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    Seattle Globalist staffers at the Collaboratory. Top row, from left: Calendar Editor Forrest Baum, Board Treasurer Rituja Indapure, and Editor in Chief Alex Stonehill. Middle: Editor Venice Buhain, Columnist Anna Goren, KUOW’s Caroline Dodge, visiting for a meeting, and Business Development Director Emily Schulman. Right: Executive Director Jessica Partnow. (Photo by Creative Director Sarah Stuteville)

    The Seattle Globalist is expanding its offices to The Collaboratory, a coworking space and “incubator for social change” in Hillman City (just south of Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood). The Globalist will now base its operations jointly from the Collaboratory and the University of Washington’s Department of Communication.

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    Candidates for U.S. citizenship wait to be sworn in at the 28th Annual Naturalization Ceremony on July 4th at the Seattle Center.
    Candidates for U.S. citizenship wait to be sworn in at the 28th Annual Naturalization Ceremony on July 4th at the Seattle Center.

    Your stories, artwork, music or poetry about immigrating to the United States could be part of an upcoming online exhibit commemorating the Immigration Act of 1965 at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

    The Wing is seeking submissions for an upcoming exhibition on the Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished the United States’ immigration national origin quota policies with a system that took into account an immigrant’s skills or family relationships with existing U.S. residents and citizens. The act expanded the number of people who could immigrate to this country.

    Accepted submissions will be displayed in a digital exhibition as part of The Wing’s Immigration Exhibit, which will be online March 5, 2015, through January 2016.

    According to the call for submissions from The Wing, the museum seeks:

    “[S]ubmissions in a variety of media, including words, poetry, photographs, paintings, graphics, animation and other forms that are suitable for online display, according to a call for submissions. The submissions may range widely within the topic of immigration, such as the notion of belonging, transnational identity, green card marriages, histories of imperialism, incarceration, the model minority myth, queerness, the diaspora, technology, outsourcing, military service and mixed-status families and so much more.

    The deadline to submit is Feb. 15, 2015. Participants do not need to be of Asian Pacific American heritage. Collaborative submissions are welcome, but the Wing Luke can only accept one submission per person.

    Submissions should include:

    • The artist’s name, website and social media handles optional.
    • Visual submissions should be downloadable in 300 DPI and in JPEG (.jpg) format.
    • Text submissions should be in Word format (.doc or .docx) in 500 words or less.
    • Music and video should be in MP3 (.mp3) or movie (.mov) files, along with a Vimeo or YouTube link.

    Submissions should be sent to Minh Nguyen at minh@wingluke.org or to

    Wing Luke Museum
    Attention: Minh Nguyen
    719 S. King St.
    Seattle, WA 98104

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    The House Special Hot Soup comes with stinky tofu. (Photo by Judy Chia Hui Hsu)
    The House Special Hot Soup comes with stinky tofu. (Photo by Judy Chia Hui Hsu)

    It’s not a coincidence that some of the most popular Chinese restaurants in the Seattle area are Taiwanese. Taiwan has a reputation as one of the best food destinations in Asia. Chinese-American foodies that I know say that Taiwanese restaurants are where to go to find their Chinese food fix.

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    “It’s demanding because there’s always a bit of work to do each day,” says Lin. She spends one to two hours on her CHIN 101 coursework every day.
    “It’s demanding because there’s always a bit of work to do each day,” says Jessica Lin. She spends one to two hours on her CHIN 101 coursework every day. (Photo by Candace Kwan)

    A few months ago, before a crowd at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke Mandarin out of nowhere, and headlines around the world hinted that he put the “rest of us to shame” by speaking fluent Chinese.

    Well, did he really?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hater. Zuckerberg deserves praise for being able to conduct an entire interview in a language he picked up in his late 20s. That still shouldn’t overshadow the language abilities of many other Americans.

    According to the American Community Survey, 22 percent of children aged 5 to 19 speak a language other than English at home. But that doesn’t equal literacy. For instance, I can speak Cantonese effortlessly and make my way around a tabloid magazine and a menu. But that’s as far as my fluency goes, even though I grew up in Hong Kong.

    And by no means am I alone. This seems to be the case for many Chinese Americans. The two most spoken dialects in China are Cantonese and Putonghua, also known as Mandarin. The nuances of the languages are completely different. Cantonese has eight tones, while Putonghua has four. They also use different characters in the written language. Cantonese utilizes traditional Chinese characters, while Putonghua utilizes simplified.

    While most Chinese immigrants come from places that speak Cantonese, Putonghua is more widely taught. Fluency in one dialect does not automatically transfer to another, which complicates being literate and fluent in Chinese for many Chinese Americans.

    In my case, my family returned to Hong Kong from Montana when my grandpa became ill. We thought it would be a temporary move.

    I enrolled in an international school, where three out of 20 students spoke Cantonese. The only kind of formal Chinese education I received was optional after-school Putonghua lessons.

    By the time I transferred out of the international school system in favor of a local, all-girls Catholic high school, there was no way I would be able to catch up to the local Chinese curriculum. I took French instead.

    As much as it pains me to admit this, I’m Chinese illiterate.

    In a nutshell, I’m an “ABC” (American-born Chinese). There are worse terms for people who don’t speak the language. Some people use the term “jook-sing,” translated literally as “hollow bamboo.”

    Sometimes, terms like these motivate Chinese Americans to pick up the language later in life, especially in college.

    “I’ve never been called a ‘jook-sing’ by my family members or friends, but I’ve heard words like these thrown around a lot by others,” said Jessica Lin, a sophomore in the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

    “Cantonese is the language I use to speak with my family, and they have always been supportive. I’ve never felt pressure to learn the language, but I always wanted to take lessons.”

    Lin began taking CHIN 101. The Chinese Program, Department of Asian Languages and Literature at UW offers two separate tracks: heritage for students who speak the language at home but might not be able to read or write, and non-heritage for complete beginners.

    Even though Lin speaks Cantonese at home with her parents, grandparents and brother, she was placed in the non-heritage Chinese class. She chalks this up to not being able to speak Putonghua and not being able to write or read in Simplified Chinese characters.

    Lin plans to continue taking Chinese lessons throughout her education at the UW. (Photo by Candace Kwan)
    Lin plans to continue taking Chinese lessons throughout her education at the UW. (Photo by Candace Kwan)

    “I don’t feel that I’m learning Putonghua from scratch as my background in Cantonese helps me,” Lin said.

    Still, Cantonese and Putonghua have slightly different structures, and words that sound similar can be misleading.

    “There’s a girl in my class who speaks Cantonese too,” Lin said. “If we don’t understand something, like a term, we try to translate it into Cantonese to help each other out”.

    Nyan-Ping Bi, a Chinese instructor at the UW, said many Chinese American students get formal training in the the language before college.

    “They take classes at weekend schools, churches, K-12 levels in school etc. And of course, many Chinese Americans do speak the language at home without taking formal lessons,” Bi said.

    That was the case for UW sophomores Julie Lu and Ray Hui. They speak Cantonese at their homes, and have had less than two years of informal Chinese lessons. Both Lu and Hui also spent the summer in Hong Kong as part of a study abroad program.

    “I don’t plan to take Chinese at the UW, but that doesn’t mean I don’t actively seek out opportunities to speak the language,” Hui said.

    Julie Lu and Rayman Hui spent a month in Hong Kong, and various parts of Southern China  in the summer as part of a tour to explore their roots in China lead by UW’s American Ethnic Studies Department. (Photo courtesy of Julie Lu)
    Julie Lu and Rayman Hui spent a month in Hong Kong, and various parts of Southern China
    in the summer as part of a tour to explore their roots in China lead by UW’s American Ethnic Studies Department. (Photo courtesy of Julie Lu)

    “I didn’t have any problems in Hong Kong,” said Lu. “I understand everything that’s said in a Hong Kong TV drama, and I can have a full on conversation with someone who speaks Cantonese”.

    Hui also can hold a conversation.

    “I have an accent though, and can’t pronounce everything right,” Hui said. “It’s easy to see that I’m not from Hong Kong when I’m there.”

    While Hui may brush off mistakes with ease, it’s not so easy for me. It sounds terribly silly now, but for a while I didn’t like speaking in Cantonese because I was too worried that I would stumble on my words.

    Picking up Chinese was difficult as I only started speaking it seriously when I was 10, with a lot of trial and error. I learned how to read Chinese by paying attention to the subtitles on TV. Recognizing characters got a lot easier with time.

    I’m a junior with two majors, and I doubt I will have time to pick up Chinese lessons at UW. I’m always going to be striving to strengthen my grasp of the language, but I’m happy where I am right now.

    Ultimately, I hope to read a newspaper with ease in a few years, but until then, I won’t be giving up my ultimate guilty pleasure – reading Chinese tabloid magazines.