Going Against The Grain: Shirley Chung

photography by Albert Law : www.porkbellystudio.com

Born and raised in Beijing China, Chef Shirley Chung was exposed to international cuisine at an early age by her grandmother, Liang Si Yi, former Director of The Red Cross in China. Shirley immigrated to America at age 17 for college and worked in Silicon Valley for a few years after graduating. Shirley decided to follow her passion for food so she left her career in high tech behind and enrolled in California Culinary Academy San Francisco. She is trained in classic French and Italian cuisine, worked and opened restaurants for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali.

After she opened CarneVino as Chef de Cuisine for BBHG, CarneVino earned multiple awards for Best Steak House internationally. Prior to being a finalist on season 11 of “Top Chef” in New Orleans, she held the Executive Chef Position at China Poblano, by Jose Andres, which was nominated for the Best New Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. While working at China Poblano, she fell in love with Mexican cuisine and learned more about her own heritage. In 2014, Shirley opened her restaurant in Orange County, Twenty Eight, featuring modern Chinese cuisine. Recently, Shirley has been competing on season 14 of BravoTV’s Top Chef. She used this opportunity to showcase her Chinese American Cuisine during the competition and she was rewarded by being named the runner up of Top Chef. Shirley is currently working on opening her next concept in Los Angeles. Steamers Co. is a fast-casual counter service seafood driven restaurant with an oyster bar.

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2017 Underprivileged Children and Orphanage Aid Spring Update: Vietnam

ATG began the year of 2017 by selecting 32 orphans from various schools of Hai Chanh District, a very poor town of Quang Tri, a war-torn province in Central Vietnam. Since Tết (Luna New Year)’s approaching, we included in the gift packages Jasmine rice, milk, and some Tet’s special sweet treats (Mứt) to help these children celebrate Tết. Each gift package cost only 405,000VND, but sure brought to these children much happiness.

In March, Mang Phan, a retired teacher and ATG volunteer in Quang Tri, worked with various school districts to select 310 students from 18 different schools for a distribution of gift packages. These students had lost one or both parents and were from “extremely poor” or “poor” classified families. Our volunteer surveyed their needs and decided upon the gift packages, which this time were comprised of school backpacks, a set of clothes for the summer, school supplies, 10kg of Jasmine rice and milk. For the 92 Kindergarten students, we provided each of them with a school backpack and a larger supply of milk instead of rice. Each gift package cost approximately 340,000VND.

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Going Against The Grain: Daniel Eng

Daniel C. Eng is an owner of several real estate brokerages and commercial investment shopping centers in the DFW market as well as an ATG 2017 Year-Round sponsor, community activist/leader, and father of two children. For the past few years, he has been and still is a great supporter of ATG, and for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month we would like to highlight this extraordinary individual who knows what it means to give and exemplifies #beCAUSE.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas as a Chinese American, his family roots date back from Chinese immigrants since the late 1800’s when his great-grand father came to build railroads in the US. Daniel’s father, T.K. Eng immigrated from Hong Kong in the mid 1950’s where he later on established the real estate foundation for the Eng family. Growing up watching and learning from his father, Daniel gained an interest in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage & Management at an early age. 

 

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Going Against The Grain: Steve Hyun

Steve Hyun is the President & CEO of Siva Group & SIVA Select, entrepreneur, leader & mentor. Siva Group is a full service entertainment and talent agency that specializes in event marketing, tour management and production, and concert promotion, working with artists from the US, Korea, and Japan. SIVA offers services in event marketing; tour management and production; tour booking; publicity; sponsorship acquisition; fan engagement; viral marketing; grassroots marketing; experiential marketing, and more.

Steve ensures that through his company, he is able build relationships with fans through direct-to-fan marketing and engagement that generates excitement and sales and keeps them talking for days and weeks before an event. He hopes to close the physical barrier fans usually have with artists from Korea and Japan by bringing live concert performances from Asia to the West.

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Apply Today for the 2017 ATG Culture/Heritage Camp Scholarship

Heritage Camp
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The 2017 Against The Grain Vietnamese and Thai Heritage Camp Scholarship application process is officially open! Following our support of orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, Against The Grain also provides scholarships here at home to ten young Asian American adoptees each year to attend culture camps such as Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families SEAPI (Southeast Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Camp). Last year, we raised $1,000, allowing ten youths to spend a few days in the summer connecting with their heritage, bonding with new friends and participating in enriching activities for this year’s Heritage and Culture Camps.
Eligibility: Proof of camp registration with Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and HCAF SEAPI Heritage Camp. Sorry, past recipients are not eligible for this year’s scholarship.
Due Date: Saturday, July 1, 2017
Application: Simply submit the following in an email to outreach@againstthegrainproductions.com.
– Name of Applicant
– Age of Applicant
– City and State
– Photo of Applicant
– Question 1: What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?
– Question 2: How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?

Going Against The Grain: Hoang-Kim Cung


Hoang-Kim Cung is a reporter and fill-in anchor at WTKR News 3, a CBS affiliate in the Virginia Beach area. She is a former Miss Nebraska USA and was the first Vietnamese-American woman to compete at Miss USA in 2015. When she’s not reporting in the newsroom, she’s working on her fashion & lifestyle blog colorandchic.com. She believes in helping men and women find clothes they feel confident and powerful in and living an elevated, positive lifestyle. At WTKR News 3, Hoang-Kim has been able to affect change through her stories. She also had the honor of flying in an F/A 18 Hornet with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. She is also passionate about raising money for wounded South Vietnamese Veterans living in communist Vietnam.

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Going Against The Grain: Andrew D. Nguyen

Like all kids that enjoy dancing, Andrew D. Nguyen started by learning from music videos at home and with his friends. At the time, he was not aware with many other genres of dancing or that being a dancer would be a possible career path for him. In 2007, he saw dance team Wyldstyl perform at a date auction event and immediately became interested.

He later on eventually auditioned and became a member of Wyldstyl himself. From there after many years of training and being on the team, he built his way up to be director and opened up Soundbox Studios, a place for anyone with the desire to dance.

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Orphanage and Underprivileged Children Aid: Vietnam

Throughout the month of December 2016, with the coordinated efforts of our advisor to Vietnam, Mrs. Aileen Nguyen, and our dedicated volunteers on the ground, ATG distributed gift packages to 246 students from six schools who are orphans and/or from poverty in Dien Ban, Quang Nam and Da Nang, Vietnam. Packages included a winter jacket, milk and a year of school supplies. From this group of these children, we selected six of the most needy and awarded them with new bicycles to help them get to school. Transportation to school is one of the biggest barriers to overcome for these children, something that is often taken for granted here in the United States.

In addition, we purchased groceries for Ưu Đàm, an orphanage that cares for approximately 50 children in the poor district of Phu My outside Hue.

 

We thank you for your generous support in our mission to help these children in need and allowing us to make a direct impact in their lives and futures. If you would like to donate to help our cause, please donate here.

 

Orphanage and Underprivileged Children Aid Update: Thailand

Thanks to our aid advisor to Thailand, Lisa Tran, and our ambassador Yui Yud, ATG was able to make a small disbursement of $550 in aid over the Christmas holidays to The Mercy Center, which is located in central Bangkok, Thailand in an area called Klong Toey, an area which is synonymous to the large slum community that lives here. According to a report done by Borgen magazine in 2014, the area is “one of the country’s 5,500 slum communities, covers an area of around a square mile and is home to around 100,000 people.” (http://www.borgenmagazine.com/bangkoks-klong-toey-slum/)

“Around 20 percent of Bangkok’s residents live in illegal squatter settlements all around the city. Dating back from the 1950s, Klong Toey is one of the country’s oldest and most well-known slums. Many inhabitants of Klong Toey originate from the country’s poorer northeast who have been attracted by the work opportunities of the district’s river port, Bangkok’s largest wet market, the business district as well as the oil refineries in nearby districts. Aside from poverty, drug addiction is a very pressing problem among the slum’s youth. Methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine are the two most common hard drugs. Furthermore, basic amenities such as water and electricity are always in short supply.

In Klong Toey, an average household earns only around half of the national average and only around one-third of the income an average Bangkok household. Moreover, the living condition within the slum is also truly appalling. Against the backdrop of the intense and humid tropical heat of over-urbanized Bangkok accompanied with the putrefying odor of the city’s sewage system, the residents of Klong Toey experience murders, abuse, petty and serious crimes, drug addictions, unmanaged waste, unemployment and grinding poverty on a regular basis. Garbage and undrained sewage clogging litter the slum community and elderly and people with disabilities sitting in front of their makeshift tin shack houses.

As many inhabitants lack the skills and the recognized qualifications necessary to achieve social mobility, breaking away from the vicious cycle of poverty is incredibly difficult. To make matters worse, in Thailand—one of the global centers of human trafficking and sex trade—many residents of Klong Toey find their livelihood in the informal sector, some of which are illicit.

In Thailand, it is estimated that a third of the country’s working age population work in the informal sector, an umbrella category that includes everything from black market illegal businesses to selling garlands and street food.This means that a large part of country’s working population do not have any retirement plans, health insurance or any other social benefits. It is also estimated that 2.5 million children in Thailand are absent from school. Certainly social welfare and human development concerns are among the some of the most pressing issues of the country. Nevertheless, with Thailand’s “larger” political and economic problems, these “smaller” issues are hardly discussed and many urbanites are unaware of their existence.”

Read more: http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2013/01/klong-toey-slum-bangkok-helping-hands/

The Mercy Center’s Mission:

We work to help the children and communities of the many slums of Bangkok. Together with our neighbors in the slums we create simple-but-progressive solutions that touch the lives of thousands of the poor every day. We build and operate schools, improve family health and welfare, protect street children’s rights, combat the AIDS crisis, respond to daily emergencies, and offer shelter to orphans, to street children, and to children and adults with AIDS – always together, hand in hand and heart to heart with the people we serve.

As reported by Yui Yud: “After a number of phone calls with the staff at the Mercy Center, I found them to be very dedicated in their mission to help promote education to unfortunate children. They have set up their main office/home in the center of the Klong Toey slums which provides a home to around 200 children aged 3-18. This center also has a significant education center, with many classrooms, an art room, computer room, nursing station and a cafeteria. The education facility is provided for the children that live in the home, as well as other slum kids in the area whom are unable to afford outside education. Apart from the center at this location, they have up to 23 centers around the country which provide basic education for up to 3000 children between the age of 2-6. Many of the children whom come to their schools are not orphans, but families whom can’t afford education. Another interesting program they have is called Construction Camp. The concept is like a mobile school van which visits children at construction sites. Generally, these are migrant families from Cambodia and Myanmar whom come to find more income and bring their children along. Rather than having the children run around the construction sites all day, these vans visit the sites with teachers and provide the kids with some learning tools for the day. There are currently 9 camps at the moment.”

 

 

 

 

 

There are also many other programs that are run by the Mercy Center:

  • Janusz Korczak School of S.E. Asia – a non-formal school for street children
  • Legal Aid Centre for poor children
  • A community drop-in center for the elderly, the handicapped, adults living with HIV, children in trouble or afraid, anyone in need.
  • School Sponsorships. Over 500 primary and secondary school sponsorships for the poorest neighborhood children in Bangkok
  • Hospice Team for home visits to children and adults living with HIV
  • And many others (visit: http://www.mercycentre.org/en/home/programs-at-a-glance)

Thank you to Lisa, Yui and to you for your generous donations so we can continue this important work. Please continue to donate to our cause here. 

2016 Underprivileged Children and Orphanage Aid Fall Update: Vietnam

by ATG Advisor to Vietnam Aileen Nguyen

ATG continues our mission to help students from extremely disadvantaged families to go to school. This time, we prepared and distributed 246 sets of gifts comprised of a winter jacket, a school uniform set, and school supplies for this school year to students from Quang Tri Province, a war-torn town 160 km north of Da Nang.

During the Vietnam War, many fierce battles happened here in Quang Tri. Thus, the province infrastructure was destroyed, and most of its people fled town to safety. After the war ended, though people have started to come back, there is still much to rebuild. Students mostly go to schools in old rundown buildings with no heat or A/C. The weather of Quang Tri is bitter cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer.

Most of the students cannot afford warm clothes, uniforms, or even school supplies.
Our volunteer Mãng, who is my cousin and a retired teacher, recognized that most of these poor students have only ever worn hand-me-down clothing. Thus she took time to have each child measured to ensure that their new uniforms and jackets would fit them.

To make the distributions to various schools of Quang Tri, my cousin and her husband had to travel to various schools, often via small roads crossing the rice fields. One time, her motorcycle broke down and had to be pulled with chains. However, the rewards for our volunteers’ efforts were the smiles on the children’s faces when they received the gifts and got to try on the new jackets.

Some of them will wear their first ever brand new uniform. Each set of a gift of a jacket, uniform, and a year’s worth of school supplies cost approximately $16, an equivalent of a fancy cocktail drink in the U.S. However, this gift brings so much hope and happiness to these children and their teachers, too.

We are thankful for our volunteers, Mãng and her husband Hung, who have helped extend the arms of ATG to bring gifts to the students of the Quang Tri province. We also appreciate the ATG team members, friends and supporters whose continuous support has made these trips possible!