All posts by shanshanwang

Kids serve as translators for parents who speak little English

By Shanshan Wang

Idalia Cervantes still recalls vividly when she accompanied her mother to the doctor as her interpreter at age seven. Not yet knowing the word “cough,” she faked several coughs to help describe the symptom.

“I was learning English myself and I only knew a few words,” Cervantes said. Even though she was born in America, she spoke only Spanish at home and began to learn English in school. Yet, by the time she was four years old, she started to translate for her Spanish-speaking parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1990s. “I was just doing the best I could,” she said.

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Coming Out of The Shadows: Students speak openly about being undocumented

By Shanshan Wang
Audio by Ya Zhou

For many years, Tamara Montes De Oca, a senior in communications at Northeastern Illinois University, never told others about her undocumented status.

“I hid it because I never wanted to be treated differently. I wanted to be given the same challenges and opportunities as everyone,” Montes De Oca said. “I don’t want to be excluded from things.”

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Asian American community members unite against Anita Alvarez

By Shanshan Wang

Accusing Anita Alvarez of inaction during police brutality investigations, two dozen Asian Americans protested in downtown Chicago Tuesday against the incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney.

Participants, mostly young people from a variety of communities, chanted “Anita Alvarez must go” in English as well as in Korean, Cantonese, Bangla and Tagalog. Their hope is that people will vote Alvarez out of office in the upcoming March 15 election.

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Volunteers phone bank for Asian American civic engagement

By Shanshan Wang
Audio by Jenny G. Zhang

Rebecca Ozaki has been trying to encourage Asian Americans to vote through phone banking, which she hopes will be effective in getting them to the polls.

“Why we call is because a lot of people may not be told what difference they can have by voting in their communities,” said Ozaki, executive assistant at the Asian American Advancing Justice, Chicago. “We need to empower the Asian American community to make sure that they know how much their votes matter, and how much power they have in electing officials that make decisions for us everyday.”

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One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer

By Shanshan Wang

Thousands of people, mostly Chinese-Americans, marched in downtown Chicago Saturday, calling justice for former NYPD officer Peter Liang, who was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2014.

The protesters chanted along the way, holding national flags, signs and banners with slogans conveying the message that selective justice is not justice, and that Liang is a scapegoat. Many of them have been following the news and sharing the protest information on WeChat, the most popular social media platform among Chinese community.

On Saturday, throngs of protesters, many from Chicago’s Chinese American community, decried the guilty verdict in the police shooting trail of Peter Liang in New York. Liang was convicted of shooting Akai Gurley, an African American, in 2014 while on the job as a New York City cop. Many protesters said race is not an issue here and that their main appeal was to have justice in law. However, at least one black woman insisted black lives matter. (Yunfei Zhao / MEDILL)

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Rena Sternberg: Collecting from the heart

By Qingwei Chen and Shanshan Wang

Rena Sternberg’s living room is “decorated” with artworks such as Frog Substitute,Yellow, Henning Bohl’s sculptural mural featuring a yellow bike helmet.

“It was purchased in 2010 from the Casey M. Kaplan Gallery in New York,” said Sternberg, who remembers the source of every work from 40 years of collecting. “[Henning] wants you to see how works start from the construction. It’s really about the art making process.”

The airy, contemporary North Shore home maximizes the wall and floor space for placing favorite pieces from her collection.

Works by postmodern and emerging artists – such as a painting ripe with over-sized carrot slices by Lucy Kim, an invented landscape photograph by Xiuzhen Yin – fill every corner and even the bathroom. Learning about art can open a whole new world for you, said Sternberg, collector, gallery owner and art impresario.

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Chinese Seniors Celebrate the Lunar New Year

By Shanshan Wang

Welcoming the Year of the Monkey, about 80 elderly residents originally from China celebrated the Lunar New Year with traditional music and cuisine in Chinatown on Monday.

“We want to bring warmth to the older adults, [the] majority of which live alone in senior buildings or with family members who work days and nights, and to reminisce [about] our Chinese traditions in our villages, and maintain Chinese heritage and culture,” said Winnie Lam, home and community based service officer for the Chinese American Service League, which organized the event.

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Literacy program helps immigrants overcome language barriers

By Shanshan Wang

Zubeda Begum, who came to the United States from Pakistan 15 years ago, believes that practice makes perfect. That is why the 67-year-old has just passed examinations and graduated from the ESL (English as a Second Language) program at the Indo-American Center in West Rogers Park.

“I learn so many things,” Begum said. “I can speak easily now.” Begum added that sometimes she can be very shy but improving her English has given her much more confidence.

At the Indo-American Center, the ESL program is offered free at four different levels to immigrants from 34 countries representing 36 languages, including refugees from Iraq, Syria, Burma and Nepal. It currently has about 100 registered students.

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