Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fae Myenne Ng's BONE and San Francisco Chinatown

This week my students are reading Fae Myenne Ng's novel, Bone, which takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown.  Living in San Francisco, it's an entertaining read because there are so many real sites that Ng writes about in the book that we pass  in our day-to-day lives.

Today in class, we collectively assembled a map of all the sites Leila mentions in Chapter One of the book.  We determined whether or not the places actually exist (most of them do exist!) and where they're located.  We then contextualized the specific sites by including an excerpt from the book that mentions the site.

In order to more fully visualize Leila's Chinatown, we mapped all the points on a projection of a map of San Francisco Chinatown.
Designing this activity, I envisioned a starburst of colored yarn radiating outward from San Francisco's Chinatown like spokes on a wheel. Real life is much droopier.
I've transferred all the map points to a digital version of Google Maps.  Red points on the map are places that still exist.  Yellow points are sites that have closed down or were fictionalized by Fae Ng (but with approximated coordinates as to where they would be according to the book).

Please feel free to use this interactive map as a teaching resource!

Fae Ng's Bone Annotated Map

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ethnic Studies and Counternarratives

My introduction to Asian American literature class just finished reading Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.  In the midst of the budget crisis at SFSU's College of Ethnic Studies, we spent today creating our own counternarratives in the style of Dictee.  They came up with some really creative and thoughtful pieces.  Take a look!

Dictee Counternarratives

*Link will take you to a shared Google Drive folder.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Final Projects

I had so much fun teaching the Koreans in the United States course this past semester at San Francisco State University.  My students were insightful and had a great sense of humor.  For their final projects, I gave them two options for a group project.  The first was to create an academic website on a Korean American topic.  The second option was to create a performance/play based on the experiences of two Korean American women’s families, San Francisco native Gail Whang, and Mary Paik Lee (author of autobiography, Quiet Odyssey).  I was blown away by the thoughtfulness and creativity the students demonstrated through their final projects. I was pleasantly surprised that many students seemed interested in delving further into the issue of transnational adoption and mixed race/heritage.

Below, I’m sharing the students’ final projects because I think that they are awesome, but also because I hope that their research may serve as a resource for others who might be looking for more information on aspects of the Korean American experience.  Please feel free to share and use these students’ projects—just please be sure to give them the credit they deserve!


For those of you who are pedagogues and might be interested in incorporating similar projects into your curricula, below is the website tutorial I put together to guide the students on their assignment: Final Project Website Tutorial

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Contemporary Korean American Issues

Last week I had my class make PSA posters on issues that concern the Korean American community today.  It’s our hope that these will circulate through social media networks to provide more awareness, education, and access to resources for Korean Americans and Asian Americans.  Please feel free to share and circulate these!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Korean American Fusion Cuisine

This week we covered Korean American fusion foods in my Koreans in the United States class.  I gave the students a bunch of iconic Korean foods and then asked them to come up with their own new Korean fusion dishes.  Brilliant students that they are, they came up with some incredible recipes:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Coffee Princess

I’m always a few years behind on popular tv, so I’ve just now gotten around to watching Coffee Prince.  And as I embark on my dissertation research, I’m finding that Korean film and media is rife with orphans, Coffee Prince  not excepted.  The subplot of the drama is that Han Kyul, crown prince to a chaebol finds out that he is in fact not biologically related to his parents, but was adopted as a baby by them when his birth mother died and his birth father was overseas and unreachable.  Which I’m sure you all know already because I’m so far behind the times in catching up with pop culture and tv, and you already watched the series years ago.

But escaping from the stress of the semester in episodes of the tv series has gotten me thinking about parallels in my own life.  I’m certainly not the heiress of a chaebol, nor do I make a habit of disguising myself as a man, but indulge me for a moment in my fanciful imagination.  Han Kyul receives a picture of his birthmother from his birthfather whom he meets without knowing their actual relationship.  His birthfather is a “friend of his [adoptive] father” who knew his birthmother.  Forgive the [>] icon in the middle of the image; I was screen capping from DramaFever:


A picture of his mother in a field of gold a few years before Han Kyul’s birth.  This is the first image of Omma I received.  A picture of her in a field of gold a few years before my birth:

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And just because, here’s a picture of me a few years ago in Jeju:


Gayoung, Drew, and I actually visited the Coffee Prince café in Hongdae a few years ago.  I probably wasn’t as impressed as I should have been, not being familiar with the series at the time.

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Now, Gayoung and Jiyoung run a café of their own in Ulsan, the charming Freedom Station, which I got to visit last year. 


Like Han Kyul’s birthfather, I visited under somewhat false pretenses, as Gayoung’s American friend rather than biological sister in order to keep our younger sister from discovering the truth.

Okay, maybe the whole Coffee Prince idea is a bit of a stretch.  I think actually just watching a Korean drama in which there is a character who has lost his birthparents has me missing Omma and craving super sweet Korean coffee.