What is Bicultural Healthy Living?


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 Power Of Poetry

May is AAPI Heritage month, and a time for AAPI and BIPOC communities to come together, joining forces as one. This month, we should celebrate the many historical contributions of our Asian American and Pacific Islander brothers and sister. For AAPI month I would like to share a few poems from AAPI poets.

Dorothy Chan~

Dorothy Chan’s Chinese identity is a great part of her poetry. Dorothy is an editor for Hobart, and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eu Claire. Her poems speak of culture, interracial romance, identity and the exploration of how food can serve as a bridge between multigenerational family relationships. Dorothy Chan also founded the journal Honey Literary to publish works by women of color, looking deeper into the intersection between gender and ethnicity.

So Chinese Girl~ Dorothy Chan

Anyone who makes tasty food has to be a good person,
            because think of all the love that goes into cooking:
salt and pepper, sprinkle a little extra cheese, and pop open a bottle

            of Syrah, or if we’re eating at my parents’ in Las Vegas,
we’re drinking Tsingtao beer, my father’s favorite, and he adds more
            bamboo shoots and straw mushrooms and baby corn,

and fun fact: When I was a baby, I’d eat only corn and carrot-flavored
            mush, and now, my dad adds more to the Buddha’s Delight,
a vegetarian dish from China, and I think about my aunt

            in Hong Kong, who, once a year, buys fish from restaurants,
only to release them back into the sea—eat tofu,
            save a life—but back to the dinner scene in Vegas,

my mom is making her Cantonese lobster, extra garlic and ginger,
            and I grew up licking lobster shells for their sauce,
I grew up waking up during summer vacations

            to my mother wearing a headband, warding off the grease
from cooking crabs and shrimps, heads intact, and there’s something, just something
            about my parents’ cooking that makes me feel

a little more like a Chinese girl, because I don’t live in Hong Kong,
            and unlike my cousins, my daily stop isn’t Bowring Street Station,
where I could pick up fresh mango cake before it’s sold out,

            or what about chocolate mousse cake in the shape of a bunny
or mini–dome cakes shaped like cows and pigs
            or cakes shaped like watermelons and shikwasa and citrus mikans,

and who wouldn’t want custard egg tarts or hot dogs
            wrapped in sweet bread or sesame balls, washing it all down
with cream soda, and I feel like that little Chinese girl

            in Kowloon again, getting picked up by my grandpa
after preschool, ready to go junk shopping, and I’d come home
            with shrimp crackers and a toy turtle aquarium and a snowman

painting and a dozen roses, and no, I don’t even like flowers anymore,
            but there’s something, just something about thrifting
with my grandpa now at age twenty-eight that makes me feel

            so Chinese Girl, the way he bargains in the stalls,
asking for the best, “How much for that Murakami-era Louis Vuitton belt?”
            or “What about this vintage Armani?”

and it’s like that look he gives me at dim sum, after the sampler
            of shumai and har gow and chicken feet and char siu bao comes,
and he tells me to eat everything, watches me chow down on

            Chinese ravioli, and that face of his freezes in the moment:
“Eat more, eat more, eat more. Are you happy?”
            And oh, Grandpa, I’m so happy I could eat forever.

Marilyn Chin~

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of five poetry collections, and currently serves as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

How I Got That Name~ Marilyn Chin

an essay on assimilation

I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin
Oh, how I love the resoluteness
of that first person singular
followed by that stalwart indicative
of “be,” without the uncertain i-n-g
of “becoming.”  Of course,
the name had been changed
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea,
when my father the paperson
in the late 1950s
obsessed with a bombshell blond
transliterated “Mei Ling” to “Marilyn.”
And nobody dared question
his initial impulse—for we all know
lust drove men to greatness,
not goodness, not decency.
And there I was, a wayward pink baby,
named after some tragic white woman
swollen with gin and Nembutal.
My mother couldn’t pronounce the “r.”
She dubbed me “Numba one female offshoot”
for brevity: henceforth, she will live and die
in sublime ignorance, flanked
by loving children and the “kitchen deity.”
While my father dithers,
a tomcat in Hong Kong trash—
a gambler, a petty thug,
who bought a chain of chopsuey joints
in Piss River, Oregon,
with bootlegged Gucci cash.
Nobody dared question his integrity given
his nice, devout daughters
and his bright, industrious sons
as if filial piety were the standard
by which all earthly men are measured.

Oh, how trustworthy our daughters,
how thrifty our sons!
How we’ve managed to fool the experts
in education, statistic and demography—
We’re not very creative but not adverse to rote-learning.
Indeed, they can use us.
But the “Model Minority” is a tease.
We know you are watching now,
so we refuse to give you any!
Oh, bamboo shoots, bamboo shoots!
The further west we go, we’ll hit east;
the deeper down we dig, we’ll find China.
History has turned its stomach
on a black polluted beach—
where life doesn’t hinge
on that red, red wheelbarrow,
but whether or not our new lover
in the final episode of “Santa Barbara”
will lean over a scented candle
and call us a “bitch.”
Oh God, where have we gone wrong?
We have no inner resources!

Then, one redolent spring morning
the Great Patriarch Chin
peered down from his kiosk in heaven
and saw that his descendants were ugly.
One had a squarish head and a nose without a bridge
Another’s profile—long and knobbed as a gourd.
A third, the sad, brutish one
may never, never marry.
And I, his least favorite—
“not quite boiled, not quite cooked,”
a plump pomfret simmering in my juices—
too listless to fight for my people’s destiny.
“To kill without resistance is not slaughter”
says the proverb.  So, I wait for imminent death.
The fact that this death is also metaphorical
is testament to my lethargy.

So here lies Marilyn Mei Ling Chin,
married once, twice to so-and-so, a Lee and a Wong,
granddaughter of Jack “the patriarch”
and the brooding Suilin Fong,
daughter of the virtuous Yuet Kuen Wong
and G.G. Chin the infamous,
sister of a dozen, cousin of a million,
survived by everybody and forgotten by all.
She was neither black nor white,
neither cherished nor vanquished,
just another squatter in her own bamboo grove
minding her poetry—
when one day heaven was unmerciful,
and a chasm opened where she stood.
Like the jowls of a mighty white whale,
or the jaws of a metaphysical Godzilla,
it swallowed her whole.
She did not flinch nor writhe,
nor fret about the afterlife,
but stayed!  Solid as wood, happily
a little gnawed, tattered, mesmerized
by all that was lavished upon her
and all that was taken away!

Jenny Xie~

Jenny Xie is the author of Eye Level, and winner of the 2017 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the National Book Award; and Nowhere to Arrive, recipient of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Prize. Jenny’s poems appear in Poetry magazine, the American Poetry Review, the New RepublicTin House, and also found elsewhere. She earned her degrees from Princeton University and New York University’s Creative Writing Program, and has received fellowships and support from Kundiman, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and Poets & Writers. She is now a teacher at New York University.

Rootless~ Jenny Xie

Between Hanoi and Sapa there are clean slabs of rice fields
and no two brick houses in a row.

I mean, no three—
See, counting’s hard in half-sleep, and the rain pulls a sheet

over the sugar palms and their untroubled leaves.
Hours ago, I crossed a motorbike with a hog strapped to its seat,

the size of a date pit from a distance.
Can this solitude be rootless, unhooked from the ground?

No matter. The mind resides both inside and out.
It can think itself and think itself into existence.

I sponge off the eyes, no worse for wear.
My frugal mouth spends the only foreign words it owns.

At present, on this sleeper train, there’s nowhere to arrive.
Me? I’m just here in my traveler’s clothes, trying on each passing town for size.

Poetry has the power to bring healing to our world, it can keep alive family stories, and the traditions of culture. Poetry is an art form that anyone can read or listen to, to feel, to decorate their minds and their lives. It is a way of expressing the inner self to the outer world, it is a way to bring light into dark places and also to promote freedom, equality and change, which is very much needed in our world today.


Transforming The World Through Art

” The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

~Alan watts

The power of art is incredible, it has a remarkable way of calming the mind and the body, bringing out emotions, and telling stories. Art is a strong framework of challenging social, cultural and political norms, inspiring dialogue and creating empathy among people. Art has the ability to transcend language barriers, igniting emotions and reaching deep into the hearts of many across diverse backgrounds. Artistic expression challenges oppression, and promotes equality, giving a voice to many. Art is a dance, and it is a brush on paper, it a bringing together of communities, and a questioning of the current state of affairs. Art is the power to transform the world.

The unique multifaceted ways in which an artist can bring to life a dream, a vision, or a sound or emotion shows the power of art. When used to promote change, art can be the healing and peace that we need. Through sharing our stories we learn more about each other, and in doing so we unite. We can form strong, safe, culturally diverse communities that promote and value culture, traditions, and education. There’s no doubt that art has the ability to make change. Art can also be a great form of relaxation, taking the mind away from depressive thoughts and instead focusing on hope, creativity, and the moment. Many who struggle with isolation can find peace and comfort in creating art, and collaborating with other artists on projects.

Art has no walls, no borders, the language of art is universal. Many BIPOC artists have created masterpieces that did not get the same respect as western white artists. We are moving into an era of ending racism, ending hate, building stronger communities and our modern art reflects that. BIPOC artists have laid down a foundation, a great and colorful path for creatives today and of the future to build and add on to, this road of art is the birth of peace.


Wrapping Dumplings

Everyone the world over loves those little yummy meat and veggie filled pouches of goodness better known in China as Jiaozi (饺子),and when panfried to golden perfection they capture both the culinary highlights of steamed and fried flavors, and are known as potstickers, Guotie or (锅贴). The savory and delicate flavor of these dumplings compliments just about any dish, goes with any meal, or sometimes a nice cold beverage.

Its said that the history of jiaozi dates back to at least the Han dynasty AD 25–220 by Zhang Zhongjing who practiced Chinese traditional medicine. Wrapping jiaozi has been a long tradition of China and many other Asian countries. Jiaozi are a common food during the Lunar New Year, they are said to bring luck, wealth and prosperity to anyone who eats them. Many Chinese families will get together and wrap dumplings, chat, and wish each other a happy new year. Dumplings symbolize togetherness, and have such a great importance in Chinese culture.

Photo:In north China, folded jiaozi are placed on bi (箅), in case the stuffing will make the shape saggy. Bi is made by dried sorghum stems, and it also gives Jiaozi a mark at the bottom. wikipedia

There are many ways in which these yummy flavor filled pouches can be prepared and enjoyed. They can be served with a variety of sauces, but sometimes best enjoyed with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and vinegar. Some of the ways in which they are prepared are by:

  • Boiled- Shuijiao 水饺
  • Steamed- Zhengjiao  蒸饺
  • Panfried- Jianjiao 煎饺
  • Deep-fried- Zhajiao 炸饺
  • Soup- Tangjiao 汤饺

If you haven’t tried jiaozi before you are missing out! You can find them easily at your local Asian restaurants. You can also find some amazing recipes that vary depending on region in China and country in Asia, with such a wide variety of ways to make jiaozi you won’t be dissatisfied on your dumpling search! For the best and most authentic dumplings join your Chinese friends for Chinese New Year, there will probably be some homemade dumplings at the New Years party!


The Art Of Bonsai

Photo: John Naka, Wikipedia

Many people the world over have seen Bonsai, maybe on movies such as Karate Kid, or at their local conservatories. Maybe even some people have friends, or relatives who raise the tree’s, or they have seen Bonsai in a garden center. These stunted trees have a very long history that goes back thousands of years to ancient China and Japan.

The word Bonsai derived from the Chinese word Penzai (盆栽) which means potted plant. During the Tang Dynasty Penzai was at its stylistic height. The stunted trees were favored by Buddhist monks, scholars and royalty. The trees were planted in shallow trays and decorated scholars rooms, temples and courtyards. It was common to display your tree for guests, especially if it were of flowering or fruiting variety. Bonsai were sometimes put on both sides of Buddhist statues as well. These little trees were found in nature by scholars who enjoyed the beauty of what nature can create. These scholars would travel risking their lives many times, to collect trees from the wild which had great potential to become a piece of living art. These wild pieces of art are extremely rare, they are rare because of the conditions needed to create them. Hundreds of years of wind cutting the tree back, storms, lack of nutrition in mountain soil, and roots restricted by rock can sculpt a tree into a beautiful piece of art that scholars prized and named literati.

Japanese scholars and Buddhist monks fell in love with the Chinese Penzai and brought them back to Japan where they were then pronounced as Bonsai (盆栽). Over many years the Japanese refined the art form and were inspired by the nature and organic perfection of pine trees. In 1950 John Naka (better known as the father of American Bonsai by Bonsai enthusiasts) and his friends established the California Bonsai society, which became an important vehicle for the birth of Bonsai in the United States. Master Naka was known for his work with forest plantings and conifers, and he used mostly native variety of trees in his projects. In 1976 Japan gifted 53 Bonsai to the United States which then eventually led to the founding of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington D.C.

Photo: Asian Media Access

These little trees depict natural scenes, forests, and can even look like distant mountains with rivers and fog when created and maintained by a professional Bonsai artist. Have a look at the photo below, notice the illusion of distance in the planting. Such small trees can have a big artistic impact on the viewer.

Photo: Asian Media Access

The Chinese are famous for their masterful rock and tree plantings. The plantings range in size from less than a foot to well over 4 feet. One can say that it was the scholars visions of China’s great mountains that led to this style of this art today. In Japan the rock plantings are also popular, at one point they were much smaller than the Chinese plantings however Bonsai expert Masahiko Kimura totally went bold and created large masterful rock and tree plantings.

Photo: Alejandro Sartori

Photo: Alejandro Sartori

Today we are so lucky to be able to witness this incredible art of sculpting beauty with living wood. We can see the vision of the Bonsai or Penzai artist, we can see the distant mountains, forests and streams through their eye. If we can silence our inner-selves and allow the magnificent beauty of these trees to speak, we will be able to appreciate and be moved by these living works of art.


Music Theory And White Supremacy

Heavenly music is interpreted differently by everyone.

Chinese proverb

Any music student, regardless of skill, will most likely have to learn western music theory. What is music theory?, well, Wikipedia says “Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music.”~ Wikipedia. Across the globe civilizations have been playing some form of music for quite a long time. Music has been a part of human evolution since the start, was it called music at that time? probably not. But, this does not mean that humans did not relax to the sounds of song, instrument, or percussion. Music can be found in every culture, sometimes it takes form in ceremonies, or it may have been enjoyed for leisure, whatever the case we can say for certain that music does exist in all cultures.

As an African American Guzheng performer, instructor and composer I often meet many musicians, some who are quite skilled in their music, and very knowledgeable in music theory. My training on the Guzheng was quite traditional, I did not learn Western music theory (which is forced on every musician today), I learned Chinese music theory. China has a very long musical tradition which has been documented and practiced for thousands of years. For example, the Guzheng 古筝 has existed for around 2500 years, the Guqin or 古琴 around three thousand years old, and the bronze bells 编钟 around 3,600 years old, and the Se or 瑟 of the Zhou dynasty 1045–771 BC. The list of ancient instruments in China is long, and notations for these instruments have been documented. Unlike the Western European music theory which uses a staff and dots to read, the Chinese developed an ancient thousands of years old numeric musical notation called Gong Che or 工尺 which is still used among the very small group of traditional musicians today. With modern westernization, traditional arts are transforming, some traditions are also dying. We must think about the importance of cultural arts, and not allow the modern world to kill what has held nations together, influenced identity, and promoted the respect of nature.

Here are some pictures of traditional Chinese instruments of the past that still exist today:

The original uploader was Zzjgbc at Chinese Wikipedia. – Transferred from zh.wikipedia to Commons. From the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, dated 433 BC, during the interregnum between the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period of ancient China.

The original uploader was CharlieHuang at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Shizhao using CommonsHelper.”Jiuxiao Huanpei” 《九霄環佩/九霄环佩》€‹, the famous Tang Dynasty qin in the Fuxi form by qin maker Lei Wei. Image from a photograph from a friend in China.

Original photograph by: Christopher Hsia – Cropped from the original photograph: FlickrEven more Guzhengs (古箏) Guzheng instruments on display.

A comparative table of Gongche notation and other notations, from a book published in Kyoto in 1909. In Japan, Gongche notation became widespread to a certain extent.

Yale University Art Museum – https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/92412. A Se (Chinese zither) from the 5th-3rd century BC with four pegs. Red and dark lacquer with carved textures. The strings have decayed.

Many Western European musicians do not consider Chinese music real music, some have even considered Chinese instruments quite easy to learn because of the Wu Yin 五音 or Pentatonic scale consisting of 5 notes. Some of the musicians I spoke to even went as far as saying that Chinese music lacks harmony and so on. These enthusiasts and musicians lack knowledge, and are ignorant to the facts, and ignorant to what it takes to be able to even create a beautiful sound on an instrument. Piano is made easier with keys, but when playing masterfully on an instrument like Er Hu 二胡 (Chinese fiddle), it can take years and years to master the techniques of just 2 strings. The Guzheng 古筝 is also incredibly difficult to master, it can take years to refine the many very complicated techniques on the instrument. If Music theory is the study of practices and possibilities of music, we should also include the practices and possibilities of non European music.


Black Urban Buddhist Hermit: The Journey Into Stillness Part 2

Photo: Yulin Cave 10, Western Xia, (1036-1227 C.E.), Wikimedia ( Apsara plays the zheng)

Going to temple every week was always quite exciting. The bells, the incense, the chanting and the strong community all together brought an incredibly warm and spiritual experience. I’ve always thought of ordaining as a buddhist monk, but the opportunities to ordain are not easy to come by. To ordain as a monk takes commitment, devotion and hard work, and is certainly not an easy life. There are many paths into a deeper stricter practice, the practice of studying buddhist literature, the practice of studying ones mind, studying ceremonies etc. These different practices can take us deeper into our spiritual journey. For me, learning the guzheng has brought me closer to my spiritual journey, in a very interesting way it has also brought me closer to my ancestors as well, and the same is true for my buddhist practice. Each time I give an offering I think of my ancestors and relatives, the world and everything and everyone. Giving offerings with a pure heart, with ones mind on those who experienced injustices can be a powerful way of healing from the generational traumas of slavery and white supremacy.

After nearly 10 years of inquiring to the abbots, monks, nuns and the Buddhist community about ordination, I was finally accepted into 4 monasteries. It was super exciting, I felt happy and peaceful however still a part of my heart was telling me to stay in Minnesota. I had an opportunity to study with a high ranking Lama in a Tibetan monastery, a couple of Zen masters in Vietnam and also with the monks in California and Kentucky. Through the intense studying, reciting scriptures and meditation, I’ve found even more of myself and what I needed for my practice in this lifetime, and that was mostly solitude. Without leaving behind my faithfulness to the Buddhist monastic tradition, I decided that I needed to meditate and practice in such a way that I can also benefit the Black community in the present moment and in the future. Talking with others about the black buddhist experience is always interesting, many people do not believe we actually exist, or they think its a “trendy phase”. No, we do exist, and our experiences, and perspectives are also valid. We exist in every lineage, in every language, in the north, in the east, south and west. However small the percentage of black Buddhist practitioners may be we will still hold together through love and the black buddhist experience. No matter the distance, or distance in time, it is our hearts and the goals we have that will bring us together in a community of love.

Through this journey into stillness I have understood silence, and it was in this silence that I realized music is also quite sacred, and the Guzheng is just that. Focused, with a heart of love, if your art calls to you, listen. Art is what brings all walks of life together, it is healing, it is emotion, it is history and it is the key that unlocks many gaps, distance, borders and barriers. I hope my new original compositions that are in the works bring a moment of stillness, peace and beauty to anyone who listens. I hope that these compositions will also build a strong basis of material for the African American Guzheng musicians of the future. The world may not see you yet, but I, Jarrelle Barton do.


Black Urban Buddhist Hermit: The Journey Into Stillness Part 1

I have always been fascinated by the mystics and sages who sought peace in the forests, caves, and mountains. They felt in their hearts a need, an urgency for some time alone. Some may seek solitude to be closer to god, some may seek solitude for meditation and others may seek solitude as a lifestyle. Sometimes these reasons may mend together, and it may be a stillness that we all could benefit from at times. Our lives in the modern world are incredibly busy, and we may not always have time to even make lunch, sweep the floor, or even bake our favorite homemade desserts that we enjoy! We push our needs aside at times, always watching the clock, to stay on top of life, and all the while something within us says ” I need a break” or “I need a retreat”.

When I was about 13 years old my grandmother gave me a book called A Garden of Chinese Serenity, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist. The book has many short Zen, Tao and Buddhist poems written by the 17th century Chinese author Hong Zicheng in 1590. One of the poems that really intrigued me was about flowers and bamboo. Here is the poem written by Hong Zicheng.

Flowers display their beauty to the bright spring. But when they are pounded by a downpour of rain and a gust of wind, they are hastened back to dust. Bamboos persist in the integrity of their elegance. Even though they are beaten by frost one morning and snow another, they remain true to their green jade hue.

~ Hong zicheng

It was poems like this, Zen poems and Tao poems that would eventually inspire my musical expressions on the Guzheng. As an urban kid, never having left the USA, the only real bamboo I saw was the bamboo at Wal-mart, my mind could only imagine how great a forest of timber bamboo would be. How beautiful it would be to see with my own eyes the beauty of their green jade hue, and to hear the wind blowing through the bamboos leaves. I feel that in order to truly play the Guzheng one must truly learn from nature first. When I studied with my teacher ( Laoshi) Master Li Jiaxiang, he told me to go outside and listen to nature. It was difficult to hear the stillness of nature in a suburb with cars and horns honking. However, I did find a gazebo on the lake where I would practice and listen to the little bit of nature that was there.

Some years later a new Vietnamese Buddhist monastery was built in my neighborhood, a Vietnamese Buddhist friend of mine knew that I was a practicing Buddhist and he suggested I go check it out. It was perfect timing actually, because there was a big event there, the Jade Buddha was traveling to all the temples across the world and it was a lucky day to visit a Buddhist monastery and see the jade Buddha for the first time. I was welcomed there, and eventually became friends with the monks, nuns and the community. Over the years I learned a lot about Vietnamese Buddhism. I learned how to chant some of the sutras and mantras, Vietnamese Buddhist customs and cultural traditions and how to prepare yummy traditional An Chay or Vietnamese vegetarian foods. These beautiful moments shared with a community that still practices the Buddhist way of life truly brought me a sense of happiness. We can all learn so much by taking time to learn with people from other cultures.


Sharing Culture

Art by Nick Slater

Without culture what would our world be like? It’s hard to imagine isn’t it?. Perhaps it’s hard to imagine a world without culture because a world with culture is essential. Our cultures are all very colorful, woven into our human experiences as a fabric, and very much important to us as human beings.

Culture is a way of coping with the world by defining it in detail.” 

Malcolm Bradbury

Culture is an important aspect of human life, and it plays a crucial role in how we shape our individual and collective identities. Culture provides us with a sense of belonging, purpose and meaning, as it embodies the values, customs, beliefs and practices that are shared within a community. Culture can also serve as a medium for expression and communication through shared experiences, and also influences our society in many ways. Our communities and ourselves as individuals are also shaped by culture, hence culture is very important.

Sharing our cultures can reward us with many benefits that can improve how we better understand others with cultural backgrounds different than our own. By sharing our cultures we inspire new ways of expression and appreciation, and we learn to accept differences in traditions and different ways of life. When cultures are shared, horizons become broader, and more understanding and less conflict is created. When we share culture, new ideas are also born, new music and arts are created, and different perspectives are also shared. Sharing cultures creates paths and opens doors for many sincere hearts to learn, study and practice traditional arts, revitalize traditional arts and keep alive ancient customs, languages and traditions.

There are different ways of understanding, and by sharing culture we learn this. Our way may look like its the only way, however we must step back sometimes and simply listen and observe other ways that are different than our own, we may even find a lot in common. We can break down racist stereotypes, and end discrimination by sharing cultural family stories, and educating people about our cultural history. We are all living on this planet together, as one family under the sky and clouds, let us live happily, colorfully and beautifully unique.


Intercultural Communication

Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity.” Also: “Intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Robert Alan Aurthur

Our world is vast, our experiences, identities and ways of expression vary from individual to individual and sometimes it can be difficult for people to communicate with each other. There are verbal and non verbal ways of communication, and at times we greet others with a handshake or with a bow, depending on how and where we were raised. It can be easy to offend someone, or totally lose communication, or other opportunities all by that first greeting gesture and this is why learning about intercultural communication is important.

Interculturality refers to the interaction and exchange between different cultures with the goal of promoting mutual understanding, respect and appreciation. It recognizes the complexity of cultural diversity and the importance of creating inclusive environments that value and celebrate different cultures. Interculturality is something that goes beyond tolerance and aims at creating a space where individuals from different cultures can learn together and work together in shared goals. Now, when we speak of intercultural communication we are talking about how to communicate with others in or from different parts of the world who’s backgrounds may be greatly different than our own. Intercultural communication is about having respect for people who’s cultures are different than ours, having a curiosity about their cultures, and learning about other cultures and customs.

Ways that Intercultural communication benefit society:

  • Promoting mutual understanding and respect
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Enhanced personal and professional development
  • Stronger communication skills
  • Promotes social connectedness and shared identity among cultures
  • Breaks down barriers and unites with a common goal
  • Appreciation of differences
  • Gives us skills to handle complex issues regarding culture and communication

On our mission of creating a more equitable and just society we need to not forget how to listen. We must learn when to be silent, think, feel, process and understand before speaking, and this is especially helpful when discussing things like politics, race, identity etc. Many of our global problems are all caused by lack of understanding, lack of appreciation for each other. If we can flip the switch and learn how to communicate with each other, we would learn a lot about ourselves as well, and bring more love and peace into our world. If we can educate ourselves of different cultures, make the effort to actually learn, we would unlock more communication skills that can allow us to communicate more fluently with others as well. It would be incredibly beautiful to see a world who sees their neighbors as friends.


Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercultural_communication

Bicultural Cooking

“Deep medicine, for us, is the understanding that health can no longer be viewed as something we can try to get as individuals. We have to understand that health must be attained in the context of our communities, of our families, where we are in our societies, and in relationship to the web of life.”

Dr. Rupa Marya, co-author of Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice

We all have those fond memories of cooking with mom or grandma, hearing the stories of their times, and bonding together with family. If you come from a BIPOC AAPI background these moments can be even more precious in that those very stories shared around the wok, or at the dinner table while canning veggies are often stories of survival in a very different time. Those were the stories of our grandparents fights for freedom, and there is a lot of history and treasure in that. I grew up in a southern baptist home, soul food was all we knew. My great grandmother was widowed at that time, and she remembers life living on the farm down south in Arkansas. She was a very strong and wise woman, very spiritual. She’d often go back in time and tell the stories of how she had to pick cotton, feed 11 kids and her husband and take care of a farm! I was always amazed and could envision this little tiny southern lady doing all of that, and mostly all by herself!

I was pretty much raised on soul food (southern rich and tasty food made with love) however, I did enjoy the Americanized version of sweet and sour, or the famous fried rice from take out places ( now my taste buds have refined, thank you Li Mei). I was always in the kitchen, sometimes I still am! I remember learning how to cook from my great aunt. I learned gardening, how to make southern gravy, how to fry chicken etc. Cooking became a meditation for me and it was always fun to eat the reward if it turned out ok!. Looking back on life now, and looking at my dinner table today, I can see how food has shaped my life. The bowl of jiaozi ( dumplings) remind me of my Guzheng instructors wife, I remember her saying “no green onion, always use garlic chive”, the cake reminds me of my great grandma who made the best southern yellow cakes and the stir fries remind me of my mentor who I called my Chinese mom, she was the main one I learned Chinese cooking from. Many recipes I learned on my own as well, however it’s learning with others that really stands out and becomes more meaningful.


  • How has your bicultural cooking shaped your life?
  • Does cooking certain dishes have significance to you? If so, how?
  • Have you learned any dishes from your family?
  • In what ways is bicultural cooking healing for you?

There is so much treasure in Bicultural cooking which represents a rich and diverse culinary lineage that spans centuries and continents. We can learn about our cultures and the cultures of our neighbors right at the dinner table, or from cooking with mom and grandma. Today our dinner tables are becoming more global and that is a wonderful thing!