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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (March 2, 2015)
March 2, 2015
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 7
TALKING STORY IN ASIAN AMERICA
Matters big and small
Keeping quiet in a noisy world
his morning, this very early Kailua
morning, I’m waiting for our suriya
sun to rise over her still, sighing
sea. I wait and wait. Barely a breath of
trade winds blow. There’s not a reeling
seabird in sight. As for surf, we have none.
I check my watch. I wonder when’s sun-up.
I’m thinking, maybe I’ll just sit. Right
here on the cool sand. And wait some more.
I check my watch again.
I’m thinking that I could be sitting at
Kailua Starbucks, the place President and
Mrs. Obama drop by, with their pretty
daughters in tow, when they holiday here.
Christmas time. I’m thinking seriously
about a thick warm slice of Starbucks
pumpkin loaf, with a cold smear of cream
cheese on top. But on second thought, the
reason I rose real early was to see
windward O’ahu’s grand sunrise, right
here over her expanse of sighing sea.
So I unlock my knees, fold my legs like a
Fred Meyer lawn chair, and let myself
On my way down, I notice a hundred
alert little crab eyes, focused on me. Bright
little bug eyes atop tiny periscopes affixed
to knobby body armor — all of them fixed
on me. Unblinking. Anxious.
Inside the same instant I hit bottom,
FUMP — they disappear. Every single
little guy inside my five-meter radius of
night vision: Gone. All at once into their
Magic Marker-sized black holes. Gone, like
a single reflex. Like my knee or like your
elbow in our doctors’ offices.
Five seconds later — probably five
workweek days and nights later in sand
crab time — up pop their little periscope
peepers. They wait for my next move. But
I’m not moving, so they wait. Then they
wait some more. Saturday’s sleepy sun’s
rising, surely gloriously though I cannot
say because I’m no longer focused out
there. Not anymore.
Of course, the big-picture perspective
matters. Certainly our sun matters. A lot.
Our splendid blue, green, and earthy-
brown planet would perish and return to
cold stone, were it not for our generous
suriya sun. And yes, her morning arrival is
more grand than a Java sultan soaring in
on Garuda, or a Hollywood superstar
stepping out of a pearl-white curbside
But my new best crabby buds are,
somehow, more familiar. Sure, they’re as
gritty as their sandy homes, but just as
surely they and we seem more simply
related by our shared instincts. Someone
thumps, we jumps.
As our achy earth turns slowly into our
sun’s nurturing reach, fantastic shadows
are made of this strand’s smallest fea-
2014 Most Honored
Elder Award Recipient
AR Photo/Jan Landis
Sary Khauv was born May 28, 1943 in Beung Keng
Kang, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and, along with four
siblings, was raised alone by his mother after his father
passed away. He became a
high school teacher in 1966
and married his wife Kim
Nhorn Khauv in 1967. After
the Khmer Rouge took
Phnom Penh in 1975, he
and his family were sent to
the countryside to perform
forced labor. Persevering
through a great deal of
difficulty and hardship —
members, suffering deprivation and abuse, and enduring
the terror of war — Sary and his family were able to escape
into Thailand and enter into a refugee camp where he
found work as a teacher. Because he had been a civil
servant before the war, his family was given priority status
and in 1980 he immigrated to the U.S. via a distant cousin
in Oregon. His first job after arriving in Oregon was as a
part-time English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher
at Lincoln High School in Portland. He served as a
community agent beginning in 1982 and became a special
education teacher in 2004. Although he retired from the
school system in 2008, he continues to teach at the
Cambodian language and culture school on the weekends
and in his more than 10 years of teaching Saturday school,
he has only missed twice, once to visit his grandson and
once a dear friend. He lives with his daughter Ratha and
her family in Beaverton. His daughter Rany lives in
Portland and his son Navy resides in Arizona.
Ocypode pallidula emerged cautiously from their
homey holes, sideways, without taking their tiny black
eyeballs off me. (Photo/Petteri Sulonen/Creative
Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
tures. Little ridges left by morning tide’s
measured retreat cast lovely shadows,
each momentarily marking our warm sea’s
shadow’s thrown from a single sodden
coconut. He seems so alone on the sand. So
distant from our shore’s palm-tree line.
And now, I can count those hundred
deliciously black holes my crab buds wait
Finally, my slowly warming best buds —
known to white-lab-jacketed guys as
Ocypode pallidula — emerge cautiously
from their homey holes, sideways, without
taking their tiny black eyeballs off me.
Maybe they think I’m a predator. Maybe
they know I’m hungry and thinking of
warm pumpkin loaf. Or a crab sandwich,
with melted garlic butter dip. But just as
likely, they’re not thinking a thing. Not one
thought. Not between the lot of them. And,
I kind of like this idea.
I make a move for my camera, and they
zip on lightning tippy-toes into whoever’s
hole is near. Quick as a blink. All pau. All
I need this. I’m thinking we would all
benefit from more moments like these.
More focus on what’s near, and dear,
rather than what’s big and newsy. And it’s
really not a thinking matter. It’s a
present-mindedness that we all know in
I need this.
I’m thinking we would
all benefit from more
moments like these.
More focus on
what’s near, and dear,
rather than what’s
big and newsy.
our irreducible bones. It’s a knowing that
resides in the living tissue connecting
jumpy sand crabs and lonesome coconuts
and conflicted early morning beach
walkers. Sassy seabirds too, wherever
they are. American presidents, Javan
sultans, and Oscar aspirants need not be
thus connected. Breathless network
newsmen and an intense commerce of
competitors for our short spans of
attention, have got them covered. 24/7.
If I’m not careful — if me and you are
less mindful — of who and what occupies
all those precious empty spaces inside
these porous bones, an alien army of
political operatives and ad men will take
over. Take us over. And they’ll pack what
little silence we still own with increasingly
shrill issues, in frighteningly shortened
So this must be what explains my
brothers Lee, Kilong, and Alberto — the
first out back whispering to his rooster, the
next wandering that distant golf green,
the last messing with his BMW motorbike.
All of them, inside their silent moments, so
that come Monday morning, their precious
inside spaces cannot be filled by all those
bigger and shriller voices.
Editor’s note: This essay is written Indo
djatung-style, meant to be read aloud. An office
back staircase, an empty tiled bathroom, with
a friend under covers, are all good.
Children of Asian casino workers reshape Connecticut school
Continued from page 16
Parent. Uncle. Parent,’” said Kaplan, who
oversees the programs for students learn-
ing English as a second language.
Mohegan Sun and its nearby rival, the
Foxwoods Resort Casino, bring dozens of
busses full of Asian-American visitors
every day to the corner of rural south-
eastern Connecticut. The casinos have
Asian marketing teams that develop and
promote clubs, restaurants, concerts, and
table games such as Sic Bo that appeal to
the hugely important Asian demographic.
As part of the strategy, Foxwoods
president Felix Rappaport said it seeks
employees with the right language skills.
“We have the capacity to communicate
with people in pretty much any Asian
language you can think of,” he said.
Mohegan Sun’s celebration of last
month’s Lunar New Year included
concerts by a Hong Kong pop singer,
Chinese cultural craft demonstrations,
and an appearance by winners of the Miss
New York Chinese Beauty Pageant.
Riders on Asian bus lines received
traditional red envelopes with $5 to $100.
The English learners at Mohegan
Elementary School also received red
envelopes, but with stickers inside, not
Chinese students make up the majority
of the 52 students who qualify for special
language instruction out of roughly 350
students at the school, Kaplan said. The
casino opened in 1996, but school officials
say the diversity has grown notably over
the last decade, with some Asian families
coming from New York City and others
coming directly from overseas.
The school employs a native Mandarin
speaker who doubles as a teacher’s aide
and parent liaison, as well as a part-time
tutor, and the district also has a translator
for notes to parents. Signs throughout the
school appear in English and Chinese.
Principal Allison Peterson said the school
tries to make parents feel comfortable by
translating as much as possible.
In Norwich, one of the area’s bigger
cities, the school district has English
learners representing 37 languages and
often hires a private contractor to facili-
tate communications. Sheila Osko, the
district’s director of language and
translation services, said many families
choose the city because of its proximity to
their jobs at Foxwoods.
The Asian Reporter Foundation is
accepting nominations for its 2015
“Most Honored Elder” awards.
The recognition banquet will be held Thursday,
April 23, 2015 at northeast Portland’s TAO
Event Center. Nomination forms and guidelines
for eligibility are available for download at
The nomination deadline is
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 5:00pm.
To the editor:
There are so many good
reasons to read The Asian
Reporter that we don’t
write to you each issue!
But Polo’s columns in the
January 19 and February 2
issues are so refreshing
and excellent that we want
to thank the editors for
printing them, and Polo for
writing them. THANK
Please be reassured that
not all white people — not
even most white people —
adhere to The Code that
continues to make human
relations in the USA so
unfair. Many are trying to
exemplify a sane and
welcoming worldview and
enjoy our friends of color
and/or immigrant as much
as we do any of our
friends. And in our case, as
Jews we are sometimes on
the receiving end of a
parallel Code with a long,
Thanks again for helping
to advance American cul-
ture towards more inclu-
sion and more joy.
Jim & Judy Emerson