Along with Mental Health Awareness Month, May is also AAPI month. AAPI stands for Asian American and Pacific Islander, which according to asianpacificheritage.gov is “a rather broad term” that encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
At The Guidance Center, we find it important to try our best to recognize as many different cultures as we can in our efforts to make each individual feel valued. So, this month we participated in a few activities we’d like to share with you.
First, we had “Easy Kimchi with Sam” where we learned how to make the traditional Korean dish Kimchi. Over Zoom, Dr. Kendra Bailey, Program Manager of Training and her husband Sam, walked staff, step-by-step, through how to make the delicious dish. According to bibigo.com, “The origins of Kimchi, or vegetables salted for preservation, are rooted in the wisdom of ancient Koreans…today’s form of Kimchi is the product of numerous attempts at combining spices and flavors, developing along the regional and individual characteristics of numerous years in history.” You can view the recipe here if you want to try and make this cultural dish yourself!
We also enjoyed Cha No Yu or “The Way of Tea” with School-Based Program Manager, Madoka Urhausen, LMFT, ATR-BC, where Madoka let us join her in a virtual tea ceremony to learn about the history and tradition of consumption and practice of Japanese ceremonial tea. Madoka shared the history of matcha green tea, which goes back to 748 A.D. when a Japanese priest who came back from China planted tea plants in Kyoto and around the country. Tea rooms were offered as a place of contemplation and peace-making for all to enjoy including nobles, samurai warriors, merchants, and farmers.
Today, a Teishu or tea ceremony host brings a contemporary version of this tradition into modern life. In her presentation, Madoka shared this meditative practice with us with “table tea” outside of a traditional tea-room, using only a chawan (bowl), a chasen (bamboo whisk), and a chashaku (bamboo tea spoon) on a tray with powdered green tea and hot water, to make Usu-cha, a thin tea.
These tea ceremonies incorporate lessons from Zen Buddhism and mindfulness that is likened to a therapeutic practice and can help clear the mind and create a space of peace.
Lastly, Madoka also interviewed Steve Meng, a local Long Beach resident, Cambodian business man and founder of CARE Foundation (Cambodian-American for Rural Education). In a deep and emotional conversation, Steve spoke of his culture, family history and experience as a Cambodian refugee. This was a fascinating conversation given that Long Beach has the highest population of Cambodians outside of Southeast Asia and Paris, France.
In the conversation, Steve spoke of the history of The Khmer Rouge or Cambodian Genocide from 1975 to 1979, intergenerational trauma and ongoing struggles of our Cambodian American community members impacted by this shared history. He expressed hope in Cambodian American youth to uplift the community. You can hear more about this story in the videos below.