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Dear Sisters,
We are happy to introduce the April edition of InspirAsian, our newsletter promoting the pillar of Asian Awareness. In this newsletter:
  1. FEATURE: Interview with Catherine Law
  2. April Holidays: Cambodian New Year
  3. Saving Chinatown from Gentrification
  4. What Are Other Chapters Doing? 
Love and friendship,
Patricia Chao, Gianni Lai,
and Molly Chheath
Our hearts and warmest thoughts go out to those affected by the earthquake in Nepal. The devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake last Saturday has killed more than 5,000 people, and many more are injured and in desperate need of relief. We urge sisters to educate themselves and others in their local community on the situation and how we can be proactive in providing support to these survivors. Stay strong, Nepal.
Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund Text GIVE NEPAL to 80088 to donate $10 to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.

Breaking the Mold


 

Catherine Law is the Executive Editor of ALIST Magazine, which she hopes to one day be seen as the Asian Forbes Magazine. The magazine focuses on success and highlights the achievements that Asian Americans have accomplished.

When most people hear the name Catherine Law, they are unsure what ethnicity she is. Is she European? African? Asian? The answer: it does not matter, and that is the kind of message Catherine Law wants to make, "I want people to be judged by their abilities, not their ethnicity.”  ALIST Magazine stands as her chance to prove that Asian Americans are capable of success and should be judged as equals, because they are just as capable of the same achievements as the rest of the world.

Look up Catherine on LinkedIn and you will see a decorated list of positions and achievements, including a strong background in accounting and helping non-profits. “But I’ve always liked print, and when AngryAsianMan posted something about ALIST Magazine asking for volunteers, I said, why not?” Catherine started out being the magazine’s Director of Operations until the previous Executive Editor stepped down from the position.

 


With such an impressive career, one cannot help but wonder how in the world Catherine multi-tasks and succeeds in both her career and ALIST. The answer? What pushes her everyday is her desire to bring articles about the success and leadership that Asian individuals and groups have achieved. This yearning pushed her to take on the Executive Editor position because she wanted to highlight everyone, and not just the C-Level individuals. “I want ALIST to be the Asian Forbes,” Catherine states, “with a little bit of everything, from music to entertainment to books to leadership, and success stories.” She wants to showcase the mom-and-pop guy who started their own business to the parents who travelled from India with nothing but succeeded.

Bottom line - Catherine wants to shed light on the success that Asian Americans have because more than oftentimes, our culture influences us to be humble and quiet.

"Asian women should be confident and take risks and break the mold. Be a risk taker."

The cultural differences does not stop at just being humble and quiet. When asked what the biggest difference between an Asian teenager and an Asian American one, Catherine highlights her own childhood, “Asian teenagers that come from the working class family, you can’t play with friends after school. You don’t have time for friends. You go help out at the family restaurant after school and helped there.”

As generations pass, Asian American teenagers are able to have more and more freedom in a relaxed family environment. However, even as generations pass and Asian Americans assimilate more to American ways, there are still stereotypes and stigmas that Asian Americans face. Fortunately, Catherine grew up in Queens, New York, which is considered as the melting pot of the United States. The extent of stereotypes and racism depends on where one is located in the United States, but there is still the stigma of Asian Americans being the model minority, being quiet and not speaking up, and entering the medical field.

“I want Asians to be judged by their abilities,” Catherine states, referring to a potential review over her own resume. “People see my name, and they know I’m a woman. They can’t tell what ethnicity I am but once I go through the door, I have two strikes. I’m Asian and I’m a woman.”

Being an Asian American woman should not be something seen as strikes, and that is what Catherine hopes to achieve through ALIST Magazine. For her, Asian women should be confident and take risks and break the mold. Be a risk taker.


ALIST is always hoping to be able to open doors for Asian American individuals. If you are interested in writing, digital media, or any related fields, make sure to check out the ALIST Magazine website and contact Catherine.

APRIL: Happy Cambodian New Year!


Cambodian New Year, also known as Khmer New Year, is a three day Cambodian holiday that usually starts on April 13th and goes until April 15th. Khmer people call the new year, "បុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី" (Chaul Chnam Thmey), which translates to entering the new year. Traditionally, this time of year marks the end of harvest, and a time for farmers to enjoy the fruits of their harvest before the start of the rainy season.
Day One Maha Songkran (មហាសង្រ្កាន្ត) marks entry into the new year and the arrival of a New Angel. Throughout the day, people participate in games and ceremonies, with the belief that these activities result in longevity and happiness in the new year. Traditional feasts are also prepared for both festivities and as offerings to monks and ancestors.

Day Two Vara Vanabat (វិរ:វ័នបត) is a day of prayers, service, and respect to elders. Children give gifts to parents, grandparents, and teachers as a sign of respect. Cambodians also offer charity to the less fortunate, perform service activities, and forgive others for misdeeds that may have been committed.

Day Three Vara Loeng Sak (ថ្ងៃឡើងស័ក) marks the final day of festivities and blessings. On this day, Cambodians cleanse the Buddha statutes with perfumed water. The act symbolizes both (1) a kind deed that brings good luck, long life, and happiness, and (2) hope for sufficient rainfall for rice harvest.

How do Cambodian in the US & Canada celebrate the New Year?
  • Visiting Khmer Buddhist temples
  • Going to local festivities put together by the Cambodian communities
  • Making offerings and giving respect to elders and ancestors 
     1st Khmer American Temple, Wat Buddhikarama in MD                                                    [Photo Source]

Saving Chinatown From Gentrification


History 
For decades, the Chinatowns of America have stood as a safe haven for Chinese immigrants. A place with low rent, a place with people that share the same history, and a place where generations preserve their Asian culture and create their own Asian-American culture.

What 
In recent years, gentrification has taken a toll on Chinatowns, such as the one in Boston. Although Chinatowns stands as one of the largest cultural enclaves, the price of rent and land have been increasing. Likewise, the amount of non-Chinese people moving in have also increased. The safe haven for immigrants is now being threatened and their neighborhood filled with the cha siu (Chinese B.B.Q.) places, cha chan tang (Cantonese cafes), and old friends to play mahjong with may be gone before they know it. Reports even show that ironically, the Chinese locals are now the minority in Boston’s Chinatown.

Why Is It Important 
Chinatowns may be exaggerated in movies like Rush Hour, but the symbolism and culture is apparent across the United States. It is not just an issue for the Chinese, or even Asians, but for all Americans. As a country which prides itself as a melting pot, the United States needs preserve every culture in the country. There is already a problem of the Chinese heritage being liquified generation after generation.

What are people doing to help them

  • Boston government will be meeting over the issue
  • Groups like Chinatown Land Trust are thinking of innovative ways to help the situation, like buying homes to reserve for working families
  • Chinese Historical Society of New England hopes to appeal certain landmarks to the National Register of Historic Places

However, recent studies from March 2015 show that within the next decade, even New York City’s Chinatown will be heavily affected by gentrification. Real estate agencies will be looking into area’s cheap rent and sooner or later, Chinatowns will diminish if nothing changes.

What can chapters do to help

  • Raise awareness - Sisters may not be living in areas with large Chinatowns or Chinatowns being affected by gentrification so they may not be aware of the situation happening in more famed Chinatowns, like New York’s and Boston’s. Now that sisters know about the issue through this newsletter, it is up to the sorority to help raise awareness to other Asian-interest organizations

What Are Other Chapters Doing?


Boston University, Associate Chapter

Sisters at Boston University volunteered and showed their support at the annual Taiwanese Night Market hosted by BU Taiwanese American Student Association, an organization for which many BU sisters have been active members and have held executive board positions. The night was filled with delicious food, games, and good music in the company of both sisters and fellow university students. The evening very closely simulated the experience at a genuine Taiwanese night market. Good job Boston University aKDPhi sisters for not only getting a sense of the Taiwanese culture, but also sharing the culture with members of their university!
Purdue University at West Lafayette, Colony

Sisters at Purdue University came together to make tangyuan from scratch at a sisterhood cultural event! Tangyuan is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flower and water. The delicious dessert contains fillings that range from sesame to sweet bean paste to sugar! Many sisters had never made or heard of the Chinese dessert before, so the cultural event was a great way to increase cultural awareness in the chapter. It's awesome to see sisters not only educating the community, but also themselves! 
[click above for the video]
SUNY Stony Brook, Associate Chapter

Sisters of Stony Brook aKDPhi cohosted a fun-filled Japanese Drumming & Tea workshop with the members of Stony Brook Taiko Tides. The Taiko Tides taught both members of their community that came out the workshop as well as our own sisters the basics of playing taiko (Japanese drums). Our sisters must have a natural talent for taiko drumming (and chanting! See the video!) because they were progressively taught more intermediate sets, culminating in playing a full set with the members of Taiko Tides! The Taiko Tides were great mentors, leading participants patiently and attentively. Meanwhile, sisters taught the cultural background and traditions of tea. By bringing out the drums and tea in a creative and interactive event, we are proud of our sisters for spreading awareness of Japanese culture!
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Associate Chapter

University of Wisconsin, Madison sisters volunteered at the annual Korean Culture Day hosted by Families Through Korean Adoption, whose mission is to serve as a network of parents and children for social, cultural and educational issues related to Korean adoption. Sisters worked with children of all ages (mostly energetic kindergarteners and their siblings that followed the sisters around all day!) and experienced Korean culture with the kids through playing drums, learning taekwondo, making triangle kimbap, and even learning Korean. Filled with nonstop laughter and fun, both sisters and kids practiced taekwondo kicking techniques (and fell over in the process) and ate rice sandwiched between two seaweed pieces (when making kimbaps proved a little too tedious). Regardless, it's really great to see sisters helping out such a great cause and having fun spreading awareness of Korean culture!
University of Virginia, Sigma Chapter

Cohosting with UVa's Asian Student Union (ASU) and WAALI, aKDPhi sisters held their annual Asian American Women's Initiative (AAWI), a speakers panel discussing experiences as minorities of two demographics (gender and ethnicity). This year, AAWI was incorporated into ASU's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month under the overall theme of Illuminate. The idea behind the theme was to spotlight Asian Americans and bring to light a sense of identity for Asian Americans. The speakers spoke on everything from switching career paths to parental expectations to even interracial dating! One speaker was an expert on dating culture amongst Indian Americans and spoke on speed dating conventions for young Asian Americans (and their parents) to meet! The sisters had a great time listening to and laughing with the speakers about their experiences. Good job illuminating and facilitating discussion on some important Asian issues, sisters!
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