes should they be proven wrong. Another mechanism I’ve written about before is, in the case where a disagreement can be reduced to a testable empirical claim, to “put your money where your mouth is” and make bets on said claim. I’m certainly in favor of the idea that anyone whose controversial opinion on any matter has significant repercussions for other people’s interests has an obligation to engage in proper debate with their critics and to stake something important on their ability to defend themselves. If any of this is going to happen, it’ll happen because loud, opinionated people visibly set a precedent for doing debate right, even when it isn’t convenient. I think we’re just the loud, opinionated people for the job. If “purely logical debates” seem unpersuasive or vulnerable to deception, the solution isn’t to abandon them for compelling narratives and rhetoric, but to just do them properly. If debates seem toothless, the solution isn’t to grasp at whatever power one has at the time to force the world to be more reasonable or just, but to set up practices and institutions such that more objective decision-making processes aren’t toothless. As abstract and idealistic as it sounds, I like this much better than a world where we just hope the good guys will be the ones who end up with the power and wit to shape society. Contact Nick Pether at firstname.lastname@example.org. 5
Religion at Stanford
Three studentsâ€™ experiences with faith By Claudia Heymach 6
he third floor of Old Union is the home of CIRCLE, a space devoted to interfaith dialogue and religious support. The floor holds rows of offices, a student lounge and a large sanctuary. Inside the sanctuary, rows of chairs are set up next to banners with diverse religious imagery, including the Bahá’í nine-pointed star and the Buddhist wheel of dharma. Outside the sanctuary, a number of the offices are devoted to religious student organizations. No obvious staircase leads to CIRCLE, an acronym for the Center for Inter-Religious Community, Learning and Experiences. Instead, students have to use the elevator or a side staircase to reach it, so for the non-religious Stanford student it is easy to forget the resource exists. Yet it is part of Old Union, one of the most central parts of campus. At times, religious dialogue on campus can seem similarly invisible, even if it is fundamental to many Stanford students’ lives. The typical Stanford student, consumed by p-sets and papers, likely would not be described as a regular churchgoer — yet a closer look reveals tangible student interest in religion. Approximately 40 religious organizations are active on campus, from the Jewish Student Association to the Hindu Students Association to the Quakers at Stanford. The Office for Religious Life regularly supports student organizations and religious programming. CIRCLE promotes interfaith dialogue and inclusivity. Kent Blake ’16 M.A. ’17, a computer science coterm, is the president of Queerituality, a student organization that connects LGBTQ+ in-
Photos by ROBERT SHI/The Stanford Daily
dividuals to religious communities at Stanford. According to Blake, coming out as religious — like coming out as LGBTQ+ — can be difficult when students feel like they’re defying cultural norms of their university. “I’m probably more reluctant to reveal that I grew up Mormon here than I would be at home,” Blake said. Yet once he started talking to his peers about religion, Blake found more interest at Stanford than he expected. “People are generally very understanding,” he said. “I thought that people would be hostile or confused, but the reaction I normally have when I come out as Mormon is more like ‘Oh, that’s interesting, tell me more.’” Below, three religious Stanford students have shared their experiences acclimating to the campus culture and discovering religion’s place in their lives.
Sam Good ’22, Church of Latter Day Saints
As a freshman, Sam Good ’22 has recently begun his Stanford journey — but he’s already looking ahead to the next one. At the end of freshman year, he will leave Stanford to become a Mormon missionary in an as-yet-unknown location, striving to communicate his beliefs and serve his community. Good is from Eden, a small town in Utah with a large population of Latter Day Saints. Growing up, Good at times felt at odds with
his community because he questioned its principles of social conservatism. “I felt like I was the odd one out,” he said. “I felt unaccepted when I would raise issues within a deeply conservative religious course. But coming here [to Stanford], that’s almost the norm.” While many Mormons choose to pursue a mission trip immediately after high school, Good felt compelled to attend a year of college first. His desire to challenge traditional values and expose himself to new belief systems drew him to Stanford in particular, he said — it felt critical to test his faith outside of his religious community before deciding to spread his beliefs as a missionary. “By coming here, I knew it would cement for me,” he explained. “Is this right for me? Do I believe this?” Good says that since coming to college, his faith has, in fact, deepened. He studies Scripture daily and attends church services, Sunday classes and weekly dinners for the Latter-Day Saint Student Association (LDSSA), among other practices. He also serves as a fellowship committee member for the LDSSA, which involves reaching out to other Mormon students to foster friendships and a tight-knit community. While Good’s faith remains constant, he has noticed differences in his religious experiences back home and at Stanford. Here, even within
“By coming here I knew it would cement for me. Is this right for me? Do I believe this?” 7
said. “This puts me in a fresh position to later look back at the Bahá’í writings and see things in there that actually reflect in my own experience.” Now, as a Bahá’í, Churchill believes in the unity of different forms of religion and spirituality. “This is not a mere statement that religions should just get along, but that actually, in their essence, religions are reflecting one reality,” Churchill said. Each religion’s God — or Gods — is simply a conceptualization of a single, inherently unknowable God, according to Churchill’s descriptions of Bahá’í belief. These conceptualizations diverge because of the time, location and needs of the populations in which the religions arise, he explained. “This perspective also allows us to understand different religions as looking at the same the Mormon community, he has noticed greater degrees of gender equality than in Eden. Good observed that while women did receive religious leadership roles in his hometown and were described as equals, diffusion of responsibility and status still felt skewed towards men within the church. “It’s incredible to see the amount of equality even within church meetings that didn’t necessarily exist growing up,” Good said. One of his most transformative spiritual experiences still awaits, though, as Good’s mission trip draws closer. Good will find out his mission placement in April. Although the details of his mission vary widely by location, some elements remain constant, such as being matched with companions and adhering to a strict dress code that calls for a suit and tie. He will also have strictly limited access to mainstream media. In many cases, missionaries are only allowed to email their families once a week and call on holidays, and they have little to no other access to the internet — a startling contrast to the tech-centered world of Stanford and Silicon Valley. Despite these restrictions, Good says that mission trips have transformed in recent years, diverging from the stereotype of missionaries knocking on doors and giving speeches about their religion. Instead, missionaries are becoming increasingly service-focused. “It’s no longer this goal of conversion by numbers and bringing people to church,” Good said. “It’s more of showing them, by example, that you know when you have the light of Christ in your life, you can be happier and live
a happier life.” For him, the trip means more than sharing his faith. Good looks forward to escaping the ambitious individualism fostered at college. “Stanford — well, college in particular, but also Stanford — is a place where it’s really easy to think about yourself all the time,” Good said. “It’s all me, me, me, and there’s not a lot of time for reflection on others and really trying to serve. To have that break for two years — to just think about other people — is just going to make me a much better person, regardless of religion.”
Berkeley Churchill, Bahá’í Faith
Berkeley Churchill, a computer science Ph.D. student, identified as agnostic in high school. His parents were Bahá’í and he had learned about the faith, but during middle school and high school he found few reasons to believe it. “I very much clung to this notion of wanting to have a mathematical proof written down if I wanted to believe something,” Churchill said. Yet when he took an English class that involved the work of transcendentalist writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, elements of their works struck him as instinctively true. Churchill was drawn to the idea that there was a connection between nature and a greater power. During that period, Churchill often walked home from school through a mile-long, wooded area. “In this reflective state during these walks, I felt like what Thoreau and Emerson were saying seemed more and more true to me,” Churchill
“In some ways, I can’t interact with other people in certain ways that most people can.” 8
truth from different perspectives,” Churchill said. Churchill’s relationship to his faith continues to develop as he practices. The Bahá’í faith observes a 19-day fast during March, and Churchill said that each year when he observes the fast, he discovers more ways that it is impactful. Fasting helps him realize how difficult it would be to live a less privileged life — to understand the reality that many people in the world do not receive three meals a day, he said. “You can think about it as an act of love,” he added, reflecting on the custom at a more abstract level. “You’re making a sacrifice for something that’s greater than you.” While Churchill says Bahá’í practices can be considered more individualistic than those of other religions, he values interacting with a community of Bahá’ís at Stanford. Approxi-
mately a dozen members of the Bahá’í Association at Stanford are currently active, and they gather for devotional meetings, community service planning and feasts. On a wider level, a global administrative structure links Bahá’í localities. Although the Bahá’í faith is one of the world’s fastest-growing religions, Churchill noted that most Americans do not know what being Bahá’í means. “In the U.S. in general, not that many people are familiar with the Bahá’í faith,” he said. “You could imagine some religious survey where people are asking questions and there are no options for Bahá’í.”
Michael Lu ’19, Mahayana Buddhism
Michael Lu ’19 found himself at a Buddhist monastery in Berkeley last winter, surrounded by curious Stanford peers.
Lu’s friends were not Buddhist, but they had often expressed interest in learning more about his beliefs and practices. In general, Lu has observed that many Stanford students are curious about religion. He believes that Buddhism, which promotes self-awareness and the study of the mind, may particularly appeal to students. “I think that kind of instruction is really helpful for Stanford students,” Lu said. “That’s why I think that Buddhism might be practical.” Lu emphasized that there is more to Buddhism than the classic image of meditation in isolation, citing 84,000 different practices that help followers “unfold [their] own wisdom,” as he put it. Beyond meditation, Lu maintains his faith individually through practices such as reciting mantras and applying mindfulness to breath-
“This perspective also allows us to understand different religions as looking at the same truth from different perspectives. ing. One of the most fundamental ways he rejuvenates his spirituality, though, is by visiting his hometown. In fourth grade, Lu moved to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a Buddhist community in Northern California that is one of a series of communities throughout California, Canada, Taiwan and other locales. Most of the 500-acre stretch of land in the Northern California hub is devoid of buildings, populated by vineyards and ranchland. The central community includes a main Buddha hall, living quarters and gender-separated boarding schools, where Lu studied until college. The school curriculum integrates meditation studies and other elements that fortified Lu’s spirituality. “The longer I am in my community, the more in touch with Buddhism I’ve been,” he said. “After coming outside, I lose a little of that connection, so I have to go back. It’s kind of like recharging, trying to get back into the spirituality.” During his transition to Stanford, maintaining some elements of his religion proved particularly challenging. For instance, Lu has chosen to adopt precepts, ethical codes that prohibit actions such as becoming intoxicated and eating meat. “In some ways, I can’t interact with other people in certain ways that most people can,” Lu said. “I try to avoid certain things that would cause me or help me break my morals — for example, going to parties.”
At times, these restrictions lead to loneliness or feelings of estrangement. At home, too, Lu’s exposure to Stanford — and the diversity of beliefs, especially the liberal ones, held here — separate him from his peers. Ultimately, though, he says he has gained a greater ability to navigate both worlds through his experiences. The serenity and stability he gains from his practice allow him to handle uncertainty, in any context, more effectively. According to Lu, in the midst of hectic Stanford quarters, Buddhism allows him to “attain more equanimity — to not be moved so much by what is happening outside.” In using his faith to navigate college, Lu exemplifies how many religious students combine Stanford and spirituality. To some of the Stanford student body, religious education might seem extraneous to intellectual life, pertaining to an unrelated understanding of the world. Yet for the three students who shared their stories in this piece, religion is inextricably linked to the college experience. Lu achieves peace during finals week; Good reads scripture to try to become a more productive citizen; Churchill fasts to reflect on his position in the world. Simultaneously, each student encounters unfamiliar liberal perspectives and surprising conversations that spur constant reflection upon their motivations and beliefs. Contact Claudia Heymach at email@example.com.
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
A Quiet Passion Terence Davies and Cynthia Nixon create poetry of their own in a brilliant Emily Dickinson biopic By Carlos Valladares
hat joy in this film! No, it’s not “joyful”; in fact, it’s glum and depressing and painful to watch. It’s from Terence Davies, Britain’s cinemaster of ex-Catholic, gay, working-class, spiritualized pain, director of such brutally personal masterworks as “Distant Voices, Still Lives” (1989) and “The Long Day Closes” (1992). It’s about a poet, Emily Dickinson, whom Garrison Keillor called “the patron saint of shy people” — who for her entire life rode shotgun with bosom companions Spurned Love, Loneliness, and Death. The joy in an item like “Quiet Passion” is the preservation of sanctity of lived experience — of breathing, love, family, mortality, and of course, the thing which brings the above in sharpest relief: art. There’s a different kind of joy: that of an actually-meaningful artist tackling the life of a kindred spirit. Quel bonus if the artists are cut from the same cloth, if they are in sync, if they engage in dialogues across years, decades, centuries. The personal touch always helps. In Vincente Minnelli’s “Lust for Life” (1956), the melodramatic soul of the Hollywood auteur was aptly attuned to the swirling, emotional anguish of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes. Likewise, only David O. Russell with his kinetic kook could, with “Joy” (2015), capture the off-center grit of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano’s struggles to get her invention off the ground. In both, the key stars, Kirk Douglas and Jennifer Lawrence, were somehow completely acting like themselves in unchanged star personas (Kirk Douglas doing his grit-teeth act; Jennifer Lawrence just a shade mellower than her “American Hustle” wildness) and, at the same time, deeply submerged in the psyche and torment of their subjects (today, it’s much easier to see this in the Douglas performance, since Douglas isn’t as ubiquitous a presence as Lawrence.) Such is the case with “A Quiet Passion,” where Terence Davies’ pointed anguish has a decisive effect on the controlled, inward cool of Cynthia Nixon. She’s part of that DouglasLawrence tradition of glamorous stars sliding into the skin of their famous doppelgänger, without fuss or Daniel Day-Lewis posturing. Nixon is damn good at mixing the mundane and the mythic sides of Dickinson. When Emily writes her verse, humoring her sister or mother or Lady Austen-like best friend (MVP Catherine Bailey), Nixon’s voice carries the gentle lilt, patience, ordinariness of a Takahata or Ozu hero — Taeko in “Only Yesterday” (1991) or the myriad Setsuko Hara-played daughters, where the richness of the character lays in an unregretful/melancholic embrace of the present. From three in the morning till sunrise, Emily Dickinson is hard at
work; when questioned, she explains her odd method with Setsuko Hara-like relish: “It’s the best time. When it feels as if the whole world is asleep and still.” The up-down-dash lilt in the Nixon voice is downright musical. When Emily’s mother (Joanna Bacon) dismisses her own boring existence (“No one would know I was here”), Dickinson responds with a rousing anti-world force that dissolves into a weird, existential angst: “But if you weren’t — oh! — what a chasm you would leave!” It’s like Dickinson’s verse leapt from the page and into the room — an eerie effect. But a gravely different Emily emerges as her life slowly transitions from Whit Stillmanesque snipes at the patriarchy to an ever-paralyzing stillness inside her bedchamber. From her publisher to her suitors, she refuses people’s advances, talking only from the top of the stairs. Fantasies begin to trickle into her life more often; a mysterious man in black — her impossible ideal — ascends Davies’ signature staircase, up to her room. The fantasies sustain her through her bouts of kidney failure and epilepsy, which make her life a living hell. Indeed, the scenes of Nixon/Emily suffering seizures are among the most violent and distressing images Davies has ever shot. It’s a Davies film, through and through. As Mr. Dickinson, Keith Carradine plays a Davies father in a smaller subset of Brutal Abusers, the second most common male in his work. The fathers of “Sunset Song” and “Distant Voices, Still Lives” are more violent than Mr. Dickinson, yes, but Carradine’s unsmiling face and intolerance of frivolity is essentially the anger of Pete Postlethwaite or Peter Mullan bottled up and dressed in New England niceties. For her part, Emily (the termite rebel) is furious at how men treat women in Massachusetts. Paradoxically, however, she gets part of her spunk from Father himself, who encourages his children to be “sophisticated,” not “docile.” As was the case with the other abusive fathers in the Davies oeuvre, the would-be victim turns a thorn into a rose, refuses to be pushed in the mud, picks herself up and stokes her inner fire, aiming anger back out in creative outlets (cultivating land in “Sunset Song,” Bud watching cinema and daydreaming in Welles and Wyler in “Long Day Closes,” writing poetry here). There are breathtaking long takes that pause on seemingly nothing. At the opera, during a piano interlude before the soprano starts singing, Davies refuses to cut or move the camera; we just see Emily’s rapt face, Dad’s stern disapproval, Aunt Elizabeth pretentiously eyeing the room to see if she’s being looked at. It’s a glorious moment of human observation — Davies’ faith in smallness, once again confirmed. And not surprisingly, the moment picks up a trend that weaves in and out of Dickinson’s small-size,
huge-ambition verse, which prefers the anthill to the mountain:
A little Road—not made of Man— Enabled of the Eye— Accessible to Thill of Bee— Or Cart of Butterfly—
If Town it have—beyond itself— ’Tis that—I cannot say— I only know—no Vehicle Bears me along that Way— The screenplay — “the best/funniest/spiffiest of Davies’ career,” etc. — is chock full of such rich moments of pause it makes you want to reach for your journal and jot down every word. Like last year’s Davies picture “Sunset Song,” some will probably find the dialogue tedious and obvious, or (at worse) starchy and declamatory. After all, this is a movie where men acknowledge the first shot at Fort Sumter, the beginning of the Civil War, the real reason it’s being fought (slavery), the immoral implications thereof, the draft, and the millionaire’s evasion of said draft — all in a span of a heated thirty-second convo. Realism as such, however, is never Davies’ goal; far too drab for him. What’s maybe even more stunning is how Cynthia Nixon’s curious-attentive listening has so sneaked itself into the film’s bone structure at this point, that we notice Emily is not in the frame. She listens nervously beyond the shot, holding her sister-in-law’s baby in her hand (after having casually composed “I’m Nobody!/ Who are you?” on the spot); to inspire her verse, she uses, not the literal exchange about the Civil War, but rather the soul and meaning underneath the literal — the bloody deaths, neatly skipped yet feverishly there. Even the first half ’s unexpected humor (not common for Davies’ works) is coated with a Hollywood musical blueness, Rembrandtian black. It’s gravely different from the evenlyapplied airiness and gaiety of Whit Stillman, whose “Love & Friendship” (2016) resembles the first half of “A Quiet Passion” on the surface. When the persnickety Aunt Elizabeth (coMVP Annette Badland) departs the Dickinson kids with a perfectly delivered “I shall pray for you all!”, Davies balances out this unexpected moment of levity with an equally unexpected come-down to earth, courtesy of Nixon reciting Dickinson’s poem “I went to thank Her — but she Slept —” as Aunt Elizabeth’s carriage departs. Suddenly, the comedy is infested
with Death, the two never separate. One truly doesn’t realize the beauty, the privilege, the precious holiness of a tea date or a family member until that person is asleep. As Emily writes:
‘Twas Short — to cross the Sea — To look upon Her like — alive — But turning back — ‘twas slow — Davies is such the perfect artist to make a film about Dickinson; they understand hope and mortality like the backs of their hands. In the most knockout shot of the film (recalling Hawks’ “Red River” pan around a sleepy cowherd about to be taken to Missouri), the camera creeps and circles around the living room, observing life about to begin (young Emily will grow into the poet) and death fast on the family’s heels. It starts with Emily quietly reading a book of poetry. Then, one by one, we pass by each Dickinson, frittering away the night in her or his own mundane zone (knitting, reading, watching the fire crackle). Emily’s voiceover hovers above their unknowing heads, briefly flooding the room with her lilt’s natural loneliness — which at the core we all bear. The shot ends parked again on Emily, now trained away from the book and staring frightfully at her family, her eyes darting back and forth in agitation, reading death and obscurity in each family member’s face. They won’t leave a lasting
impression. Her? Maybe — maybe not — she is unsure, as we all are. For all her life, Dickinson was negotiating the place of her family in her poetry, of her private feelings standing in for the universal. Nagging doubts, existential and atomlike, plagued this poet, as they do our best artists (like Davies). Emily looks at her mother on the cusp of death, and she feels torture, angst. There’s a dramatic chasm that separates Joanna Bacon’s frozen, waxlike figure, Emma Bell’s mortal youngness, and Cynthia Dixon’s confident, fluid voice. While Mother Dickinson is lost in the fire of her quotidian thoughts (she will never transcend her time), Young Emily is sharply aware of past, present and post-death future (she has historical consciousness). Both bear burdens too great to name, burdens preserved by Davies’ fleeting-gliding camera. The camera is the key to this queerly notsad sorrow. “A Quiet Passion” moves in slow, inevitable glides, like we’re trotting parallel to the Carriage carrying Emily, Death, and Immortality. Regardless of whether or not Dickinson was the subject, Davies’ motion pictures have always had her dash-like rhythm: Random snatches of dialogue are picked up an hour after they were passingly introduced, and the feel of an established scene get dropped without a warning. Think back to “Distant Voices, Still Lives,” when, in one scene, the kids are celebrating the joys of gifts and family at Christmastime, and, in the next, the Father trashes Mother’s Christmas feast by pulling the tablecloth,
dishes crash everywhere: “NOW CLEAN IT UP,” he screams to Mother with her head buried in her lap. A similar trippiness of memory is shown in the scene where Emily religiously awaits a mysterious “looming man at midnight” — set to a Celtic, mournful rendition of Thomas Ford’s “Since First I Saw Your Face.” It’s a scene of great romantic ache — and it’s sandwiched between two hilariously inconsequential scenes where a man-boy suitor tries to get Emily to leave her bedchamber. The bookmarks seem to happen on the same day, but the Celtic interlude (Davies returning to the phantasmagoric imagery of “The Long Day Closes” and “The Neon Bible”) breaks up the smooth temporality. The structure of Davies’ films is set by the mind’s volcanic moods, of a person in the throes of remembrance, regardless of whether their source material is explicitly literary (“The House of Mirth,” “Sunset Song”) or autobiographical (“The Long Day Closes,” “Of Time and the City”). “For the first time in my career,” Davies said recently, “I’m in danger of being prolific.” What a time to be alive. We hear that his next project is a biopic of Siegfried Sassoon, one of the three great poets of the First World War. If we are to expect anything from that picture, it should be a joyful sadness — which, like “A Quiet Passion,” is not a contradiction. Contact Carlos Valladares at cvall96@stanford. edu.
With his understanding of hope and morality, director Terence Davies was the perfect fit to work on a film about Dickinson. 12
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Q&A: Terence Davies Director of ‘A Quiet Passion’
TSD: There’s a slightly fatalistic Ophulsian touch in that stunning 360-degree pan around the Dickinson living room. Everyone’s in their zone, it starts with Emily, then returns to her with this pained and scared expression on your [sic] face. Could you talk to me about that shot? It blew me away when I first saw it.
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
The Stanford Daily (TSD): This is the first biographical picture of yours. What’s it like to make a film like this as opposed to autobiography or a literary adaptation?
stayed for nearly all her adult life], over time, that haven becomes a prison. And when she realizes that, of course, it’s too late to do anything about it.
Terence Davies (TD): Well really, I responded to three things in [Emily Dickinson’s] life. One, she was very ill with homesickness when she was at Mount Holyoke [Dickinson’s alma mater]. And really ill with it — that’s why she was brought back home. When I was in primary school, I was about ten; I had a really bad chest infection and I was sent from Liverpool to North Wales for a month to convalesce. And I hated it! I just hated it — a fairly long time. I felt that in common with her. Also, I really felt a rapport with her spiritual quest. If you really look at her poetry, she guards her soul, but she’s not actually sure whether there’s a God or there isn’t. And she always manages to imply something beyond that. I was brought up a Catholic, and I was very, very devout. Between 15 and 22, I had a long struggle with doubt. And I felt, actually, it was all a lie. That there was no God. I’m an atheist now, but I know what that’s like: Going through your conscience, constantly. Examining what your soul is and what its point is. She also comes from a very close family. I’m the youngest of ten, with seven surviving, and our family was very close — and I wanted it to stay like that forever. And I think she did, too. The problem with that, of course, is that the family can’t stay like that. It will get older, it will go away, it will die. [For Emily,] having come back to this haven [her family home, where she
TSD: It’s being called your most autobiographical film. TD: Well, it was only after I’d finished it and my manager said, “It’s your most autobiographical film.” And the penny dropped, I felt: “God, he’s right!” At the time, I just wanted to make a good film about somebody whose poetry I loved, and who should have had a claim while she was alive — that’s the other thing that moves me very very deeply, that she never got acclaim during her lifetime, because I think she is the greatest of all the 19th century American poets. So I didn’t realize that. When you’re writing something, shooting it, putting it together — those things are in your subconscious, and they come out in a sort of refracted way. Which is what they should do. So you don’t know what you’ve done ‘til you’ve finished it. If you were to start from the reverse position, I think you’d destroy any kind of subtext that would be there. You’d be wanting every single shot to carry all this dramatic and emotional weight. And you can’t do that. The script has got to be true to what you felt or what I thought about her life. Obviously, it’s not a definitive life — it’s a subjective view of her life through my prism. By the very fact of that, though, I’ve drawn on things that were personal and autobiographical. But I didn’t do it consciously.
TD: Mmm. Well, I come from a large family. We only had the radio, which wasn’t on all the time. You only switched it on for special programmes. So very often, I would often watch my sisters and my brothers and my mother doing ordinary things, doing nothing, just looking at the fire. And I wanted to show that. This is [Emily’s] little haven, this is what encompasses her world. I said to Emma [Bell, who plays young Emily Dickinson]: “At the end of the camera, when it comes back to you, something has died in you.” And that something is: Even at the peak of happiness and ecstasy, you know that it is already going. TSD: “A Quiet Passion” is a glorious contradiction — by which I mean it is quite melancholic and glum, yes, but out of this comes an affirmation of life so strong it leaves you in soaring joy — crying and singing at the same time. Almost like a Hollywood musical. TD: Oh what a lovely thing to say! But I didn’t want it to be glum! There’s nothing worse than someone going around glum for ninety minutes. What’s interesting in that? Nothing at all. For instance, Miss Vryling Buffam [Emily’s wildly vibrant best friend in “A Quiet Passion”] was Vinny’s [Emily’s sister’s] friend, not Emily’s. When, on the Fridays when my sisters’ friends would come ‘round to do their makeup and go out to the dance, those friends were like Vryling! Wonderfully funny, wonderful to be around. And I thought, she’s my amalgamation of my sisters’ friends who radiated those evenings. So I wanted her to be irreverent because that’s much fun. TSD: I see. Yeah, maybe “glum” was not quite the right word for it— TD: (laughs) No, no! I’m very good at misery and death. Just a bit short on the ol’ joie de vivre. This transcript has been edited. To see the interview in its entirety, please visit us online. Contact Carlos Valladares at cvall96@stanford. edu. 13
ANDI SULLIVANâ€™S QUEST FOR SUCCESS ACL torn; spirit unbroken By Julia Massaro
Photos courtesy of isiphotos.com
NOVEMBER 17, 2016
t’s the 101st minute of double overtime in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Stanford is the top seed playing its long-time rival Santa Clara; the Cardinal have played the Broncos more than any other opponent in program history. Up to this point, things haven’t gone easily. Stanford possessed the ball for most the game, putting 31 shots on goal with nothing to show for it. The team was looking to junior Andi Sullivan, team captain and MAC Hermann Trophy candidate, for direction. Sullivan had just returned from her weeklong stint playing with the national team, where the Pac12 player of the year played a pair of games against Romania. At this point in the game “I was going to bust my butt and pressure as much as possible, and I saw an opportunity to block a shot,” Sullivan said. And then she heard a pop.
“The first thing I said to our athletic trainer was ‘I did it, I did it, I did it.’” It’s every athlete’s worst nightmare. An ACL tear can happen without contact and requires surgery and a long rehabilitation process — six to 12 months — to fully heal. Head coach Paul Ratcliffe remembered, “My first thought was that it must be a serious injury. Andi is a very tough player and we are used to seeing her bounce back immediately.” After Sullivan was moved off the field into the training room, the team was especially motivated to get the win for its injured captain. “I remember our coach being like, ‘Regardless of what happens let’s do this for Andi.’ Everyone was ready to put their all into it,” sophomore Jordan Dibiasi recalls. Meanwhile, Sullivan was in the training room, located right next to Santa Clara’s bench. Inside, the training tables face away from the field. Andi, unable to see the action, was left to listen. “I could hear the buildup, them getting excited, and finally their screams, and I knew
we lost.” In the 108th minute, the Broncos scored off a cross and finish into the lower right corner of the goal. Soccer, like all sports, can be cruel and unlucky. Ratcliffe explained that while “dominating the match,” Stanford’s inability to score let Santa Clara stay in the game. Looking back, Dibiasi couldn’t put a mark on what exactly kept the Cardinal from executing. “When I look at my teammates, I can honestly say they gave it 100 percent,” Dibiasi said. She admitted that one of the hardest parts of the loss “was not winning for [Sullivan] because she has given us so much.” This specific team, on and off the field, had amazing chemistry. Even Santa Clara, in their postgame recap, acknowledged Stanford’s amazing year and how their upset win will rank as one of the program’s best. “I’ve said this a couple of times, I was more upset that we lost than that I just tore my ACL,” Andi said.
JANUARY 27, 2017 “I don’t think it gets more challenging than this.” Sitting in Jimmy V’s Café, Andi sits at a table surrounded by Stanford soccer recruits. For these future players, Andi’s remarkable career thus far is a model one, and awe and respect are visible on all of their faces. It’s hard to imagine that just three years ago, Andi was sitting at that table meeting current players. After graduating South Country High School in Lorton, Virginia, as TopDrawerSoccer. com’s No. 1 recruit and 2013 NSCAA National Youth Player of Year, Andi was fully prepared to start her first year of college soccer. Head Coach Ratcliff explained the factors that made Sullivan stand out among the thousands of soccer hopefuls vying for those five Cardinal recruiting spots every year. “I was drawn to her presence on the field, confidence and leadership skills. Andi possesses all the qualities needed in a dominant midfielder: technical skills, intelligence, athleticism and competitiveness.” It’s those very qualities that have made Andi so successful on and off the field. When asked about her feelings on coming to Stanford as such a touted recruit, she humbly brushed the praise aside: “Those awards are very flattering to receive, but do not guarantee anything. If I’m going to play, I’m going to have to work for this.” And work she did. After starting 23 out of the 24 games she played in, Sullivan was named the Freshman of the Year by Pac-12, Soccer America and TopDrawerSoccer.com. For Andi, hard work is not a deterrent but an opportunity. Her work ethic has an impact
on more than just her personal play — it raises everyone else up around her. “I think her ability to keep up with work while performing at such a high level, missing class to compete with the national team, translates to our entire team,” Jordan said. “If she can do it we can do it too.” “Because of her, none of us will accept anything less from each other and it’s a part of our team culture.” When Andi is in the room, people feed off of her energy. Her attitude is infectious, and her confidence comes through in every interaction. Sitting at the sports cafe, various athletic trainers and coaches come over to talk or highfive her, and she beams at them. It’s hard to remember that Andi is currently not on the field training or practicing at full strength, but is still in the rehab process for her torn ACL. I asked her how she’s still kept such an upbeat attitude when facing probably one of the biggest setbacks in her career. “People would say to me, you’re not invincible. And I didn’t like that, because before I felt invincible. I put so much work into being strong and getting a lot of sleep, and I thought I’m fine, I’m never going to do this,” she said. “I’ve realized now that it can happen to anyone, which is terrifying but also comforting in a weird way since it’s out of your control.” Being sidelined by an injury is one of the hardest mental and physical challenges an athlete can endure. Andi’s daily schedule is burdened by all of the normal student-athlete commitments: Lift, practice, class. Only now, she has to fit in new additions of physical therapy and treatment. It’s hard to remember that these athletes aren’t just athletes, they’re college students who want to have a typical college experience as well. “I like hanging out with people too on campus. I like to have friends!” It’s easier to balance this when your teammates are some of your best friends, as is clearly the case with Andi. Andi does not answer a single question without mentioning the team first or using the pronoun “we.” Jordan attributed their team chemistry to the precedent set by the upperclassman from the moment preseason starts — a precedent led by “Sunny,” Andi’s team nickname. “I remember that on our first off day, she took the time to show me around and gave me a personal bike tour,” Jordan said. “Because of that and in the following days of preseason, it became clear that Sunny is someone who loves you and supports you endlessly, and encourages you to take risks outside of your comfort zone. If it doesn’t work out she’ll be the first one to pick you up; if it does she’ll be the first one to congratulate you.”
Chemistry often translates to success for the Cardinal. The team finished with a No. 6 rank in the NSCAA poll with a final record of 182-1. This year they captured their 11th Pac-12 title, their sixth conference championship in eight years. Andi was one of those people that knew from an early age knew that they were meant to play soccer. As early as elementary school, she remembers telling fellow classmates that she wanted to be a professional soccer player. Over and over again, she had to re-emphasize how genuinely serious she was about that goal. It was her “when, not if ” attitude that propelled her up the ladder of club teams and youth national groups to get where she is now — a member of the U.S. national team. “People watch warmups and cheer when you come out. I was like holy crap, I’m warming up to play in a game for the national team. And people aren’t here to see me, no one knows who I am. People are here for this.” Andi did not merely stand alongside her role models on the national team field — she was a standout amongst them. After her first game starting for the U.S., ESPN writer Graham Hays wrote that “no one made a better first impression at soccer’s highest level than Sullivan.” Over her stint with the national team, Andi started both games at midfield, playing all but fifteen minutes.
“My dream has always been to compete in the Olympics.” With Andi’s track record, this dream feels ripe to become reality. Unfortunately, as her ACL tear illustrates, there are uncontrollable factors that contribute to determining the likeliness of reaching her goal. However, talking to Andi, it’s hard to not believe she’ll persevere. “My friends are like ‘you’ll be back.’ I believe I will be because I believe in myself as a player. “ When players start to see the end of their college career, thoughts about individual legacy usually start to circulate. Sullivan is not one of those players. Her focus is on what it has always been on, the team. For Sullivan, discussions about the 2017 season are clouded with the uncertainty that comes with rehabbing an injury. “I’m working for it now. I’m working for it in a different way, because I’m working from scratch, and I’ve never been so excited before, excited to play soccer, excited to play for this school, excited to play with my friends.” “What do I want people to remember about me? They are going to remember a lot of different things. I think... just that I won’t settle. I just want to get the best out of everyone.” Contact Julia Massaro at jmassaro@stanford. edu. 17
Where is THE
Cantonese AT STANFORD?
BY SAMANTHA WONG
une 30, 2014, a couple months before New Student Orientation. I needed to register for my language placement tests, yet when I opened the registration site, the language that I speak as fluently as English wasn’t even listed.
I grew up speaking Cantonese as my first language, a language indigenous to southeastern China and Hong Kong, from which my parents immigrated. In fact, part of the reason why I chose to attend Stanford was that I got a brochure from the language department during Admit Weekend, listing Cantonese as one of its offered languages. I was excited to attend a university that would formally recognize my language and my culture as important enough to be taught. Confused, I emailed the language department to ask whether there had been a mistake. My heart sank when I received their response: “Cantonese conversation courses do not fulfill the language requirement. If you have any experience with Mandarin, please take the Chinese placement test.” Mandarin and Cantonese are as similar as Portuguese and Spanish. The spoken word is different; the characters vary depending on whether they are written in the simplified form of Mainland China or traditional form of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Linguistically, they are two separate languages.
Even Latin — a “dead” language — fulfills the language requirement, but not Cantonese. It also doesn’t have to do with political legitimacy. Cantonese is an official language of Hong Kong and Macau, but not China. Yet Tibet is not its own country either — and Tibetan is recognized for the foreign language requirement. Other peer institutions recognize and offer multiple Cantonese language classes beyond the conversational classes at Stanford. BYU, NYU, University of British Columbia, and University of Toronto provide one year of introductory Cantonese. Even at the high school level, San Francisco Unified School District, where over 75% of all the Chinese-American children identify as Cantonese speakers, has offered Cantonese bilingual programs for years—and they have a placement test. Most confusingly of all, Stanford has a mechanism for earning a "Proficiency in Foreign Language Notation" through an Oral Proficiency Interview and Writing Proficiency Test. The tests are scored on the Foreign Service Institute/American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages scale. And guess what? Those tests are offered in Cantonese.
SUNNY LI/The Stanford Daily
Cantonese is incomprehensible to a Mandarin speaker, and vice versa. In short, the advertisements were false; my bilingualism did not meet the one-year language requirement. Cantonese was important enough to be taught, but not important enough to be recognized for the language requirement.
Why doesn’t Cantonese count for the foreign language requirement? The real reason definitely doesn’t have to do with the number of Cantonese speakers in the world. There are an estimated 80 million Cantonese speakers across the world. In the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Census, 458,840 people speak Cantonese and 487,250 speak Mandarin — a very close margin. In fact, there are more people that speak Cantonese in the U.S. than most of the other offerings in the language department that count toward the language requirement, such as Hawaiian (26,205) and even Japanese (449,475).
The very same language testing system the Stanford Language Center uses for proficiency evaluation recognizes Cantonese as a foreign language and provides mechanisms for placement testing. I could shell out $209 and take the exact same test that Stanford uses to assess proficiency in a foreign language — the problem clearly isn’t that placement tests are nonexistent.
to Professor Sik Lee Dennig, who taught Cantonese at Stanford in 1997 and from 2001 to the current day, conversational Cantonese courses have been offered since 1997. In fall 2006, a one-year 15-unit Cantonese sequence, "First-year Comprehensive Cantonese," was introduced for the first, and only, time after a group of students petitioned for its creation. When I asked Bernhardt about why the Cantonese sequence ended after 2007, she cited a lack of student interest. “The problem is that students need to be proactive about their needs and rally interest in their communities," the same way the original group of students in 2006 was able to raise support for a Cantonese class. There needs to be “at least 10 students to request a full sequence in a language,” she said, for a class offering to be financially feasible. The funding in 2006-2007 came from the Vice Provost, which was a one-time grant that was not renewed after the cohort of students finished the sequence. Without additional funding, the only way to offer a 15-unit sequence in Cantonese would be to cancel an existing conversational or film class, which Bernhardt fears would reduce Cantonese enrollment even more. Bernhardt’s concerns about a lack of student interest and finite budget are understandable. However, if the option to request classes or take a placement test in languages not taught at Stanford is inaccessible, how would students know to do so? If other students, like me, emailed the SLC Student Services Officer and received the same terse, “Cantonese does not meet the language requirement,” I wonder how many of them would be able to find out that they could request a language on their own.
So why is Cantonese excluded?
The Stanford Language Center To find out more about how the Stanford Language Center decides which languages fulfill the requirement and which do not, I spoke with Elizabeth Bernhardt, director of the SLC and professor in German Studies. According to Bernhardt, “All foreign languages meet the language requirement, with some caveats. Students must demonstrate proficiency in reading, listening, speaking and writing, which is usually fulfilled with a oneyear sequence in the language. There is no prohibition against any language.” The reason Cantonese classes currently do not meet the language requirement, according to Bernhardt, is that the current conversational courses are not offered in a 12-15 unit sequence. However, Stanford has offered a 12-15 unit Cantonese sequence in the past. According
Moreover, the current low enrollment in Cantonese could very well stem from the fact that conversational Cantonese does not count toward the language requirement. Stanford students may not have the academic space to take additional units of conversational Cantonese on top of their one-year language course. I imagine that if Cantonese offered a first-year sequence like Mandarin Chinese, more students would enroll. Not to mention the high barriers to getting a Cantonese language sequence started as a student — Bernhardt’s student interest rationale is incongruous with the enrollment numbers in Special Language Programs, which have always been eligible for the language requirement. According to Explore Courses for the 2016-2017 school year, there was one student enrolled in first-year Bengali, two students enrolled in first-year Ukrainian, and five students in first-year Tagalog. Clearly, there 19
Early ChineseAmerican students at Stanford. (The Stanford Quad yearbook, 1942.) role that Cantonese and Cantonese speakers have played in the university’s very conception.
are very few students enrolled in most of the Special Language Programs, yet these courses are still offered for the language requirement. When I asked Bernhardt to clarify her 10-student criterion for successful petitioning for a language course, she replied, "Ten students who say they are passionately interested in taking a class generally translates into three students when everything is arranged and one or two by the end of the sequence." Yet for Ukrainian, Tagalog, and other small language classes, there is no activation energy required, no initial ten students. They are offered year after year. It seems that there is an undue burden placed on students who want Cantonese to be taught and recognized — a burden not placed on any other language. The problem with the status quo is that for Cantonese, and Cantonese only, SLC’s expectation is that students must fight for the class to exist, while most languages are continuously, not contingently, available without any student action. In addition, after I finished writing this article, the Stanford Language Center offered to proctor the Stanford Chinese placement test for me, customized for Cantonese. I would encourage students who speak languages without placement tests to contact the Language Center on an individual basis to see if an alternative placement test can be conducted. However, Stanford continues to lack an official Cantonese class that meets the language requirement.
Stanford’s Cantonese roots Stanford’s refusal to recognize Cantonese for the language requirement ignores the integral 20
Leland Stanford amassed his massive fortune (which funded Stanford's founding) largely through the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad, which had recruited and imported thousands of Chinese laborers to work on the railroad. Most of these laborers came from southern China and spoke Cantonese. Records show that these early Chinese Americans were often given the most dangerous jobs, such as detonating explosives for train tunnel construction. Additionally, they were often discriminated against and underpaid for their work. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project has documented the histories of these early Chinese. Beyond the unnamed Chinese railroad workers who added to Leland Stanford’s wealth, many of these railroad workers transitioned to positions in the early days of Stanford’s founding as butlers, employees, janitors and chefs. I spoke with Bright Zhou ’16 M.S. ’17, who curated the exhibit, "Chinese American at Stanford: A Reflexive Archaeology," that remains on display at the Archaeology Center through May 15. Many of the pieces in Zhou’s exhibit come from the excavation of the Arboretum Chinese Quarters, where as many as 150 Chinese workers lived right on campus. “Most of the payroll records of Chinese railroad workers have names that start with Ah, like Ah Ming, which is a linguistic choice found in Cantonese speakers,” said Zhou. “Jane Stanford’s butler and confidant, Ah Wing, also followed this linguistic pattern,” indicating that he too was likely Cantonese-speaking. Although Leland Stanford himself publicly lobbied against Chinese immigration, the railroad workers and blue-collar workers he employed for his own enterprises speak to the contributions of Chinese (and particularly Cantonese-speaking) people to his legacy.
Cantonese today Stanford’s lack of a Cantonese course that fulfills the language requirement is even more baffling given the impact of Cantonesespeaking Chinese-Americans on the Bay Area. Walk into San Francisco’s Chinatown and chances are somebody is speaking Cantonese. Chinatowns, especially those created before the latter half of the 20th century, were populated by the initial exodus of Chinese immigrants from southern China. Currently, however, Cantonese is declining in popularity. Many parents in the U.S. teach their children Mandarin exclusively, knowing that many institutions like Stanford do not recognize Cantonese. Chinese schools across America, including bilingual schools and extracurricular classes, have stopped offering Cantonese classes due to declining enrollment. The weekend school I grew up attending, Wisdom Chinese School, announced that they would stop offering Cantonese classes after nearly 20 years because the small enrollment was not enough to justify the cost of hiring teachers. It wasn’t until outraged parents joined forces to both petition the school and fundraise money to hire a teacher that the school finally relented and tentatively continued Cantonese classes. Yet most experts are optimistic about the future of Cantonese. I spoke with Professor Sik Lee Dennig, the only Cantonese instructor at Stanford, about the role of Cantonese in modern society. “Cantonese is often called a living fossil,” Dennig explained. “As a hybrid of the ancient Chinese language and the indigenous languages in southern China, Cantonese has preserved many of the characteristics of these ancient languages. A notable example is the set of final stop consonants in Cantonese (–p, -t, and –k), which features prominently in rhymes in classical Chinese poetry." Mandarin has lost these endings. Dennig is a strong believer in inherent cultural value, and when I asked her about a popular view that Cantonese will be pushed out by Mandarin, she said, “I don’t feel Cantonese is dying.” Dennig pointed to protests in Guangzhou in 2010 to preserve Cantonese TV stations and creative approaches in teaching Shanghainese, another regional language, in after-school programs. Still, Dennig thinks that the future of Cantonese and other regional languages will depend on a mix of factors, including “the Chinese government’s stance on languages,” which currently allows for regional languages to be spoken at home but requires Mandarin
Chinese to be taught and used officially; migration patterns and “grassroots efforts to preserve regional languages.” Personally, I felt the absence of Cantonese greatest in my freshman year at Stanford. Chinese culture is very diverse, and although I grew up with tons of friends who spoke Cantonese at home and had a similar cultural background to mine, I came to Stanford to find myself incredibly alone. Even in the Hong Kong Students Association, which I tentatively joined, very few students actually spoke Cantonese. I made my first Cantonese-speaking friend at Stanford in the dining halls — an ironic continuation of the contributions of early Chinese dining hall workers at Stanford. Karen Wong has been working at Stern Dining Hall since 2015. She says hi to every student who swipes in, and when she helped a boy in front of me in line practice his Mandarin, I said hi to her in Mandarin (one of the few words I know). When she asked me if I was fluent, I admitted that I didn’t know Mandarin at all and that I spoke Cantonese. She was thrilled, telling me that Cantonese was her first language too. From then on, I always chatted to her about life
Bright Zhou ’16 M.S. ’17 curated a student exhibit on Chinese Americans at Stanford that remains on display until May 15. (Courtesy of L.A. Cicero) and school in Cantonese whenever I stopped by the dining halls. Hearing the tones of a language I grew up with soothed some of the homesickness I carried. For Chinese New Year, she gave me a red envelope, a holiday tradition, and I nearly cried because I hadn’t expected anyone to celebrate with me that year. Unfortunately, Karen has been laid off by Stanford Dining and will end her time at Stanford this spring. It’s a personal blow for me but also devastating for the community of students who look forward to her friendly greeting at every meal. It’s also another reminder of how fragile Cantonese existence is at Stanford. Stanford’s refusal to allow Cantonese to meet the foreign language requirement goes beyond unfair academic policies. It represents a larger problem of diminishing Asian-American classes and majors at Stanford. As Bright
Zhou pointed out, “Look at the number of Asian-American classes and how many AsianAmerican majors there are.” A previous Daily article described the vicious cycle of decreasing enrollment in Asian-American Studies classes due to lack of visibility, resulting in fewer course offerings and even less enrollment. Allowing Cantonese to count toward the language requirement would encourage more students to learn Cantonese and greater visibility of the Cantonese-speaking community that has always existed at Stanford. My language matters. My culture matters. My presence matters. And if you believe that, then Cantonese should receive the same legitimacy as all of our languages. Contact Samantha Wong at slwong@stanford. edu.
Talents By Emily Schmidt
Syler Peralta-Ramos ’20 is an accomplished nature photographer.
ast September, I had a pretty hard time deciding what to pack and what to leave at home for my freshman year at Stanford. With an explosion of clothes, books and personal knick-knacks covering every square inch of my bedroom floor, I realized there were too many items on my list. Scanning the multiple pages, I crossed off the things I’d miss least: my first Build-a-Bear, several books whose names I can’t remember, a pair of red pumps that never fit. At the very bottom of the list was something that would require an entire suitcase, but I knew it had to come. The funny thing is, I was embarrassed to bring this item or even take it out in the presence of my new roommate. Stanford is a miniature melting pot of incredibly talented people. With Olympic athletes, genius musicians, and savvy entrepreneurs, it’s hard not to feel intimidated by the sheer level of expertise every student seems to possess in a particular field. What I failed to recognize upon meeting my peers for the first time was the multi-faceted nature of the aver-
age student. Although no Stanford student is average by any definition, there are talents and interests beyond those advertised. Even in the spring quarter of my freshman year, I’m still surprised when I hear a friend of mine can speak eight languages or won a statewide poetry competition. Over the past few months, I’ve thought about this phenomenon. Who are these people I live and interact with on a daily basis, really? Why don’t they share their interests? Is it embarrassment or a fear of not being accepted? Am I just not paying enough attention? Jack Coolbaugh ‘17 has witnessed an interesting trend both as a senior and an RA: “I definitely see a hesitance in students about sharing their talents, particularly in their freshman year. I think it takes everyone some time to be comfortable sharing their talents fully. There is an initial pressure to be more humble or almost secretive about one's abilities until they find a space where those abilities are appreciated.” Fortunately, freshman Cole Winstanley ’20 has found Stanford to be a place where his intense love of birds is something he can share with close friends without hesitation.
“I definitely feel like people at Stanford are more open-minded. In high school, I was definitely more embarrassed about being a birder, but now I think people see it more as something that makes me an interesting person,” he said. Originally from Massachusetts, Cole’s hometown is the birthplace of Henry David Thoreau’s conservationist movement in the mid-nineteenth century. It’s not surprising he became interested in photographing birds at a young age. However, not all people are as excited about capturing fowl on camera as he is. “Usually reactions at Stanford fall into two categories: Some people say something to the effect of ‘Oh cool, I also know person X who does that, too’ and others react with confusion like, ‘You just walk around looking at sparrows? I don't think I could enjoy that,’” Cole added. Like Cole, freshman Maya Ziv ’20 has experienced a range of reactions to her own interest of Live Action Role-Playing or LARPing, for short. In general, LARPing is the acting out of different characters in a fictional world for enjoyment. Players interact with each other completely in character. Props and cos-
SYLER PERALTA-RAMOS/The Stanford Daily Courtesy of Maya Ziv
EMILY SCHMIDT/The Stanford Daily Live-Action Role Playing is a favorite hobby for Maya Ziv ’20.
tumes are also utilized for a realistic effect. “It’s a huge part of my life. A ton of my time is spent either writing games or planning LARP events. A lot of people are very curious about the mechanics and how it actually works, so those questions generally come up. People often relate it to their experience with fantasy or games, [specifically] their favorite video game or novel. Occasionally, people will be weirded out or confused, but most respond [with positivity],” she said. The discrepancy in reactions could be at the root of the lack of urgency to share unique interests or talents. Even at a university as liberal and accepting as Stanford, there are still skills that are considered more interesting than others, so students may wonder if they’re even worth sharing. There’s also the possibility of humility playing a role in the hesitancy to advertise these exceptional passions. As an RA, junior Meena Chetty ’18 agreed, “I do think that sometimes students hesitate to share their talents out of modesty or because they don’t realize their talents are talents in the first place.” When I reached out to a mutual friend to get
The hidden talent for writer Emily Schmidt ’20? Crocheting.
freshman Syler Peralta-Ramos’s ’20 contact information, I was told he is a highly talented nature photographer, but extremely humble. With a professional website exhibiting his awardwinning and published works, I was surprised but understood why Syler chooses not to talk too much about his amazing hobby. “I would say that most people [who know me are aware of] my interest in photography. It is such a huge part of who I am [and] comes up eventually in conversation. I also share my photography on Facebook and Instagram, so some people find out about it that way. That being said, I don't like to talk too much about my photography with my peers at Stanford because everyone at Stanford has such incredible and unique talents, and I love hearing about the perspectives and passions of my peers much more than I enjoy talking about my own,” he said. Both the quality of humility and fear of negative reactions were factors in my deciding to open the suitcase. An even more powerful influence was the existence of stereotypes. Although I am proud of my talent, I have grown tired of others making immediate assumptions
of what I do. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to break the stereotype at Stanford, but ultimately I decided to give it a chance. I am a crocheter. My craft is similar to knitting, but my tool is a curved hook instead of two pointed needles. Crochet is typically associated with elderly women and a collection of cats, which isn’t horrible, but I am so much more than that image. I’ve created a multitude of items from afghans to scarves to amigurumi over the past twelve years. I am currently trying to break the Guinness World Record for fastest crocheter, and I’m almost positive Granny can’t move her hands that fast. In my suitcase, I had 63 skeins of yarn, all different textures and colors. Each one is unique, appealing, and versatile like every Stanford student’s hidden passion. When I decide to create a seemingly unaesthetic palate for a project, I always try it out for the sake of surprise. Like picking a ball of yarn, sometimes it just takes a bit of courage to share a talent. The result is always beautiful to someone. Contact Emily Schmidt at egs1997@stanford. edu. 23
LIGHTROOM By Robert Shi
The Kinkaku-ji Zen Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan. The temple was built as a villa in the 14th century but was converted to a Zen temple after the death of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Kinkaku-ji is now part of a World Heritage Site along XX with several other ancient Kyoto monuments in the area.
According to legend, the thunder god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to protect the city and its inhabitants. Today, more than a thousand Sika deer freely roam the city.
A woman walks her pat rabbit in Odaiba. 26
A guard watches over a park and temple in Kyoto.
A street performer twirls traffic cones. 27
Revolution remember fourth grade. remember coming home with your weekly homework and a head full of questions about Paul Revere and the thirteen colonies and I wonder if the ocean still tastes like tea. remember sitting in your green chair, the way you sounded out â€œre-vo-lu-tionâ€?, how the noises fell from your tongue, clumsy, clunky, like there was an apostrophe lodged in your throat, how you did not know what it meant. remember asking your mother for help, the nervous way her finger slid across your paper, the look in her eyes as she shook her head no, she did not know either. remember the feeling in your stomach as you sat together in silence, you, confused, her, ashamed, both of you helpless against a language you did not understand. she tells you to underline the word, ask your teacher about it tomorrow. it was not until years later that you realized this was the first battle line you ever drew. remember the overdue library fines that followed, how you studied a page, a sentence, until you conquered it, every sentence was another frontline, every word a bullet. remember refusing to answer her dinnertime questions in any language she could comprehend, how you ate spaghetti for days because requesting your favorite meal required using Chinese, your tongue, a prisoner inside your own mouth. tell me, do you even remember who you were fighting?
remember the way their language became a quiet revolution on your mouth. how you demanded to command it, because if she could not, then you would, because if you did not, then nobody would, and you already learned that every war needs a victor. ten years later, you still tell everyone that Ting Wei on your passport was a logistical mistake. ten years later, she calls you in college to ask about the word â€œexhumeâ€? in the latest poem you wrote, and you reply in the impatient, broken Chinese that you always do. that night you will think of a different sort of revolution. you will think of your mother, reading glasses on, one finger sliding across an email from a language and a daughter she has spent a decade trying to understand. you will think of the way she soaks each word on the inside of her cheeks, ponders over each unfamiliar line, the only lifeline you ever offered her. here is the daughter I have given to another world. here is where her heart lies. here are the words I did not know how to give her. Juliana Chang
Saturday Chinese School was where I always fell asleep as the teacher spent twenty minutes recounting the importance of stroke order, where I always got the lowest grade in class and everyone knew because when we got our class trophies in June mine was by far the smallest. I told everyone it was because I had more awards and the teacher was helping me save room in my award drawer. For years, I stumbled ten minutes late into class, half finished homework and McDonalds breakfast burrito in hand. We borrowed classrooms from the local high school, textbooks smuggled in by whoever’s mom last made a trip to Taiwan, lunch from the closest 99 Ranch supermarket. if you were lucky, somebody’s mom would’ve brought Pocky, or Calpis juice boxes, and you’d spend all recess buttering up the kid with the giant reused Walmart bag.
Some weeks, it was the only place I would hear my mother laugh. Was the only place she liked to talk to other parents, where leaving class took an hour, as her conversations dawdled outside the classroom, the parking lot, in the street between the two cars, windows rolled down at the red light. To this day, she calls me from outside Starbucks, wants to review how to say cappuccino before she goes in to order. To this day, I think of Chinese school, of the way my mother and I would sit at our kitchen table the night before, roll unfamiliar sounds around my tongue until I could repeat everything after her, like her. We practiced until my lips chapped. I think of my legs asleep, scratching little patterns into the table, my mother tongue from my motherâ€™s tongue, the last thing I hear before I sleep, the ten years we sat there out of love. Juliana Chang
Growth mindset By DAVID STEINBERG CONTRIBUTOR
Across 1. 0% ___ financing 4. Sigma Nu, for one 8. Dances wildly in a pit 14. Dr. of Beats 15. City near Lake Tahoe 16. Open, as a yoga mat 17. Temper tantrum 19. Word before seed or paste 20. Leave out 21. Holy Muslim city 23. “I Am a ___” (2013 Kanye song) 24. Cough medicine ingredient that can get you high 27. Stray cat’s home 29. Lack of difficulty 30. March 14 dessert 31. A’s, to a poker player 34. Candy with sticks and powder 36. Abbr. after Yahoo! 37. Choco ___ 38. Cantor Center contents 39. Narrow pieces
42. Greek P 43. Make a sweater 45. Number-one card game? 46. “Seriously?!” 48. Jacob’s biblical brother 49. Word between ready and go 50. Timbuktu’s country 51. Wide-eyed primate 53. Challenging HS econ course 56. Goose Island beer 58. Make changes to 60. Purposefully avoid 61. Warriors forward Kevin 63. Capital of the UAE 66. Can ___ (kitchen tool) 67. Meh 68. 70s band that sang “Evil Woman” 69. Capital of Angola 70. One “grows” in 3-, 8-, 11-, and 26-Down 71. “Dancing with the Stars” judge Goodman
Down 1.Kind of committee 2. Grade-A 3. One often has a slow speed limit 4. Waffle ___ (TAP snack) 5. Big Game official 6. Manga relative 7. Green shopping bag 8. Bodybuilder’s woe 9. Legendary Laker Shaquille 10. Class of 2017, currently: Abbr. 11. Composer of the 1927 hit “Stardust” 12. “Sesame Street” protagonist 13. Iditarod vehicle 18. Lieu 22. “The ___ Mutiny” (Herman Wouk novel) 25. Extremist org. 26. Perfect example 28. Breakfast or lunch 30. Rotate, NBA-style 32. Voice-controlled Amazon speaker
33. Shortly 34. Like some news? 35. Large coffee holders 40. Nonreactive 41. What Katie Ledecky did in Rio 44. Day after Mon. 47. Not go together, as colors 52. Like lions and zebras 53. Shady place 54. Russian currency 55. It’ll make you cry 56. Focus of a fan club 57. ___ platter (Hawaiian appetizer) 59. Side of campus where many freshman dorms are 62. Commentator Coulter 64. Play for a fool 65. She’s a deer
Solution on page 2. Contact David Steinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The May 5, 2017 edition of The Stanford Daily magazine.