Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Media Revolution: Asian-Americans in Versatile Roles

Media representation of minority groups can be seen as a major change in pop culture and can influence the flow of the narrative and such. However, media representation fails when it does not represent Asian-Americans and Asians as versatile people. Asian-Americans tend to fill in roles that portray stereotypical Asian "archetypes" such as an intelligent nerd that happens to be mild-mannered or submissive, a comedic character that does a stereotypical Asian accent, a martial artists, and many more. Nowadays, there have been notable changes to Asian-American roles in the United States and it has caused a revolution in the progressive representation of minorities. Great examples of this are Ki Hong Lee and Conrad Ricamora.

Ki Hong Lee has been a rising star in modern pop culture and is prominent for his role as Minho in The Maze Runner (2014) and a multitude of Wong Fu Production videos such as Away We Happened and This is How We Never Met and also from his own youtube channel. He’s portrayed roles such as a person always on the lookout for a girlfriend, a comedic extra, a man overthinking about his marriage and memories, and a person having uncontrollable thoughts about a complete stranger. Conrad Ricamora is a theatre actor that has made a breakthrough in the critically acclaimed series How to Get Away With Murder where he plays a gay Asian-American character.

Perfection that is Deepika

My sisters and I beam with our pre-show jitters

A few months ago, the greatest beauty to ever walk the earth landed in Chicago for the SLAM! Tour. This perfection is Deepika Padukone. If you are a Bollywood junkie like me, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Now, most can argue that she isn’t that pretty and is just famous thanks to SRK (another famous Bollywood actor, King of Khans, etc).

No matter what, I disagree. My sisters and I are big fans of her. From her dancing to her acting, we obsess over her to the point that it may be deemed unhealthy. From her debut in Om Shanti Om (Bollywood Film), I have watched her turn herself from the token item girl to a versatile actress. When I say token item girl, I mean random hot girl who is only in the movie for a song. She has bagged roles that encompass a broad range of identities and her success is a result of that.

Now, back to that SLAM! Tour. My sisters and I rush to the theater to get our seats. We have our posters ready and take selfies. All adults around us think we are narcissistic fools. Oh yeah!

Friday, October 24, 2014

From Korean Pop to Media Representation: A Casual Talk about Asian-Americans and Asians in Media

By: Alzen Santos, AARCCorner Contributor

B1A4 thanking the fans after a great show in Rosemont, IL

B1A4, a South-Korean pop boy band, has been amplifying the Korean pop craze ever since their debut performance in 2011 with their debut song entitled “O.K.” along with the release of their cute music video to accompany it. They are well known for their cute demeanor and adorable dance moves alongside their iconic fashion sense. I thought I would never see them in person because Korean pop groups tend to have concerts either in the West Coast or the East Coast; it almost feels like the Midwest does not exist in a lot of Korean entertainment companies’ eyes. To my surprise, B1A4’s managing company decided to hold one of their US concerts on October 5, 2014, at the Rosemont Theatre, right by the blue line Rosemont CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) station.

As I walked towards the concert venue, I was able to see a stream of fans ranging from teenagers to people in their twenties like myself. A lot of fans brought their boom boxes and started playing B1A4’s songs alongside other popular Korean pop songs. Some fans decided to make colorful fan signs and one of the fans actually made fan signs for everyone to hold! The intensity of the dedication of many of these fans is very high and many of them even learned all the dance moves to B1A4’s popular songs such as “Beautiful Target,” “Baby, Goodnight,” and “Lonely” and performed them in unison in front of the concert waiting line.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


By: Alysha Mancha, AARCCorner Contributor

Shiva and satiby mmmmmr
Your husband just died from a horrible disease at a young age. You notice that his color and his pallor faded. Now, you are wearing either black or white to represent your widowhood. You gather the pyre for the cremation, and hand it off to your fellow comrades. They will burn his body, but you wish to watch from afar. You wish to live your life watching over your child. Unfortunately, your community is forcing you to die with your beloved one. You must lay down your life and walk the burning funeral pyre. You are to die with him, as it is your duty.

After all, your life begins and ends with him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Asian Student Org Spotlight: Asian American Students in Alliance

By: Adrian Ledesma, AARCCorner Contributor

As your productive and meaningful day of education comes to an end and you find yourself on that routine walk back to your bike, bus, or blue line, you reflect on the definitive successes and prevailing of obstacles that lead to such a glorious, fulfilling experience that encompasses you with the desire to return home to prepare for another day full of exciting challenges… Yet despite your progressing academic endeavors, there’s still an emptiness inside, a void (and I’m not talking about your hunger for that home cooked meal, cafeteria food, or whatever else is inside that Tupperware or crumpled up tin foil in your bag).

You realize that this emptiness can only be occupied by a greater cause. A structured coalition composed of your earnest peers that you can devote your additional time towards in a meaningful and social way. A student organization. Specifically, an Asian interest student organization. Led by charismatic, organized role models and generously attended by entertaining, chipper students with similar interests. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN WAITING FOR? (Their next event, I suppose...)

"See how warm and approachable they appear?"

Luckily, I have had the enjoyable privilege of attending many of these organizations’ events and will try my best to portray what these organizations stand for as well as the experience you can expect when you join!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gentle Rays of Summer, Identity, and AAMP

Kevin Shi, Graduate Assistant
Asian American Mentor Program

These mornings, I wake up quite regularly to gentle rays of sunlight filtered through my window blinds and the rumbling growl of lawn mowers eagerly devouring grass. There’s just something about the sights and sounds of summer that put me in the right mood; it’s the almost as the universe is telling you to get ready to have a good time.
Kevin Shi facilitating a session during AAMP Mentor Training

As has been case with past summers, I often use the gentle breezes and pleasant temperature as a backdrop for self-reflection and to consider how what I’ve accomplished in the past year fits into the greater life story I’m currently authoring. Though my conclusions are not always insightful, I’ve found that an increasingly significant amount of my time has been dedicated to thinking about the generations before me and those to potentially come after.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Garden Items - From Ground to Table

By liz thomson, Interim Director

Global Garden Market
Open Thursdays, 3-6 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
3000 W. Lawrence Ave. (just north of Francisco Brown Line eL, or #81 Lawrence bus)
Cash only.

Okay, I think I'm officially converted. Not in the religious way, but I'm a garden fan! From this summer's experience with the UIC Heritage Garden and then our most recent field trip to the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm in Albany Park, it is super cool to see the veggie and greens growing, get picked, and then cook them. What I appreciate the most is hearing the cultural influences and stories related to the items.

A selfie at the Market!
After the field trip, I returned that weekend to the Global Garden Market on Saturday to see what I could buy. I bought Red Mustard Greens, radishes, and a Daikon bunch. Wasn't quite sure what I was going to cook with them, but hey - that's what the Internet is for, right? Each bunch was only $2 and I also got to meet some of the farmers. I looked to see if one of the women we met was around, but she wasn't. I was hoping to see her and her little boy again who was earlier wearing a Batman top and running around.          

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Get to Know Jullie Han - helping new students in many ways

By liz thomson, Interim Director

How does one describe summer? For a group of about 30 Orientation Leaders, it means giving tours, introducing incoming students to UIC campus resources and services, answering a lot of questions, and then some? Sophomore Jullie Han is one of those Orientation Leaders and also a mentor in AARCC’s Asian American Mentor Program (AAMP) for the fall of 2014. On her day off from Orientation, Jullie made time to chat with me.
Jullie during one of her busy days during Orientation

Seemingly always smiling, Jullie identifies as Korean American and is a psychology major, who is fluent in Korean and has English as a second language. I first got to know Jullie during the AAMP overnight training this past May. Since then, I’ve seen her shuffling students here and there in a calm and professional manner.

With a lot of different summer opportunities, my first question to Jullie is how she found out about Orientation and what made her apply?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Getting to Know Akhila Gopal and Phoenix Chen - garden, culture, and heritage

By liz thomson, AARCC Interim Director
June 14, 2014

Summer Garden interns at the Garfield Park Conservatory
The best part of working in higher education is meeting enthusiastic and engaged students. Earlier this summer, I met sophomores Phoenix Chen and Akhila Gopal through the Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change’s Heritage Garden Internship. Between weeding, watering, and sharing stories, I got to hear why they applied for the internship and how it connects with their culture, academics, and life.

One day after the internship, we decided to grab lunch and chat.  While walking down to Lotus CafĂ© & Banh Mi, we talked casually and made light conversations.  Phoenix and Akhila are both very open to talk to. After ordering our food, we sat down, and I started asking them how they found out about the Heritage Garden Internship.

“I heard about it from an email through the Honors College, and I was looking for something to do this summer,” says Akhila, “I always hated only seeing concrete in the winter, and I strongly believe being out in nature is healthy.”

Getting to Know Annie Pho - books, biking, and cats

By liz thomson, AARCC Interim Director
June 10, 2014

This past academic year, I have gotten to know Annie Pho, Visiting Reference and Instructional Librarian, at the UIC Daley Library. She’s been here since January 2013 and some of her UIC new-ness has worn away. Since the summertime is less stressful and busy, I thought I would take some time to get to know her a little bit more. Our conversation begins as we walk from the Library to Student Center East. We get a hot beverage and then find a quiet place to talk. What is usually an extremely noisy building is eerily quiet. I’m taking notes on my laptop, and Annie is at ease drinking her Chai dressed in a lightweight, red sweater that is conducive to working in an air-conditioned space during summer.

Annie identifies as a first generation, Vietnamese-American.

Annie Pho, Visiting Reference and Instructional Librarian
Liz Thomson (LT): Thank you for making time for the interview and sharing. To ease into things, Annie, where do you call home?

Annie Pho (AP): I’ve moved around so much – so, it’s interesting about where to call home. I’ve only lived in Chicago now for one and half years, and I feel like Chicago is becoming like home. I grew up in Sonoma County (north of San Francisco), so California is still home. I’m excited to learn more about Chicago.