Typhoon Damrey made landfall on November 4th, causing severe damages to the coastal communities of Central Vietnam. More than 400,000 people were in need of humanitarian assistance after the devastated cyclone and other storms that came during the last quarter of the year 2017.
The areas of Điện Bàn, Duy Xuyên, Duy Phước were among the poorest districts of Central Vietnam. Via networking, our volunteer in Danang, Ngọc Anh found the poorest schools of these areas and contacted the school administrators of these districts to learn about the conditions of the students. Together, they selected 350 students from these 10 schools to awards aid-packages comprised of warms-waterproof jackets (since these students have to walk long ways to school under the chilling rain), backpacks, notebooks, other school supplies and milk. Most of the selected students are orphans or have lost one parent, are living under very difficult conditions. However, they always seem to be in good spirits and always study hard. They were so happy to received our gifts, as a brand new jackets and milk are not something that often come their way.Right after Typhoon Damrey, we also supplied Ưu Đàm, the orphanage in the outskirts of Hue city, with 500 kg of rice and other needed food items and supplies as the rice supply of the orphanage was running low. The weather in Hue is brutally cold during the winter. We hope the rice and other food supplies will help keep the children of the orphanage get thru another month.
As Christmas is near and another year is coming, we are very happy that we have provided aid to more than 1,600 children from 3 orphanages and 37 schools in Quảng Trị, Huế and Quảng Nam provinces. We are happy to hear that five more children from Uu Dam orphanage gọt accepted to Universities, one of those is in Australia (with full scholarship). We are very thankful to ATG’s sponsors and donors who continue to support our cause and make it possible for us to secure the much needed items for the children and help them with their journey for a good education.
We also very much appreciate our volunteers in Viet Nam, chị Mãng Phan, anh Nguyễn Chí Hùng, chị Ngọc Anh, và chị Liên Hoa, who helped us not only with selecting the students but who also spent time to search and select the appropriate suppliers of the needed items for the children. We are very touched to see the ATG logo on the clothes and backpacks. We hope the children will look at the ATG logo and remember that we were there for them and will cheer for them a long the way.
We thank you for your generous support in our mission to help these children in need and for allowing us to make a direct impact in their lives and futures. It is with your support that we can continue to improve the lives of underprivileged children and give them hope of a brighter future. Please continue to support our cause by donating.
We wish you a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year!
The ATG Board is proud to announce that orphanage aid to The Philippines is moving forward at a swift pace! We are currently in the process of securing our relationship with two locations that desperately need basic-need items and school supplies. Many thanks to our Advisor Stephen Tan, a childhood friend of ATG President and Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, for spearheading our efforts our latest aid location and to our Co-Director of Community Outreach Filipina Jennifer Devany for connecting us with orphanages through her family. Get to know Stephen below and the wonderful work he is doing as a Pastor in The Philippines!
Jody Pham is an artist and illustrator based in Dallas. Her love and appreciation for the visual arts began at a very young age, and only grew with time. Her work is distinctively monochromatic, and filled with intricate details that invite the viewer to take a closer look.
She has worked on a wide array of creative projects, from providing illustrations for Stripmall Architecture’s last album, creating bag designs for a collaboration with Cykochik custom handbags, to illustrating the winning canvas-wrapped cooler for Red Bull’s Canvas Cooler competition this Summer. She has showcased her work at the Fort Worth Community Art Center, as well as created live at art shows throughout the Metroplex, including Art Love Magic’s Underground and GirlShow; Local Flavor, Kettle Art’s Holiday Presence, and Art-Hunger’s One Year Anniversary Show. She has also donated original works for various fundraisers and charity events, including Artists Healing Japan in Dallas, and Anatomy for Life in the UK. She’s thrilled to exhibit her work at SCOPE Miami during Art Basel for the first time this December.
In addition to her artistic goals, she aspires for a career in social services, with a focus on the needs of children and families. She recently earned her BA in Sociology from UNT, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Social Work at UTA. She hopes to continue integrating her passions for human services and the arts in her community as she works to further cultivate both.
Jody Lynh Pham
Grand Prairie, Texas
½ Vietnamese and European (German, Scottish, and Irish)
What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:
Accomplishing great things through unconventional methods. Defying conformity and shunning mediocrity. Taking chances. Being resilient, open-minded, and receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things.
What made you decide to pursue a career in the arts industry?
Art is such a powerful tool, for both the creator and observer. It creates a wide array of emotions that captivate and move people. I truly think that art has the power to change lives. It’s been a constant in my life that has always made me feel a deeper connection with the world around me.
What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?
In my younger years, it was a challenge to pursue the creative arts, which conflicted with my family’s expectations to I would seek a degree in the Science or Technology spectrum. While they did give me positive feedback about my work, they didn’t consider it a “serious” path that could actually lead to anything.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?
Being the first person in my family to earn my BA, and pursue my Masters. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come after putting my art out into the local art scene in the last couple years. Up until 2011, I had primarily shown my work through online avenues, and was honestly very apprehensive about taking the plunge. I didn’t realize the impact that being face to face with art patrons would have on me. Putting my work out into the community has given me the gift of meeting so many dynamic and passionate people, as well as providing me with opportunities to grow as a visual artist in countless ways.
What’s up next?
I’m preparing to show at SCOPE Miami this December, and also have my first solo show in the works. I also want to be more active in my community in regards to promoting the arts, and volunteering my time.
Quote to live by: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” -Ernest Hemingway
Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Monkey/Aquarius
Passionate about: drawing, multicultural studies, volunteering, learning, cooking Vietnamese food, genealogy, human rights.
Favorite food: Sushi, takoyaki, pho, banh xeo, anything Greek.
Can’t live without: My iPhone.
DALLAS, TX – Non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions hosted its annual charity event Fashion for a Passion No. 5 on Saturday, Oct. 12th at The Dallas Contemporary Museum in the Dallas Design District. The show was attended by 365 guests who helped to raise $35k, which will go toward for ATG’s supported orphanages in Asia, scholarship fund and year-round outreach programs.
Entering the Dallas Contemporary, guests got to enjoy the ambiance set by Lumiere Lighting & Drapery and music by DJs Super T, tasty bites by Royal Catering, sips by Ben E Keith and dessert by Sugarbee Sweets Bakery. Hung from the rafters with red rope hangers were the eight designers’ t-shirt design pieces. The work of eight Exhibiting Artists – Jody Pham, Trung Vuong, Kathy Tran, Cameron Lee Phan and ATG Artistic Scholarship winners DJ Wang, Grace Kwon, Xiaoye Jiang and Catherine ‘Kit’ Zauhar’s were displayed, flanked by tables of fabulous silent auction packages. Pre-show Musical Performers from ATG’s community partner Kollaboration Dallas included Kassy Levels, Mijee Park, J.O and Y.O!, as well as a special performance by ATG Artistic Scholarship winner Kendyl Ito. The show kicked off with a surprise ensemble performance. As guests took their seats, President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, Community Outreach Directors Jared Rehberg and Hue Dao Miner and 2012 Artistic Scholarship winner Thoa Nguyen honored the two 2013 Artistic Scholarship winners who were present at the event, showing videos of gratitude from the ones who were unable to be present in person.
“It was a special, emotional and wonderful milestone night, and we could not have done it without the efforts of so many who were willing to devote the necessary money, time and talent to making this event happen,” said President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “It is no small feat that an organization like ours can continue to pull off an event of this caliber and magnitude consistently year after year. I’m tremendously proud of our team and sincerely grateful to all who have helped our cause.”
First time attendee and 2013 Kollaboration Dallas winner Kassy Levels gave it her all, staged a fantastic set and enjoyed every minute of FFAP. “It was definitely a classy event! The scene was an incredible display of art, talent and fashion,” said Levels. “I am proud to say I was part of FFAP No. 5 not just because of the event, but more importantly, the organization that directly benefits the event.”
Musical entertainers and exhibiting artists shared their love and support to ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee and the Board for all their hard work to get FFAP where it is today.
Kendyl Ito expressed her thanks to ATG for recognizing her as a scholarship winner and musical performer. “Thanks so much ATG! It truly is an honor to be an Artistic Scholarship winner, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a member of the ATG community now. You all inspire me everyday and give me the extra push to continue in my artistic endeavors! Be bold and always live life ‘against the grain.’”
“As a musician and artist myself, I’ve done my fair share of performances. Still, FFAP was a more precious experience than most; in that it was an event supporting aspiring artists follow their dreams. I’ve never felt more blessed and honored to be part of an event,” performer Mijee Park said. “Seeing people come out to not only socialize but support so many different artists, communities and causes were amazing. It shows that ATG is being proactive which is something that we desperately need in this world, in order to better ourselves and do better onto others.”
Exhibiting Artist Kathy Tran attended the event and realized how much effort and opportunities ATG has provided for audience and volunteers to mingle. “I was exhilarated to be a part of the event with other artists of all forms. I had the opportunity to connect with quality people of the Asian community in Dallas…I was home!”
The evening was emceed by actress/model LeeAnne Locken and CBS 11 Morning News Reporter Elizabeth Dinh, who engaged the audience from the start with lively banter and humor. In honor of the anniversary, even the catwalk was shaped in a “5.” Beautiful models from Page Parkes Management, Dragonfly Agency and Campbell-Wagner Runway strutted off the diverse collections of eight Presenting Designers, including Nikki Duong Koenig of Cykochik Custom Handbags paired with Vera Wang’s Viviona swimwear, Kim Pham, Becky Hollands, Danh Ta, Cac Lam of Cac DeMode, Texas Next Top Designer winner Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang and Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses.
Returning designers expressed their appreciation to the show for helping getting them positive label exposure, as it has for FFAP success story Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh.
“Against The Grain’s FFAP was a successful event not only to help me launch my career as a designer, but also to spread support for education in Asian American communities and to provide funding for orphanages in Asia,” designer Danh Ta said. “This is why I chose to return and participate as a veteran designer. ATG has been a true inspiration pushing me to accomplish more as a designer while in turn helping to raise awareness for those who are less fortunate.”
Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses closed the show and said, “FFAP is always a highlight of the year for me. It’s so great to work with such passionate people while doing something we love and giving back to a great cause. The event itself was so fabulous, it seems like ATG somehow make every year a unique experience that is way different than their previous shows. I can’t wait for next year.”
First time presenting designers expressed humble gratitude for being selected to showcase their work for Fashion for a Passion and awe at the show’s production value.
Becky Hollands has been eager to participate in her first Fashion for a Passion and has made the goal to return again in the future. “This year marked my first year and I am so grateful and honored for the opportunity to chase my dream and in doing so, utilizing my time and talent to celebrate the Asian American community alongside artists and musicians to promote opportunities for scholarships, funds and raise money for orphanages in Asia. ATG has given me the opportunity, the voice and the extra push in taking the plunge to pursue my dream as a fashion designer and launching my own label.”
“ATG put together a great pack of designers,” said Vera Wang. “All the designs were strong and refreshing…Viviona Swimwear is proud to be part of it.”
Each presenting designer donated at least 2 pieces to be auctioned for charity live. Additional auction pieces were given by FFAP veteran Nha Khanh, Dora Yim, Ann Hoang by Ann Hoang, Le Dragon d’Or and Watters. The night’s top bids were for a black racer back wool peplum top with embellishments and black wool flared pant by Nha Khanh, a 18K White Gold with Diamonds “Handcuff Necklace” from The Bound Collection by Le Dragon d’Or and a “Vega” ivory textured organza wedding gown by Watters.
The non-profit will launch a $10k social media holiday fundraising campaign starting November 1st, to help reach its annual goal and a record of $50k raised in one year, 100% of which will go towards the next year’s giving budget for orphanage aid, scholarship funds and outreach programs.
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.
PLANTING HOPE AND MAGICAL OUTCOMES WILL HARVEST.
I was born in a remote countryside and grew up in perpetual hardship. The images of the tattered thatched roof and the people’s suffering lives in poverty have become part of my childhood memory. Back then, everyday, we used studying as a means to escape poverty. I studied to become a middle-school teacher and came to Da Nang to work – This is a fairly young, energetic and vibrant city for me to to excel, so I thought…
During the first few years in my teaching career, I recognized the difference of the living conditions of the children in this city with those in our lives before. The difference is so great, as one side is the poor country side with the substandard living conditions from more than ten years ago; the other side is the exciting bustling liveliness of a busy, growing city. Having the spirit of a young teacher, I put all of my passion into my job with the belief that “My students are the young children who have all of the conditions to study. Thus, they will be able to come to school with a clear mind to receive new knowledge. They will not worry about a thing. Nothing will be in their way to stop them from soaking up the magic of education…” Each time having experienced the real life of my students, especially after I personally visited some of the ones from our school, that belief has gradually changed as I lived a little longer in the city.
We sometimes visited the students in the evening, after classes were over. Perhaps the changing light between day and nightfall has made the places where our students live seem more empty and cold. One unforgettable evening in February, when it was raining cats and dogs, a few other teachers and I were on the way to visit one of my students. Holding the address, we confusedly walked back and forth in the small and muddy alley, asking and searching for my student’s home. Her house was less than 2 km from our school, but it took us almost one hour to find it. Her father passed away long time ago. Her mother has had to go far away to earn a living for her family since my student was only 2 years-old. During the last thirteen years, she was able to see her mother only a few times. My student has been staying with her maternal grandmother, who is almost 80 years-old, an uncle, his wife, other aunt and their children. Nine people live in a little house with a dirt floor and a rusty tin roof full of holes that could not prevent the rainwater from dripping through. At the brightest corner of the house, there is an old wooden table with a 45-watt lamp – perhaps the studying corner for the children. On the wall around that corner, there are many certificates of achievement of the children. It was not difficult for me to recognize the certificates with my student’s name, because she has continuously thrived as an excellent student during the last nine years. Everyone in the family greeted us with the simple, but no less sincere, blend with a little concern. Her grandmother kept crying from the moment we arrived, the type of cries without sound, only tears coming down from her old blurry eyes. My student kept sitting behind me, even though I tried to hold her hand and pulled her to my side so that she would have more confidence in sitting with us. I recognized that her hand trembled, her back pulled back as she wanted to shrink. Perhaps she was not used to receiving visitors like us at her home.
That moment filled me with emotions. Many similar visits had changed my original perception, as I realized that not all children of the big city can happily go to school. Their routes to schools still have many barriers because of the lack of the necessities in material, emotional and spiritual support. Even then, I still maintain my original belief that “It doesn’t matter how difficult it is, nothing will stop the children from understanding.” Therefore, though they don’t have a clear vision of the efforts and related rewards of education, all of my students always promised me that they will study so that their future will have less suffering,… so that one day they can help cure the illness of their mother… or to help their father raise their siblings, etc…All of those dreams and realizations help push the children to want to live and give them the energy to excel. Their living conditions may be different levels from one another, but their eyes always look forward to the future, and their feet will march forward with strong conviction.
At the beginning of this school year, our school received happy news that those students who have overcome difficulties and achieved strong academic performances that would be given a chance to receive 11 scholarship/grants from the ATG family, comprised of 11 new bicycles. The ATG group also supported us during the school year of 2012-2013 with 20 scholarship/grants, also new bicycles. This year, the ATG family again provided us with these meaningful grants to help the children come to school each day so that their family no longer had to worry about finding the means for them to commute to school. The bicycles, just like wings, will provide a tremendous support for the children to make their routes to school become shorter and further their abilities to advance in their life ahead. The greatest outcome of this generous action is that it has helped these children to understand that people care about them and are willing to share. With your support, the children will have a stronger belief in their studying and their daily life.
My dear students — just keep walking forward toward your future ahead. We need to accept the differences that came to us in the past. However, the opportunities of the future can be shared with those who value their life and work hard to achieve them.
Pham T. Thuy Loan (Teacher of Nguyen Hue Middle School)
When Fashion, Art and Music are merged together, what do you get?
Fashion for a Passion : a show entering it’s 5th year as a supportive venue for young Asian-American artists, musicians and fashion designers. Hosted by Against the Grain Productions, the show features a diverse group of artists of Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Japanese descent. On October 12thin the Dallas Contemporary in the Dallas Design District, a carefully selected group of fashion designers, artists, and musicians showed off their work, including local vocalist Kassy Levels and fashion designer Nikki Duong Koenig (Cykochik). Though musicians such as Mijee Park, and Kendyl performed for the audience, fashion design lead the show.
The idea of creative fusion sparked younger Asian American who participated in the show. Designers featured were Vera Wang (Viviona), Kim Pham, Becky Hollands, Danh Ta, Jerry Matthews (Nine Muses), Cac Lam (Cac Demode) and Hanh Dang (Lucy Dang). Among the designs were a line of beautiful, sexy and edgy skirts by Nine Muses, which focuses on sophistication for women’s clothing. Some Fashion for Passion attendees were lucky enough to take home designer dresses by the FFAP designers. One woman took home a wild, leopard print dress by Ann Hoang.
But Fashion for a Passion is not just about promoting artists. The profits made from the show go toward Asian orphanages , non-profit organizations and scholarships
Through past funds, Fashion for a Passion was able to award five artistic scholarships to students who pursued the fields of fashion, music, and Contemporary Art Saturday night. Among the recipients was Catherine ‘Kit’ Zauhar , a film and television production major from New York University.
”I’m really excited to be going to Fashion for a Passion, because I am obsessed with all things fashion, and this will be my first time getting to go to such an event,” Said Zauhar.
Other recipients were Kendyl Ito (Sacramento, CA), Catherine “Kit” Zauhar (Philadelphia, PA), Grace Kwon (Tigard, OR), Dih Jiun “DJ” Wang (Virginia Beach, VA), and Xiaoye Jiang (Minneapolis, MN).
Overall, the 2013 Fashion For A Passion show raised awareness and money for orphanages in Asia and provided a safe haven for the young and upcoming generations of Asian American artists to express themselves.
“Each year, Fashion for a Passion is painstakingly planned down to the finest details in an effort to create a quality platform that promotes a new generation of young and exciting Asian American artists and to bring the community together.” said Tammy Nguyen Lee, the President and Founder of ATG.
For more information about Against the Grain Productions, visit http://www.againstthegrainproductions.com
on oct 16, 2013 in heather’s diary
This year, ATG rounded up an impressive roster of eight local Asian American designers. They included Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Texas Next Top Designer 2013 and winner of Belk’s Southern Designer Showcase, as well as Jerry Matthews of DFW Style Daily favorite, Nine Muses. In addition to showcasing looks from their lines on the runway, each designer donated at least two garments to be auctioned live during the show.
True, the clothes were simply incredible. But the aspect of this community event that is even more important to remember is that ATG is 100% non-profit. The nearly $100,000 they have raised to date through this effort has been utilized in its entirety to further its cause. No one, from the production team to the models to ATG’s board members, is paid. Each donates his or her time and talents, and the result is one hell of a production.
Over the years, I’ve come to know most everyone involved in Fashion For A Passion. Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG President and Founder, is one of the kindest, most hardworking individuals you could ever hope to meet. Beautiful actress and model LeeAnne Locken has emceed the event for past four years, bringing her signature brand of excitement and fun. The designers, again donating their time and beloved creations, continue to impress and inspire. These are my friends, and I’m proud of them. I love this event because of what it stands for. It isn’t about segregating our community, but about bringing us together so that we can be proud of our neighbors and share in their successes.
All photos, credit Heather Lettieri for DFW Style Daily.
Christine Ha is the first ever blind contestant and Season 3 Winner of the competitive amateur cooking show, MasterChef USA, on FOX with Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich. She defeated over 30,000 home cooks across America to secure the coveted MasterChef title, a $250,000 cash prize and a cookbook deal.
“The lady has an extraordinary palate, a palate of incredible finesse. She picks up hot ingredients, touches them and she thinks about this image on the plate. She has the most disciplined execution on a plate that we’ve ever seen. But the palate is where it’s just extraordinary. And honestly, I know chefs with Michelin stars that don’t have palates like hers.”–Chef Gordon Ramsay, MasterChef judge
“She’s kind of amazing.” –Joe Bastianich, restaurateur and MasterChef judge.
Christine also has a Master of Fine Arts from University of Houston’s nationally acclaimed Creative Writing Program. During her time there, she served as Fiction Editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and is currently working on a memoir. Christine’s first cookbook, Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food from the Winner of MasterChef Season 3 on FOX (Rodale), released on May 14, 2013. Since winning, she has made a guest appearance on the inaugural season of MasterChef Vietnam and travels across the country to give inspiring keynote addresses to audiences numbering in the hundreds. Christine lives in Houston, Texas and plans to open establishments both locally and abroad.
Christine Ha’s Social Media Pages
As MasterChef USA 2012: facebook.com/MC3Christine | @MC3Christine
As food enthusiast: www.theblindcook.com | @theblindcook
As writer: www.christineha.com | @ChristineHHa
I can’t believe it almost a month since Heritage Camp ended. It was another memorable weekend filled with storytelling, music, family, friendship and sunny weather. Many thanks to all the Coordinators and Staff. Without you there would be no camp. I always look forward to returning to the mountains to learn about my birth culture, visit with old friends and make new ones.
This year’s camp theme was “Chasing Dragonflies.” We explored the Vietnamese creation story and other Vietnamese fairytales. The kids made dragonfly kites and Vietnamese spring rolls. It was so nice to have ATG’s very own Hue Dao Miner join us again. Hue worked with the kids to teach them a traditional Vietnamese dance. All the age groups performed with Hue at our Saturday night show.
“I went as a presenter and taught Vietnamese dance lessons and games to the middle school and high school children,” said Hue Dao Miner. “The kids are so bright! They learned their routines in an hour and performed it in a show for their parents. I choreographed and taught the middle schoolers a “múa nón” (hat dance), and the high schoolers a “vũ phiến” (fan dance). As you can tell in the following videos, they had a lot of fun performing them.”
Many thanks to Co-Director, Kristi Kremer, who put together a great camp with me this year. I will be returning as Co-Director for one more year. I’m happy to announce two new camp Co-Directors joining me, Veronica Thompson and Ethan.
Camp was extra special for me this year. My parents, Rick and Rita Rehberg, attended camp as guest presenters. It was so exciting to see my parents give a workshop on raising a multicultural adoptive family. Their 30 plus years of experience offered a new perspective to the family of campers just beginning their journey. Thank,s Mom and Dad.
Saturday night’s carnival and gala was so much fun. I had the honor to share the stage with fellow camper and adoptee Noelle Hemphill. ATG’s Hue Dao Miner joined me on stage again to announce the winners of our 2013 ATG Heritage Camp Scholarship Contest Winners. Our amazing counselors surprised us with a gorgeous candlelight dance. Our evening ended with a surprise dance party. This event will be official next year. Sometimes, you just need to dance!
See you next year!
Jared Rehberg and Noelle Hemphill perform Chasing Dragonflies
2013 VHC High School Fan Dance:
2013 VHC Middle School Hat Dance: