What is Bicultural Healthy Living?

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Bicultural Healthy Living is the ability of immigrants and refugees to bridge two cultures, the American mainstream culture and their culture of origin, into one that allows them to live healthfully and happily.  By leading a bicultural healthy lifestyle, we hope that Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities can find a path that allow both their Asian/Pacific islander and American culture to co-exist with the ability to use one or both cultural protective factors when needed.  This blog will explore the various ways and strategies to improve the health of AAPIs and the community as a whole by living a bicultural healthy lifestyle.

The Art of Antonius-Tin Bui

Antonius-Tin Bui, a versatile Vietnamese American artist, showcases three distinct bodies of work in the exhibition: “Do not laminate this card,” “Not Sorry for the Trouble,” and two portraits. Each piece delves into the enduring challenges and stereotypes faced by AAPI individuals, while also reflecting Bui’s exploration of unconventional beauty through the medium of paper. “Do not laminate this card” comprises laminated collages juxtaposing images from the Vietnam War era with ancestral burning paper or joss paper. Originating from Bui’s 2017 trip to Vietnam, where they faced criticism from a U.S. government official for laminating their security card, this series is a poignant commentary on identity and heritage. (Voice of OC respects Bui’s choice of preferred pronouns, “they/them.”

Photo: Antonius-Tin Bui

Since completing their degree in 2016, Antonius has been fortunate to receive fellowships from esteemed institutions such as the Vermont Studio Center, Kala Art Institute, Tulsa Artists Fellowship, Halcyon Arts Lab, and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. These opportunities have allowed them to diversify their artistic practice, extending beyond hand-cut paper techniques. Currently, Antonius explores themes of Vietnamese history and queerness through various mediums including performance, textiles, and photography. Their work has been showcased at a wide array of venues, ranging from institutional to underground, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Smithsonian Arts & Industry Building, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Hillyer Art Space, Lawndale Art Center, Living Arts, 108 Contemporary, Artscape, and the Philbrook Museum.


Antonius’s art intricately weaves together narratives of culture and identity, crafting pieces that transcend time with their enduring beauty. Each work serves as a tribute to cultural heritage, radiating a unique elegance that captivates and inspires viewers. Through their art, Antonius breathes life into stories that resonate deeply, inviting audiences to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of human experience.

Heritage Vocabulary

  1. 文化 (wénhuà) – Culture
  2. 身份 (shēnfèn) – Identity
  3. 经典 (jīngdiǎn) – Timeless
  4. 美丽 (měilì) – Beauty
  5. 故事 (gùshì) – Story

Reference: https://voiceofoc.org/2022/12/yellow-submarine-rising-gives-asian-american-artists-a-platform-to-speak-and-shine/.

The Art of Roshan Ganu

Originally hailing from Goa and now based in Minneapolis, Roshan Ganu is a versatile multimedia artist. Through her practice, she explores the depths of human experience using light, darkness, motion, space, and time. Her fascination lies in the intricate connections between language, visuals, experiences, and various disciplines. Ganu’s creations breathe life into narratives, moments, and emotions, inviting viewers into a realm of vulnerability. Central to her artistic vision is the theme of “isolation,” which serves as a lens through which she examines the human condition.

Observing her art is akin to observing the cosmos, capturing the profoundness of depth, space, texture, color, and time. Ganu’s art is inherently interdisciplinary, seamlessly intertwining cultural influences with her own unique and personal perspectives, enriching her work with layers of depth and meaning. Her art transcends boundaries, offering viewers a glimpse into the interconnectedness of humanity and the universe, evoking introspection and contemplation on the complexities of existence.

Formal language is a means to our consciousness. But consciousness itself knows no formal language. I am interested in a transdisciplinary translation of concepts and the fluidity of our human experience. I speak and understand six languages: Marathi, Konkani, Hindi, English, French, and Portuguese. Each language ignites its own consciousness and in each language I understand myself differently. The immigrant experience complicates this by introducing a foreign context. I am interested in this interflow of meaning in a multilingual and multicultural framework.

Roshan Ganu

In a world defined by diversity and cultural richness, creative expression serves as a vital conduit for celebrating our multifaceted identities and bridging differences. Through the lens of art, encompassing language, heritage, and culture, we find a common ground where individual narratives coalesce into a harmonious tapestry of human experience. The borderless nature of artistic expression transcends geographical confines, fostering connections that traverse continents and cultures. As we embrace the kaleidoscope of perspectives and voices, we cultivate a universal environment of understanding and empathy, paving the way for peace and unity in our global community. In cherishing and preserving our cultural heritage while embracing innovation and diversity, we illuminate the path towards a more inclusive and compassionate world, where art becomes a catalyst for profound transformation and collective harmony.

Reference: https://mnartists.walkerart.org/roshan-ganu-language-and-illusion http://www.roshanganu.com/

Try a Healthy Eating Plan to Reduce Stress

One factor contributing to weight gain among busy, stressed individuals is their tendency to opt for fast food or dining out more frequently. This inclination is understandable; after a hectic day, there may be little time or energy left to prepare a meal from scratch at home. However, prioritizing healthy eating habits at home can assist in preventing unwanted weight gain during stressful periods, as homemade meals typically offer superior nutritional value compared to fast food options. Additionally, homemade meals often feature smaller portions and lower fat content than restaurant offerings. Moreover, cooking at home can lead to financial savings, indirectly alleviating stress by reducing financial strain. While the idea of cooking a nutritious or unfamiliar dish after a long day may seem daunting, it is more manageable than one might imagine. Here are some convenient and straightforward guidelines to help incorporate healthier meals into your home-cooking routine.

  • Plan ahead
  • Keep it simple
  • Cook ahead
  • Use a crock-pot
  • Try an instant pot

There is a huge wealth of recipes for the Instant Pot, as well as online communities and recipes for those who are learning to use them.Verywell Mind

Getting into the habit of eating healthy and planning meals ahead can greatly reduce stress, and also reduce the strain on your wallet. Diet and mental health are closely related, eating healthy also improves ones mental health and well-being. It’s important to eat fresh veggies, stay hydrated, and lower sugar, salt, and processed foods. Keeping these guidelines can be beneficial in your daily life.

Reference: https://www.verywellmind.com/healthy-eating-plan-to-reduce-stress-3144530

The Artist John Hasegawa

Photo Credit: John Hasegawa

Native to Seattle, Washington, Associate Professor John Hasegawa leads the Ceramics department at Mt. Hood Community College, where he instructs students in both introductory and advanced levels of ceramic artistry. His educational journey commenced with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound, where he pursued a dual major in Philosophy and Mathematics, followed by a second Bachelor of Arts degree in Art. Continuing his academic pursuit, he attained a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics from the University of Oregon.

“I have created some mizusashi and when I think about it, it’s really my version of them because that’s a very Japanese thing. There’s probably all these rules, but I was looking at what these Japanese artists were and trying to reinterpret them back into my Japanese American aesthetic.”

John Hasegawa

Throughout his career, John has imparted his expertise at various institutions across the United States, including Emporia State University in Kansas, Worcester Craft Center in Massachusetts, Armory Art Center in Florida, University of Oregon, and University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth. Notably, he recently relocated from Paducah, Kentucky, where he enriched the artistic community by teaching Ceramics, 3-D design, and Digital Photography at the Paducah School of Art.

John’s artistic endeavors extend beyond the classroom, with his works showcased in exhibitions nationwide, earning him numerous accolades for his contributions to the field of ceramics. Johns work highlights subtle and elegant detail, modern and traditional; his work is creative and timeless.

Reference:https://www.johnhasegawa.com/ https://www.opb.org/article/2023/12/10/john-hasegawa-uses-pottery-to-explore-asian-american-identity/

The Versatility of Buddhist Cuisine

Rooted in compassion for all life, non-violence, and mindfulness, Buddhist cuisine is one of the hallmarks of vegetarian cooking. As Buddhist practice traveled across Asia and to the West, the doctrines influenced the diet of the Buddhist community, creating a colorful and harmonious culinary culture. In some Buddhist communities there are quite strict dietary regulations that must be observed, such as not eating any strong or pungent vegetable or seasoning. This means that onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and ginger, would not be used. In other sects these flavors are acceptable so as long as they are used sparingly, or to just add enough flavor, nothing to excite the taste buds too much. Regardless of what is used, so as long as it is prepared mindfully and for the benefit of sustaining life it is acceptable.

Many Buddhists in the Theravada tradition eat meat, however some also observe a vegetarian diet as well. One surprising fact is that the Buddha was not actually a vegetarian, he did eat meat only if it were offered to him. In China, tofu became a major source of protein for the Buddhist communities practicing the Mahayana tradition. Tofu is packed with nutrients, protein, and iron, it’s also flavorful and very filling too!. When mashed it can be used in mock meat dishes, when sliced it can be fried, hence the reason it’s such a popular choice food among vegetarians across the world. Some studies have shown that tofu can even reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Vietnamese Buddhist cuisine is light and refreshing, and also uses lots of tofu. In vietnam many kinds of mock meats are made by using dried tofu skins and wheat gluten (Mock duck). One very versatily and exceptionally yummy vegan dish is Vietnamese vegan ham. This mock ham has a light flavor, with hints of black pepper and essence of bamboo leaves. Its often eaten on it’s own or in banh mi, noodles, and soups. If you have never tried Buddhist cuisine immerse yourself in your local Buddhist communities, there is a wealth of knowledge that has survived generations. Buddhist chefs have mastered the art of mindful cooking, this way of preparing ones meals can be helpful in our daily lives, it teaches us that we can prepare a lot with just a little, and to appreciate the food as nourishment for the body, mind, and the heart.

The Beauty of Asian American Art

Asian American art tells a story of pride, history, culture, and identity. It beautifully weaves cultural diversity and fusion, embracing the three times, present, past, and future. It tells the stories of families, of philosophy, and also it expresses the strength and resilience of the AAPI communities. Within this unbroken view, Asian American art also expresses the cultural identities of East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia, and beyond, welcoming collaboration from many cultural diasporas. In this blog post we will highlight the beautiful art of a few AAPI artists.

“Art has really been the way I have been able to understand both cultures, and to undo the wrongdoing of both cultures.”

~Bernice Bing, abstract/expressionist painter

Brenda Chi

“I am currently comforting and celebrating my AAPI heritage through food, celebration of AAPI culture, language, and my family. This can also be seen as a self-portrait, as much of my identity is being an AAPI artist, so everything connects. This illustration features some of my favorite childhood foods, listening and speaking in Cantonese, celebrating my ancestors’ beauty through my self-expression, burning joss paper, praying to my family to wish us well, gratitude to my family, and claiming my space as an American Born Chinese (ABC) woman. This piece is inspired by vintage Chinese cigarette advertisements, which I’ve interpreted into a more intentional Chinese American illustration, with colors inspired by Cantonese Rose patterned porcelain. As a second generation Chinese immigrant, I often find myself researching my own Cantonese heritage as much hasn’t been taught to me. As I create this art, I am also learning about my AAPI heritage, which I think is really healing for anyone in Asian diaspora.”

Brenda Chi is a multidisciplinary artist and art director based in Los Angeles. View more of Brenda’s work here: Portfolio / Instagram.

Ameena Fareeda / Eye Open at the Close

“Growing up Indian-Asian American, there were many instances in which I struggled with connecting to my identity. I would feel as though I played tug-of-war with my own Asian and American personas. As I got older, I learned to appreciate my culture and identity as a proud Asian American. The peacock is the national bird of India which symbolizes race, pride, and beauty. A peacock’s feathers are truly iconic. They spread not only for mating purposes, but also for means of boasting and protection. The feathers’ resemblance to eyes are known to be a symbol to ward off bad luck and attract positivity.

Eye Open at the Close represents how I navigate in today’s society as an Indian-Asian American. In light of the recent increase in hate crimes towards the AAPI community, it is vital to preserve and uplift the diversity, strengths, and uniqueness within the community. Eye Open at the Close raises awareness to the public eye and expresses how strong and beautiful the AAPI community truly is.”

Ameena Fareeda is an illustrator and designer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. View Ameena’s work here: Portfolio / Instagram.

Eunsoo Jeong / Koreangry

“I’ve been making zines since 2016, and it has been my way of expressing myself. It started as a means to cope with my anxiety and depression but over the years, I’ve gained the confidence to own those narratives and turn it into humor. As a formerly undocumented immigrant, I had a hard time connecting with my identity as an Asian American, because I didn’t see many undocumented Asian Americans and didn’t know how to celebrate or to have pride within myself. In early 2020, I published Koreangry zine issue #8, that featured my Korean American history timeline after conducting self-driven research to understand and see what my roots were in this country. This showed me different perspectives on how we can define our identities regardless of what we are told to believe based on our immigration status in this country. By making zines based on my life experiences, I was able to connect with lots of AAPI folks across the country who could relate to my stories. During the grueling pandemic year, I felt isolated and lonelier than usual. Throughout that time, I pushed ideas that may challenge our AAPI communities (confronting anti-Blackness, defunding police), provided educational and informative comics (know your rights during protests, bystander intervention), and shared vulnerable confessions of my struggles and experiences living in this country today.

This artwork is a collage of my yearning desire to do ‘good’ despite the challenging struggles of being an immigrant today during the pandemic––the pressure of being a good, kind, nice, humble, grateful, by-the-book immigrant. Sharing my story through zine-making is how I connect with other AAPI groups, by accepting and rejecting, challenging, rebuilding, and redefining what our identities could be.”

Eunsoo Jeong is an artist based in Los Angeles. View more of Eunsoo’s work here: Portfolio / Instagram.

By creating art we honor our ancestors, respect our cultures, and learn about other cultures. Creating art is a way to promote peace and freedom of expression. It joins forces, strengthens roots, and leaves a wider and beautiful landscape for future generations to enjoy. Art is our voice, heart, and soul, to create art means to be present with all of who you are.

Heritage Art Vocabulary in Mandarin

  • 艺术 ( Yi shu ) – Art
  • 文化 ( Wen hua ) – Culture
  • 画画 ( Hua hua ) – Drawing
  • 戏剧 ( Xi ju ) – Drama
  • 表演 (Biao yan) – Performance

Reference:https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2021/05/28/asian-american-artists-aapi-heritage

Embracing Your True Self

Have you ever sat down and thought to yourself ” Who am I’, or “What is my life purpose”?. These thoughts have crossed many of our minds, and sometimes we actually may not have an immediate answer, and this is ok. In one’s journey on this planet we are constantly learning, and through learning our world we can learn about ourselves. To embrace one’s true self means to fully accept who you are. Society, and even family expectations can make it challenging, but this journey is yours.

Embracing yourself requires reflection, contemplation, going within your mind to know your mind. It is a process, a moment in life for you to be totally present with your being. All of who you are is here today, to live and to experience this world. When you can embrace yourself, you can walk with confidence and a pure heart. Oftentimes there are moments when we feel a little insecure, or a bit anxious, it may be because of what someone has said, or maybe a different reason. Whatever that reason may be, remember that all of existence has formed you in the here and the now, let go of any negativity and continue shining bright in the world.

To embrace yourself is to be beautiful, you are going against the expectations of others and living a life that is true to you. It is liberation, it is joy, it is inner-peace, this is what it means to embrace yourself. Our cultures are unique, ancient, diverse, and we all reflect the beauty of our cultures. Embracing yourself also means to embrace your cultural heritage, and in fully embracing who you are, you become a light that can guide others in doing the same. Let us make the world a beautiful place.

Jarrelle

Healing Through Art

Healing can take many forms, through movement, through sound, or through visual expressions; art has been used to speak when words can not. Since the Covid-19 pandemic many Asian Americans have taken up different forms of creative and artistic approaches in combating trauma and fostering healing. In this blog post we will share a few pieces of visual art that paints a picture of hope, healing, and identity.

Nicole Kang Ahn (b. 1988)
Remembrance, 2022
Digital print on Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Remembrance is based on a photo taken by the artist during a visit to the makeshift memorial at Gold Spa in the days following the shooting. It captures a moment of quiet reflection – a young girl and her grandmother lean on each other for support, surrounded by flowers and handwritten dedications. It is a reminder that while our wounds are intergenerational, so too are the ways we show caring and healing. 

“I wanted to first remember the victims.” 

Nicole Kang Ahn (b. 1988) is a painter, illustrator, and muralist from Peachtree Corners, Georgia. Her art means to slow down time and capture mundane moments, savoring each feeling and memory. Her three pieces included in this collection seek to tell a story that remembers the victims, honors their lives, and conveys a message of hope.

Image Description: This artwork is about remembrance. This is an illustration of the Gold Spa store front where an altar of community notes and flowers are sprawled across the front of the spa and an elder with short dark hair, a brown long sleeve shirt, and brown bag is kneeling and embracing a young child with brown shoulder-length hair, wearing a purple long sleeve shirt looking towards the altar. The Gold Spa was the site of one of the shootings that took place on March 16, 2021.

Natalie Bui (b. 1992)
Community Care, 2022
Digital print on Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

In Vietnamese, the expression “chia buồn” is used to express condolences. “Chia buồn” literally translates to “divide sadness.” The expression captures the act of dividing grief – of cutting it into small, little, pieces to split among each other so that each of us individually carries a much lighter load. Community Care shows four figures locked in a comforting embrace. Their limbs are entangled and each person leans on the collective, both resting upon and supporting those around them. 

Community care requires us to harness our power, privilege, and empathy to uplift the people who are both in and out of the reach of our embrace. In the wake of the anniversary, this piece inspires us to recommit to expanding and deepening our community of care for all, beginning in Atlanta and spreading throughout the country and the world.

“We were talking about a traumatic moment within our movement. But also trying to balance the acts of community care when these moments happen.” 

Natalie Bui (b. 1992) is a Vietnamese American digital illustrator and co-Founder of SHIFT – a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy. Her work centers on self and community empowerment and emphasizes collective liberation across communities.

Image Description: The theme of this artwork is community care with four women embracing one another and the words “CAN I HOLD YOU?” below the image. The women appear with different hair styles in different shades of purple and different shades of orange, pink and red on their skin. There are shades of purple and blue leaves coming out from behind the two women at the end of each embrace and shades of orange, pink, purple and magenta flowers on the women’s skin. The backdrop of this image shows a gradient of orange and pink flowers.

Nicole Kang Ahn (b. 1988)
Solidarity, 2022
Digital print on Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

In this illustration, a diverse group of people of all races, genders, ages, and dis/abilities is featured in the foreground. They are holding boldly colored signs that call attention to a range of social and political issues that are often framed as separate, but are actually deeply intertwined. The shadowed figures behind them gesture to the powerful histories of resistance and community organizing that came before them. As we mark the anniversary of the Atlanta shooting, this piece reminds us that this tragedy is steeped in layers of oppression and interconnected histories of systemic violence. As such, it is a call to action to come together for a more powerful response rooted in love and solidarity.

“Gather together with other people. Align your issues and your values and do something about it.” 

Image Description: This image is all about racial solidarity with a diverse group of people of all races, genders, ages, and dis/abilities holding signs that read “YOUR ASIAN WASN’T QUIET; NO MUSLIM BAN EVER; WORKERS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS; I CAN’T BREATHE; THE FUTURE IS NON BINARY; PROTECT OUR ELDERS; HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT; ABOLISH ICE; BLACK LIVES MATTER; Stand Up Speak Up; NOT ONE MORE; Smash the Hierarchy; My body, My choice; BUILD COMMUNITIES NOT CAGES.” The people holding up signs appear centered on the image with shades of purple shadows behind them.

The diversity within the Asian community is vast and covers many languages, beliefs, and traditions. By creating art communities join forces in shared experiences, creating a universal language that goes beyond differences. Art unifies diversity within the Asian communities by sharing narratives, personal expression, and one’s own personal journey. Embracing art as a form of healing gives birth to the celebration of one’s own cultural heritage, diversity, and resilience.

Reference:https://www.advancingjustice-atlanta.org/art-exhibit

Lunar New Year

Across the globe many Asian families are preparing for Lunar new year 2024, year of the wood dragon. The wood dragon is said to bring a year of creativity, success, challenges and also new opportunities. This ancient and legendary creature holds high importance in Asian culture, a symbol of nobility, power, luck and success.

During these festive times one can notice the bright colors of red and gold, symbolizing good fortune, prosperity, abundance and hard work. It’s a common practice to adorn ones home with fresh fruit such as oranges, symbolizing wealth, and apples which are symbolic for safety and peace. Families typically get together to prepare large meals which are then blessed and offered to one’s ancestors. Some families will spend new years at their local Buddhist temple to receive blessings, pray, meditate, and give offerings of incense, food, and good wishes.

Some of the most common activities during the new year include putting up new year decor, giving offerings to ancestors, eating family reunion dinner, giving hong bao or red envelopes to youth and relatives, and enjoying the dragon or lion dance! Artists will sometimes come together sharing their arts, these are usually traditional Asian arts such as calligraphy, paper cutting or folding, cooking worships and demonstrations, and knot tying. If you’ve never experienced Lunar new year before take this upcoming opportunity to visit your local Asian community to experience a festive cultural time! Xin Nian Kuai Le, Happy New Year!

Reference:https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/special-report/chinese-new-year/

Art of Asian Baking

Photo credit: tastylittledumpling.com

Everyone can agree that desserts are amazing! You may enjoy super sweet, or just a bit more savory, either way, Asian desserts has you covered! Asian baked goods bring the traditional flavors of the East with the flavors of the west, creating a variety of yummy treats to satisfy your cravings. This culinary fusion binds cultural traditions that are groundbreaking and innovative, bringing new flavors, ingredients, and artistry to the art of baking. In this blog post, we will highlight the tasty wonders of Asian baking.

For many Asian Americans, Chinatown bakeries bring back nostalgic memories. Here in Minnesota Keefer Court became a much beloved Chinese bakery, serving world class Hong Kong baked goodies. Almost everyone I talked to asked ” Have you been to Keefer Court, their pastries are amazing”, so, what did I do? Got on my shoes and headed that way! I remember being greeted with warmth and hospitality, and the wonderful fragrance of Chinese pastries as well! I ordered their mooncakes, which at that time I think had lotus seed filling, I also ordered pineapple buns. Yum yum yum, the first bite is pure satisfaction! Luckily, Keefer Court will be opening again at Asia Mall in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

In Vietnam there are colorful and refreshing desserts such as bánh bo nuong which is a type of Vietnamese sponge cake, usually made with rice flour, tapioca starch, pandan, and coconut cream. This sponge cake has a honeycomb like appearance when cut, hence the common name “Vietnamese honeycomb cake”. Many Chinese bakeries have mooncakes with a variety of fillings, some being more traditional, like lotus seed, red bean, or salted duck egg, while others are a bit more modern and experimental. This fusion of tradition and cultures creates a timeless tapestry that will inspire minds and satisfy the sweet tooth for many years to come.