Shawn – Role Model

I just decided to do a post on him. I’ve been thinking about how he’s influenced me a lot lately since he’s leaving soon to possibly go back to California. I met him when I first joined AVOYCE. When I first saw him I thought he was a weirdo, because he looked funny and he acted a bit awkward (sorry, Shawn). Over time I started to know more about him and now he’s one of the most amazing people I know. He’s just so… knowledgeable. He knows EVERYTHING. He’d always just tell us random facts like “did you know…” and when I have a question I always came to him with it. He’s a certified counselor, he used to work for tokyopop, he was a boy scout, he can speak 7 languages, he’s attended 2 universities, and he’s done a lot more than just that.

The biggest thing that he taught me is that I have a choice as to how I want to live my life. Growing up in an Asian family, I’m expected to do well in school, go to college, and become some sort of doctor. Shawn has so many skills and he has so much business and housing knowledge/experience, he can become almost anything he wants. Yet, he chooses to spend his time with us, AVOYCE. He doesn’t earn much money at all, and he has to work with teenagers and do a lot of work for them. I really don’t understand this about Shawn at all, why would he pick such a low paying  job, when he could do something that pays a lot and is worth his while? He told me that this IS worth his while. And that if educating youth and training them to become leaders means that he wont get much money, then he’s willing to do that. Sometimes I still don’t understand why he does so much for us. He even buys us food and snacks. Basically, he taught me life isn’t all about money.

Shawn helped me understand life better from a new perspective. Since he’s also Asian, he understands all the things that an Asian teenager has to go through. Shawn’s the first adult I’ve ever had some sort of connection to. Whenever my parents do something that I that I think is weird, he explains to me why they do it. Like why they fight over the bill at restaurants, why they want me to do so well in school, why a lot of Asian children are expected to give their money to their parents when they get a job, etc. He taught me how to be humble, he also told me not to be so apologetic, how to be modest, but most of all he taught me that I have a voice in everything.

It upsets me that AVOYCE might end this year. AVOYCE without Shawn… I just can’t imagine it. Shawn’s getting a real job now and he’s trying to find one in Boston to stick around a bit longer but if he can’t then he’s going back to Cali. He helped me figure out how I identify myself and he helped me understand more about my identity. Whenever I’m upset or whenever I’m troubled, or when I’m in a sticky situation – Shawn would always give me a huge smile, and I’d smile back. Shawn said that even though he has a lot of skills, his best skill is smiling. He always smiles. At first it was really creepy, but now I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve also never seen Shawn mad or frustrated, he’s always calm to me.

I’m sad that Shawn has to leave so soon, because I haven’t even known Shawn for that long yet he’s influenced my life so much. Shawn doesn’t even KNOW he’s my role model but I’m pretty sure he knows I admire him in some way. But I guess I have to be glad that Shawn’s finally going after what he deserves and that he’s putting his skills to use. I understand that Shawn did his part in AVOYCE, he completed his role, just like Nanny McPhee did (see the connection?), he taught me how to be a better leader. But more than that, he taught me about life. So if there was ever a time where Shawn questioned how well he did as a youth coordinator, I hope this answers his question and I hope that he never doubts that he did a good job. He better be proud of himself for being able to be such a positive influence for a teen like me. And I can only hope that the leadership roles I take also make him proud of me as a person, because all I know how to repay him with is to let him know that all his hard work paid off. So if Shawn really does leave and all, I’d just like to say cheers, thanks for everything.

Metropolitan Youth

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5th Annual Films at the Gate

For five nights every summer, a vacant lot near Boston’s Chinatown Gate becomes a free, outdoor theater, showing Kung-Fu and classic Chinese-language films. Films at the Gate is a collaborative project of Chinatown residents, Boston Street Lab, film curator Jean Lukitsh, and the Asian Community Development Corporation.

The series seeks to:

  • improve awareness of Boston’s Chinatown as a site of cultural activity
  • restore a tradition of shared, public experience of Chinese-language films in Chinatown
  • provide temporary community use of Chinatown’s underutilized spaces, draw foot-traffic to neighborhood restaurants, and make downtown Boston a destination beyond the working hours

The Asian Community Development Corporation is a founding sponsor and presenter of Films at the Gate. ACDC is a community-based organization serving the Asian American community of Greater Boston, with an emphasis on preserving and revitalizing Boston’s Chinatown.

The American Dream

1. What is the American dream?

The American Dream is to live in big house with luscious green grass surrounded by a white fence: where your mom may be in a huge kitchen and your dad polishing his car, while you are playing with your dog in the yard. You’re parents will have a steady income and life is good. This is the American dream that most people want to achieve.

Questions:

  1. What are the reasons for emigrating from a country?

In the South Philly High School where only 6.2% are Asian, as shown on their official website, while the dominant race is African-American of 61.2%. Everyday is just as bad: going to school they fear being beaten, going to class they fear being beaten, going to lunch they fear being beaten, going to the bathroom they fear being beaten, going home they fear being beaten, everywhere they go they feel paranoid. No one should be made to feel so unsafe and horrified that they become this paranoid. December 3, 2009 13 Asian students showed up in a hospital for treatment ranging from minor bruises to major wounds. Many avoided going to the hospital fearing the medical bill, which they can’t afford to pay. December 3, 50 Asian student refused to go to school for 2 weeks until the principal take responsibility to make the school safe and fair to immigrants. Dec. 3, a day to remember.

Those Asian students came to America in hope of a better place to live. To work hard to achieve this “American Dream” everyone has been talking about, just to find themselves treated the same or even worse in a place where students suppose to come to learn, not fight, in a place where friendly bonds are supposed to be made, not ridiculed, and in a place where adults are suppose to protect, not incite torments.

Questions:

  1. How do you feel about this situation?
  2. What would you do?

Bringing back the situation with me and the dentist, the things the dentist do I have no clue what he was doing and what it was for, even if I ask and he replies I’m not a dentist his talk is foreign to me so how do I respond, neither do I know anything about insurance and how it works and their little exceptions and such. If the dentist says the insurance covers it then well I believe him. I know not of the rules, laws, nor rights, which I am entitled to. Just as foreign as it was talking about insurance and dentist for me, it was just as foreign for those immigrant victims dealing with a completely new country, culture, environment and language. I can relate to them in some way but can only imagine what they must’ve felt everyday going to school.

The Superintendent Silverman promised to do something about it, and he did but the rules they made are not enforced nor told to the students. In March 31, 2010 2 brothers moved new to America attended South Philly High. They heard about Dec. 3 violence. Earlier that month two kids kicked the bathroom door as his brother was coming out cracking his head. The parents received an urgent call from their son. When they arrived at the school the school security turned them away while they struggled to explain their presence. After the boys told the School Reform Commision the parents were called back-they were there for two hours but never once saw the principal LaGreta Brown. In hearing about the Dec. 3 violence no faculty at that school even bothered to mention about the new policies for new immigrants or discussed about the safety plans in case of harassment. Instead this boy became another victim of the ongoing violence and negligence of school and district officials of South Philadelphia.

“Honey It’s Time For Dinner!”

Hey everyone! Wow I’m hungry. Who’s in the mood for some rice? I sure am. Well at least I was until I found out some nutritional facts about white rice. I eat white rice every day for dinner as it is with most Asian families. Well, white rice isn’t exactly as healthy as brown rice is. White rice is just like white bread; It’s high in carbohydrates and it’s low in fiber. White rice has less fiber and vitamins than brown rice, but is an excellent source of niacin and a moderate source of protein, thiamin and iron. So why do we eat so much rice then? Well, Asians eat a lot of rice because the crop is cultivated commonly in south east Asian countries. The tropical climate facilitates its growth. Also we like the fluffy texture compared to brown rice. It’s also a cultural thing, even though we live in the United States where there’s more to offer we still eat white rice, because that’s what our parents were used to eating in Asia.
So apart from rice, my family also commonly eats fish for dinner with our rice as well. Fish is actually pretty healthy for you though. Fish is high in protein and it’s not very fattening and isn’t high in calories. Well, it also depends on what kind of fish you eat. My parents always lecture me to eat lots of fish, so I assume that the kind that they buy is the kind without much mercury. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week, because fish are a great source of protein, vitamins, and nutrients. Fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which provide protection from heart disease and are great brain food for you.
Another common rule in Asian family dinners is not being allowed to drink during dinner. Some people say that it is because if you drink water, you will have no room for your meal. Also, some people believe that drinking water while eating will dilute the acids in their stomach and interfere with the breaking down of food, however, this is arguable.
So what about soy sauce? Well, soy sauce is actually good for your heart. According to recent studies, soy sauce is a good source of antioxidants. Like other foods, only have soy sauce in moderation and don’t drown your food in it. In a lot of Asian cultures, it is good to eat soy sauce but not too much soy sauce, because an Asian saying says that if you have too much soy sauce, you’ll get dark blemishes and your skin will turn black.
So who’s up for dinner? I sure am. So let’s settle down and pass the soy sauce around!

Everything has an End

Summer is concluding, and so is my work at ACDC as the Youth Chair of Films at the Gate. The youth office of A-VOYCE is all too familiar to me; its light-yellow walls, the piles of cardboard boxes, and everyone at the ACDC has found a place to stay in my memory. I have learned much not through classes and workshops, but through the mere experience of working with people, and sometimes non-cooperating computers. Chinatown may not be my community, and non-profit organizations may not be my future, but they are part of me nonetheless.

Films at the Gate was not the only work I did, I also focused on walking tours and learning about Chinatown. I’ve learned so much more about Chinatown’s past, and its future seems clearer to me. I walked the perimeter of Chinatown countless times, whether I am leading a group of observers or briskly walking to get lunch at many place I’ve never realized were there. But my work was not just walking tours and getting lunch, because the city was paying me to do more that.

Organizing Films at the Gate was a satisfying, and enjoyable experience. As the telemarketer as well as the door-to-door advertiser, I realized their efforts were by far greater than I expected. Through my adventures around the Leather District, I learned that even the average person has unique stories. Nevertheless I was rejected just like all other advertisers. Not only did I meet people while advertising Films at the Gate, but also through meeting my co-workers, also known as friends.

The small community at ACDC is friendly and exciting, from telling stories about raising goats in college, to playing wall ball with a foam artichoke, and then of course walking around in a bittermelon suit. It is my fifth week here and I still hear new stories and I’m never bored of listening to the old ones. When I come back to A-VOYCE for the fall, I’ll look forward to seeing them again.

Well, that’s the end of my blog, and I’ll be back in the fall.

Anthony Cheung, Oak Terrace Youth

Our Radio Show Experience

It was my first time here in A-VOYCE this summer, and I was on the radio show for the first time in my life. At first it was really exciting and I was pretty much waiting the whole week for that day to come. But when Saturday came (which is the day we have our radio show), it was really nerve-racking. I wasn’t really mentally or emotionally prepared for the radio show, so I was shaking when it was my turn on the board. I thought the show was going to be over if I was on the board; I thought I was going to mess up everything. But it really wasn’t that bad, except maybe a few mistakes here and there, but hey, who doesn’t make mistakes? Then I pretty much got used to the way a radio show worked, and I love the radio station. There were lots of writings and drawings and posters on the walls, so it was really colorful and decorated. I can’t believe next week will be our last week there.

When I heard I was going to be on a radio show, I became really nervous. What if I mess up and say something really bad or offensive? However that stress seemed to have died down after a couple of radio shows. I also learned a lot from workshops with other groups on Thursday. It was a great experience meeting many new people who were also working at the radio show with me. Next week is our last week here, but I will definitely drop by often to say hi to the youths still working there.=)

Kevin and Jamie, Metropolitan Youth

The Topic of Prejudice Yet Again

“One [of a series of studies], from the University of California at Los Angeles, generally found decreased prejudice among students with different-race roommates — but those who roomed with Asian-Americans, the group that scored the highest on measures of prejudice, became more prejudiced themselves.”

– New York Times, Interracial Roomates Can Reduce Prejudice

This article targeted more of the racial issues with African Americans and Caucasians, but the minute statement above is disappointing yet true. Most believe it is right to treat everyone equally, but actions may not follow what one thinks.

One reason for the high prejudice Asians have, but which can be debated, is the very few generations that the Asian community has in America. When the first significantly large group of Asians came over permenantly for the gold rush, they were looked down upon by others, and therefore were forced to form their own community. As time passed, the community shut themselves off from interacting with other ethnicities, creating a social barrier.

First impressions became lasting impressions as some Asians passed down the stories and opinions of how other Americans treated them. Today the extremity of this isolation evolved into a passive notion. Asian clubs exist in my school, and though I and many other Asians have a diverse social web, others choose to stick to other Asians, creating the big Asian clique every grade has in my school.

In my opinion, the two ways the world can become socially colorblind is through prohibiting influence and reaching out to everyone. Without influence, the only impression one can put on a race is through the people, not other’s opinions. And by socializing with everyone, diversity will be expected, not shunned.

Anthony Cheung, Oak Terrace Youth

What would it be?

As a senior at Boston Latin Academy, our great World History teacher will not let us graduate, without assigning us our very last student product. In early April, where college decisions and senioritis are plaguing us, Mr. Howard revealed the ultimate project of the year. The ultimate project that traces back to community development and planning. The ultimate project that has to do everything I love doing.

On that day, we were given the options ranging from creating a newspaper to making a video relating to World History. Underneath all of the options, one particular idea intrigued me. The idea of creating a placard, where you pick a place in a community and plan on what should be built there. The assignment sounded very familiar as I was sitting in my seat and as always, Chinatown came right into mind. Then I thought, “Wait, there is still the empty land across from Pho Pasteur, due to Kensington’s careless if not reckless planning. The land can really be put into good use.”

Before you know it, a group starts forming with three people (Kristian, Yelei and me) who know the community inside and out and three new people (Ginny, Kim and VyVy) who are willing to participate and learn simultaneously. Right now, we are in the process of planning and building. Just last Friday, I took the new people onto a tour and they end up learning a lot and was awed by how much history exists in a Chinatown where it has always been seen as a place with just an abundance of restaurants and dirty streets. It was tiring, walking around for two hours and discussing our plans but nevertheless, it felt great that this project is engaging young people to challenge themselves to think critically of what the needs of the community are and to plan on how to apply the needs onto a piece of land.

Up to this point we are thinking of a three – story building. The plan is as followed:
1st floor: Community space/poetry café
2nd floor: Asian American bookstore/music store/ art store
3rd floor: Chinatown history museum
Roof: Green space/ garden

Maybe we can adapt this placard project into A-VOYCE’s curriculum but in the mean time stay tuned for the final product!

Now, if you were asked to pick a place in your community and to decide on what to build on it. WHAT WOULD IT BE?