Author Archives: Yeuk San Shen

Posts by Yeuk San Shen

The Art of “No”

“No” is a word very common in every language, and it is a weird one too! In different cultures, according to context, the degree of rejection can vary so much! And sometimes, it is very impolite to say a simple no! This may sound abnormal for people here, but it is true. Let’s find an example. Let’s say, we are in a family dinner. In America, if an elderly offer you a drink that you don’t want, you can just say a simple “No, thank you”, and that’s it, right? Well that’s not the case in Chinese or Japanese culture.

In China, sometimes it’s fine to say no, but most of the time, it is best to find an excuse like “Oh, I’ll have it later” or “Thank you, but I tried it already”. No matter what, you have to pretend that you have tried the drink or try it for real—of course, unless you have some medical reasons for not trying it. Nowadays, although the rules are looser, sometimes “no” is still an impolite word to say. In Japan, the rules are much more stricter. The word “no” is forbidden if you are speaking to an older generation. When someone, especially someone older, offered a drink to you, just accept it, even if you are just holding it in your hand and don’t drink it at all.

While there are many ways to say no while avoiding saying “no”, in some culture, accepting is more polite than rejection. It is not only a matter of preference, but also a show of your family culture and status. Of course, it is still good to know ways to reject, since they may really come in handy when cultures encounter.

Her Life as My Childhood Stories

Prologue: I know I’m supposed to write about someone in New York, but a phone call with my grandma caught my attention. Instead of a single story, I guess I want to capture the sequence of impacts from a single historical event on her life. I’ve always known the stories she told me since I was very young, but listening to them once again with a new attitude, a set objective and a phone line distance was a provoking experience. And I wish to share this with all of you.

My grandma was a typical girl with a relatively rich background—well, at least for a while. She was the youngest among four girls. Her family had a business in Chinese wine making, but unlike those greedy landlords shown in the Chinese soap dramas, her father and the generations before him had worked out a trust-worthy reputation. They were respected by the town, and her life was happier and simpler than most of the people at her age, who often had to worry about the next meal while eating this one. Of course, this changed dramatically when the downfall of China arrived.

She was adopted by one of her close relatives. When the Cultural Revolution came, the red guards took away all the properties from her house. The story gets complicated here; she often stops for a while, acting like I don’t want to know what happened to her parents. Sometimes, she may let a couple words slide through her mouth, but oftentimes that is not the case. So, after gathering the “couple of words” for a while, I think that even though her parents were not hurt physically, they were going through some emotional ups and downs.

Anyway, so she was adopted along with her three older sisters, and with three more cousins, the seven sister-flowers made up the youngest generation in the family. They all changed their names (first and last) so that they could be safe. She never told me how exactly would her name affect her, but I guess it was a pretty big deal at the time.

Then the story jumped to her life as a student. She was hard working and was very smart. I can often sense the pride in her when she talks about her experiences in school—academics only. Now that I think about it, I never heard anything about her childhood friends or events related. It was always one sentence through her school life, maybe in the end a couple of sentences about her sisters. Even during the interview, she didn’t say anything more. Did she censor them on purpose? I don’t know, but she always did it so naturally that I forgot to ask her for the little details.

At the time, she couldn’t choose her own career, so she became a chemical engineer. She always said to me, “…I realized later when I went to the office of Dr. Zong (a close friend of hers who studied Chinese medicine, I call him Zong Ye-ye) that I was more suitable for a doctor. All the senses a doctor needs—he always told me that I have them all…” When I asked her why she didn’t change her career, she answered, “It was too late. I was good at being a chemical engineer, though. I chose it only because one of my uncles was doing this, but I found it interesting, so I put it down as my first choice. At the time, you have to put down your top three career choices, and the government would choose it for you. Many people didn’t get their first choice, and a lot more had to work in an area they didn’t choose at all for the rest of their lives! Plus, chemical engineering was a very hot choice—I was lucky enough to get my first.”

So, as her nature pushed her, she soon became the best within the factory. She worked on several projects, and successfully completed every single one of them. However, because of her background, she was unable to achieve further in her career. She often faced problems with her boss regarding the supplies and the procedure of experiments. One time, she succeeded in developing a big project on her own, but someone else stole her work and replaced her in getting the leading position. Of course, she was angry, but there were nothing she could do. Luckily, all the people in her workplace recognized my grandma as the best. Well, actually, my grandma never told me this part, but from her expression, I knew that they respected her for her personality and her work. I guess that was why she didn’t complain at all and continued to work as she had before.

When I was younger, every time she told me these stories, she sounded like she was talking about somebody else. But this time, when I heard these stories once again from a distance, I realized one time: it wasn’t that these events didn’t affect her; in fact, they impacted her so much that she had to depart herself from her own life to avoid showing too much emotion. That was the only way she could tell the stories—from a third person perspective.

Avant-Garde and Matisse

Going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at night was a very different experience. Compare to the rushing crowds going back and forth in the morning, the soothing atmosphere created by the empty museum was, at least in my opinion, more suitable for art viewing—somehow you are willing to stay longer in front of each piece. So although this might sound weird, I was actually glad that my schedule conflict allowed me to go to the MET on my own. I visited the African Art and Matisse section. Let’s start with the African Art.

There was a section named “The Avant Grade”, and the title caught my eyes. I went online

and searched for this term. It was in French. Wikipedia said “it is a French term used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics”. At the first glance, I didn’t find it different from the rest of the room. How was this supposed to be “innovative”? Then, I realized that it was an art served to provoke others. Picasso was one of these artists that were influenced by these cultural pieces! Then I looked at them again. This time, I could definitely see the similarities.

African Arts were known for their abstract figures. The art-form proportion varied from the real life proportion; and the faces of figures were always exaggerated with parts being altered. I had never figured out why African Art developed into such a pattern, but it was obviously very distinctive, especially when compared to European arts at the time, which could be one reason that people resisted this culture. There were a series of names that started with “Seated Man”, two were African pieces and one was a pencil drawing by Picasso.

It was easy to notice the identical scale of the head and body, which was not presented in history until then. With the knowledge that Picasso became famous long before his death, this became a marker in history pointing the shift of people’s willingness to accept and include others.

Another exhibit I visited was the Matisse. It gave me a different chill from the Avant-Garde. The sharp contrast between colors and various styles used to interpret the same view were something nowhere to be found in my previous exhibit. The most amazing part of this was perhaps the numerous interpretations of one single view. The doted style told the shift of colors and strengthened the contrast in between; the plain oil style gave a realistic twist to the painting; a warmer series of color created a mood that couldn’t be seen in a colder

color series. All these angles showed that each time Matisse painted a similar image—he gave a new twist to it. Unlike most artists, he allowed the addition of new frames, even if that would ruin his previous visions. Not only did he allow it, he also admired it. He asked a photographer to document his process of creation, in which one could see the transition of the painting. I didn’t know that the same view meant so many different images to different people (or the same person with different interpretation) until Matisse juxtaposed his visions in front of me. Thank you so much, for allowing me to step into your world of imagination and share a piece of your mind.

Will It Ever Fall?

Images are powerful.

Do you think Apartheid had ended? Well, after this exhibit, you are definitely going to say no. The Rise and Fall of Apartheid exhibit in the International Center of Photography has nearly 500 photographs, documenting the rapid changes within a 60-year period in the country of South Africa. There were many “rises” for sure, but were there any “falls”? I’m not so sure about that.

For my first impression, I have to disagree with most of my classmates. It does not feel like a museum. In my head, a typical museum would have a lot of people, running around trying to figure out which way to go because there are so many paths crossing one another. In ICP, there was only one path. The photos are aligned in chronological order, with several short videos displayed here and there. All you have to do is walk and see. Down the wooden way, the pictures are hanged on a plain yellow wall. It is very simple, which becomes such a contrast compare to the impact on me after looking at the images.

These are not artistic photos. They are real. There are many images about segregation. Well, of course. They must be images of segregation. There are a number of them titled “Bus for non-Europeans only” or “European-only dry cleaner” or have a similar title. The photographers did not try to create a certain technical effect on their works. They are plain, but documentary and memorable. I know this probably sound old to many people, but every time I look at a photo showing the distinctive differences between the living styles of white and black, I am surprised. I saw segregation pictures for the first time when I was five years old in my first grade; the second one was when I was in fourth grade; after I arrive in American, which was right after seventh grade, I only saw more. I know this makes me sound naïve, but how long does it have to be before people can actually live in harmony? Before people can actually look at these pictures and laugh like an old man laughing at his young mistakes? So far, I would say, “Not in my life time.”

The second set of photos that caught my attention is the nude girls set. I stop in front of it, and look at it for a good ten-minute until the security guard suspiciously watches me as if I was about to put the whole set in my pocket. It is totally different from the rest of the exhibit. Most of the pieces there have a kind of serious and determined tone to them. This set has none. It is showing many white guys playing around with the nude girls in a nightclub. After all those images of death and pain, this set becomes an irony. I’ve always wondered whether or not these people have a hard time falling asleep at night. Unfortunately, they do not.

It is impossible to say that these images have not had any impact on us. They are very powerful. Why? Because they are the truth.

A Dream for Me, A Living for Him

Becoming a photographer had been a dream for me for several years, until my reality check hit me and I fell back into the real world like those people who wanted to become a rock star realized after multiple auditions that it just not going to happen—though for me, the journey ended before it start. For this reason, I admire anyone who is determined to be or has became a photographer. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be able to hear from one of these “heroes”, Max Flatow, who came in on November 6th and talked to us about his career path.

Max Flatow is a self-taught photographer. Even though he didn’t plan to become one, he developed this interest during college and whoa-la! Time flies by—this is his seventh year into the profession already. In fact, he was uncertain whether or not to become a photographer for several years, until his experience in Spain changed his mind forever. He took many pictures during his trip, and had a gallery show in a small café. I guess the satisfying feeling he got when he knew that people were appreciating HIS images was really affecting—why else would he change his mind?

During the conference, he said that approximately 85 to 90 percent of the photos he took were for weddings. Then he showed us some of his photos. I really liked them. There was one particularly caught my eyes.

Max Flatow

I wouldn’t consider this the best of all, but it was surely the most meaningful one in my eyes. From the white scarf flowing in the wind in that specific angle, the couple showing off their love with a gentle kiss on the lips to with the color of the image and the background—all I could say was that everything made sense. I don’t know how to further analyze it except for one word, “WOW!”

He also took photos of food, though he admitted that it was a stressful job because most foods need to be photographed in a critical condition. Many of the slides in the presentation were taken in an angle; and the subjects tended to be put a little off to the side. He liked facial expressions and black-and-white photos, and he especially stressed that he didn’t like camera lights. When one of our classmates asked him that “is it a good idea to take pictures with Iphone”, he laughed. He simply loved the idea.

He said, “Well, the worse thing that can happen is your phone’s battery dies. Then you charge it and then shoot again!”

Well, there goes an alternative way to become a photographer. I should try it sometimes.

Max Flatow

Imagery– the Most Powerful Yet Invisible Technique

I first heard of Katherine Vaz from my IDC class. We had to read a book named Our Lady of the Artichokes, a collection of short stories for homework. As always, I resisted the reading. When I was reading, however, I was captured by her wild and rich images, and was quickly overwhelmed by every single word of the book. So of course, it was exciting to hear that she was going to be the 29th Harman Writer in Baruch College.

As a class, we went to her Sidney Writer-in-Residence Reading in October 23rd. After warm welcome, Katherine Vaz began her reading. She was reading a part from the third book she wrote, named Below the Salt. She said that she had never read it in public, so that was her “debut”. As she began reading, her writing style appeared right from the first word that came out her mouth.  It was clear that this book and Our Lady of the Artichokes shared many things, from themes to techniques. The one thing that caught my eyes, however, was the same thing that inspired me the most during my reading—her use of imagery.

The whole time, the powerful images she created through those spoken words jumped right into my head. Before I noticed, my brain was full of different scenarios from the story. The scenes connected and composed a movie within me, as if it was right before my eyes as the reading went on. The experience was amazing. I always thought imagery was the basic component of a story, so I had never paid enough attention to them. And I had to say—it wasn’t an experience that you could realize it right away. Maybe it was because of the author’s voice, or maybe for some other reasons, Vaz’s voice pulled me into her story. As soon as the reading began, I was dissolve into my own imagination triggered by her low and magnetic voice.

She later had a Q&A section. She said that the stories were created based on her own events, and that she was a big believer for “going to the place and feel the place on your skin”. Hum… “Feel the place on your skin”… This might be the reason for her success in creating such dominant details. After all, if I have to make a comment on her fiction, I would have to agree with one of her reviewers—that they “glow with a fairytale magic—yet uniquely”.

A “Traditional” Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thanksgiving, a traditional holiday celebrated by Americans and Canadians, does not have a true meaning among Chinese people, at least to my family. Sure, it is to thank the Native Americans for their help and blah, blah… Like we don’t know the dark history of the United States at the time. I know that many people compare this holiday with Christmas and New Year, but for us, we are more likely to align Thanksgiving with Columbus Day—the day off that has many things on sale, but a LARGER one. The only similarity is that like most families in America, we also try to have a get together with friends or family, although most of the time it is just an informal dinner and nothing much.

SO, when my mom suggested that we should have a real Thanksgiving dinner, with the whole turkey and all that, I was simply shocked. Then again, I had never have a whole turkey and those traditional side dishes before, so the idea ringed in my head. On Thursday, we prepared many dishes, merging a traditional dinner with a touch of Chinese; I even baked a tart for dessert! Finally, we finished the preparation.

My tart

The dinner was at my aunt’s house. We invited some friends and people that we are close with. We sat down. We ate. We talked. The dinner was great. The food was amazing (well, usually self-cook dishes are amazing). We joked around afterward. My mom brought out my dessert and all of our guests liked it. At around eight o’clock, we left the house with a full stomach.

The dinner

Of course, we considered it a tradition Thanksgiving dinner.

But I still don’t get the meaning of it though.

Confusing? — Well, it’s worthy.

For someone like myself, who is not familiar with American history at all, the show House Divided at BAM was merely too confusing. It required too much background information. Even with a little research beforehand, I could not keep on track until a friend of mine kindly whispered reasons into my ears—then I only figured out the most basic part—it was a story showing two time periods, the Great Depression and the Housing Market Crash.

For some reason, before I went to the show, my mind was set on this lie that the whole story took place during the Housing Market Crash only. Thus, during the whole show, I was wondering why people were dressed up as if they were in the Great Depression, so take my advice for this: either do as much research as one can, or don’t do it at all; half way in between can only cause one pain.

Even without my mistake on my own account, however, the House Divided was complicated. Switching between two time periods was a risk that could either ruin the performance or shine a spotlight on it—for me, the experience was somewhat negative. The attempt was understandable. The stage was literarily divided into two in the beginning, one presenting the Stock Exchange and the other setting in John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath. Nevertheless, as the story went on, the division became obscure. Sometimes the whole stage was entirely one scene, but within a blink of an eye, it changed to another with the previous scene unfinished. Although the overall storyline was clear, if the audience hadn’t read the novel, it would be hard for them to track the details in both stories—which could only result in confusion in the end.

It was still worthy. Even with the complication of merging stories, the production itself deserved a pet on the shoulder. The performance still had some highlights to it, and this is from someone who struggled through the entire play. Although puzzling, the visual contrast between the two brought a completely new experience to the audience. The busy transitions, including the lighting, projection and music, allowed people to dissolve into either mood quickly to my surprise (maybe that was the weird part for me, since my mood was transferred but my brain was still processing the previous information). Moreover, the idea of adding projection was fascinating. Within such a tiny stage, the projection enabled a faster and more effective transition of setting, at the same time added a modern taste to the whole production. Only if they could think about the angle of the projection, bacause from where I was sitting, the stage looked broken from the middle sometimes.

Speaking of modern taste, the addition of angled cameras was innovative. House Divided was the first theater play ever I saw that used cameras on stage, and I can be certain that it is not the last time. Since the stage was so tight, it was almost impossible for the actors to face the crowd all at once, but the camera helped them to do so. Also, since there were several scenes involved telephoning, without the cameras, it would have been two people talking to each other across the stage. However, with this technology installed, a much more realistic act became available.

I have to say, House Divided was a difficult play. Although the necessary details were basic for most people, without which the play could be somehow troubling to understand. However, even solely for the digital effects, the play is worthy to see, not to say the educational value of the production surpassed its challenging plots. By the end of the show, even if one were struggling like me, it won’t be hard for one to realize the impact of this performance within—just like what it felt like for people during the Great Depression and the Housing Market Crash—a feeling of concern, uncertainty and anger.

The Holding of Hands

The Holding of Hands on Prezi

All photos credit to their owners.

With the theme “bonds”, I was having a hard time putting together a collage that can represent all the different aspects of my theme. So when my professor suggest us to choose a specific topic, I immediately apply it to my project. I thought to myself: what do people think of when I say ‘bond’? I immediately thought of marriage. Then I thought of the ring changing process. Well, people have to hold hands to do it, right? That’s it! My topic is going to be “The Holding of Hands”.

However, I didn’t want to make it all about lovers. So I did a little research online, and realized that there could be many different meanings for a simple gesture like this. The subtext of “two or more hands coming together” could vary from a show of love, to regret, to success and much more. So in my collage, I tried to include as much of these as possible. Also, from my research, I realized that many cultures had their own meaning for “holding hands”, so I wanted to include them as well.

It wasn’t until I finished the project that I recognize how powerful something as simple as this could be. I’m glad that this collage project brought me such an epiphany on people’s body language.

Every corner– there is a Starbucks.

What do you see on every other corner in New York City? A bank? A Deli? No, no, no—none of those, the answer is Starbucks. Every morning, you turn to your local Starbucks for a morning drink; everyday after school, your friends may ask you, “Let’s go to Starbucks”; every once in a while, you crave for the newest flavor on the Starbucks menu. The fact is—if you haven’t had a Starbuck drink yet in your life, you are not a New Yorker. That is why, when my friend asked me last Friday if I want to grab a drink at the Starbucks nearby, I immediately related this instance with the street photography project. What can be more reputable for daily life in New York City than Starbucks?

Starting as a little café in Seattle, Washington, it has become one of the major coffee chain stores around the United States and the world. Literarily, there is a Starbucks every two or three blocks. No matter how much money you have in your bank account, it is just always a good idea to have a cup of Starbucks on your hand, particularly in Manhattan—you know, coffee looks like a “high-class” thing, not to say Starbucks coffee (Though it IS very expensive, but who cares! Everybody drinks it). It has become a sign of social status.

For me, Starbucks is an excellent place for chilling and doing work. It is comfortable and relaxing, which is the environment they intended for their costumers. Having been to several different Starbucks in a variety of places in New York, I have always wondered what people are actually looking at when they are relaxing. So, for my project, I want to show the different sights people see when sitting in a Starbucks through my photos, and also the reasons for people to go there. I try to use a number of angles when shooting, just so I can get the best possible view people see in their seats. I am thinking from the viewer’s perspectives. What are they thinking when they see the view? What do they want to feel when looking out the window? What kind of atmosphere are they looking for when they have a cup of espresso and a book on hands? There are the guiding questions for my journey, which actually help me in numerous ways, including the time when I am deciding my sites.

It was kind of difficult to decide which Starbuck I should go to for the pictures. I wanted to capture the distinctive culture around New York City, but there are way too many locations to choose from. As a result, I made a list of all the views I want to go, and then subtracted them to a number of twelve. To make it to all the places I wanted, I had to spend a whole day taking the subway up and down—even so some of the photos I had to wait until Monday for completion—I was glad that I waited until then.

On Monday, I have two more pictures to take, one from inside Baruch and one from nearby. I took the photo as soon as I arrived at school. It was a nice timing since everyone was lying on the sofas and being lazy. It was perfect for my theme, although I didn’t know that at the time (just a heads up, I didn’t know what exactly I was doing until I put all my pieces together). However, the next photo took me a while. Since it was the first day of the week, I had to run for many of my classes. Before I knew it, the sun was setting. That was a really bad sign because I wanted to keep all of the lightning in my photos spontaneous, which I could no longer do.

I was thinking to myself, “Oh well… At least I tried. I’ll just do this and then go home.”

But then, when I got there, there it is—a masterpiece right in front of me. The sun had just got down, and the light was dim, but I knew it at the first sight that it matches side by side with my message. That’s when I suddenly became clear what my theme is: Peace through your Starbucks window.

Such a REproduction

With the familiar Carmen Prelude, a classic production composed by George Bizet, the opera Carmen was opened at The Metropolitan Opera (the MET) in Lincoln Center. The production itself wasn’t that much different from the previous seasons with the exact costumes and setting. Although the story was vivid and the setting was impressively done, people who returned for surprises may found the piece predictable with the same story and no new elements—maybe even with a little shock on the singing.

A special note on the modern dance at the beginning of Act I and Act III—it was a phenomenal transition into the actual opera. In both acts, the dancers Maria Kowroski and Eric Otto were skillful and thus successfully brought the audience from the lousy reality into the mood of Carmen, which could be interpreted as both tragic and dramatic. With the irregular curtain opened, the red light at first foreshadowed the ending (especially when in the end red light was presented once again); the blue light signified the sharp switch in emotions between Carmen and Don José. Pairing with the lighting, two distinctive styles of dance, credited to Christopher Wheeldon, were presented. One was passionate but seemingly morose; the other was smooth but with a sense of coldness in mood. Aside from the other expected, this was actually a splendid detail that I’m glad the directors decided to maintain.

Personally, I had never been to an opera before, so this would have been a good first experience if not for the singing of Anita Rachvelishvili (Mezzo-Soprano), the supposedly beloved Carmen. Compared with Micaëla (Kate Royal, Soprano), who preformed in such a high quality, perfecting in notes hitting and emotional content, Carmen failed to impact the audience with the entrance of her character. Her voice was plain and powerless. As the typical Carmen, one’s voice should be at least energetic, not to say Carmen is such an interesting protagonist, so it is the least for one to look for the singer’s own interpretations. With such a high expectation, more disappointment kicked in when Carmen appeared on stage. Even the famous for its gypsy tune song “Habanera” couldn’t make up for Carmen’s lack of sensitivity in her act. Even though she continued to correct herself, one could tell that she wasn’t in her best condition when she gave up the attempt to hit and maintain the high notes in one of her duet songs with Don José.

Don José, on the other hand, was such a distinguishing display by Yonghoon Lee (Tenor). In the opera, the singer was in sync with his character, and delivered a strong message throughout the production. Having been as Don José for several times in his career, Lee continued, if not better, to pursue the audience with his role.

Even though lacked a little surprises, the sets and costumes were still suiting for the acts. Like the supposedly consistent music, conducted beautifully by Michele Mariotti, the sets and costumes became a tradition in Carmen, though unlike the music, it was only so in the MET.

Carmen in “Carmen” (credit to

More Watching, Less Doing

Growing up in another country, I can never get used to the American culture. Among the different but altogether weird aspects of American culture, one thing I know I can never tolerate is Halloween. By “cannot tolerate”, I do not mean I dislike this holiday to such a point that I can’t digest anything about it. In fact, I like watching when everybody dressed up as various monsters, animals, fairytale characters, or even superstars. It is… Um, interesting. But when someone asks me, “Why aren’t you dressing up?” WOW! I did say I like to WATCH didn’t I? It doesn’t mean I want to be a part of it!

It doesn’t matter when someone else is doing it, but no matter what, I won’t do it. This is the baseline I held for most of the things here in the United States. I know for a fact that, no matter how long I stay here, there is always something that I wouldn’t try, and Halloween is a part of it. It is permanent that I can never dress up in those costumes. I won’t allow it; my culture won’t allow it.

I actually don’t know why this is happening, but I guess when two cultures cross each other, there are always contradictions in between. For me, I would always stand on the side of my own culture.

Guess what happened with Sandy?

Last weekend, I heard from the news that Hurricane Sandy is coming. Although I didn’t expect it to be this bad, I was kind of hoping that the storm could get me a short break from the schoolwork. Who would’ve thought that this small break I hoped turned out to be a “buy 2 days rains get 5 days power outrage free” package? Ever since Saturday, I had been following the news almost 24/7, hoping to find some useful information about the hurricane. Apparently, the information was useful, but I did not quite believe it. Like many others in the city, I was comparing it to Hurricane Irene and thus thought to myself: how bad could it be?

Well, it was really bad. On Monday at about 8 p.m., when I looked out my window, this is what I saw:

Although the water didn’t get to my building at all, it was stunning to see the east river water covering the ground of Roosevelt Island! I immediately went down to the ground floor with my phone, wanting to get more photos of the water, but none of the new photos were as shocking as the first one I took from my window.

The water didn’t stay too long, when my mom and I look out the window at about 2a.m., the water was already gone. Still, comparing this to the raindrops of Irene, Irene was a baby! Before I went to bed, I thought to myself: This is only Zone B, where they said evacuation was unnecessary; I wonder what happened in Zone A like Battery Park?

As we all know now—power outrage happened. New York City was split into two by lights.

Funny Photo

Why did you throw me around like that? 。·°°·(>_<)·°°·。

Views of Reading the World(Five Photography Technical Terms at the back)

After reading all four of the stories, I found a common theme among them: the point of view photos deliver. All of them are, if not arguing then discussing, how a photo should be and what “medium” it shows. Should you pose for a picture? What does “reality” mean in photography? How is my view different from yours? Should I take a color picture or a black and white one? Does a photo need to have meanings? Can you actually call a photo—a “picture”? The answers to these questions for each photographer determine his or her idea of a photograph.

This became especially clear to me when I read the last story, “Pictures from Home” by Larry Sultan. The author had an argument with his father, for his dad thought the author’s photo of his wife (the author’s mom) made them look older than they were. Well, what can you expect from a photo of a woman “standing in front of a sliding glass door holding a cooked turkey on a silver plate (49, Sultan)”? IT’s just a typical mom! Like the author said, it is his mom, but his dad’s wife; therefore they have different expectations for the photo. (Though honestly I don’t think this should have been a problem.) Likewise, in Ken Light’s story, his photographs received certain criticisms on the color of the pictures. However, Light’s rebuttal was that everyone has a certain lens for the world. Just because you think the picture should be in some way, does not mean everybody sees it that way. He said in the article that he once took a photo in colors for the newspaper because “at the time magazines expected color”; for Light, however, the photos should have been in black and white (45, Light).

The articles were eye opening. I initially thought that all photos are the same, except the famous ones. Now, my perspectives had changed. Even though every photograph is a part of the reality, it is the exact viewing of the photograph that is important, not the scene.

Saturation: “An attribute of perceived color, or the percentage of hue in a color. Saturated colors are called vivid, strong, or deep. Desaturated colors are called dull, weak, or washed out.”


Sharpness: ” Subjective quality of an image indicating clear or distinct reproduction of detail: associated with resolution and contrast.”

Balance: “Placement of colors, light and dark masses, or large and small objects in a picture to create harmony and equilibrium.”

Zoom lens: “A lens in which you adjust the focal length over a wide range. In effect, this gives you lenses of many focal lengths.”

Exposure: “The quantity of light allowed to act on a photographic material; a product of the intensity (controlled by the lens opening) and the duration (controlled by the shutter speed or enlarging time) of light striking the film or paper.”

A Very Interesting and Brave Combination of Styles

Every year during September and October, as a celebration for the Fall for Dance Festival, many dance companies arrive at the Big Apple to have their seasons in the New York City Center. This time, like the past eight years, the festival consisted of several performances on various days, inviting numerous dancers to carry out their talents on stage. There were four very different acts in the October 2nd presentation. Let’s just say, this show included the very classic, the very best, the very confused and the very diverse.

A very traditional ballet, Grand Pas From Paquita, was the classic. For an opening, however, the ballerina, Christiana Bennett, was not a great choice. Though correcting herself alone the way, she missed the rhythm of the music at the beginning. On the other hand, Rex Tilton, the Danseur Noble, strongly contrasted himself from Ms. Bennett, was very supportive and eventually stood out as a very talented dancer. The couple was missing their parts at first, but then slowly catch on and show their coordination from the practice.

The High Heel Blues, a simple, but playful modern dance by Tu-Dance, illustrated the mini-story of a woman wanting to buy high heels from a salesman, even though those shoes didn’t fit. The dancers, Yusha Sorzano and Uri Sands, brilliantly demonstrated with their gestures the duet between the indecisive woman and the smooth talker, in which the characters going forth and back while the dancers choreographed accordingly. The background music High Heel Blues by Tuck and Patti won the audience’s amusement. Very jazzy and yet with a tone of serious (guess she really want those shoes!), the lyric of the song (no instrumental accompanies) were in sync with the movement of the dancers, along with the blue lighting, let the highlight of the night. Here is another performance using the same background music. Take a look:

[iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

With such a well-done second performance, the third act, Tarian Malam, was surely in a disadvantage. The dancers were perfect at the illustration of the mood, especially with the martial arts movements inserted, and the constant change of lighting effectively reinforced the theme of earthquake and the emotions. However, even with the intermission, it was a huge and risky twist between the dances. Caught in the light and joyful atmosphere created by the pervious act, it was very hard to capture the full emotion of the dance, and thus led to confusions for some people, including myself.

As a closing act, the various cultural dances worked pretty well for the audience. The choreographer Igor Moiseyev combined the small dances of different cultures into a work of art. Though it might be a good idea to put some plots into the dances (just a personal preference), the pure European cultural dance was entertaining on its own.

The four dances presented on stage could be described with a single word—“idiosyncratic”. Although there are several technical minor mistakes here and there in a few of the performances, different performers danced in their own distinctive styles, each with a unique attitude matching with the mood of the background music. It is almost impossible to compare them with one another, for it would be unjust to simply line them up and list all the best and worst, ignoring all the emotions and the particular characteristic involved in each dance. How do you compare a tiger with a peacock? —Exactly, that’s how distinctive they are.

What is race anyway?

You know how people tend to sit with their own ethnic group in public area? Although I’ve seen this many times, until now, it is still pretty ironic and somewhat funny to me. I’m not saying that I don’t do this myself. In fact, intentionally or unintentionally, I would try my very best to stick to “my own group” if I have a choice!

In my anthropology class, we begin to cover the topic “race”. In the chapter I read, the author, who is also my professor for the class, said that anthropologists believe “there is no such thing as ‘race’”. Ok, I think it is very true considering the historical background of this word, but then, “how do you”, or the question may even be “how can you get rid of the idea of ‘race’”!

Ok, I don’t mean that the word “race” didn’t exist or anything. However, people did not use the word “race” the way they use it today—to classify Homo sapiens, or the human population. Here is a definition of “race” from the Britannica Encyclopedia—“…the idea that the human species is divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences. Genetic studies in the late 20th century refuted the existence of biogenetically distinct race, and scholars now argue that ‘races’ are cultural interventions reflecting specific attitudes and beliefs that were imposed on different populations in the wake of western European conquests beginning in the 15th century”.

As you can see, the new meaning of the word “race” was installed for people’s own desire during colonial period. Yet, people, including me, seem to regard “race” as a very common idea. In fact, people accept this idea and use it in their daily life. We make races jokes; we classify ourselves as a part of the “________” group; we even stereotype people using “race”. “Yeah, so she is so good at math BECAUSE she is Asian”; “he is such a good basketball player BECAUSE he is black”—this person is “blah blah” BECAUSE he or she is part of a certain group. Do we really think that? Well, yeah! Why else would we say such things? But is it true? Well…

In a place like the New York City, I would think that problems like racism would not appear as often. Well, actually it is somewhat true. It is also true that, however, in a place where diversity of ethnicities has become a daily part of our life, people tend to stereotype the “others” even more because we like to think that somehow one person can represent a whole group! Isn’t it just easier that way?

But then, since I’m already this far, I might as well just spill it out: what is race anyway?

Fuller’s Dance in Sperling Style

Two weeks ago, my classmates and I went to the 17 Lexington Ave building for a class by a guest speaker. Thinking that I am going to hear a boring speech on how someone named Jody Sperling succeed in life, I was surprised to find the lesson focused majorly on another person and how that person had influenced her. Ms. Jody Sperling gave us a small but very interesting lecture on Loie Fuller, a great dancer, in which she told us the life story of Ms. Fuller and the reasons for her to go into this business she had started.

Of course, as an introduction, she told us a little bit about herself. Jody was a student at NYU, where she began her career as a dancer (majored in Performance Studies). Ever since she fell in love with the Fuller style dancing when she was performing the Butterfly Dance (one of the symbolic dance of Loie Fuller) in the Library of Congress, she continued to invest in her interest by starting her own company. As the lesson went on, I noticed that, as a dancer, an entrepreneur and a choreographer, Jody Sperling is similar in many ways comparing to Loie Fuller. Perhaps that is why Jody had decided to focus on Ms. Fuller’s dancing styles when she founded her company—Time Lapse Dance.

Loie Fuller is the mother of modern dance, who actually invented the idea of abstract dancing. She was influenced by her father, who was in a business closely connected to music, and thus began her career as a very young dancer during the temperance movement. From how Ms. Sperling talked about this woman, I could tell that Ms. Fuller was her model. She told us that Fuller was very innovative and almost daring in a way, even from today’s point of view. Inspired by Skirt Dancing, a very popular dance during the period, Loie Fuller took the idea of “moving with the skirt” to a whole new level. She added light effects into the performance, which was never done before, and changed the complex clothing into a simple, long, white and silky costume. When she danced, as Jody described, “her body disappeared into the fabric”. Lights shined on her clothes, and because of the fabric, the different colors were displayed on the dress that Fuller wore. The whole dance became a live movie.

Jody Sperling, on the other hand, also wanted to do something different, added new elements into the “Loie Fuller Style”. Instead of following the “traditional” classical music trend, Jody used different music styles. In addition, she put in many different instruments from a variety of cultures to reflect the diverse pool of themes she wanted to show. For example, in a recent piece, Jody brought in a different theme by adding the turbulence into her background music, which immediately changed the entire mood of the performance along with the change of colors in lighting.

Loie Fuller was the creator of many symbolic dances, such as the Serpentine and the Butterfly. Although not recognized as an individual artist at first, Fuller worked toward her goals, despite all the obstacles, and eventually debuted in Paris with her name on the billboard—Loie Fuller. Jody also experienced many problems when she first started the company. With all the fundraising and dancing, she had to work as a businesswoman in addition to a dancer. However, like Loie Fuller, Jody Sperling is now well known for her achievements in Fuller style dance. She even invented her own spinning techniques along with her co-workers. She described it as a “meditation”, in which you would find “the new center of yourself and the world around you”.

The dance, as Jody told us, was a completely new experience every time. “When you dance”, she said passionately, “it’s amazing how a person can occupy such an amount of space with all the fabric.” If possible, I would definitely like to try this dance, for a feeling of “extending beyond ourselves” is not easily found in today’s world.


A Random Conversation about Baruch

Today, I was in a study room with my friend. We were both reading something for our classes, when she asked a question out of nowhere, “Do you have any idea how many Asians are there in Baruch?”

Since the question was SO random, I thought she wanted to answer the question herself, so I said, “No, do you?”

Surprisingly, she didn’t know either. This question, however, got stuck in our heads (you know, like when you are thinking about lyrics, and you just can’t remember the next line—yea, that kind of stuck), and eventually “cost” us the rest of our study time. We started by recalling the people we encounter daily to get a sense of the percentage of each ethnicity in our school, and we ended up realizing just how many of them are Asians!

Credited to

My friend there, still struggling to do her homework while caught up in this conversation, said while looking down at her paper, “Just from what I remembered, I think at least 60% of the school are Asians. You know, including South and East Asians, and out of that, maybe about 40% of them speak some kind of Chinese? The other half, well… Half of them can understand it anyway. I don’t even know, but I think there might be more. So yea, the school is flooded with Asians.”

I, on the other hand, had completely given up my homework, spinning around in my chair, and said, “Well, just think about the hallway in the Vertical Building. There was one time, when I was done with my anthropology class, that the hallway was full of students. As I struggled to get to the escalator as soon as possible, before I realized it, people “split” into two groups: on my left side are the ones who spoke Chinese (different kinds of Chinese); and on my right side are the ones who spoke English. Just think about the number of Chinese speaking Chinese the school has to make that happen!”

To say it was a conversation, it was more like a “Sentence Popcorn”. A two-sentence conversation doesn’t count for anything, but the information we got was fascinating. My words exactly—just think about how many Asians there are in Baruch!

Powerful Message with a Touch of the Visuals

Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard, credit to and Gregory.C

“This is the graveyard for the ones without names.” As light gradually brightens up the stage, Leon Addison Brown, who played Simon Hanabe the grave keeper, opened “The Train Driver” with his first line. The story went on as the protagonist appeared on the sanded floor. Both of the actors memorized their lines perfectly, along with the almost exact replication of a graveyard as the setting, credited to the Production Stage Manager Linda Marvel, tied the whole production well together into a piece of art.

The story was about the train driver Roelf Visagie (Ritchie Coster). He had failed to stop the train when a South African mother committed suicide with her child in front of his train. On stage, instead of showing the suicide, Athol Fugard, the playwright of this show as well as other shows like “Blood Knot” and “Coming Home”, revealed the scene mixed with feelings through the main character. Roelf interminably asked Simon for the body of a nameless woman with a baby while babbling about the incident over and over again.  He talked in such an anachornic way with phrases like “I think I killed her” everywhere as part of the act throughout the play. Often time, the whole play felt like a monologue though there were two characters. The movement and the emotions hidden in the lines reveal the contradicting feelings the protagonist had ever since the accident.

As a political piece, “The Train Driver” underlay the theme of Apartheid while fluently illustrated the surface conflicts of the story. The play was actually inspired by a real life event, in which a mother was forced by her living conditions to commit suicide with all three of her kids. During the 90 minutes, it is hard to not notice the various symbols and lines illustrating the continuous poverty and disparity among people in South Africa, especially among black people, , such as “unable to make a cross for the nameless ones because the wood would be taken for fire”, even though Apartheid had ended for a period of time. Once again, this time also as the director, Mr. Fugard had brilliantly merged the guilt and many other feelings into the lines of the main character, which was presented flawlessly on stage by Ritchie Coster.

However, one major shortcoming occurred as the show went on. The language used in the play was very redundant. Though sometimes it was to reinforce the theme of the story, most of the time it was just unnecessary. Instead of grabbing the attention of the audience, the repetition pushed the focus of most people away when it occurred. In other words, the redundancy was very “influential”— in a negative way.

Though I would actually enjoy this play much more if I can understand that heavy South African accent of theirs. Otherwise, the ideas and the scenes shown in “The Train Driver” were very powerful, and most importantly, you won’t regret your 25 dollars.

(background information credited to

What Just Happened?

I couldn’t believe it, but this actually happened. I wasn’t sure if I should post this here because instead of culture encounter, I think it is actually shocking and somewhat scary.

It was a Wednesday. I don’t remember why, but we had that day off (it was just for our school). The day before, several friends and I wanted to go shopping at Queens Center Mall, so we decided to meet up at the 34th Street M train station the next day morning and go together.

On Wednesday before 10 o’clock, our meeting time, we all arrived at the platform of the Queens bound M train. Since there were some people I never met before, we started talking about random things in Chinese while waiting for the train to come.

While I was talking, I heard some mumbles on the other side of the group (we had a group of eight, so it was a pretty big group for morning on a weekday). I broke away from my conversation and realized that there was an African American talking this way. He held an almost empty glass Vodka bottle on his left hand, and his right hand was busy doing different kinds of hand signals to us, including the middle finger. At first, I couldn’t understand what he was talking about because he seemed to be swallowing his own words. In fact, the whole time he was talking, I only heard several key words like “counterfeiting”, “fake clothes and bags”, “taking over America”, “taking all the Americans’ jobs”, and so on. It was obvious that he didn’t like Chinese people, but I didn’t understand that in the beginning. I heard the words “skipping school”, so I thought he might had the wrong idea and tried to explain to him that we were not skipping school. He ignored me and went on anyway. In the end, he even pointed at one of my friends and started telling her how Asian she looked and told her directly “Asians are really ugly”. That’s when I realized I encountered a racist. Although there weren’t as much people, all of them were looking in our direction. Not surprisingly, none of them helped us. Just when I thought that I had enough and wanted to talk back to him, he walked away in a “take two steps and slide back one” manner, still yelling out the same words he said to us.

It all happened really quickly. He only stopped for about 30 seconds, but it felt like a whole century. After he left, we stared at each other for about 5 seconds, still not knowing what’s going on, and finally one of us said, “我们好像被歧视了。。。(It seems like we just experienced racism)” We suddenly broke into conversations about that man. We tried to recall what just happened, but the memory seemed so obscure but at the same time so clear for the language he used. After several discussions, we decided to view the man as a lunatic and started laughing so hard all together. After the laugh, we went back to the conversations we had before like nothing had happened.

I don’t know about the others, but that laugh was the bitterest laugh I ever had.

How a Victim of Racism Became a Perpetrator

Collage Theme

For my collage, I want to use the theme “bond”. However, I want to expand this idea to not only the bonding of human, but also the bonds between cultural, to natural and the world. Therefore, I want to use different kind of symbols and pictures to express what I think “bond” is. Some people say in today’s world, it is hard to make a true connection, but in my opinion, I think it is even harder to not have connections. All human beings are born into a blood ties, and as people grow up, they make different kinds of relationships and connections. After all, human being is a social animal. I know it is a very abstract idea, but I think I can make it work.

I want to use this theme because I think it represent a part of myself. Personally, “bonds” are very important to me, and I would like to express this importance through the making of this collage. Moreover, since this class is about cultural encounter in NYC, the theme “bond” can also relate to the theme of the class in a way. I mean, while making connections, especially in NYC, many people encounter different aspects of different cultural. I want to also include this diversity in my collage.

About our sweets

“You should be glad that you are not two hundred pounds overweight!” my friend always teases me.

“You are talking about yourself, right? Because who will go to all those little sweets shop with you then?” I would reply, and then we would be laughing so hard for no reason that anyone came across us would give us that stare they give to weirdoes on the street.

My friend and I love sweets, anything sweet. If you saw us going into a restaurant and did not order any desserts, then they are definitely not us. How did we know we had the same “taste”? Well…

It all started in our freshman year in high school. On the first day of school, I talked to her in Chinese to borrow her eraser, and we became friends right after that. To be honest, with only one year in middle school to figure out everything that is going on in the country, I was pretty scared to switch to a completely different environment in my second year in the United States, so I was happy enough when I found someone who spoke Chinese and could guide me through the remaining four years.

One day, we were talking during lunch time. I asked her what her favorite food was (clearly, we were not close enough to talk about anything else), and she answered, “Sweets, anything sweets.”

I was surprised how certain she sounded, so I told her that I love sweets too, but once again, she surprised me. All she said was, “Really? Ok.”

I sensed the aloofness in her voice, so I said, “YES! I LOVE THEM! And you have no idea how much I love them!”

As childish as I was there, I was ready for an argument, but all she did was starting to describe all her knowledge on different kinds of sweets. I tried to show her how much more I love the sweets by winning the “contest”, but in the end, we realized that we were incomparable. We all had different knowledge on different aspects that it was very difficult to say who actually won.

“Let’s say what, how about we go hang out for a bit after school today for a second round?” She suggested in Chinese.

At that moment, I knew that we had become closer friends than before. That afternoon, we did not start a second round. Instead, we talked about many different things. It was so funny how we just found out we had so much in common and it had already been four month into the first year. Ever since then, we got closer and closer, and before we realized, four years had pass by. Now, we can tease each other with no worry that the other would get mad or angry over something so small.

One time, I tried to describe what I love about those sweets, “I love the tingling taste of them, the lovely scent of them and…”

“Oh please! I love everything about them! What is there not to love?” she said in a “what’s wrong with you” face.

Right, what is there not to love? Everything just feels so right when I’m eating them. There is, however, a special reason for me to love them. It is not only a kind of food for us to enjoy and to relieve stress. It becomes a knot between me and my friend, without it, we can never get as close as we are today. You have no idea what it means for a girl, who has never got such a close friend because she is constantly moving, to finally have a real BFF for the first time.

THE Word

This incident actually happened a few years ago. What reminded me of it was the “Baruch” blog post of Alessandra. I was thinking what to write for this blog post, and this story flashed into my head…

“那个…” This is how I usually start a conversation in Mandarin. It means “um…” if you use it the way I use it. When I was in high school, I talked to my friends in Mandarin. I would say “那个…”, and then we would talk about random things or start our “topic of the day”. One day during lunch, I had something to say, so like usual, I said, “那个…” But this time, a friend in our classroom jumped at the word and started looking around for the speaker. After he realized I was the one who said the word, he acted so surprised.

He came over and said, “Did you just said THE word?”

“What do you mean ‘THE word’?” I was so confused and annoyed because he disturbed my trail of thoughts.

“You know… The word…” He whispered “THE word” into my ear.

“No! Why would you think that?” This time, it’s my turn to jump at the word.

“Well, what DID you say?” he asked.

“I said ‘那个’…” and he cut me off my sentence again.

“You see? You just said it!”

That’s when I saw the problem. If you know Chinese, then you would know that the phrase “那个” actually sounds a lot like the N-word. He thought I was saying the N-word! Anyway, I explained to him how I was actually speaking Chinese, and he apologized with a face so red that he had to run away to cool himself off.

He was African American.

(Image from

Critical Terms

Revue: It is a play (of many acts) consisting of musics, skits and jokes, and is a review on a recent event.

Casting: It is an event to select the performers for a live performance on stage before the actual performance.

Director: It is someone who often work with many other artists (playwright, music composer, etc) to make sure the quality and the quantity of a production. He or she would also alter the production during rehearsal time accordingly.

Punch lines: It is usually the last part of a joke, a comedy skit or a statement. After a set up during the whole time, the joke, sketch or statement usually ends with a word, a sentence or a dialogue that is intended to be funny. It can be considered the climax of a joke.

Emotional range: It refers to the change of emotions or feelings within a character or the entire play.

My Culture– My style

Cultural encounter—I do it every day, every time I listen to my IPod.

As a person who moved around several times, it is just unavoidable to melt different cultures into one that belongs to no one else but me. This unique culture showed especially in my choice of music. I don’t think there has ever been anyone like me for this part— at least I haven’t seen one yet.

I was born in Hong Kong and later moved to mainland China, so I listen to both Mandarin and Cantonese pop songs. Also, like many other Chinese people, I like Japanese and Korean drama, which introduced me to J-pop and K-pop. Last of all, ever since I came to America, I was exposed to all kind of music, including those sang in European languages like French and Spanish and those in other styles! If you look in my IPod, I bet most people would only know at most 50% of my songs. Other than that, I even started to add new elements I interacted to the music that I composed. Maybe sometimes later, I can share the final piece right here on the blog!

Comments by Yeuk San Shen

"The shift between culture is very interesting. I think I do this once in a while too-- except that it is between Chinese and American culture. But I think people now try to incorporate their own definition of American culture with their own norms and values."
--( posted on Dec 17, 2012, commenting on the post A Dried Herring, Please )
"I can definitely relate to your story. This year, I also had a mixed-culture Thanksgiving dinner-- it was great, but it wasn't traditional. I think nowadays, having dinner with families and friends become more important than having the exact "traditional" dinner with turkey and other dishes. After all, it is a time for family union."
--( posted on Dec 17, 2012, commenting on the post The Spirit of Thanksgiving )
"Personally, I love board games. Although as an only child, I don't usually have anyone to play with since almost all of them required a minimum of two people, and none of my friends were as interested in board games as I was. So I was glad when I got my first ipod touch, for I can download different games and play with people online! I guess that actually become my way to play these games these days."
--( posted on Dec 8, 2012, commenting on the post Revival of Board Games )
"I love the landscape descriptions-- you must have loved your hometown so much. I believe that contrasting with the urban life here in New York, your childhood memory is precious for you. I had never lived in such a peaceful place before, so although I can kind of understand your feelings, for me it is a little abstract. Even so, as soon as I finished reading your piece, the first thought came to my mind was-- maybe I should try to separate myself from this busy city someday."
--( posted on Nov 18, 2012, commenting on the post A Sanctuary Locked Away )
"Finally! A post about the election. It is fascinating to see how one-sided New York City is once in four years, isn't it? What I found very interesting about your post, more specifically your first picture, is that: as you move inward from the borders of the U.S., the districts gradually change from dark blue, to light blue, to light red, and to dark red. Also, people tend to be democrats along the water... Hum... Isn't that something to think about?"
--( posted on Nov 18, 2012, commenting on the post A Country Divided )
"Yes, the wind was pretty scary, when I went down to take pictures, I felt like I was about to be blown away-- literarily. I would think that the island is a bit elevated, but since it was near the water like the FDR drive, you can't really expect much from it (it was kinda fun though, with the condition that the water went down pretty quickly). I would say just image it on the same level as the FDR drive along E70 street."
--( posted on Nov 11, 2012, commenting on the post Guess what happened with Sandy? )
"It is hard to discern the "real" beggars from the "fake" ones. Though sometimes people have my sympathy, I was still hesitated to give them money simply because i was skeptical. How do you know if the things he told you is true or not? Like we talked in class, I was just being a typical New Yorker~"
--( posted on Oct 16, 2012, commenting on the post “I Don’t Want Any Trouble” )
"This post is hilarious! Love the "You're welcome" part. I'm sorry to say this but to me, it is a small and sweet "revenge" on the ignorance of that man. Unfortunately, some people actually thought the same way as this man. I don't have a problem with people's different political views, but I simply cannot bear the reason for this man's political view."
--( posted on Oct 16, 2012, commenting on the post Protected: Political Bus )
"I used the wrong word for this matter. I actually meant "in a very disorder fashion". The main character was still in shock from the accident, which then caused him to constantly refer back to the accident when he was providing information on the his background. He pulled in many details such as the ones about his wife, but then he kept referring back to the eyes of the suicide woman and the emptiness and such. As for the redundancy, I also meant the details. Just the like example I gave above, the constant flashback was too repetitive. Sure, for the "first day" in the play, it helped us to recognize the theme of poverty and post effects of Apartheid. BUT, was it really necessary for Roefl to do the whole thing once again in the "second day"? In fact, even the "days" in the play were repetitive. Was it necessary to have a "third day" in the scene?"
--( posted on Oct 12, 2012, commenting on the post Powerful Message with a Touch of the Visuals )
"I think Chinese has the most diverse dialects in the world, not only in its amount, but also in its differences. Each one of them is like a foreign language. It is fascinating the way you adopted to the language your friend's dad was speaking because it would be so difficult for me to do that. I think this is a very interesting cultural encounter~"
--( posted on Oct 3, 2012, commenting on the post Cultural Encounter )
"I love food, any kind of food, but I never tried Colombia food before. It looks so good it the picture! It's funny how people can encounter so many different things just in a restaurant, like the food, the language and just people in general. Isn't it?"
--( posted on Oct 3, 2012, commenting on the post Taste of Growing Up )
"Actually, I used a fountain pen when I was in the fourth grade for a calligraphy class. But you are right, I don't think there are anyone who still use this kind of pen. Just a quick question, did you find it kind of messy when you refill the ink? I remember how I made a mess out of it. Then again, I was eight, so that might make a difference."
--( posted on Oct 3, 2012, commenting on the post The Pen is mightier than the Sword! )
"I like how you actually recorded the conversation in your mind! It must be such a moment that you won't be able forget easily. The switch of languages is also a nice touch! Isn't it just amazing how nowadays in the U.S. people can just switch from one language to another?"
--( posted on Sep 19, 2012, commenting on the post Oh NYC Subways… )
"I love this piece, especially with the visuals and the senses descriptions. I have to say, all those things happened in NYC, one of the most diverse cities! Just imagine how races people can be in the other cities... It IS very unfortunate."
--( posted on Sep 19, 2012, commenting on the post Racism in Brooklyn )
"Thank you! I'll definitely read it!"
--( posted on Sep 19, 2012, commenting on the post THE Word )
"That's hilarious!"
--( posted on Sep 19, 2012, commenting on the post THE Word )
"Thanks! It is the exact same word we are talking about!"
--( posted on Sep 19, 2012, commenting on the post THE Word )
"I know right? I mean, although the subway system in NYC has been around ever since like 100 years ago, it is still TOO dirty with the rats and things of that kind. I've been to many cities, and I've never seen any of those subway systems this dirty and noisy and crowded! Ok, maybe for the crowded part, every city is the same."
--( posted on Sep 19, 2012, commenting on the post Same but Different )
"I can definitely relate to how you assumed that the little girl would speak English! I do this oftenly. It's very interesting to see how the world changes and how close people are brought together through languages. Also, I think it is very thoughtful that you gave a little background on the Chinese dialects. It definitely clarifies some of the confusions people may have."
--( posted on Sep 4, 2012, commenting on the post Dasha )
""Expanding one’s tastes is always a good way to acquire knowledge"-- That's going to be my lesson for the day. I noticed that your writing style is more like telling a story to someone, which is kind of different from mine, but I had a good time reading your post as well. It is very descriptive and narrative. (Just a short note, it might be a good idea to use another transition instead of using two "however" in a row.)"
--( posted on Sep 3, 2012, commenting on the post Musical Preferences )
"I can't really imagine how loud a rock concert is since I never been to one before, especially when I think a "normal" concert by the pop music singers like Lady Gaga is already loud enough. Therefore, I'm glad that you actually included your feeling, so that now I know it is the "my ears were going to bleed" kind of loud!"
--( posted on Sep 3, 2012, commenting on the post White Rabbits Concert )
"Typical New York subway-- you never get tired of it! I can definitely relate to "nothing in particular caught my eye" part. I mean, there are so many surprising things going on that everything just seemed normal somehow. I love the description of the lady's clothing and position! It seems like the memory is so vivid that you can still remember it! I guess she really has some unique styling!"
--( posted on Aug 30, 2012, commenting on the post Human Art )
"Hey, John! First of all, I have to say that it is kind of funny how the first two posts I read are all about food in New York City! Anyway, I think it is great that you choose to live in dorm instead of commuting. Manhattan is such a place that it can definitely surprise you sometimes! Also, for the food part, if you like, I can show you many different cuisines (I kind of tried many of them on my own!) (o^_^o). I love how you described in such details about your experience in Manhattan, however, it would be great if you can tell a little more about the "Italian families". Never been to Staten Island myself, it would be very interesting to see the differences!"
--( posted on Aug 30, 2012, commenting on the post From the Suburb to the Big Apple )
"I love how you contracted the differences between Chinese and Thai food. What you wrote was so vivid that as I read, it seems like I'm standing right beside you during the whole event! SPICY FOOD!!! It is one of my favors!! I also tried many cuisines from many cultures on my own, so I can definitely see what you mean when you say "there is a distinctive taste that separates Chinese food from Thai food". By the way, I absolutely love the word choice "shouted"!"
--( posted on Aug 30, 2012, commenting on the post Cultural Encounter )