Season 2 - Episode 2: Free to Speak?

August 22, 2017

In America, the freedom of speech a First Amendment right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

The right to speak our mind is not only valued in the American culture but expected in our liberal democratic society where voices are votes. The American electoral process expects it, and American citizens demands it.

But what happens when the culture and society in which you grew up devalues or demeans free speech?

In this Episode #2 “Free to Speak?” we interview Chinese and Americans who have reflected on their cultural identity and their right to speak, after watching a controversial speech by Chinese student Shuping Yang at University of Maryland.

As Chinese in America, how freely can you speak? Who try to silence you?

Leanne Fan and Karen Su joined me for a studio conversation. Listen to “Free to Speak?”

Music Used:
Busy Bees by David O'Brien
Travel Light by Jason Shaw
Heroin by Mitch Hanley

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Season 2 - Episode 1: Are You Chinese?

July 25, 2017

It sounds like a simple question, “Are you Chinese?”

But why would someone ask it?  And what makes it difficult for someone to answer it?

Eric Liao, our blogger/podcast intern at One in a Billion, started writing a blog about this question a month ago. When I first read it, it overwhelmed me with provocative ideas and perplexing analogies, and many of the underlying sentiments turn out to resonate with many young Asians in America. So we decided to turn that unfinished blog into a full-fledged podcast.

“Are you Chinese?” is not a simple question, as we've discovered after interviewing Eric and listening to dozens of Chinese and non-Chinese in America. It challenges their sense of belonging and individuality.  Now, they’re speaking up.

Their experiences tell a story of our common struggle when we’re in our 20s - our struggle to establish our identity and individuality, and our search for belonging.

Listen to Eric’s story in “Are You Chinese?”

 

Music Used:

Busy Bees by David O'Brien
Xi by Andy G. Cohen
The War Drums of Peace by The Marian Circle Drum Brigade
Marty Ladies and Gentlemen by Doctor Turtle
The Encouragement Stick by Doctor Turtle
Grey Snow by John Woodward

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Episode #12: “Reflecting on 2016”

April 4, 2017

How often do you hear these questions - “How high have you scored? How many hours do you work? How much have you done?”

Quantity is, of course important. It is a metric of output or outcome. We live in a results-driven economy that relies on quantifiable data to measure growth and success. But that alone can’t be enough to define the meaning and purpose of your work, can it?

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about “Productivity & Purpose” (chinapersonified.com/productivity-a…purpose/)after hearing a warmly personal and illuminating interview with Maria Popova, founder of “Brain Pickings” on “On Being with Krista Tippett” (www.onbeing.org/tags/maria-popova).

In this season for reflection, our listeners have asked me to share my blog again through narration. I hope you’ll find it helpful to your thinking about this year before embracing the new one!

Listen to our latest podcast episode “Reflecting on 2016.”

We want to include you in this conversation

To send us your comments or stories, just go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/), or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/pitch-a-story/).

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

“One in a Billion” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/one-billion-podcast/) is listening to #China, one person at a time.

Music Used:

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

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Episode #11 “Are You Home for Christmas?”

April 4, 2017

This year, I’ve promised my husband to be in Boston for Christmas and New Year. For the first time, it hit me how important it is to him that we celebrate Christmas, not in New York, or in Hong Kong , but Cambridge, our new home. I realize that his heart is forming roots to this place we’ve settled down for more than two years now. And in this season of longing, this is where he feels belonged. For me? It seems that I always feel belonged where I am most needed. Last month, I was able to spend more than two weeks with my father in Hong Kong, sitting with him mostly in silence while watching him watch TV, eat lunch or nap in the daybed as he coped with numerous issues including Alzheimer and Parkinson. A conversation was nearly impossible due to his cognitive decline and hearing difficulties. My gift for him was nothing more than my presence, punctured with periodic storytelling. Our quiet time together - my sitting by, being close, rendering care and reminiscing the way my father once was, the way we once were. I tried not to think about the future, but fully immersed in the moment we were sharing. How do you savor your time with your family? Listen to our latest podcast episode “Are You Home for Christmas?”

Our website bloggers Fang Guo and Xiao Fu had both written about their changing relationship with their parents earlier this year in “The Day My Father Fell” (chinapersonified.com/the-day-my-father-fell/) and “Dreaming of a New Beginning” (chinapersonified.com/dreaming-new-beginning/)

Now, our listeners request to hear their voice narrating their blogs for this Holiday Season. I hope you’ll find them a cozy companion to your thoughts about our evolving identity and ties to your home.

We want to include you in this conversation

To send us your comments or stories, just go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/), or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/pitch-a-story/).

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

“One in a Billion” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/one-billion-podcast/) is listening to #China, one person at a time.

Music Used:

David O'Brien's Busy Bees, 1648/5 (Album) Audio Network
Julie Maxwell’s 25, Piano Soul
Chris Zabriskie’s Your Mothers Daughter, Music From Neptune Flux
Chris Zabriskie’s Undercover Vampire Policeman, Undercover Vampire Policeman
Chris Zabriskie’s The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan, Undercover Vampire Policeman
Josh Woodward’s Under the Stairs, Breadcrumbs
Jason Shaw’s 12 Mornings, Audionautix: Acoustic

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Episode #10 “What Makes You Different?”

April 4, 2017

What Makes You Different?

How often do you feel different from your peers in America? Under what circumstances do you find your values at odds with your immediate cultural environment? How do you assert your sense of uniqueness?

Listen to our latest podcast episode “What Makes You Different?”

Twin sisters Chellie and Sara Zou narrate their blog about how they see race as multi-racial kids in Indiana.

chinapersonified.com/how-i-see-race…ltiracial-kid/

Zara Zhang will read her story about “Warm Water.”

chinapersonified.com/warm-water/

We want to include you in this conversation

To send us your comments or stories, just go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/), or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/pitch-a-story/).

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

“One in a Billion” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/one-billion-podcast/) is listening to #China, one person at a time.

Subscribe to "One in a Billion" below:

PRx | iTunes | SoundCloud

Music Used:

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

Josh Woodward's Once Tomorrow, Creative Commons Music

Jahzzar's The Shine, Jamendo Music

Sláinte's Banish, Beejayzus Records

Hyson's Whispers, Honest Music

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Episode #9 “Why Not Me? Part 2”

April 4, 2017

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 (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/) or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/pitch-a-story/).

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

“One in a Billion” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/one-billion-podcast/) 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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Episode #8 “Why Not Me? Part 1”

April 4, 2017

Why Not Me? Part 1

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 (gsas.harvard.edu/programs-of-stud…tudies-east-asia), 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 (www.gse.harvard.edu/) to moderate and produce “Why Not Me?” the first open-mic storytelling event at Harvard (“The Moth” style) (www.themoth.org/) 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 (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/) or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story.” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/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

Dave Keifer’s New Moon, Howdy Persephone

Doctor Turtle’s Know No No-Nos, Flush Your Rolex

TRG Banks’s The Silver Bus, Dreamland

MMFFF’s The Army's March, The Dance of the Sky

Andy G. Cohen’s Monkeybars, Through the Lens

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Episode #7 “Face Our Fears”

April 4, 2017

I spent most of my 20s pretending that I had no fears. Fears are messy. They mess up my optimism, my can-do spirit, they hold me back. I turned a blind eye to them so they wouldn’t slow me down. I realized that I had chosen a career, television news, that is relentlessly fast-paced and fiercely competitive especially in America’s top media town - New York. I was laser-focused on learning everything I could about the nature of the industry, the demands of my job, and the dynamics of my colleagues and supervisors. I tried to make friends with everyone, I did my best to deliver results as asked, and sometimes I even pushed myself to exceed expectations. I thought I had everything right and well and I would surely get that promotion I was eyeing next. I was dead wrong.

One day, I found myself lying on the floor, having collapsed from hyperventilating over the loss of the promotion to another colleague. I was a mess, crying uncontrollably over the blatant bias in favor of a co-worker whom I thought was lazy, manipulative and frequently flirtatious. “Where’s justice in the world!?” I still remember yelling out inside myself even as I was being wheeled out on a stretcher to the hospital emergency room. I couldn’t contain my emotional outburst. I had a nervous breakdown. I was 24.

That incident scared me about myself. I lost my nerves! Wow, I could handle breaking news stories from 4 alarm fire to bloody shooting in Chinatown, but I couldn’t handle my own emotion. It also taught me that I had been investing so much energy and even attachment to a promotion. I wanted to be recognized for my work, and I thought I deserved it. But when I was in the ER, a kind colleague came to visit me and reminded me that even if I was right and my boss was wrong, I was not in charge. This promotion isn’t about me, it’s about the boss and what he saw was the right fit not just for the job, but also for the workplace. It dawned on me then that I was probably working for the wrong person at the wrong place and the wrong time.

I share this story because among other things like office politics or implicit bias in the outside world, it exposes deep pride and fears in my inner world that I never quite explored until I had a breakdown.

In my interview with Alison Chen and Franklin Chen (no relation to Alison), they opened up their struggle in their journey to find a job after graduation and to find acceptance and recognition in American workplace. What struck me about our conversation, is their candor and acceptance about what scares them. As I listen and think back on what was lost on me in my 20s, I learn that fear will pass if we let it come to us, let it stay and show its nature, and also let it go away.

Listen to “One in a Billion” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/one-billion-podcast/) “Face Our Fears.”

We want to include you in this conversation.

To send us your comments or stories, just go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/), or our website at ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/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

MMFFF’s Rebirth of the Golden Sun, The Dance of the Sky (Album)
freemusicarchive.org/music/MMFFF/Th…the_Golden_Sun

Julie Maxwell’s Redefining, Piano Soul (Album)
freemusicarchive.org/music/Julie_Ma…_19_Redefining

Julie Maxwell’s Hide and Come Find, Piano Soul (Album)
freemusicarchive.org/music/Julie_Ma…_and_Come_Find

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Podbean.com - superior podcast hosting.

April 4, 2017

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Episode #6: “Is Entrepreneurship Right for You?”

April 3, 2017

Before I launched my media startup in 2012, I never imagined that one day, I would form a company to create a digital platform for young people from China and America to share personal stories and to build a network community.

That was a quantum leap from my job for decades as a TV journalist writing and producing for American network news in New York.

But over the years, I knew I was also getting restless and curious about what else I could do with my background as a producer and storyteller. I had served as a volunteer in different roles and contexts, including being a mentor to young Asian journalists, and a “Big Sister” to a “Little Sister” born to Chinese parents from Fujian province struggling to adjust to new immigrant life in America. These were highly rewarding work. But I was never ready to quit my job to pursue that type of work full time. I let my restlessness and curiosity sit for one year after another. I did nothing to tend to them. I enjoyed the stable income, a stimulating work environment and exciting lifestyle in New York. In essence, I lacked motivation to jump ship.

But one day, something pushed me over the edge.

My job at ABC News was on the line. The network was about to restructure the news division; thousands of jobs including mine could be cut. I faced a fork in the road that offered two choices – I could accept a buyout that gives me the cash and freedom to pursue something else, or I could sit tight and let the axe fall where they may once my contract expires in a year. Although there was no imminent threat that I would be laid off, somehow, the idea of taking the money to pursue something else was highly liberating.

I had already invested more than twenty years of my life working in American network news, I felt I had maximized the opportunities available to me. When I talked to my close friends and advisors, I was encouraged to hear that they thought I had always been an entrepreneurial problem-solver. Their optimism boosted my optimism. Once I decided to take a leap, a net appears.

Like Q, (www.linkedin.com/in/qinghuazhao ) founder of 2RedBeans, (www.2redbeans.com/zh-CN/site/team), I dared not quit my job before I felt I had some resources and time to take risk. How do you think about risk?

In our two previous episodes with Q, she shared her incredible search for husband in “Finding Love in America: Reality Bites and Are You The One?”

In this episode “Is Entrepreneurship Right For You?” we listen to the back story of Q’s journey as an entrepreneur. We have included your voices in this conversation – including this question “is it every too early to become an entrepreneur?” I have also interviewed Tim Rowe, founder of CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center (cic.us/) who began his entrepreneurial life when he was a kid in middle school!

Listen to “One in a Billion” “Is Entrepreneurship Right for You?”

In our next episode, “Face Our Fears” I’ll talk with two young Chinese who recently graduated from Harvard and Boston University about unpredictable challenges they face in trying to land their dream job in America.

What is holding you back from getting your foot in the door? What scares you? How do you manage your anxiety?

We want to include you in this conversation.

To send us your stories, just go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chinapersonified/ , or our website at
ChinaPersonified.com under “Pitch a Story. “ (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/pitch-a-story/

Share your thoughts? Pitch me a story?

“One in a Billion” (chinapersonified.com/podcasts/one-billion-podcast/ )is listening to #China, one person at a time.

Music Used:

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

Jahzzar's Good Night, Sele (Album)

Andy G. Cohen's Land Legs, MUL/DIV (Album)

Lee Rosevere's Puzzle Pieces, Music for Podcasts 2 (Album)

TGR Banks' The Silver Bus, Dreamland (Album)

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