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One in a Billion

“One In A Billion” is a podcast about China, through the voices of Chinese millennials in America. They have personal ties or deep roots in China. They also have big dreams and high hopes in America. “One In A Billion” is a platform for this rising generation of entrepreneurs, artists and other creative types. Hosted by Mable Chan, “One in a Billion” listens to China, one person at a time.
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Now displaying: November, 2016
Nov 16, 2016
The first time I wanted to deny that I was Chinese, I was 17 years old facing another 17 year-old. She was tall, blonde and huge from Chicago. 
 
“Where are you from?” She taunted me as I was sitting quietly in the corner, watching with wide-eyed wonder every teenage girl dancing up a storm on a chair or on a table.  It was our Friday night “break out and dance” party inside a private high school outside of Detroit.

“Hong Kong.” I muttered softly because she looked intimidating. She was three times my size, a full head taller, and scowled while staring me down. I had just arrived in America several weeks ago. I was the only Asian girl in the room, and this was my first encounter with a mean white girl.

“What? HANG? KANG? Where’s that? What are you? Japanese?”

Her rapid-fire, mid-western accented English coming out of her big mouth was bitingly cruel. I first stuttered a little, then gave it a go. “I am Chinese... from Hong Kong.”

“Chinese!? No, you’re not. You are Japanese!!!” 

She started cracking up so loudly that I suddenly felt an urge to quickly agree with her, just to shut her up! Can you believe that? No, I didn’t say a word. She kept it up for another minute, calling me Japanese and pulling my hair. I felt shame, small and shrinking in fear.

What made me think of this insulting bullying scenario from my teenage years, were the numerous intimate stories I heard while moderating the “Why Not Me” open-mic storytelling forum at Harvard on Oct 14th. The event was designed for Asians to share experiences of bias and barriers that put them on the outside looking in.

Many students who previously kept secret their immigrant experiences of being ostracized, ridiculed or shut out have decided to come forth and share their painful experiences. Some have described a breakdown, others recounted their breakthrough. Throughout the evening, I saw many in the audience wiping their weepy eyes, including me. 

What dawned on me is how the “ugly American” image is still alive and kicking today, decades later. Not only in high school or college, but in the larger culture. We see it play out in politics, on TV, and even in our own homes and neighborhood. 

But I also believe that we can enable the better angels of our nature to emerge and embrace our diversity – in our schools, our workplace, our churches and our communities. 

I invite you to listen to One in a Billion “Why Not Me? Part 2.”

We want to include you in this conversation.

To send us your stories, just go to our Facebook page or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story.

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

One in a Billion” is listening to #China, one person at a time.
 
Music Used:

David O'Brien's Busy Bees, 1648/5 (Album) Audio Network

Jason Shaw’s Acoustic Meditation, Music by Audionautix

Andy G. Cohen’s Warmer, Creative Commons License

Axeltree’s The Thorn Revisit, Free Music Society

Julie Maxwell’s Dark Wonder, Bandcamp

Josh Woodward’s Hollow Grove, Jamendo Music

Kevin Macleod’s Cattails, Incompetech
 

 
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PRx | iTunes | SoundCloud
Nov 10, 2016

Snap Judgments. Stereotypes. Implicit Bias.

They exist everywhere, across and beyond Harvard.

When I was a graduate student in the Regional Studies East Asia Program, I had experienced attitudes and comments that were sprinkled with presumptions from faculty and administrators whom I thought, would or should know to suspend judgment before they begin an enquiry. That enquiry could be as simple as a casual conversation or a probing question that would lead them to know me, as a person, before making reckless remarks. That was my assumption or expectation, you see. Well, I didn’t see it then. This is what I still recall.

The day I handed in my thesis (more than 20 years ago), I went into my department program administrator’s office and yelled, “I did it!’’ Margaret looked up from her desk, cluttered with piles of paper, and smiled,  “Nice job! You’ve proved to be more than a pretty face!”  “What? Wow…” My heart froze a bit. “Was that a back-handed compliment!?” I stood and wondered, stunned and speechless.

Margaret knew me as someone with a TV on-air background as an international correspondent with field experiences in a glamorous profession. Perhaps she thought I could run around the world covering breaking news but not buckle down to read books and write a paper? Perhaps she thought I would throw my hands up one day and just drop out?  Perhaps she has seen that happen at Harvard? Whatever that was, I would never know. But what I know is this – it felt so out of line. What was particularly striking was the emotional gusto in her tone as if I was to be congratulated for having succeeded in surprising her, and proving her wrong.  Obviously that was a rather harmless incident, one of several other instances where I felt like I was viewed as a “less than” until proven otherwise.  My response?

I swallowed it, in silence, in disgust and brushed it off.  

Twenty years later, Harvard is home to an ever-growing number of international students with complex and diverse backgrounds and experiences before they arrive. The university is increasingly active in exploring ways to invite them to speak up, share stories so we can understand one another better. 

Earlier this Fall, I was invited by the Graduate School of Education to moderate and produce “Why Not Me?” the first open-mic storytelling event at Harvard (The Moth style)  via live streaming on YouTube, and taped recording for my podcast “One in a Billion.” Tracie Jones (Assistant Director of the Office of Student Affairs at the Graduate School of Education) saw a critical need to better serve the rising number of Asian students who aren’t always ready to talk about anxieties and vulnerabilities due to race, class, sexual orientation or stereotypes. Their personal stories drive home the point “Why Not Me?” in their pursuit of a more fulfilling life.

Listen to this Special Edition of “ One in a Billion“ “Why Not Me? Part 1.”

We want to include you in this conversation. To send us your stories, just go to our Facebook page or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story.”

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

One in a Billion” is listening to #China, one person at a time.

Music used:

David O'Brien's Busy Bees, 1648/5 (Album) Audio Network

Doctor Turtle’s It Looks Like The Future, But It Feels Like The Past, Flush Your Rolex
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Doctor_Turtle/Flush_Your_Rolex_1416/it_looks_like_the_future_but_it_feels_like_the_past

Dave Keifer’s New Moon, Howdy Persephone
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Dave_Keifer/Howdy_Persephone/NEW_MOON

Doctor Turtle’s Know No No-Nos, Flush Your Rolex
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Doctor_Turtle/Flush_Your_Rolex_1416/know_no_no-nos

TRG Banks’s The Silver Bus, Dreamland
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/TRG_Banks/Dreamland/The_silver_bus

MMFFF’s The Army's March, The Dance of the Sky
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/MMFFF/The_Dance_of_the_Sky/The_Armys_March

Andy G. Cohen’s Monkeybars, Through the Lens
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Andy_G_Cohen/Through_The_Lens/Andy_G_Cohen_-_Monkeybars


 

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PRx | iTunes | SoundCloud

 

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