Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ghost in the Shell - Review

The first time I had read the manga and saw the original Ghost in the Shell movie, I was in college. It was part of a curriculum in a class about anime. We had a debate about whether Major was a woman, and at that time, I said no, it is a robot. When I heard that Hollywood is remaking the Ghost in the Shell movie, I was curious, because my interest in anime and manga continues.

I went to watch the remake with the awareness of the controversy around it, about casting Scarlett Johannsen over an Asian American actress. Since I was also from the original fan base interested in anime, I have a mental comparison of this new movie with the original media, the manga and the anime movies. It was barely like the original, because when an animated story turns into live action, storylines get condensed and CGI takes place of the animation.

My general feeling from the movie was it was trying to tackle too many themes at once, so each theme wasn’t given the attention it deserved. The way these ideas were handled were very blunt, without any nuance. SPOILERS!!

If this is supposed to be an Asian country, then why is the robot white? This may be a product of both Westernization and globalization, where lighter colored skin and wider eyes became standards of beauty. In reality, there is the cosmetic surgery industry where people buy double eyelids and receive breast implants. Getting a robot body is also lifesaving surgery, even though she has to take shots to prevent her brain from rejecting her body.

While the movie itself dealt with identity politics, it’s on a different field than most political debates. Major struggles with whether she is still human, since her body is robotic, and doctor visits feel like a car being fixed in a shop while the machinist becomes her therapist. Hollywood tries to argue that a robot body transcends race, and Scarlett Johannsen had comparable roles in Lost in Translation and Under the Skin.

However, it’s still a white robot - it has issues the same way that Barbie only represents blond blue eyed white girls and not girls with any other features or skin color. Hollywood could have tried discovering a Japanese American actress with acting experiences as a soldier or a character from an action horror film, since this movie has elements of both.

I had other issues with the science fiction part of the movie, but this is more due to my background in computer networking and studies in network security. The idea of cerebral hacking as a crime is fascinating, partially because it’s a society so mechanized that people’s brains are networked. A computer cannot be hacked if it’s never connected with other computers, and if it’s never on the internet. Also, if there’s antivirus and firewalls for computers, why wouldn’t these safeguards be created for people’s networked brains?

The movie didn’t like Asian women. There was the original Major, who was an Asian actress, but her part was so small that no one remembers her. There was also Major’s mother, who spoke in accented English. Those scenes with the mother should have been so much more emotional, but Hollywood may say that Major’s currently an android now, and can’t cry. She should still be able to cry coolant and machine oil - her robot eyes still need both cooling and lubrication. The other Asian characters were all Asian men. Why was the handler permitted to speak Japanese through the whole movie, but the mother had to have accented English? The streets of the city also didn’t have a lot of Asian people. Feels like cultural appropriation.

The other android, the prototype, was also modeled after a white guy. Mostly, during the scenes with the prototype, and later, with Theo, the lighting was too dark. I wouldn’t have been able to understand either the action or the dialogue if I didn’t read the original manga and seen the original animated movies. While Hollywood correctly assumed that many people from the original fan base would come see this movie out of curiosity, they didn’t elaborate enough for people who weren’t part of the original fan base. That may be a balancing act that adaptations cannot excel at.

Hollywood tried its best, but I can fully understand the movie losing out. I give it 2 stars out of 5, but would understand someone giving it a 1 star.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dragon Boat Social

Kung Fu Dad: Kung Fu and Music Teacher

Kung Fu Dad: Kung Fu and Music Teacher: Well now that I am leaving, the two preschools where I teach Kung Fu are looking for someone to come in to replace me. This is actually more...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Old letter translated

Dear fourth brother Po Yu:

How time flies, one year past by. Last year I received your letter and US$500 thank you again, I've been busy in this coming year so I write the letter to you till today.(the fifth day after Chinese lunar new year) I hope you have a happy new year and make a fortune.

Now Hong Kong is changed a lot, because of inflation, everything is so expensive, it is hard make a living here. I hope you can catch the chance in the US and then make a fortune, have a good life.

The fifth sister Po Ju wrote me a letter from Guang zhou (Guang dong Providence ). We didn't see each other for 30 years, she also missed you so much, and I told her now you are in the US. She want to see me again in Guang Zhou, but now I think it is hard to go there. After 15th this month, I will be not so busy, then I could write a detail letter to you, hope you are healthy, regards uncle Ji and he's family.

1980. 2/20(the fifth day from lunar new year)
third brother Po ?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The March for Science

The March for Science was yesterday, April 22, 2017, in many major cities across the country. Boston had one too, and it started in the Boston Common, which is right next to Chinatown - literally a stone’s throw away. Essex Street turns into Boylston Street heading west, and Boylston Street is where Boylston Station on the Green Line and the Boston Common Theater are. Many major events that Bostonians care about happen here.

In this way, many residents of Chinatown are able to be involved with the city’s events. It also helps that Chinatown is right next to Downtown Crossing and the financial district, the economic heart of Boston. This strategic location of Chinatown isn’t through luck. Chinese immigrants of past decades fought to be here. This is why the gentrification of Chinatown is a real issue. The Trump administration’s attack on science is also a real issue.

Trump appointed Scott Pruit to be the administrator of the Environment Protection Agency, who happens to be a climate change denier. He denies that humanity has had an adverse impact on planet Earth, that our use of plastics and pesticides is causing global warming, even though theories regarding pollution have been proven time and again through research. Trump is also slashing funding for the EPA, believes the climate change has no cost, fired and stopped hiring scientists, and changed the rules of scientific testing and analyses to ignore pollution.

Environmental policy should be important to everyone who drinks water and breathes air - that is, all of humanity, regardless of any other differences. Boston is a diverse and relatively green city. In 2012, Boston installed over 400 BigBelly trash and recycling receptacles, simple machines that use solar power to compress waste to be recycled or dumped. A handful of them are on the streets of Chinatown. In 2013, the Cleanup Chinatown Mission was formed in association with the Asian American Civic Association to help take care of the litter problem, which resulted in a much better environment in Boston Chinatown.

If you think about the way it takes this much effort to clean up just one neighborhood, then it should be clear that Trump’s ignoring science and changing the rules the way he’s been doing are really damaging to the environment all over the country. Whether you attended the March for Science or not, I encourage you to donate to organizations that are related to the sciences if you are able. Their site is My opinion is that science should be used to better human lifestyles, such as for the environment, for medicine, and for benevolent technology, instead of being used for military conflict.

The March for Science was well attended. This shows how many people care, which is awesome. Boston is also a very scientific city, full of hospitals and universities which do research in various fields. Recently, both Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson have been speaking extensively for science. Some creative signs from the March were “Got plague? Me neither. Thanks science!” and “There is NO Planet B”. The Trump administration’s attack on the sciences affects all Americans. We should all get involved.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Old Letters

Packing up means that I am looking through old pictures and trying to consolidate. Honestly I should have taken the opportunity to scan everything but t is very time consuming. In any case I did come across some letters. Here was one that was by itself. But later I found a whole freaking box, and even one in English from a cousin in Hong Kong, who my mother had semi-talked about... but that would be interesting to explore since they would probably have Facebook or some form of social media which would make it easier to contact them or find them. 
Mostly I'm posting the Chinese ones to see if anyone knows how to read it. 
I'll fix the images later. 

Ununited Airlines

I realized that although I shared this video all over social media, I never actually did a post on the blog itself. I actually had the opportunity to be a part of this video and was happy to do it. Of course after posting Vincent Yee's post up I found that of course not everyone's opinion about the original incident was the same. 

But whatever your opinion about what happened, the parody is definitely awesome and worth watching. Plus I believe that parodies and creating your own content, is a positive to create change in the world. I had another opportunity to work with Tow Arboleda films... but I don't want to give anything away about it. Let's just say I am super excited about that video too and can't wait until I can share it and talk about how it has effected me. Other blog contributors were involved as well and I'm sure our opinions will differ as well. But it is important that despite differing ideas and perspectives that we are able to come together to create something. Whether it is this blog, or a video for Tow-Arboleda films or any of the other projects we are involved in. 

My Ghost in the Shell WTF moment (not what you think.)

I just watched this movie, the live action one starring Scarlett Johanson..

I was a fan on the anime, the show and the movie.

In fact I thought that one of Ken Liu's short stories that took place ina futuristic Boston's Chinatown was very similar to the "Laughing man" epsiodes and his heroin was a mixed race female.

Well a movie based on that short story would be something to look into producing for the many artists and activists that had an issue with Scarlett Johansson being cast. I am actually I fan of her. In that I have  fan crush on her... but honestly maybe I just like her and not her acting so much. I like her in the avengers... but as a robot... meh. 

I enjoyed the movie but I didn't like it. Much the same way I enjoyed the new CGI Love action Beauty and the Beast... but I didn't like it. What happens when you go all out on the special effects is that the acting the directing the cuts, the art.. they all suffer. In this case they really tried to copy the anime. But would they have tried to shoot the scenes in that manner if an anime version did not exist? A copy cannot compare with an original. It's kind of like "The Last Supper" made of felt or macaroni or crayon or whatever... and comparing that with the original work of art. 

As you can tell, I was not that disturbed by Scarlett being white. I know why they cast Johansson. It has to do with her work on the avengers and even being in "Lost in Translation." And I feel that even the anime may have racial issues if you want to start talking about where the story is set... a futuristic Japanese Hong Kong. 

Yes I mean ok is it weird that she is white? Sure sort of. But isn't it more weird that she is a robot and Hong Kong is populated by Japanese Asians and then everyone else.. and practically no Chinese people and the Yakuza are running the night clubs?

My real WTF moment in the movie was something a lot of people haven't talked about at all. 

I saw a Facebook post showing two movies playing side by side... Kenneth Eng's "My Life in China" and "Ghost in the Shell." and the tag line was "you choose" or something like that. 

When I saw Ghost in the Shell with my friend I couldn't help but notice that the cemetery that  Major visits... is definitely the same cemetery that Kenneth Eng's father visits in Hong Kong. 

Somehow through effects or CGI the Japanese bod'es ashes head stone is there. Scarlett Johansson sees her mom and they hug, the whole shell thing is explained. None of this is in the anime btw. By not explaining it made the whole thing much more Buddhist as with the philosophy of "no self" we are all already Ghosts in the shell of a body which is illusion etc. and reincarnation is just the passing of a flame from shell to shell, memories or data if you are a robot, but it does not define who you are per se. 

But anyway, Major is in this cemetery and sees her mom and then walk OVER the bodies of the dead when there is clearly a path on the side WTF!!!!!!

I actually said something out loud in the empty movie theater .
Why couldn't she just go around? Seriously. 

Side note: The parts of the movie with Takeshi Kitano, who apparently is in a lot of Yakuza movies was pretty bad ass. other than that the movie was not so good, which goes to show that no matter what your special effects are.. acting is very important. Watching him shoot people with a revolver and virtually no effects was much more fun then everything else. Just saying. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bamboo Wrapped Rice

When I visited my mom last week, she gave me a bag of zongzi. Zongzi are fist sized bamboo wrapped rice dumplings, the contents of which are sticky rice, Chinese sausages, egg yolk, peanuts and pork. Different families make zongzi differently, according to their tastes. This is a yearly delicacy in Chinatown, and those who haven’t been taught to make them can get them at stores and restaurants. Some restaurants actually serve them year round, but they generally appear around this time of year.

This tradition first started a long, long time ago - around 300 BC. There was a great poet, named Qu Yuan, who served as a minister during the warring states period of ancient China. Due to a disagreement, he was slandered and Emperor Huai banished him to north of the Han River. While he was reinstated later, trouble came again in the form of Emperor QingXiang banishing him again, this time to the south of the Yangtze River.

Qu Yuan’s downfall in political circles led to great anxiety and depression. He grew gaunt, and fell to ill health. He would take long walks to a well, contemplating. This well became known as the Reflection Well. After his country’s capital, Ying, was captured in 278 BC, he wrote a long poem named “Lamentation for Ying.” Eventually, he committed suicide by walking into the Miluo River with a heavy stone.

Because he had many readers and supporters, villagers were trying to save Qu Yuan from drowning in the river. Finding that they were too late, they wrapped rice in bamboo packages to throw in the river to prevent the fish from eating his body. To ward off evil spirits and fish, they beat drums and raced in the water with dragon boats, which became the Dragon Boat Festival. This festival is a yearly tradition.

While you’re eating zongzi, you can also watch Boston athletes race on the Charles River in their Dragon Boats. While the festival carries a more joyous tone, the history is interesting to think about. Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center facilitates an event every year. It’s listed in the Boston calendar, and the Boston Dragon Boat Festival has its own facebook page. It’s a great event to check out!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Packing Up

Come summer I will be moving away from Boston To New Jersey. Honestly with packing and everything I have not had much time to post stuff for the blog, though I have still been sharing stuff on the social Media parts of the Boston Chinatown Blog. 

I think some readers are wondering what my role on the Boston Chinatown Blog would be if I was in New Jersey. How could I still blog about Boston's Chinatown? Obviously for the blog to maintain a close connection to the heartbeat of what is going on in the community we need to maintain ties with people on the grounding Boston. And we do. Whether it is contributors who write directly for the blog or people who feed and news stories info to the contributors. 

Basically, even from New Jersey I will still be able to contribute. Whether I am writing about memories or if others are telling me what to write about a current event. To me, Boston's Chinatown is my Herng Ha. So just like so many others who read and contribute to the blog but no longer live there, I will also care about my old neighborhood.

But the truth is, that I have ALWAYS had an insider outsider feeling in Boston's Chinatown. Not just because I am mixed either. 

My mother was from Philly and so I spent most of the summer  there. That means in my childhood I did not attend many August Moons.

I wnet to Nativity Prep in Roxbury instead of JQS or BLS so at that point, like many Chinese Americans, Chinatown became more of a weekend place for me. Dulcimer lessons with Zhang Lao Shi, Wushu with Bo Sim Mark, Chinese at Kwong Kow.

Then, I went to boarding school at Groton. That is when I started to feel most foreign in Chinatown. Because of the dress cod eat Groton I began to dress differently from most of my friends. I did required sports like crew instead of joining a volleyball team (which I may not have done anyway.) And also even the groups of people that I hung out with in Chinatown, mostly FOB, was different than the groups of Jook Sings that tended to stay closely knit with each other. There wasn't animosity between the different groups. It's just that in general we did not hang out.

When I was living at the Kung Fu school did I think much about Chinatown?  Honestly I thought most about China or other part of the US. There were chefs who were ambitiously looking toward the rest of the US as a place to travel or start business and they were simultaneously sprouting ideas in my head about going to China, where I could probably teach English in Taishan, not because of any particular skill, but simply because I could sell my white face and also speak Taishanese.

When I was in Chinatown, it was just a place. a stepping stone. When I was out of Chinatown, it was more like an idea, a family, a herng ha. What I am saying that sometimes it is better to write about Chinatown NOT being there.  

Or looking at it with foreign eyes. You only really appreciate it when you are not in the middle of it. 

In the coming days I will probably be writing more about the IDEA of Chinatown. The Chinatown of the mind. But not the one created by Hollywood. MY Chinatown of the mind. 

And hopefully I can get more contributors to wrote about stuff going down in the community. But I have found that many of the contributors also write or tell stories about a Chinatown of the mind, from their memories or from their hopes for the future. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

United Airlines Passenger (a post from Vincent Yee)

Ejected | United, WTH? So I don't consider this an Asian issue but wanted to focus on the violent nature in which this man was violently dragged off the plane to make room for United employees. But after he was dragged off the plane by law enforcement, he somehow got back on the plane repeating that he needed to get back home. I don't know how he got back on and escaped from the gestapo, but that must have been some Wing Chun he used."

(Posted originally on Facebook)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Storming Lantana Beach:Chinese President Xi Jin Ping's visit causes quite a stir in local Florida town.

With Xi JIn Ping visiting, Florida there was quite the seen yesterday and today at Lantana beach. My cousin went down there to hang out and suddenly saw what looked like a riot.

"I have never seen so many Chinese people in my life," said Danny the Griz, Peters, my blood cousin.

I told them to go tell them that his cousin was Chinese and see what their reaction was.

"I don't think they spoke English.... honestly I could not tell if they were happy to see the guy or protesting."

The Griz was just going to relax after work and realized that just wouldn't be happening.
 "I had to get out of there. I went to the ghetto beach instead.... but I heard that people were actually paid to be there.

Boston Chinatown Blog may have to investigate this further with some follow up interviews.

Interesting to point out... you may see this type of flag waving craziness with the five star flag in Boston... but honestly I doubt you will see it in Boston's Chinatown for the time being. All the old Wah Kiews wave the other flag, for the Republic of China.

Basically my cousin did just walk into something very interesting for his neck of the woods and only because Xi Jin Ping is staying at the nearby hotel resort.

So were the people their happy or protesting? Were they paid to be there or voluntarily there? Fox news is covering it... but I think we could get an interesting perspective on it too.

Hopefully there is more to come on this.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Update on Ng Yau Yeung

So I'm getting a little bit desperate on the search for the long lost father so I am going to share more details and pictures.
We thought we were so close. Basically people did recognize the man in the picture as
 Ng Yau Yeung 吳友洋

But in English that's Yau Yeung Ng

But we had gotten some details wrong but a lead on some others....

Basically the following details could easily be mistakes too. Just rumors or whatever.

But basically what I hear is that he was a waiter at the Four Seas, remarried and may have had a daughter (who would now be in her 50's) whose name would be Sylvia Woo (or perhaps Ng? Or Wu?) and that she married a Terrence Wong. I'm tempted to actually pay for one of those services that help you look people up just to try and get a phone number. Locations for the kids are rumored to be Brighton. But really not sure about anything at all. Won;t be sure until we actually make contact with a relative who is like, "Yes that's my father" or Uncle or grandfather or something and then the man who contacted us can meet up and we can (hopefully) cover it on the blog) Initially I didn't let all the details out.

But it would be a shame for this to end up being a a non answer completely. Especially when we felt so close.

But again, these details could be wrong. A lot of the stuff we started off believing ended up being wrong.

Ng Yau Yeung is also supposed to have ties with Ni Lun Association, but nobody (who has e-mail) has recognized the picture.

People have said they have sen him as close to one year ago so there is a high chance he is alive still.

But nobody has contact info. Because you see friends in Chinatown all the time... honestly, if anyone has the time or the interest pulling out your smart phone and showing the pictures to random lo wah kiews in Chimnatown at the Supermarket might actually help. Just saying. Until someone's like "Yeah  he's right over there playing chess!" or something I don't know.

I guess I didn;t share too many details so as not to invade people's privacy... but then I thought, dude you hear stories like this all the time. Nobody is looking for dirt... this man of 43 is just looking for his dad who would be 81. Whatever the past was... it would be good to connect, and it would be good if Boston Chinatown Blog could help do that. In fact that would be a bigger deal for me than any sort of certificate or reward. Like we actually made a positive difference in someone's life through telling stories about Chinatown.

Toilet on the Greenway

What are some thoughts on this letter? Sounds good right?

Please send us a signed support letter or indicate if you/your organization can be listed as a signatory to the below letter. Thank you, Michael Nichols, Chief of Staff, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy (, 617.603.7738).

April ##, 2017

Peter O’Sullivan, Director of Asset Management
Department of Property Management, City of Boston
1 City Hall Plaza, Room 811
Boston, MA 02201

Re: Public Toilet in Chinatown Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway

Dear Mr. O’Sullivan,

We would like to express our strong support for the proposed JC Decaux public toilet installation in Chinatown Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy has continued to improve Chinatown Park, but issues of public urination are compromising the placemaking efforts. Chinatown Park hosts numerous festivals (e.g., Films at the Gate, Chinatown Main Street Festival, August Moon Festival), fitness classes, and community activities. The Conservancy’s addition in 2016 of the PlayCubes structure and its Play offerings for school children continue to draw families and children. The addition of tables, chair, umbrellas, and public art installations has created interesting gathering places for a community with minimal green space. The park, with the Chinatown Gate, is a gateway for the huge number of visitors to the restaurant, shops, and culture of the Chinatown community. There is a strong need for a public toilet given the children, residents, workers, and tourists in the area.

Chinatown Park is less successful than it could be because of significant problems with public urination. Individuals have regularly urinated in the plaza, in full view in daytime. In warm weather, portions of the park smell of urine, despite regular power-washing. A large planted area has withered from those tramping through and relieving themselves; tree bark and walls show evidence of the problem’s regularity. The City has received 311 complaints (e.g., Case #101001813302). The problem continues despite the Conservancy’s efforts with its Park Rangers, bilingual signage, and coordination with community leaders, City and State Police.

We support the addition of a public toilet unit in the proposed location on The Greenway, ~30’ north of the Chinatown Gate. This location would be central for game players in Mary Soo Hoo Park, for children at the PlayCubes, and for Chinatown visitors. We also support the City’s plan to have this community asset be free, which will be critical to deterring the public urination. We also want to assure that JC Decaux will pay close attention to this particular unit to assure that it is operational and not being misused.


[Authorized signatories]

Iron boob on the shoulder technique

I went to Chinatown with the kids yesterday for dinner. It seems out of the way, given the fact that I was there earlier in the day...but I had bought a day link pass so I figured I might as well use it. I usually take the kids out to eat in Wednesdays because I teach Nativity and we are already out and about.

So we got baos to eat from May's Cake House for desert and then headed over to Chinatown Cafe. These are the closest businesses to Tufts Medical T stop if you are wondering "Why Here?"

I flashed back to when I lived at the Kung Fu school in Tai Tung and realized that very rarely would I travel to the other side of Chinatown.

I would wake up, walk over to the bank, work, and then go back the Tai Tung Direction.

I ran into a whole bunch of people I knew especially from when Noah went to BCNC. I also ran into an old Chinese school teacher. We sort of were antagonistic toward each other that year. But we were all friendly now. Here are some things I realized.

Your "enemies" in Chinatown... end up being very close to you when you step outside of that environment either through time or space and in a way they are your family, much the way people from your Herng Ha in China or your hometown are family, Hing Dai, regardless of how close they actually are to you.

Another though was actually crazy because either because of spacing or whatever.... my ex teacher kind of put her boobs right on my shoulder when she was talking to me.

Now, if she were a younger woman I guess I would interpret that a certain way but as a woman of her age you could see it as some sort of maternal affection... which given our history with the arguing about me and my mom or whatever, may have been weird or perhaps I just got a glimpse as to why I was given a hard time in a tough love parenting sort of way. Or maybe she has since reinterpreted what actually happened and why.

However... if you were to use your imagination to expand upon the first thing that would come into your mind when thinking boob on the shoulder a la Japanese Manga humor.. I mean that would be an ENTIRELY different interpretation of my 4th grade experience. Lol! The cartoon version would focus in on that boob and have it bulging and it would be funny. In our American Culture though I think you just wouldn't even bother to mention that it happened. And I feel like Chinese Americans are even more uptight about stuff like that.

In fact going back to if this was a  a young woman... this is a common technique used in bars in Asia, the smallest of boobs being used to request a larger tip. In fact I got this treatment in Taishan right up until it became clear that it was the Chinese guy I was with that was actually handling the paying and the tipping aspect, at which point the boobs were transferred from the white looking American guy over to the local Taishanese guy for requesting of said tip. I heard this is true in Vietnam and also at American establishments like Hooters. It is used so often that I would even go so far as to say that it is a service tip as recommended, trained and practiced as pouring tea with the other hand behind your back, and cooling the tea in a long stream without spilling.

So I'm just saying, old teacher putting boob on my shoulder can be interpreted many ways. Obviously I'm not tipping here, and there is some sort of affection being shown. In addition, her boobs were large enough that perhaps it was just a matter of space involved. Also there is the history and the age factor.

Really it doesn't mean anything but I feel like in terms of a story... it i s a funny detail not often mentioned in that sort of setting.

The more and more perspectives I get about the same events.. especially now that I actually hear more women's perspectives ....I realize that there are a lot of different ways to interpret the same event.

I'm not saying anything is intentional nor am I trying to read minds or what have you, but I will quote a Chinatown Sage by saying this... "There are many different versions of the truth."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

From Cambridge to Chinatown

Today is my last day working as a teacher/assistant in a Cambridge after-school. Tomorrow, I start my new job as a teacher’s assistant in a preschool and after-school in Chinatown. In the Cambridge after-school program, I have a gained a lot in the one and a half year I have been working there.

Of course, I would not have gotten so much without the support and guidance of the amazing director who hired me. Throughout my time in the after-school that I worked with her, she was always very open and gave me the space to explore my interests and goals as a youth worker and teacher. There’s so many experiences in this after-school program that I would have never imagined myself ever doing in my life prior to working there.

First and foremost, I didn’t think I could work with children as young as 4 years old since most of my experience prior is working with teenager employees in a supervisory role. Honestly, during my first couple of weeks working there, I spent transition time between classes and pick-up time cleaning and other things to stay on my feet to avoid awkward social interactions with the young students. Within a month though, to my surprise, I grew to love the students. Instead of spending most of time cleaning, I developed more into enjoying my time playing with and getting to know the students. What really connects me with them is their fullness of curiosity, openness, and optimism.

One thing about me that caught the students’ attention was the fact that I was an origami teacher. If not interested in making crafts, at least all the students were fascinated by the sight of a simple piece of paper transformed into this beautiful shape or portrayal of something in real life. Before working in this Cambridge after school program, I would have never thought I would be an origami teacher. Even the students who have never been in my origami classes, I have still taught many of them outside of my classes during the transition and pick-up times. I enjoy sharing this knowledge and feeding their optimism to achieve great things. I even had a student teaching me an origami model I have never done before. Teaching origami has definitely been both a teaching and learning experience.

2 Foot Origami Pikachu
Students making modules for an origami model made of multiple pieces

 In my teaching of origami, I had the opportunity of sharing my knowledge of the Lunar New Year with both the students and the staff. I taught the students in my origami classes how to make lanterns out of red envelopes. Another project related to this holiday they did was a presentation to the whole after-school program about what they had learned about the Lunar New Year, which also included giving everyone in the program red envelopes. In each red envelope was an origami heart with Chinese characters written on them, saying things like “good luck”, “good health” and “long life”. 

Red Envelope Lanterns
Red Envelopes with Origami Hearts with Chinese Character written on them
Being an origami teacher and sharing my knowledge of the Lunar New Year helped me a gain a deeper of sense of cultural pride. Before the Lunar New Year, I could barely read or write in Chinese. Shortly after, about half a year, my knowledge went from 30 characters to about 1000. My love for my own culture just shot up exponentially: music, food, kungfu, language, history, and so many other things. So, starting this new year 2017, I realized how much I missed Chinatown and my time working in Cambridge is coming to an end. I’m ready to return to this community where I spent most of my childhood, slightly avoided in my teenage years, and kept in my periphery in the last couple of years as an adult with a growing interest to return.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What an April Fool I was!

Today was a crazy fun day.

Thanks to a friend, who I met through the Chinatown Blog, I got free tickets to go to the Smurfs movie.

I will do a post later about Smurfs, movies and Ghost in the Shell as it relates to Asian culture or perceptions anyway at some point. Short version, it was fun.

After that we headed to where else? Chinatown!

Walking down the street an old woman locked eyes with my son and was unable to pull away.

"Nei Ho!"

"Nei ga jai ah?"

You see that, she asked me in Chinese... because she couldn't see my face because like I said, her eyes were locked on Noah. But I recognized her as a Chinese teacher from Mission park and reminisced quickly before going into Mei Sum's For Viet Subs, Cherngs and Baos.

Digging into my Banh Mi while the kids ate cherngs I thought, "Where else can you do this? Get pastries and subs at the same place? I mean you won;t get that at a Jewish or Italian Bakery?

Plus the "messy" atmosphere means I don;t feel awkward with the kids (and yes me too) kind of being messy.

More on this on a later post.

So to come it will be

1) movies
2) Baos
3)Grocery store

because next I went to Mai Sung like a pau pau at Jia Ho. Usually I buy one or two things, but Grace is away and I am actually buying to cook meals now I even got a big thing of Soy Milk.... which reminds me that I have to buy cereal for the kids tomorrow.

Got my Lat choi, and veggies and meats and some Fu yu.. and I was listening to music and thought of Wind Chin's Music post. They played Jackie Cheung followed by Shanghai Tan followed by Beyond.. and then I was out.

To Moh goon.

Where we played with sticks, cards, and Chinese Chess.

But the food was perishable so back to JP. After Noah raided the snacks.

But then.. get this... there was a breakthrough in the Long Lost Father case.

Auntie Amy showed Uncle Frank the picture and he knew him..

Of course! Why didn't I just go to him FIRST!

Anyway. The long lost father may have ties to Nai Lun Association. I have been meaning to go there for a long time because my father ALSO had ties to that and maybe this will be a good excise to finally poke my head in. I guess I will do that on Monday.

But I was a fool, basically for not having a smart phone because it would have been good to knock on the door when I was in Chinatown.

Anyway.. tons to come.