Thursday, April 30, 2009

Give Back

It's that time of the year, Graduation Season. To all of the 2009 graduates, congratualtions! A new chapter of your life is about to begin, but please remember to cherish this past chapter and relfect on all of the good times.

Today, the Department of Education here at Northeastern had the pinning ceremony for all of our Education graduates. I was helping out with the event, setting up and cleaning up. However, I had the priviledge to stay and sit through the ceremony. First off the food was great but that was not the best part of the ceremony.

The best part of the ceremony was Sister Mary Hart who was the keynote speaker for the day. Now let me tell you a little something about Sister Mary Hart. Sister Mary is about 75 years old. She has been a Sister of the St. Katherine Drexel church for 55 years and has been an educator in the Roxbury community of Boston for about the past 30 years. She has a full head of grey hair. stands about 4'9 but her heart and presence is larger than life.

I first met Sister Mary back in Janurary 2007, my freshman year when I used to volunteer at the St. Katherine Drexel after-school program. She came into my education class at the time to recruit some volunteers for the program. She stood at the podium and had the respect and attention of the 75 students in class. Sister Mary had my respect the moment she started talking and I knew I wanted to work for her. The first day I was there, she came up to me and asked what my name was. She proceed to give me a valuable lesson that I will never forget as an educator. Sister Mary looked up to me and said "you need to be firm with these kids. Tell them when I say "sit down" I mean it." I shook my head "yes" and she went on to tell how much she appreciates me being there. She meant business, teenagers in the program who are about 6 feet tall are scared of her. They can be messing around all day, causing trouble but as soon as they hear or see that Sister Mary is coming, they would sit down and be quiet.

Fast forward to 2009 now, I haven't seen Sister Mary in almost 2 years until Today. She still remembers who I am and my name. She told me that she had to retire and cut back from the after-school program because she had became ill last year. However, being Sister Mary she still goes everyday.

On to the ceremony, a good friend of mine Earl Stafford from NEU's Balfour Academy had the priviledge to introduce Sister Mary. Now Balfour Academy is an after-school/summer prep program affilated with Northeastern for high school students, helping them get into college. My man Staff was telling all of us the first time he met Sister Mary back in 2003. She wanted to get these two kids Patrick and Jason to be admitted into Balfour. Staff told her that they would have to go through the interview process like everyone else in the program. Sister Mary then handwrote Staff this two page letter and he read a paragraph of the letter...and I am paraphrasing

"I would only give you the best of the best, the cream of the crop. I can promise you that Patrick and Jason can match up with any 7th grader in the city of Boston. I am giving you my word and my word will be our bond. Earl, please just give me this opportunity."

Staff told us that Patrick and Jason went on to Balfour and are now seniors of Boston Latin School and Boston Latin Academy two of the best high schools who will be going to Northeastern and MCPHS respectively. As Staff was about to finish, I noticed that these two tall boys were walking down the aisle in Sister Mary's direction. At this point, no one knew what was about to happen. There they were, Patrick and Jason greeting Sister Mary with a pat on the back as they go up to the podium to introduce the person who played an important role in their lives. Just as Staff gave Sister Mary a chance for these two kids, Sister Mary gave them the first chance to succeed. By then, everyone in the room was teary eyed except for Sister Mary, she was happy. She was bouncing up and down in her chair.

The theme of Sister Mary's speech was to give back. Sister Mary told us that she has been dealt a good hand to play the game of life. She told stories of her father telling her that she was blessed that her last name was Hart. She had more priviledges than others but that doesn't mean that you take that priviledge and run. You have to give back to the community. She said that no matter how much money you have, what nice cars that you drive, what designer clothes that you wear, the measure of your success is deeply rooted in your community. She reminded us that even if you think you have everything, without support and love from your community you have nothing. When she finished, Sister Mary got us thinking, our emotions running and our faces smiling.

Sister Mary is one of those people that you meet in you life who will make a difference. I always talk about the quiet heroes, and she is definitely one. Sister Mary is the definition of a woman warrior. She has spent her entire life spreading the message of love for the people. She will go to bat for anyone and she will make you realize your potential. You know movie stars, sports stars, polticians, musicians do not change your life but Sister Mary does. She cares for you from day 1 that you meet. She has given opportunities to countless youths in Boston, and deservingly so, she is beloved in the community. She gave me the opportunity to learn from her and has always reminded me to stay humble. I gain a valuable lesson by just listening to her speak and by being in her presence knowing what kind of work she's done. If I become half the person Sister Mary is, I know I am doing a good job.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Sad Attempt at Poetry

This is my sad attempt at poetry whenI wrote this in 5 minutes on the Fung Wah yesterday...

The hustle and bustle of New York City
and Life on the Fung Wah.
A parallel line between two,
beneath the glamour of the bright lights
lies the mentality of the Natives.
Might not be pretty but the job gets done.
Similiar to the the Knicks in the 90's,
present day Giants, what the Yankees used to be.
Blue collar sometimes ghetto.
The Fung Wah lady gets on the bus screaming
"one more, one more."
The gentleman puts his belongings on the inside seat
and pretends to sleep on the outter.
A veteran on the Fung Wah, I assume
however he was caught and had to move
for the late arriving couple.
An old Chinese man speaks loudly on the phone
in his native tongue as though no one else
was around him.
Yes, I could understand every word he is saying.
Of course, there is traffic
because everyone seems to forget
how to drive in the rain.
But this is the hustle and bustle of New York City
and Life on the Fung Wah.
Might not be pretty but it will always get me
where I need to be.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan are a beast!

This morning, I ran through my normal routine for settling into work. Log into Gmail and Facebook, checked ESPN and On, the most viewed article was titled "Never-Kissed woman wows Cowell." Now I fell out of love with American Idol years ago because it had went on for way too long. Skeptical of the article, I skipped through it and right before I decided to leave CNN I clicked the article. I had no idea of what was coming.

If you have 7 minutes, please watch this video

Amazing huh?

Susan Boyle is a 47-year old woman from Scotland. She has never been married, never been kissed. She lives by herself in a village with her cat. Asked by the judges and people on the show what she was doing there, her answer was innocent enough "I want to be a professional singer." The audience reacted in a way a normal person in this and age would react, the audience laughed at her. When asked who did she want to be? She responded "Elaine Page" and the audience laughed some more. The judges didn't know what was coming, the audience didn't know and I certainly did not know.

As soon as she sang her first note, the audience rose to their feet, the infamous Simon Cowell's face light up and I was floored. The same never been kissed 47 year old woman has won the world's heart. Now maybe due to beautiful cinematography, I got teary eyed. Here is the ultimate underdog story, a 47 year old woman with a funny dress, and funny hair came out of NOWHERE when no one was expecting it. Everyone was expecting another funny ha-ha audition but she was for real.

The title of the song was only fitting "I Dreamed of a Dream" from the musical Les Miserables. Asked why she hasn't been famous, she responded "I never received the chance." Just to show how the universe works in mysterious ways. In the mist of the dog eat dog world, a feel good story comes out. At 47 years old, Ms. Boyle is still chasing her dream. She might have thought it would never come true but here it is...the whole world is watching and you stole hearts around the world. Ms. Boyle, your story is HOPE. We lived too long in this pop minded culture that you have to be in the right age, right face, right clothes to succeed. Well Ms. Boyle is the complete opposite of what we've thought and for that 7 minutes, she reminded me the beauty of humanity. You prove that with a dream and a little bit of hope, it doesn't matter if you are 21 or 47...just believe it and it will come true. Listen, I've never teared up watching a performance and I certainly did for this one and I am not afraid to admit this. As corny as this may be, sometimes we need a little cornyness in our lives to ground us, teach us not to judge a book by its cover and just beautiful the common people are.

Thank you Ms. Boyle.

Publish Post

Friday, April 10, 2009

Relay for Love

In 2004, my family lost our patriarch to lung cancer. Although it was not said at the time or widely discussed, I knew my grandfather was sick and lung cancer seemed to be the logical illness due to his years of smoking. Since he passed, I haven't took the time out to discuss the issue or really brought light to it.

I guess the reason why I haven't is because in the Chinese culture sickness and death are negative aspect of life that no one should talk about. Negativity should not be discussed and we are not as open as to talking about it rather than talking about positive things in life.

To tell you a little bit about my granddaddy

He grew up in the country rural side much like everyone else in China, and continue due to the Communist revolution. Thats where he started our family as a school teacher. From then, he became a Principal and moved his family to the city of En Ping in the Guangdong province of China where I was born. Later on, he became a business man partnering with his brother and traveled around the Hong Kong area until he retired.

I didn't see him a lot when I was young because he was always traveling. But when he came home, he always showed me a lot of affection. Hugging me, showing me love and did the thing that irritated me the most which was rubbing his 5pm shadow on my face. When my mom would get angry at me, he would always be the first person to comfort me then make me apologize to my mom and make things better again.

He encouraged my dad to come to America to give me a better life. I went years without seeing my dad so my Grandfather was my father figure. He was tall, strong and truly the patriarch of my family.

When I left for America at age 7, I met him in Hong Kong before my flight. I remember the visual vividly. I still remember the last hug that he gave and the tears that he shed. I remember holding on to him saying I don't want to go and him shaking his head telling me that he didn't want me to go but I needed to go. He gave me a kiss on my forehead and we said goodbye.

The next time I saw him was 8 years later, and during that time he had a stroke and developed cancer. He came to America along with my grandmother September of 2004. I was a teenager then and I was busy with the football season. The fact that we spent 8 years apart, we grew apart. I did not spend a lot of time talking to him or spending time with him. One day I was coming home from practice and I saw a man with a crane struggling to walk down the street. I got closer and realized it was my grandfather. I asked him if he was okay and he said yes. The man who was tall, strong and seemed undestructable to me was now showing signs of weakness. I was hurt and sad at the same time.

My cousin Toby asked him while he was here how his childhood was like. He didn't want to answer and blew Toby off. Thinking back, I think it was a way for him not to think that it was time for him to go. But he knew his time was up, because I think coming to America for that month of September was his farewell tour. He wanted to see his two sons, his grand kids Toby, my sister Fiona and me for the last time.

He passed Thanksgiving day of 2004. Right before he passed, I was home alone one Sunday afternoon and I received a call from him. He asked for my dad but my dad was not home. He asked me how I was and I asked him when he was getting out of the hospital. He said hopefully soon and had I known that was the last time that I would speak to him, I would tell him that I loved him. A week later, I came home early from a family function by myself. I was watching football, I think it was a Packers game. My grandmother called frantically asking for my dad again, he was still at the function so I told her that he wasn't home. She told me to call my dad immediately because my grandfather was about to die.

On Thanksgiving day 2004, my mom walked into my room and told me that my grandfather has passed. I looked at her with no emotions and said "oh." The whole day my dad walked around the house teary eyed and I left my house to take a walk in Manhattan by myself. On the train, "Dance with My Father " came on my CD player and I started to cry on the train.

I regret not spending a lot of time with him while he was here in America. But my biggest regret was not telling him that I love him. Like I said before, I haven't have time to honor him but tonight I am going to Relay for Life the organization to fight cancer. I am going to honor the man who taught me affection, love and always putting family first.

I am going to honor the man who I want to credit my interest in Education because I want to be just like my granddaddy. I want to honor the man who was my father figure while my dad was in America for the first 7 years of my life. I want to honor the man who was the glue of our family.

Tonight I am honoring my grandfather for the first time outside of family.


I hope you are proud of me and all of the things I've done. Please continue with your guidance and love from above. I can't wait to see you and wait for your hug and for your 5pm shadows. Thank you for showing me love and thank you for this great family that I have.

I love you.

-Your Grandson

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh HELL No Betty Brown.

Down in Texas, people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations. Rep. Betty Brown, a North Texas legislator recently offered a perfect solution suggesting that "Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.” The GREAT Betty Brown defended her comments by saying it was "an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes."

To overcome these problems, the genuis Brown suggested that " Asian-Americans should find a way to make their names more accessible. Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

And comments from Brown to Ramey Ko, who is a representative of the Organizations of Chinese Americans, "“Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Now Brown's spokesman Jordan Berry said Brown was not making a racially motivated comment but was trying to resolve an identification problem. Berry also said that Democrats are trying to blow Brown’s comments out of proportion saying "they want this to just be about race."

You can find this great story here:

Now a few words for Betty Brown...

Mrs. Brown as a person of Asian descent with an Asian name, I am highly offended by your comments. Now what you may think is a simple solution turns out to be an ignorant solution. Because for one, you want all Asian-Americans to find a way to make our names more accessible. Your reason and I am quoting "Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?” Mrs. Brown, correct me if I am wrong, although the names are intrepreted as "Asian" the word itself is still in English. And I have a perfect solution to your little problem here, see if you listened in elementary school and studied your phonics, you would learn how to utilize your vowels correctly and the pronounications of these name would not be a problem for you.

Secondly, you suggested that "rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?" Your suggestion is logical, but not all Asian Americans are Chinese Mrs. Brown. See, there are other countries in Asia. Yes I know, it's hard to believe. See there's Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Taiwan and many more...shocking isn't it?

Now lastly, yes I know you think that people are trying to make this a race issue but I want you to know that YOU made this a race issue. Why? because you named a specific race out in your comment so they can be more "American". I really really want you to elaborate on how this ISN'T a race issue.

Mrs. Brown, I am sure that you are a fine American and a pretty nice lady. But Asian AMERICANS are Americans as well, and our duties to this nation has not be recognized and continued to be undermined by ignorances and ignorant people like you. Now I am sure, the idea was pretty good in your head but please, take the advice of my CHINESE IMMIGRANT mother "think before you speak."

Betty Brown, you failed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm Pissed Off, Man

I'm pissed off, man. I came across a Facebook group that has make me furious at the Northeastern Asian American community. Now I know it is just a harmless group and it is for fun, but it is also highlighting all the negative stereotypes. Well the group is NEU Asians, the headline is "If your asian, full, half, quarter, whatever, or if you just have asian pride, join us and represent the NEU Asians." Now hold up, I can go into details on why that line just rubs me the wrong way and I will go into details. Going back into my post about Chris Iijima who was a pioneer in Asian America, he would be infuriate with that statemet like I would be. The great Chris Iijima said "a lot of young people are missing the point, being Asian is not about parading yourself how Asian you are." He was 100% correct. We don't need a group to show our pride, we don't need a stupid headline like that to prove our point. We need to work together to make our lives better, our voice louder, and our bond more solidify.

BUT the group's page gets better..."After you join post what bubble tea you like so I can add you as an officer." Excuse me? After you join, post what bubble tea you like so I can add you as an officer? so being Asian is about bubble tea? Thank you tp the creator of this group because you have given more stereotypes to Asians. First I am not about bubble tea and in fact, I don't even like bubble tea. Second of all, back to Mr. Iijima's point of "grooving to Asian Pride." Third, instead of talking about bubble tea, why don't you ask who is your favorite activist or favorite author or a book? wait I don't think you are smart enough to comprehen that and fourth, did you really just say "After you join post what bubble tea you like so I can add you as an officer?!"

It only gets better...there is an official email for the group, I wonder what can be emailed to this group. What kind of mini Winnie the Pool toy is the best? or whether to spell Asians or a Z?

Where is the office of this group? Super 88 (or anywhere with bubble tea)...Shake my head.

And the icing of the cake is that this group is closed. The members must be invited or approved by an admin officer. Thank you creator once again to prove that we as Asians are a closed group, who seclude ourselves from everyone. If you are not Asian, you can't join is the policy.

To Mr./Ms. Creator of this group, I don't know what your intentions were when you created this group. If it was to show pride, you missed out on the boat. If it was to unite people, maybe you have but I think that you did it in the wrong way. If it was to promote culture, no you did not promote any culture because the Asian American culture is NOT about FUCKIN' bubble tea or the bubble tea flavor.

The Asian American culture is about stories, well YOU (Mr./Ms. Creator) has certainly not heard of these stories. Stories about being discriminated, oppressed, and hate. Vincent Chin did not die for you to drink fuckin' bubble tea, Yuri Kochiyama did not organize for you to make this group and Chris Iijima definitely did not sing, teach and protest for you to show your Asian Pride.

A final word to the creator of this group...Fuck you and the website where you got your Pocky picture from.

Thank you for proving all the negative stereotypes about Asians, killing the mission of our Asian American Center and WHY we need an Asian American Studies here at Northeastern.

Friday, April 3, 2009

One of my biggest fears I have right now is not being able to go home. Home as in living there, working there and having a life there. My family will always be in New York but as I inch closer and closer to what I want to do as a career, it seems like I am moving farther and farther to the one place that I truly love...New York. It seems all too ironic because three years ago, I couldn't wait to get the fuck out of New York. I felt trap, a city of 8 million people...I felt alone.

I left home for Boston in Janurary 2007 thinking that I will be back in the summer but I haven't left Boston since. Now I feel trapped, trapped by the world. What I want to do might take me all over the country, and the world which is what I always wanted however the only place I ever want to go is home. I hate leaving, but I love coming home. I can't seem to find the balance.

You never know what you have until it's gone, and I certainly didn't know what I had in New York. I find myself reading the Daily News online, listening to Z100 and even when I's not about the money or my life, its about New York. As sad as that sounds, I daydream with random in-mind still photographs of the Verrazano Bridge, Grand Street and the Subway just to name a few. I am getting a little homesick with all these post about New York. I got it bad is an understatement.