Elegant Words from Elegance Herself

I received these words in a text message recently on a day when I really needed them.

“You have a deeply personal connection to Chinatown and the people from the community. I don’t know it firsthand, but I imagine it’s very frustrating to see someone else misrepresent Chinatown.”

“It’s why I really admire your work.”

“Your work paints Chinatown as a complex organism, living and breathing, beautiful and scarred, scrappy and resourceful, full heart and warmth despite its flaws.” – Christine Nguyen

I love ❤️ these thoughtful, eloquent comments from Christine Nguyen, Director of Development and Communications at the Asian Community Development Corporation ( ACDC) . Over 5 years ago, when I was a beginning writer, Christine and I met at a holiday party given by Saffron Circle that we both happened to attend. She approached me with the smile I would come to know, love, and welcome.

“So I hear you write stories. I’d like to talk to you about your stories. I work for ACDC. Can we meet for coffee?”

And so began a productive partnership and a warm and supportive friendship.

Christine and Jeena Chang have patiently nurtured my work ever since . They have published my essays on the ACDC website for the last five years. In connecting me with public artists, including artist Gianna Stewart, who created the “Storytell and Sway,” installation, a yellow sunflower 4 bench swing set celebrating community and free play on Hudson Street, architect artist, Ang Li, who created “Place of Assembly,” a swiveling brick installation on Hudson Street and then on the border of the Leather District, reimagining Stoop Culture, and multi-media artist, Yu-Wen Wu , who designed the “Lantern Stories” installation, illuminating historical Chinatown photos on lanterns lighting up the Rose Kennedy Greenway Park section in Chinatown, Christine Nguyen and Jeena Chang have enriched my writerly life, the public’s understanding of Chinese American history and a girlhood spent within Chinatown’s tumultuous past. These kind words this week and the creative work of these amazing public artists over these 5 years warm my heart. In their usual gentle and thoughtful manner, Christine Nguyen and Jeena Chang have transformed and expanded the narrative glow lighting up Boston’s storytelling scene.

Thank you, Christine and Jeena, for being the beautiful, thoughtful, caring, smart, young woman you both are! I am grateful always!

Farewell Jeena Chang !
Christine Nguyen and I at “Storytell and Sway “ with artist Gianna Stewart.
Yu-Wen Wu’s “Lantern Stories 2” light up a gathering of Asian American artists in Chinatown . She used my website as a resource and my childhood photo on a lantern commemorating historical Hudson Street.
Artists gather with multi media artist , YuWen Wu
Guest speaking in Emmanuel College’s Chinese History class with Dr. Violetta Ravagnoli where my entire collection of stories and essays are required reading.
Emerson College Film Department learn about the history of Downtown Crossing, its social equalizer effects and its importance in the Americanization process for early Chinese immigrants.
Honored to receive the “2020 Excellence in Arts and Culture Award “ given by the esteemed Chinese Culture Connection led by ED Mei Hung, a great organization that aims to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding by building bridges of sharing.
My 13 year old self babysitting on “Lantern Stores.”
This poem ends my essay , “Duck.” A commemoration of the historical Chinese immigrant garment workers of Chinatown.
A page from the Zine “ Voices of Chinatown “ created by Rachel Liang of Tufts University. It is now housed at the Asian American Studies Department Zine Library created by Rachel Liang. We met at the launch of “Place of Assembly” by Ang Li which was also attended by Mayor Michelle Wu.
A quote from “Snow Angels “ etched into the “Storytell and Sway” installation , a tribute to the stranded old men of historical Chinatown.
Outdoor lemonade and cookies celebration on Hudson Street, with public artists Ang Li, Yu-Wen Wu, and Gianna Stewart during the pandemic
Inside 116 Hudson Street photo archived at the Massachusetts Memories Roadshow
Taking Emerson College film students on a Chinatown tour, part of their research for making a documentary on the Arts in Chinatown . Here at the Storytell and Sway installation.
Girlhood in a tumultuous historical Chinatown on the safe Taishanese haven of Hudson Street . Taking in memories for my future writing and teaching on my outgrown, trusty tricycle.
Guest teaching At Boston University for a Chinese history class on “China and the West.”
My poem “My MaMa’s Back” displayed outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s office at Boston City Hall
With artists Christine Nguyen and Gianna Stewart at the takedown ceremony for “Storytell and Sway “
Guest teaching at BU where my story, “No Secret “ is required reading.
Talking after class with Boston University students of Chinese History
Reading my poem tribute to Chinese immigrant women garment workers “My MaMa’s Back “ at Revolutionary Spaces in the Old South Meeting House, where Poet, Phyllis Wheatley worshipped and published while enslaved .
Panel discussion of the PBS film “A Tale of Three Chinatowns “‘ by Lisa Mao and Penny Lee at Revolutionary Spaces
I received the 2021-22 Boston Foundation Brother Thomas Fellowship together with 15 other local artists of various genres.
Inside 133 Hudson Street: My immigrant MaMa and I . She features in all my childhood stories as a mother naturally would.
With Brown University Anthropology student, Joy Jiang . She read all my Hudson Street stories and said she cried over the story “BaBa,” a tribute to the left -behind daughters of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
With Boston Globe reporter Adrian Walker who contacted me immediately after the release of “Mo Hi: Don’t Look, “ to talk about growing up in the Combat Zone after the demolition of Hudson Street.
With Dr. Claire Andrade Watkins from Emerson College an Brown U . She required the reading of Hudson Street Chronicles before her students came on my Chinatown tour. We discussed the effects of gentrification in the Cape Verdean community of Providence RI and Boston Chinatown.
Story tour and Hong Kong style milk tea at Eldo’s Bakery with Boston University Jounalism students from Henan, China and Salt Lake City, Utah .
My nieces and I visit the Pao Art Center window mural for the “Experience Chinatown “ Project featuring “Women Today and Yesterday .” I’m on a window at the Happy Lamb , in my former home, the notorious Combat Zone . The mural art is by renowned Salem muralist, Anna Dugan.
Meeting with college students for their projects on Chinatown and the effect of Covid. Rachel Liang (l.) created the zine , “Voices of Chinatown ,” now housed at the Zine Library of the Tufts University Asian American Studies Center.
Collaborate work with public artist Gianna Stewart, creator of Storytell and Sway ,
a sunny swing set tribute to the Hudson Street legacy of community sharing and free play.
Yesterday : Mothers and children on Stoops on Hudson Street. Today in honor of our past : Mayor Michelle Wu and child on Artist Ang Li’s reimagining stoop culture installation inspired by my story , “If Hudson Street Could Talk.”

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