Master’s Tea with Lisa Lee

Yesterday, Lisa Lee came to talk to Yale students about her work with both the magazine Hyphen and the newly launched website “Thick Dumpling Skin.”

As an Asian American woman, Lee’s work really speaks to me. Hearing her speak in person made me feel proud to identify myself with such an empowered women. Although Lee clearly has impressive credentials and influence, she never for one moment talked down to her audience. Her natural, down-to-earth manner made me feel especially receptive to the issues she raised and the points she brought up during the tea.

Lee emphasized that both Hyphen and “Thick Dumpling Skin” are resources which first and foremost serve the communities they cater to. The goals of both are to break stereotypes and to give Asian Americans a place where they can feel like they belong.

Cleverly using a quote from everyone’s favorite Spiderman series, the thing Lee said which struck me the most was “With great power comes great responsibility.” To break Asian American stereotypes, Asian Americans themselves must first stop perpetuating them. In the YouTube world, leaders like KevJumba and Wongfu have enormous support and with that they also have enormous influence. Lee hopes that all Asian American leaders can be aware of their actions and this has inspired me to be more conscious of what I do on a daily basis.

There is a long way to go before all Asian American women can shake the need to fit the mold of intelligent, thin, and submissive, but with leaders like Lisa Lee, they can start finding their own identities.

Post by guest contributor Mendy Yang, CC ’15

Blog Contest Winner–Bad Romance

Congratulations to anonymous submitter Aaron X! Here’s an excerpt from her blog, Vanity

I’ve been having a terrible week.
http://www.mediabistro.com/agencyspy/files/original/bad-hair-day.jpg
….
Let’s just say I made my IMTHESHIT playlist.
http://images.contactmusic.com/videoimages/sbmg/beyonce-diva.jpg
It’s been playing on repeat.

Blog Contest Runner-up: The Future of China

Congratulations to Tony Wu, TC ’13, for his submission!

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

The year 2010 saw China surpassing Japan and becoming the world’s second largest economy by nominal GDP – merely one spot away from what most Chinese feel is their country’s inevitable position as the leading global superpower. As the son of two Beijingers, I am proud of how far the nation of my heritage has come since the beginning of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms in 1978, but China’s growth is fractured.

Annual growth rates have averaged 9% for the last decade, and yet China’s GDP per capita hovers below $4,000, lower than that of Botswana, South Africa, and even Algeria. Corruption spans 15% of the entire economy and the wealthy elite exploit privatization to further perpetuate and widen the socioeconomic gap. Economic liberalization has hardly occurred – the state still has absolute power to censor, prosecute, and kill on a whim. All of these problems thrive behind the mask of China’s status as the poster child of globalization.

TIME TO STOP BARKING

There’s no doubt that China wants to assume the helm of world leader. It craves unrivaled global recognition and power that once defined (and perhaps still does) the United States at the dawn of the postmodern age.

China today has the money and might to accomplish great things, but while Chinese leaders complain about the West’s antagonism toward their country’s questionable development, their own behavior, in the words of the The Economist, has “done too little to reassure the outside world that China’s rise is something to be celebrated everywhere.”

For a country with as much to fix as it has gained, China retains a century-old nationalistically defensive attitude against international opinion and desperately needs a lesson in utilizing the soft power that has secured the longevity of the Western World. China is militant in its suppression of domestic transgressions (take Tibet) and hypocritical in its desire for tolerance from the global community – the PRC is openly critical of Western political and cultural standards without being able to stomach reciprocal commentary. The country as a whole seems just as ready to war with the world as it tries to garner respect.

In 2010, China may have become the second richest country on paper, but as an international leader it remains far from exemplary.

“Ground Zero Mosque” Imam talks tolerance

Guest Contributor Sam Greenberg, SY ’13

Imam Feisal Rauf, founder and chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, will give a talk on religious tolerance and interfaith cooperation at Yale on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Sheffield-Sterling Strathcona Hall, 1 Prospect Street. The discussion, organized by Jews and Muslims at Yale, will be moderated by Rabbi James Ponet, head of the Slifka Center for Jewish Life. It is free and open to the public.

Imam Rauf has received national and international attention for his efforts to increase understanding and acceptance between Americans and the modern Muslim world, which is the stated goal of the Cordoba Initiative. Among his projects is the Cordoba House near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, the controversial proposal to build an Islamic Community Center to serve New York’s Muslim population. Imam Rauf also founded the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a nonprofit that works to build understanding between the general public and the Muslim community through dialogues in faith, identity, culture and arts.

The Imam’s talk will emphasize how moderate-minded Americans of all faiths and backgrounds can join together to promote peace and work against the forces of extremism. The undergraduate organization Jews and Muslims at Yale strives to create understanding and dialogue between Jews and Muslims in the Yale community on religious and political issues. The group seeks to foster strong ties and lasting friendships among its members that can help break down barriers and create new perspectives on present conflicts.

The event is generously co-sponsored by the Intercultural Affairs Council of Yale College, the Slifka Center for Jewish Life, the Yale Divinity School, and the Chaplain’s Office.

For more information on the Imam and the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, check out some articles on the topic here.

TAS Master’s Tea with Economist Stephen Roachman

Submitted by Cece Xie, TC ’13

On November 1, TAS was proud to host its first-ever TAS Tea. We invited Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, for an intimate gathering in order to discuss Taiwan, China, and the emerging market in Asia. A highly influential authority on the global financial system, Stephen Roach has immense knowledge of Asia’s economy, with recent emphasis on globalization, the emergence of China, productivity, and the macroeconomic impacts of information technology. He is also currently a Senior Lecturer at the School of Management.

Professor Roach started off with a brief overview of China’s economy in the past thirty years. Three years after the Cultural Revolution ended, in 1979, China’s economy was in shambles. Over the next few years, China pushed for massive reform and change, resulting in a spectacular surge in exports. China’s GDP grew at tremendous rates, a model that other countries have looked upon with envy and are trying to emulate. The Chinese model, however, is not sustainable, and the Chinese economy will have to shift in response. China must now focus on internal consumption instead of exports. Internal demand must increase at this point.

This is where Taiwan enters the equation. Although there are many political tensions between China and Taiwan, it is impossible to talk about one without the other–they are linked at the hip, economically. Under the new administration and the recent cross-strait trade agreement (ECFA), China and Taiwan’s economic ties are ever more solidified. This agreement is a big deal for Taiwan, estimated at 110 billion USD. Tariffs between the two countries are greatly reduced as a result.

As China’s economic policy shifts these next few years, the US can also look to greatly benefiting. The policy makers in Washington, D.C., would be wise to push for increased access to China’s internal markets, especially as China attempts to focus on internal consumption rather than exports. Instead of viewing China as the enemy, China’s trading partners should take advantage of the changing model. China’s trading partners are poised to become huge beneficiaries and should not push China away in this critical time period.

North Korean Defector Shares Experience at ThiNK Master’s Tea

Submitted by Dong Won Lee, SM ’11

Flyer for ThiNK Master’s Tea

On Oct. 19, Silliman College hosted Ana Jang from PSCORE (People for Successful Corean Reunification), an NGO that seeks to raise awareness and foster discussion for the “mutual understanding and harmony between the two Koreas,” and Jinhye Jo, a 24-year-old North Korean defector.

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APA Blog Contest Series: “The Asian American Identity” by Rose Wang

I’m Asian. I’m American. I’m a Yalie. So many titles define my life. So what am I? I am undeniably ethnically Chinese. Both my parents grew up in China. However, I do not feel like the stereotypical Chinese American at Yale. I do not listen to Jay Chow regularly, I do not watch Chinese dramas, and I do not speak Chinese with my friends. There is nothing wrong with these activities; I don’t do them simply because I have not grown up in an environment where these activities were common. Cultural inertia. So what does it mean to be Asian American? I don’t think this label carries any specific meaning, other than the obvious—the person is descended from one or more people from the continent of Asia. We can generalize about groups as much as we want, but it’s like we learned in psychology—variation among individuals in a group is much greater than variation between groups. So what is the Asian American Identity? It Doesn’t Exist. So who am I? I am me. Judge me as an individual, and both of our lives will be easier.

APA Blog Contest Series: “The Grain in the Dossot Pot” by Arin Esther Kim

To go to a mokyoktang, all you need to bring is the fee and your body. With a bored cashier, you exchange the few rumpled bills for a locker key, then walk through an opaque curtain. You lock your shoes outside and enter barefoot—that was the easy part. Next, you begin to peel away every article of clothing from your body, even the underwear that is so adamant in bidding your buttocks farewell. You keep thinking, you need something, something to clutch onto, or wrap around your body. Your antsy fingers gnarl or flicker uneasily at your side. But the only thing you have on you are your hands, which are too small to cover up the expanse of your body. You involuntarily hunch over, and even your bare toes curl inward as you take wobbly steps along the slippery tiles. With your peripheral vision, you see the other women, and are astonished at their poise, chest outward as their breasts bounce in plain sight. The assortment of female bodies fascinates you: a naked batch of females varying from scrawny six year olds to grandmas lugging around the mammaries that have nursed four or five babies in their day. But alas, you keep your head down because you know making the slightest eye contact will have you running back for your brassiere and panties.

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The Price of Exotification

Submitted by Jason Chu ’08

This image (an advertisement for VH1′s newest celeb-fronted “educational” vehicle) is problematic.

Or is it?

Probably.

Why?

Three “ethnic” women – arrayed in traditional/ceremonial garb worn rarely, if at all, in modern-day Africa, South Asia, and East Asia – stand, heavily-made-up, behind Jessica Simpson, whose muted clothes and “natural” makeup suggest that she is the default – absent symbols of “color” or “ethnic” culture, we see her as the de facto norm, the standard by which “regular” beauty is judged.

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Savory Heritage: A Lesson in Food, Writing, Culture

Submitted by Eunju Namkung CC ’13

For those of you who have witnessed me eat- be it the first bite into a felafel or the last bite of a wenzel- you can attest to the pure elation that consumes me as I consume whatever. Perhaps you have heard the round of applause I give to meals that make my legs twist and my tummy echo with delicious rhythm. With that portrait drawn, you can just imagine how awesome it was to have had the privilege of eating at Miya’s with the guests of AASA/Berkeley Master’s Tea (Monica Bhide, Sunee Kim, and Andrea Nguyen) and Master Chun (<3) with Bun Lai as our host.

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