Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

The Changing Sounds of Chinatown

In Culture on November 23, 2009 at 1:04 am

Ever since I can remember, walking the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, I could hear the sounds of Taishanese, my family’s native dialect, floating everywhere, amidst the dim sum restaurants and the souvenir shops.

Taishanese, a Chinese dialect derived from and similar to Cantonese, came from Southern China in the Guangdong province. It had dominated the streets of Chinatown, as most of the Chinese who had immigrated to the U.S. since the end of the 19th century originated from Taishan.

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Santa Anita Race Track Japanese Assembly Center

In Culture on November 16, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, Calif. is usually associated with racing and being next to a large shopping mall but now it is also home to a new exhibit on the use of the track in World War II history. Dara Dunn, curator of The Arcadia Historical Museum, hopes that people will have a better understanding of the history and the exhibit brings some collective healing and better cultural understanding.

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My Mom is a Fob

In Culture on November 4, 2009 at 8:26 pm

We affectionately call each other a “fob” when we speak ungrammatically, watch anime, or even eat chicken feet for Dim Sum, but at one point in the past, the term “F.O.B.” had been derogatory.

When the term F.O.B. was first coined in the 1980s, it was used as a racist and derogatory term to describe a person with an ethnically diverse background, specifically to those who had recently immigrated to the U.S. from another country.

F.O.B., which stands for “Fresh Off the Boat,” was a term to stereotype immigrants and those of “foreign” descent. It was also used to describe those who had not yet assimilated to American culture.

However, the term has taken on a vastly different connotation, one that is endearing and tongue-in-cheek. Those of us with immigrant parents can now embrace our differences in culture and language, and can now feel proud of our roots and what makes us different from everyone else.

The term F.O.B. has transformed into the term “fob,” which is a term to describe something, essentially, “super-Asian.” The pronunciation has also changed, from pronouncing the letters as an acronym to pronouncing it as an actual word. With the change in pronunciation, the meaning has also evolved.

The websites mymomisafob.com and mydadisafob.com are filled with humorous photos, messages, and sayings that are dedicated to “fobby” moms and dads. The entries can be submitted by anyone, and the websites have garnered popularity and attention from within the Asian American community.

The websites were established in October of 2008 by Serena Wu, a recent graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and Teresa Wu, a senior at U.C. San Diego.

Defending the term “fob,” Teresa Wu has said:

We think our moms and dads are awesome; we’re not embarrassed by them. Maybe they can’t speak perfect English, but the things they do are so lovable that we just want to share them.

The websites are a way of showing off pride in your fobby parents, and for relating to one another the humorous and endearing things that parents say and do; Asian Americans growing up with immigrant parents can share their stories and express their affections and bond over their experiences with their fobby yet lovable parents.

By: Karen Lee

UCLA’s Ethnic Studies 40th Anniversary Celebration

In Culture, UCLA Events on October 30, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Chancellor Gene Block announced a dedication of the academic year to the theme of “Celebrating 40 Years of Ethnic Studies at UCLA,” in honor of the anniversary. This acknowledgment calls for a reminiscence of the civil rights movements that paved way for the formation of such studies. The movement consisted of the longest student strike known in the nation’s history, lasting for almost a year from 1968 to 1969. Since then, our golden state has progressively become more ethnically diverse, becoming perhaps the most diverse in the country.

Various universities in the state, such as San Francisco State and UC Berkeley, echo this assortment of different societies and cultures from around the world with the development of corresponding ethnic research centers. However, UCLA is currently the only one in the U.S. to have four of such organizations, one of which includes the Asian American Studies Center. The centers here at UCLA have worked together in many aspects, aspiring to represent the interethnic collaboration that much of our society has yet to apprehend is necessary. They are constantly involved in various issues, such as immigration reforms and health care services, and make a persistent effort looking for solutions through engagement with community organizations and its leaders.

To commemorate the centers’ achievements, as well as the achievements of the university’s promotion of diversity, a wide range of activities will occur both on campus, as well as off throughout the county. Mark your calendars for November 18, as Pacific Ties presents Pacific Ties: Breaking Ground to Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Media, a forum including a panel with Giant Robot Magazine Founders and Current/Past Editors of Pacific Ties Newspaper.

More information of the specific events for this celebration can be found at the centers’ website: http://www.ethnicstudies40th.ucla.edu/index.asp

Written by Huong Pham

WonFu at UCLA

In Culture, UCLA Events on October 29, 2009 at 4:02 pm

What were you doing around lunch time last Friday? Anyone hear an underground pop band or see them rocking it out on the Bruin Plaza stage? WonFu (not Wong Fu Productions), a Taiwanese music band of two girls and two guys performed at UCLA while some students were in class, at the gym, or having lunch. Unfortunately I was one of those students that missed the chance to watch their live performance, but some of their songs are available online.

UCLA was one of their first stops to play their music live in their West Coast tour in the United States. I would say that their music is a combination of pop, rock, folk, and even a bit of country; the mixture of these elements make their music sound unique. They do not sing in English, but they still seem to catch a good amount of audience. The song “Lady’s Night” reminds me of a more contemporary-style disco. Their songs overflow with sweetness and upbeat energy but does not convey a teenybopper style. On their Myspace music page under the category “Sounds Like,” they say that their music is “a smiling face” which I absolutely agree.

So if you want to bring some sunshine on your playlist, add them!

Stepfanie Aguilar is a 2nd undeclared student, hoping to major in World Arts and Culture. Someday, she will tour the world and own tons of albums full of postcards and photography.

Recognize Pilipino-American History Month

In Culture on October 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm


October is not just for wearing Halloween costumes and collecting candy. It is the month for Pilipino-Americans to celebrate their heritage. Samahang Pilipino (SP), a student-run organization based on Pilipino culture, presents a series of events from Week 2 to Week 5 to honor this time. The kick-off event was the Pilipino-American History Month (PAHM) Art Exhibit on Monday, October 5th hosted at Kerckhoff Art Gallery. Many were enraptured by the various art work covering the walls such as traditional paintings to pop art. Artists include Lor Sumagaysay, Susanito Sarnate, Fred Juson, Rodney Martinez, Revo Yanson, and Rommel Clavecillas. Rick Bergancia and Rafael Maniago were also there to perform live art by sketching and painting visitors. Loralei Rose Bingamon, a collage artist, was also there to speak. For the opening, the Tinig choral group performed “Mga Munting Tinig”. It was a crowded night. Afterwards, several visitors mingled with the artists, some gazed at the art, and some donated money to a disaster-relief fund to assist the flood victims in the Philippines. Visitors ranged from students to local residents.

For Week 3, students included storytelling on “coming out” in the Student Activities Center for the National Coming Out Week, recognizing the LGBT community among Pilipino-Americans. Tonight at 5:30pm at Kerckhoff Grand Salon is a special event for Pilipino authors and veterans to share their stories of hardships and achievements with students. Next Wednesday night, there will be an open mic night for singers, musicians, poets, and dancers to express themselves.

by Stepfanie Aguilar

Stepfanie Aguilar is a 2nd undeclared student, hoping to major in World Arts and Culture. Someday, she will tour the world and own tons of albums full of postcards and photography.

Nom Nom Truck Hits L.A.

In Culture, Features, NEWSPRINT on August 27, 2009 at 3:38 am

Do you like vietnamese sandwiches? Does the combination of meat and cilantro atop crispy French bread make your taste buds salivate? Well, you’re in luck because the Nom Nom truck has recently launched in L.A.! Move over Kogi BBQ, because you’ve got competition!

From their web-site:

Nom Nom truck is a mobile food truck that will serve “Banh Mi”, or Vietnamese Sandwiches, and other Vietnamese-inspired dishes to West Los Angeles and the greater Los Angeles area.  We plan to launch our truck some time this August, so keep your eye out for us!  To follow our progress on preparing for our August launch, please keep coming to our Web site, www.nomnomtruck.com for updates, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Mmm, banh mi...

Mmm, banh mi...

The nom nom logo

The nom nom logo

For more information (you know you want some): visit their website

Follow them on Twitter

-posted by Shirley Mak

Tuesday Night Cafe: Art in the API community

In A&E, Culture on August 1, 2009 at 2:34 pm

For more information on Tuesday Night Cafe series and other events hosted by TN KAT, visit their website at: http://www.tnkat.org/

Dalai Lama endorses book on peace

In A&E, Culture on July 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Inspired by a school mural of peacemakers, atist and poet Fereidun Shokatfard published the book “Colors of Love and Peace” with artwork and hopeful messages to children receiving treatment in hospitals. With the help of Shokatfard, the students of 186th Elementary in Gardena created an art-filled book promoting harmony, peace, and respect. In a cover image, the students are gathered around a photograph of the Dalai Lama, who is the Nobel Peace Prize winner and spiritual leader of Tibet.

Shokatfard sent an outline of the book’s artwork to the Dalai Lama, who heads Tibet’s government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India in hopes of the Dalai Lama writing a foreword. To the surprise of the artist and students, the Dalai Lama wrote a forward endorsing the book.

“I am impressed by this gathering together of their colorful paintings and messages to encourage children receiving treatment in hospital,” he wrote. “It’s a bright, cheerful and practical expression of concern for others. What better example for all of us could there be?”  

According to school principal Marcia Sidney-Reed, about 5,000 copies of the book have been printed. Half of the copies will be donated to children’s hospitals; the other half will be sold with most of the proceeds from the sales going to charity. The book comes with a CD of songs from the International Children’s Choir of Long Beach.

Poll finds Asian Americans “strong environmentalists”

In Culture, NEWSPRINT on May 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm
Giant coreopsis

Recent Asian American immigrants strongly support environmental protection and legislation. How do the environmental attitudes of U.S. born and/or raised Asian Americans compare? Photo by Debbie Chong.

An article by Ngoc Nguyen in today’s New America Media website reports that “among California’s Asian Americans, 83 percent describe themselves as ‘environmentalists,’ compared to just 52 percent of all California voters, according to a first-ever poll on the environmental attitudes of Asian-American voters.”

The groundbreaking multilingual poll surveyed 1,002 Asian-American voters on their views about environmental issues and compared results to a poll of 564 state voters. Interviews were conducted with Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Asian Indian voters…

Eighty percent of Asian Pacific Islander (API) voters polled said they would vote for a candidate who has a strong environmental record, and 85 percent said they would support a ballot measure to protect the environment.

According to the article, most respondents were recent immigrants rather than U.S.-born, and their environmental concerns encompassed both local and global scales.

As one can see, outreach to Asian American immigrant voters will be key to gaining votes for environmentally-friendly political candidates and legislation.  This  survey refutes the stereotype that Asian immigrants are more concerned with money than the environment.

Now what I would like to see is a survey among 1.5-generation and U.S.-born Asian Americans.  What are the environmental attitudes of Asian Americans who were raised in the U.S.?  What are important issues for us?  Do we live, vote, and promote green?  How are we similar or different from our parents and grandparents?

What do you think?  Leave your comments below!

— posted by Debbie Chong