Happy Fall! It’s a time for harvest festivals with family and friends and for students and teachers to settle in for the school year.
Secondary school teachers in English Language Arts classes can help foster nuanced dialogue, including oft-missing Asian American perspectives, into literary discussions that encourage inclusive community building in the classroom and beyond. Please join us for our third Teachers Workshop of 2023, “Teaching Asian American Narratives Through Literature,” held virtually, on Wednesday, September 27 at 3:30 pm PST / 6:30 pm EST. In addition to our speakers, teacher educator Noreen Naseem Rodriguez and secondary school instructor Diana Liu, we’re pleased to announce that two moderators have been added to this engaging conversation: Kyong Pak, a History teacher, and Courtney Duke, an English teacher, both from Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA.
Immediately following our Teachers Workshop, hop over to “Organizing for Climate Action: The Opportunities of U.S.-China Cooperation” at 5 pm PST / 8 pm EST. U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) will join partner organizations in discussing how the U.S. and China can act together to tackle climate change and help build a green and fair global economy. The 1990 Institute is a co-sponsor of this event.
And on Tuesday, September 26, at the in-person National Unity Summit organized by the Asian American Unity Coalition (AAUC), 1990 Institute Board Chair Grace Yu will participate in a panel discussion on the importance of teaching Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) history in schools. If you’re in the Washington DC area, be sure to register to attend.
See Spotlight below for more details on these events and more. And if you love the 1990 Institute’s resources and content, please donate to help us continue, and please share this newsletter with your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe.
You’re invited to a new Teachers Workshop, “Teaching Asian American Narratives Through Literature,” on using literature to spark meaningful discussions on Asian identity, history, and issues, with consideration to the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, and more. Join us on September 27.
Can mooncakes, songpyeon, and frozen kimbap bring us closer across cultures?
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
My friend Janet recently asked if I know about the upcoming University of Michigan Chuseok party. Know about it? I was there the first year of the celebration and wrote one of the first local articles about it.
Chuseok (pronounced choo-sock) is a Korean harvest festival that usually falls in September or October, and is often translated as Korean Thanksgiving. Like the Mid-Autumn Moon festival (Zhong Qiu Jie in Mandarin, Tet Trung Thu in Vietnamese), the festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, September 29 this year. However, for Koreans and Korean Americans, Chuseok lasts three days! This year, it will be September 28 to 30, 2023.
Much like the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Thanksgiving, and other autumn harvest festivals, it is a time for families to come together and celebrate the end of the harvest season. Just as turkey is the usual centerpiece of an American Thanksgiving dinner, a big family feast with special Chuseok foods is also at the center of this holiday. Children play favorite games. Everyone takes time to enjoy the beauty of the full moon, the largest of the year (known as the harvest moon in the West).
Public celebrations are not the same as a family celebration, but the ones we attend bring together Korean and Korean American culture, with traditional Korean drumming, traditional Korean salpuri dance, contemporary K-Pop dancers and B-boys, weepy Korean dramas, and lots of Korean dates, rice cake snacks, and a dice game called yutnori.
What we all love most, though, is making songpyeon. Songpyeon are half-moon shaped rice dumplings filled with sesame or sweet bean, sort of like a cross between mezzelune and mochi, or dumplings and yuanxiao. Sweet. Made with rice flour and stuffed, the dumplings are incredibly delicate to fold. Once cooked, they are deliciously bouncy, and the different colorings in the dough make for a festive treat. Guided by a humorous YouTube video, we make several songpyeon to take home and cook, but unfortunately we are never gentle enough to get them home in one piece. Then we have to make more.
I think about Chuseok as I buy my annual Sheng-Kee Bakery mooncakes at the Chinese market and then stop at the Korean bakery next door for a few red bean buns and curry croquettes. I love how pan-Asian our Asian American culture has become. I feel so sad to learn that a recent Pew Research Center survey found that one in five Asian American adults admitted to hiding cultural heritage to avoid embarrassment — things like customs, food, clothing, or religious practices from non-Asians. At the same time, though, Trader Joe’s is sold out of kimbap until at least October 31 after the frozen rice rolls went viral on social media.
Maybe I will make songpyeon for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival this year and share some Chinese mooncakes with my Korean American friends.
The 1990 Institute’s Board Chair Grace Yu will speak on the importance of teaching AANHPI history in schools at the National Unity Summit, organized by the Asian American Unity Coalition, on September 26 in Washington DC. Registration is free for a limited time.
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A new court ruling deems DACA illegal, but the program hasn't ended. Here are 4 things to know. | NBC News Roughly 580,000 DACA recipients can continue to renew their DACA status every two years. The program remains closed for new applicants.
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National security adviser, China’s top diplomat take fresh stab at cooling U.S.-China tensions | Politico “The two sides committed to consultations in key areas,” an American official said afterward.
At China's Belt and Road Summit, Participants Welcome U.S.-India's Rival Plan | Voice of America News A plan unveiled by the U.S. and India to build an alternative to China’s modern-day Silk Road could mean better deals for the nations along the route. A discussion took place at a conference marking the 10th anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Anti-Asian racism in the medical field is a common reality, Yale-led survey finds | NBC News One Pakistani American medical student said his attending physician once joked to a patient, “He’s gonna get his buddies from the Taliban to come after you.”
‘Occupied by the U.S.’: wildfires renew Native Hawaiian call for sovereignty | The Guardian As disaster capitalists descend on Lahaina, Indigenous Hawaiians fight for self-governance.
- JOIN US FOR OUR TEACHERS WORKSHOP: “TEACHING ASIAN AMERICAN NARRATIVES THROUGH LITERATURE” ON SEPTEMBER 27 – This workshop will explore how embracing varied viewpoints and an interdisciplinary approach when discussing literature can deepen students' understanding of our communities’ rich cultural heritages and enhance their learning journeys. “Teaching Asian American Narratives Through Literature” is designed to equip middle and secondary school educators with valuable insights they can pass along to their students about Asian identity, history, and issues through literary works, with consideration to the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, and other characteristics, but is open to all who are interested. Register now to reserve your spot at our 90-minute webinar on September 27 at 3:30 pm PST / 6:30 pm EST. We want to hear from you and will have time for a Q&A session following the panel discussion.
- REGISTER FOR “ORGANIZING FOR CLIMATE ACTION: THE OPPORTUNITIES OF U.S.-CHINA COOPERATION” ON SEPTEMBER 27 – The importance of building a global movement for climate cooperation has never been more clear. The 1990 Institute is a co-sponsor for this online discussion with Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Justice is Global, the Quincy Institute, and more climate, peace, and racial justice organizations on the need for deeper U.S.-China climate cooperation. "Organizing for Climate Action: The Opportunities of U.S.-China Cooperation” will be held on September 27 at 5 pm PST / 8 pm EST. By working together on shared challenges like climate change, the two countries can gradually build a more stable relationship. This webinar is taking place immediately following our Teachers Workshop. Sign up here.
- ATTEND A DISCUSSION ON THE TEACHING ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HISTORY ACT WITH 1990 INSTITUTE BOARD CHAIR GRACE YU ON SEPTEMBER 26 – This past May, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced legislation to promote the teaching of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) history in schools. Our Board Chair Grace Yu will represent the community perspective at a panel discussion on the benefits and importance of the Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act at 10 am on September 26 during the 2023 National Unity Summit, held in Washington DC from September 25 to 27. The 1990 Institute believes that the passing of federal legislation such as this Act sends a signal to everyone that AANHPI history is American history, and it is essential to include this education in our schools. We equip teachers with materials and resources to take back to their classrooms to help them create cross-cultural understanding. The 1990 Institute is a member organization of Asian American Unity Coalition (AAUC), who is organizing the summit. Learn more and see the conference agenda here.
- JOIN THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT’S ASIAN AND ASIAN AMERICAN INSTITUTE AND THE SIKH COALITION FOR SIKH STUDIES WEEK STARTING ON SEPTEMBER 25 – You are invited to join the Sikh Coalition, Sikh Art Gallery of Norwich, and the University of Connecticut’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute for a special Sikh Studies Week, held September 25 to 29. The program will feature community leaders, scholars, and cultural workers who will inspire connections for students, reveal hidden histories, share traditions and solidarity, discuss art and healing, and provide rich and extended professional development for educators. All events will be hybrid and free and open to the public. Go to Sikh Studies Week to see the schedule and how to join.
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