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Written by on July 20, 2012

The Teahouse

The Teahouse Comments Off on The Teahouse

Spent the morning with Linus Chao, renowned international artist and official “Living Legend of Hawaii,” at his home halfway up the volcano. My daughter Mango is taking art classes with him and his wife this summer. Four hours of Chinese art in the morning with Mrs. Chao, a little lunch, then four hours of western art in the afternoon with Professor Chao. All Mango needs, Professor Chao says, is a little formal instruction, and she will be on her way. The Chaos must be in their 80s. He is Shandong, she is Dongbei, their voices full of the old accents that I love. He is so warmly effusive, shows me everything, never lets me leave. I cannot believe my luck, and I want to soak in every word.

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Written by on July 12, 2012

On Proms and Protocols–Figuring out the rules and creating new paths

On Proms and Protocols--Figuring out the rules and creating new paths Comments Off on On Proms and Protocols–Figuring out the rules and creating new paths

So I am always pleased to see young Asian Americans (who are so much cooler than I will ever be) figuring things out their own way, not being constrained by the way things have always been done, creatively constructing something new. Why depend on a school photographer when you could have a talented friend take your prom pictures for you? Then Photoshop an explosion into the background? Now that is a prom photo worthy of showing my friend, Angry Asian Man.

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Written by on June 10, 2012

We gain so much wading in the water of each other’s cultural experiences–Adventures in Multicultural Living

Comments Off on We gain so much wading in the water of each other’s cultural experiences–Adventures in Multicultural Living

I was so impressed to watch my children gently, ever gently, patiently, without judgment or consternation, lean over the kitchen table with soft #2B pencils pouring over the music scores with my father. The girls explained to him that in spirituals, a lot of the songs are coded instructions on how to escape to freedom, for example, in “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” the drinking gourd refers to the Big Dipper and the North Star; in other songs, the River Jordan represents the Ohio River, the last river to cross before reaching freedom in Canada; and Canaan means Canada because once slaves made it to Canada, they could not be sent back, as they could from the northern states.

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Written by on January 19, 2012

Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics–Adventures in Multicultural Living

I suddenly realized that I had taken all those animated and claymation Christmas specials—Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman—as ethnographic films. That is how I learned about Christmas.

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Written by on November 17, 2011

U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and keeping the conversation going | adventures in multicultural living

U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and keeping the conversation going | adventures in multicultural living Comments Off on U-M Center for Chinese Studies Kite Festival and keeping the conversation going | adventures in multicultural living

An English teacher at Huron High School used one of my columns to stimulate classroom discussion of a Maya Angelou book they were reading — which was so lively it spilled into a second day, and even more impressive, students who normally never talked in class really got into the discussion.

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Written by on October 3, 2011

‘Looking Both Ways’ at the ‘Made in China’ label and 9/11 fears

'Looking Both Ways' at the 'Made in China' label and 9/11 fears Comments Off on ‘Looking Both Ways’ at the ‘Made in China’ label and 9/11 fears

Looking into the eyes of another and engaging in their arts and learning their language are such important ways to get to know another person, another people, and to help us get past the easy labels and fears.

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Written by on September 23, 2011

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