angry reader of the week: grace hsiang

You know what time it is. Time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Grace Hsiang, Director of Marketing for Project by Project, Los Angeles.

Who are you?
HI! My name is Grace Hsiang (the last name is pronounced Shung).

What are you?
I'm currently the Director of Marketing for the LA Chapter of a National non-profit called Project by Project (PbP-LA). We're actually hosting our biggest event tomorrow at the Vibiana, a tasting benefit called Plate by Plate. The proceeds of this fundraiser will go to our 2011 beneficiary partner, AYC Youth and Family Services. We're excited to be featuring over 50+ restaurants and beverage purveyors, Silent Auction, Celebrity Sous Chefs, and more.

Where are you?
I'm currently living next to Downtown Culver City, which is a wonderful part of the Westside in terms of great eats. I'm only a few blocks from Fraiche, Tender Greens, Rush St., Father's Office, and Royal/T Cafe - all delicious choices from on any given day.

You can usually find me at any of the "unofficial" PbP-headquarters- Cafe Mak in Ktown, Paper/Plastik Cafe on the Westside, and Izayaka-Fuga in Downtown LA. You can spot us as the large group that has ordered enough food to feed a small village, half of which are busy taking pictures of the food on their cell phones and promptly uploading onto FB/Yelp/Twitter. Or the group that has a female/male ratio of 4:1.

Where are you from?
Both my parents immigrated from Taiwan in the early 80s and landed in the Bay Area some odd years later, which is where I was born and raised. It's been a while since I've been a resident of the East Bay, but it will always be my first love. I still find myself craving La Victoria's (the orange sauce!), Picasso's and Darda's all the time. Oh and long live Gen Ramen- you will be missed dearly.

Ok, I should really stop talking about food now.

What do you do?
As an organization, PbP takes on a new National theme each year - we've chosen Education for 2011. Each local chapter then selects a beneficiary partner in their community and dedicates the entire year to promoting their cause and helping elevate their efforts- hence the name Project by Project. We're really lucky to be working with AYC Youth and Family Services this year - Doreen (CEO) and Lotay Yang (CFO) have been incredible partners and very supportive of our efforts.

PbP-LA is made up of entirely of a staff of volunteers, many of which also carry on full time jobs. We've got a diverse team filled with bloggers, bonafide foodies, lawyers, financiers, and more. The synergy and collaboration that goes down in PbP is crazy- it has been amazing to see what unfolds when you put this many people from different backgrounds all in one room for a year.

What are you all about?
We're all about serving the Asian American community, putting on an amazing event and eating great food all the time.

What makes you angry?
There is this crazy notion floating out there that the Asian American community doesn't need help in areas of Education.

Yes it's true - many Asian Americans hold university degrees and represent one of the fastest growing minority groups in America and so it would appear that we are successful in areas of Education. However, the Asian American demographic is not homogenous and neither are our needs - the "model minority" stereotype is misleading and inaccurate. There remains a strong immigrant population that is facing a multitude of challenges when it comes to matters of advancement in education, including legal, socioeconomic, cultural, and language barriers.

While the label, "Asian-American" is all-encompassing, the reality is that even within the Asian American community, there are sub-ethnicities and sub-cultures. This contributes to the lack of a unified effort to increase awareness of Asian Americans, especially in the realm of Education. It is frustrating to know that some of our peers in the community are losing out on opportunities because the general market simply believes that the need is not dire.

But PbP is made up of a group of optimists...

This is precisely why we've chosen AYC Youth and Family Services as our 2011 beneficiary partner. AYC's mission is to serve the social services needs of youth and families, with a focus on Asian immigrants. Their programs enable those they serve to adapt and contribute to a multi-cultural society through outreach programs with an emphasis on education. They target many of the lower-income pockets of Southern California and offer these families and the youth of these families opportunities to develop, grow, and learn both in the academic sense as well as the social sense.

AYC knows the reality of the demographic they serve. They understand that the model minority stereotype is a myth – they see it first-hand. The constituents of AYC face the same challenges as most children of all backgrounds face: family issues, gangs, poverty, cultural barriers, language barriers, etc. We see, appreciate and value the work that AYC is doing and find inspiration from both the leaders of AYC as well as the beneficiaries, which is why we have dedicated our entire year to help building awareness and raising funds for them.

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