Monthly Archives: March 2014

Maya Lin is my hero

Maya Lin is my hero

Link is a transcript to the Interview with the renowned architect and genius, Maya Lin through the “personal journeys” segment of Bill Moyers’ Becoming American: The Chinese Experience aired on PBS. Luckily, somebody else already typed out the interview otherwise I would watch it and type out the words myself. Not to say there isn’t anything magnificent in the process of writing. Words have sheer power to them.

Maya Lin talks about designing the Vietnam War Memorial: “I had a simple impulse to cut into the earth. I imagine taking a knife and cutting into the earth, opening it up and the initial violence and pain that in time would heal. The grass would grow back, but the initial cut would remain a pure, flat surface in the earth with a polished mirrored surfaced, much like the surface on a geode when you cut it and polish the edge.” 

 

“I don’t think anyone means it to be negative. It’s just the problem is you’re not from here. You will always physically look like you’re a foreigner. So if you’re truly born and raised here what does that do to your psyche?” -Maya Lin 

Lin about growing up and being asked repeatedly: where are you from? – I get asked this by people of all races despite my American accent (relatively so if you can pick out the subtle Kiwi traces) too. 

 

I am so grateful I went to the lecture she gave at my college. I have been enlightened by her words. Sitting in overflow seating was totally worth it. At least I know she graced the grounds of my school. 

 

I want to recount my experiences visiting the Vietnam War Memorial for the first time.

First of all, I want to say that very few people can pull off a feat such as designing and being chosen for the design of a memorial, let alone, at mere age of 20. Round of applause. This memorial marks the beginning of Maya Lin’s rise to international fame. 

 Looking back, I remember being very surprised at the structure. I was about 12 or 13 and very dazed. But then, I was a muddled child and now am a daydreaming young woman. I remember the guide telling my 7th grade class about the controversy of the memorial’s design and briefly mentioning Maya Lin’s name (though not giving it full glorious due, otherwise I would have looked her up sooner and read everything about her earlier). I remember how eerie it felt walking through the memorial. It was daytime but I felt a chill as I saw my own reflection through the wall inscribed with names of deceased veterans. Everything from the fountain to the wall of names was designed to reflect the passersby’s reflections.

Now I realize the genius of the design – every new generation that passes sees their own reflection simultaneously as they touch the names and history that passed before them. The names, the veterans and people are forever memorialized in history but they are still honored by those that visit the memorial. After walking through the memorial, I remember joining my classmates in strolling through the tree-lined walkway adjacent and marveling at the fat squirrels. But that’s irrelevant.

Lastly, in the interview Maya mentioned future generations (includes my generation and others to follow), urging more Asian-Americans to become more vocal about race issues and conflicts. She mentioned that she was raised to be polite, and as a Chinese-American TCK I can say that I was raised to be polite and respect my elders as well as authority also. But one thing I cannot tolerate is injustice, especially when the authorities are wrong whether it be in my classes, among racially unaware peers, or among police officers. I really hope by talking and writing I will spread awareness even if others don’t agree with me, of race rather than leaving the ignorant to their ignorance/colorblindness. I really hope my generation (myself included) will see a better society and that my future children won’t be asked where are you (really) from?  despite their American/assimilated nationality accent just because they aren’t white. I hope that’s not too much to hope for. 

 


“Bitter Strength”

“Bitter strength…
…a mountain of gold.
Gaam Shan.

They want our hard labor,
And hard labor we know.

With steel spikes, we crack open new land.

We have made something from nothing.
And we have made the bosses wealthy.

Some foreign devils don’t want us.
Their taunts slice
to the bone
our very humanity.

We are here nonetheless.

These days bring tears and break hearts.
When will this paper life be over?
When will we be at home?

We eat bitterness.
We survive
We can
We will”

-anonymous Chinese rail worker


Angel Island

Angel Island

Taken in my trip to the Museum of the Chinese in America yesterday in NYC. The picture isn’t that great since I quickly snapped it on my iPhone; the museum guard had just turned his head and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to take photos.

Anyway, it says:

“Unlike Ellis Island, created to process the large waves of new immigration from Europe, San Francisco’s Angel Island Immigration Station (1910-1940) was built to enforce the Chinese Exclusion laws. Thirty years after its doors closed over 135 poems were recovered, carved but forgotten on the wooden barrack walls. The poems revealed the immigrants’ feelings of homesickness and outrage at their treatment in America. At Angel Island Chinese were kept apart from other Asians. Men and women, including husbands and wives, were separated At any one time, between 200-300 men and 30-50 women were detained at the station, cut off from visitors before their cases were judged.”

I decided to visit the museum after renowned artist, architect and genius Maya Lin came to my university to give a lecture. I learned she designed MOCA to reflect and tell the stories of various Chinese-Americans through the lens of the museum’s visitors. The opening of the museum faces Chinatown and through a glass pane, onlookers can see the inside of a traditional Chinese general store. Though I was disappointed I didn’t see the wall with the names of sponsors mostly but not all, Chinese people from all over the world (TCK and Diaspora pride, y’all!), I still had a very enlightening experience. Perhaps the wall is being renovated?

Onto the next bit, exploring my experiences going to the museum.
This picture was strategically placed, I think, because almost all Chinese immigrants had to go to Angel Island before either 1. being able to enter and live in the U.S. or 2. being deported, as many were. After looking at contemporary photos of residents and workers of Chinatown by photographer Annie Ling, the viewer walks into an exhibit chronicling the arrival of immigrants. Hopefully this inspires you to visit the museum yourself! Thursdays are free though with student ID, my ticket was only $5 but worth every dollar.

I was both touched and enraged alternately, and sometimes experienced both at once while entering and exiting each new exhibit. Going to the museum was an illuminating and harrowing experience.

As an immigrant to the U.S. myself, after having lived in New Zealand, another European colonized country; I have felt at times, bitter, enraged and estranged from the other Asian-Americans I have spoken to, many of which were 3rd or 2nd generation. Going to the museum and seeing the poems, the journals and testimonies, glimpsing the lives of early Chinese immigrants was so fulfilling. Seeing and witnessing (through the power of technology and archives), some of my perhaps distant relatives and predecessors’ suffering, touching their words, hearing the echoes of my relatives who had settled in the U.S and Canada before my parents did was especially powerful. I can empathize because though the means and the occupations, the suffering in itself may be different, the feelings I had (and still have) are mutual – bitterness, estrangement, alienation.
Now I feel as though I am better able to understand perseverance and the position I myself and others like me, other diasporic Chinese immigrants and assimilates are able to achieve in society through the suffering that came before me and the Asian-empowerment movement of the 1970’s. I’m still learning, of course (and still angry I didn’t learn anything from the curriculum left out in the public schools I have attended in both New Zealand and America). I’m learning through the archived testimonials, interacting with other diasporic Asians, POC and non-POC, as well as living, breathing and simply being. Plus making music and writing. Without words I don’t know where I would be.

“We so strong that we will show you what it means to be human by our work by our songs by the way we talk by the way we be by the way we treat people by the way we teach, we will show you what it means to be holy…” -Sonia Sanchez about Toni Morrison and Bernice Reagon in an interview facilitated by the amazing woman.


Top 40 Asian Style Bloggers

So ecstatic I discovered this 😀

Art Becomes You

I had attempted to create a kind of ‘Best Bloggers of All Time’ post but that list was verging on the thousands. So I’ve since then broken down that into categories. If you’re an ardent ABY reader, you must have come across the first post which was my Top 40 Bloggers of Colour. This time around we’ll be taking the Oriental Express to explore my Top 40 Asian Bloggers. Yes 40 must sound huge but trust me I had to cut it down to that. There are just way too many cool blogs out there. If you don’t find your blog in this category, you’ll probably be  in the next. Let’s get this started. (Click on titles to visit blogs. Opens in new tab).

Not in any particular order.

1. Tricia Will Go Places

The first thing that hits me about this blog is the title. Don’t we all…

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The Little things in life

The most content I ever will be is in bed with hot tea, soothing music and a good read from a book or the internet.

Time of day doesn’t matter all that much; I have found mornings, late afternoons (pre or post naptime) and evenings. This pretty much includes all times of day except noon, however I would imagine one who sleeps in would enjoy a nice morning/afternoon with these comforts.

It’s good to remember the simple things in life. This doesn’t just include tea, a good read or the internet because people are individuals with different tastes and a myriad of things bring individuals joy. The above mentioned things bring me joy and help keep me grounded in enjoying life in the present rather than worrying about the past or future. There are so many things to be worried about that sometimes it is easy to forget about just being in the present.

I am coordinating an event on mindfulness, and there are many ways to be mindful. Mindfulness is about being in the present and not worrying about the past or future. Originally, mindfulness was derived from Buddhism but is applied to psychology. There are many categories mindfulness can be applied to including eating, sleeping, exercising…and many more.

Presently, I am tired and about to go to sleep but some good reads I found on mindfulness are:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marina-illich-phd/mindfulness_b_4882114.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/fashion/mindfulness-and-meditation-are-capturing-attention.html?_r=0

http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/10/mindfulness-helps-you-become-a/

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/d9cb7940-ebea-11e1-985a-00144feab49a.html#axzz2vRIBPxAR

Enjoy and remember to take that much needed nap, walk in the woods or just one minute to close your eyes and focus on your breathing rather than whatever stressful thing on your laptop. Be mindful and live in the present for now – you do have the ability to choose to put stress behind you and relax, calm down for a moment.


The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

Healthy is beautiful. All bodies are beautiful. I’m kind of tired of hearing “just go to the gym” as a way to lose a few pounds. Some people who do work out might overdo it, and “hypergymnasia” or exercise anorexia is a legitimate condition. Read on.

Reembody

The Reembody blog, up to this point, has been a thoughtful exploration of human movement, a subject about which I am extremely passionate.

Today, however, I’m mad and I’m going to tell you why.

I have been planning a blog post for a while on fitness misinformation, and it was originally going to be the same kind of thoughtful deconstruction found in my other installments. But then I read this and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever found in my newsfeed: so beautiful, in fact, that the rest of the health and fitness propaganda floating around Facebook like turds in a pool started to really, really piss me off.

So thoughtful deconstruction has been postponed for another day. Instead, we’re going to take a good look at a few of those turds and get pissed off together because, when someone preys upon your insecurities in an effort…

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Mount Holyoke, A College For White Men?

The DoubleX Chromosome

Malyszko/Mount Holyoke Photo I am a black student at Mount Holyoke College, the first of the seven sister schools, which was started because no other American colleges accepted women. Mount Holyoke women are taught to be bold, to never fear change, and to speak up against injustice… unless you’re a student of colour. 177 years later white male privilege still reigns supreme here. And it is actively reinforced by campus police.

I spent the early hours of Saturday morning at the South Hadley Police Department having been arrested at Mount Holyoke for “breach of peace.” This is how the story begins.

My boyfriend Sam came to visit me on a whim so I took my blankets and my things to an unoccupied room in the dorm where my friends and I often hang out. I have a roommate who I couldn’t kick out on such short notice so I set up the other…

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