Happy Holidays from Konrad Ng, APAC Director

Santa Claus on beach with swimmers splayed around Christmas tree, 1927. From NMAH Archives

Santa Claus on beach with swimmers splayed around Christmas tree, 1927. From NMAH Archives

2013 has been a seriously amazing year for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center: 2 major exhibitions; 2 pop-up museums; 5 public programs; 2 online education apps; 2 national workshops; 1 digital exhibition catalog; 1 online comic book, more than 7,000 exhibition posters; and reaching the lives of more than 750,000 people.

Our success in 2013 is a direct result of your support of our mission and your investment in our work.  Whether as a donor, volunteer, advisory council member or event participant, you play an important part in deepening our nation’s appreciation for the American experience and the art, history and culture of America’s Asian Pacific heritage.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

American Heroes: World War II Nisei Soldiers & the Congressional Gold Medal (January)
I Want the Wide American Earth (May)

1882 Project (May)
Asian Latino Project (August)

Asian Latino Festival (August)

Day of Remembrance: The Life and Legacy of Senator Daniel Inouye (February)
Google Hangout Featuring Lisa Ling – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Family Day – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Fighting for Democracy Performance (June)
Gourmet Intersections – The Smithsonian Asian Latino Festival (July)

I Want the Wide American Earth App & E-Comic
American Heroes: World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal

We anticipate that 2014 will be even better when we open our biggest exhibition in the history of the Center, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, and launch a new website that will feature groundbreaking educational resources about the Asian Pacific American experience.

Thank you for making 2013 such an incredible experience.  Please help us carry this positive momentum into the New Year by making a gift today.  With your support, you will help tell America’s whole story.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.


Konrad Ng, Ph.D.,
Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center


Tour Schedule for the Exhibition “I Want the Wide American Earth”

First six banners of the exhibition “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.”

This schedule will be updated frequently as we get more venue confirmations. If you are interested in hosting the exhibition or bringing it to your city, click here for more details. There are two copies of the banner exhibition available to be toured. The first list includes confirmed or tentative venues, the second list has dates that are open to be reserved.

Confirmed and Tentative:


  • May 1, 2013—August 25, 2013
    Smithsonian National Museum of American History
    Washington, DC
  • September 14, 2013—December 1, 2013
    Japanese American National Museum
    Los Angeles, CA


  • December 21, 2013—March 2, 2014
    Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum
    Ontario, OR
  • March 22, 2014—June 1, 2014
    Minnesota History Center
    St. Paul, MN

    Second venue:
    ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i (Tentative)
    Hilo, HI

  • June 21, 2014August 31, 2014
    Kansas City Public Library (Tentative)
    Kansas City, MO
  • September 20, 2014—November 30, 2014
    Idaho Museum of Natural History
    Pocatello, ID


  • December 20, 2014—May 31, 2015
    Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Tentative)
    Riverside, CA
  • June 20, 2015August 30, 2015
    Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County (Tentative)
    Yuba City, CA
  • September 19, 2015November 29, 2015
    Asian American Resource Center, City of Austin Parks and Recreation (Tentative)
    Austin, TX


  • December 19, 2015February 28, 2016
    Memorial Union Concourse Gallery (Tentative)
    Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
  • March 19, 2016May 29, 2016
    Park City Museum
    Park City, UT
  • June 18, 2016August 28, 2016
    Houston Public Library (Tentative)
    Houston, TX
  • September 17, 2016November 27, 2016
    Greensboro Historical Museum (Tentative)
    Greensboro, NC

Open Dates:


  • September 20, 2014—November 30, 2014


  • December 20, 2014—March 1, 2015
  • March 21, 2015—May 31, 2015
  • June 20, 2015—August 30, 2015
  • September 19, 2015—November 29, 2015


  • December 19, 2015—February 28, 2016
  • March 19, 2016—May 29, 2016
  • June 18, 2016—August 28, 2016
  • September 17, 2016—November 27, 2016
Academic, Event

Young Historians, Living Histories Project

AALEAD Students at the RACE Exhibition, National Museum of Natural History.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is launching the Young Historians, Living Histories Project to engage underserved young people in Asian Pacific American communities to explore, contextualize, and deepen their understanding of their own history and their community.  During a one-week workshop, participants will learn about the Asian Pacific American experience through the exhibition I Want the Wide American Earth as well as other related resources.  Participants will also learn the basics of storytelling, conducting research and oral history, and using technology such as filmmaking and editing, to produce short videos that will be shown on the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s website.

Participating Museums and Organizations

  • Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience (Seattle, WA)
  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX)
  • Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH)
  • The Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA)
  • Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, HI)
  • Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, NC)
  • Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, CA)
  • Littleton Museum (Littleton, CO)
  • Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR)
  • Oklahoma History Center ( Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Asian American LEAD Program (Washington, DC)

Partner Organizations

Smithsonian Affiliations (SA)

The Smithsonian’s unparalleled collections, scholarship, and exhibitions document the world in all of its beauty, diversity, and complexity. The mission of Smithsonian Affiliations is to share these resources with Americans in their own communities by developing collaborative partnerships with museums, cultural and educational organizations.  The Smithsonian Affiliations brings the Smithsonian, in all of its breadth and scope, to local communities and create lasting experiences that broaden perspectives on science, history, world cultures and the arts.

Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible.  CAAM funds, produces, distributes and exhibits works in film, television and digital media.

Project Funding

Funding is provided by the Smithsonian Youth Access Grant administered by The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access.


Event Recap: “Gourmet Intersections: Asian-Latino Food Crossings”

For more pictures, click here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjH57vPh

This is an event recap of Gourmet Intersections: Asian-Latino Food Crossings (July 24, 2013). To view more photos, click here. The music playlist is also available here.

Recap by guest blogger Pat Tanumihardja

When you think of Asian-Latino fusion cuisine, Korean bulgogi beef tacos—the darling of the food truck world—will likely cross your mind.

However, Gourmet Intersections: Asian-Latino Food Crossings, a panel held recently at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, revealed that Asian and Latino food cultures have a much longer and richer history of intersection.

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford kicked off the all-star panel, highlighting the Manila-Acapulco trade that started in 1565. The Manila Galleon transported ingredients such as avocados, peanuts, guavas, tomatoes, and chilies to the Philippines. In return, tamarind, sugar cane, mangoes, and coconut arrived in Mexico. The result? Dishes like fish escabeche, empanaditas, and adobo, just to name a few. As Ms. Comerford so aptly put it, “We (Asian and Latino cuisines) found each other. We embellish each other. We make each other better.”

Next, “Iron Chef America” judge and author Trevor Corson set our preconceptions about “Japanese” sushi straight. Mr. Corson clarified that the nigiri sushi (raw fish over seasoned rice)—a dish so popular in the U.S. today—is actually Peruvian-inspired. Nigiri is a variation of ceviche, raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice. In fact, the original Japanese sushi comprises of fermented fish over rice.

Then, Pati Jinich, host of the PBS show Pati’s Mexican Table, pointed out that Asian and Latino cuisines have a lot in common.  Both cultures love to dip food in sauces. And, they love to “wrap things up,” which is evident in tacos as well as Peking duck (crispy duck skin tucked into a wrapper with vegetables and sauce). Ms. Jinich also compared Mexican chipotle chilies and Japanese bonito flakes (katsuobushi). To make chipotle, jalapeños are dried, smoked, and marinated in tomatoes and vinegar. Bonito flakes are made from filleted skipjack tuna that has been smoked, dried and fermented, then shaved into flakes. Both ingredients are equally complex to produce!

No doubt, the Asian-Latino culinary combo is a very successful one. But what makes a successful fusion dish? Panel moderator and cookbook author Anupy Singla had excellent advice, “Know what’s inside your box before working outside it.”

More about our guest blogger:
Born to Indonesian parents and raised in Singapore, food writer and cookbook author Pat Tanumihardja is no stranger to fusion cuisine. One of her favorite fusion dishes is mee rebus, a dish made with Chinese egg noodles and smothered in a well-spiced Malay-style sweet potato gravy. Pat’s book, “The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook—Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens” was released in paperback in 2012, and she blogs at http://theasiangrandmotherscookbook.com.

Staff Update

Introducing Adriel Luis, Curator of Digital and Emerging Media

Adriel Luis

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) is excited to welcome Adriel Luis to the team as Curator of Digital and Emerging Media. Launching the first position of its kind at the Smithsonian, Luis will lead a campaign to establish APAC as a “third space” in the museum world – engaging new audiences through online exhibitions, pop-up museums, handheld galleries, and digitally-enhanced museum exhibitions. Luis will also renew APAC’s online presence, exploring innovative approaches to artistic and historical storytelling using social media, emergent technology, and re-imagined online experiences.

Luis is recognized internationally in a variety of cultural pockets, including music, journalism, education, technology, and the arts. For the past decade, he was an artist and creative director at iLL-Literacy – a digital funk band that injects imagination into student leadership experiences at colleges and universities. Specializing in building coalitions among underrepresented student communities, iLL-Literacy has performed at over 200 campuses and venues throughout the United States and Europe, and has been featured at SXSW Music Conference, Bumbershoot Music Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the National Asian American Theater Festival, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. iLL-Literacy’s debut album, iB4the1.1 (2010), was recognized widely in music circuits for its early adoption of open-source values in its production, distribution, and content. In 2004, Luis was awarded San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion. A film adaptation of his poem “Slip of the Tongue” was selected by the Media that Matters Film Festival (2006) and screened at over 75 international film festivals and awarded an Emmy (2006).

Outside of performance and literary arts, Luis has led a number of notable organizations and companies through digital revitalization campaigns, including the Asian American International Film Festival, Shanghai-based artist agency NeochaEDGE, and Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. In 2010, he was selected as a fellow at the New Organizing Institute’s New Media Bootcamp, and has since been a contributing voice through both writing and media development at Change.org, Colorlines, Colorofchange.org, Citizen Engagement Lab, and Hyphen Magazine.

Luis’ expertise in creating, digitizing, and organizing art has afforded him a plethora of unique curatorial experiences. In 2011, he co-curated HEADLINES!: A Modern Take on Andy Warhol’s Electric Newspaper for the National Gallery of Art. In 2012, he was the new media director for OneBeat, a U.S. State Department project that engaged over 30 international musicians through collaborative residencies, workshops, and concerts. Luis spent early 2013 living in Beijing and traveling throughout Asia, studying cultural and artistic trends in the Asian diaspora.

Message from Luis:

“What excites me about digital and emerging media at Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is the vast terrain that exists and that’s yet to exist moving forward.  For the APA community, the concept of emerging media is not just a medium, but rather a vessel that has evolved and been evolved by the perseverance to interact. Technology – digital and cultural – has always been fostered in our community through the need for instruments and methods that were vital for getting by in a land where they didn’t yet exist. For us, innovation has never been a model – it’s a survival tactic.”


What’s the difference between a paratha and a tortilla?

An Indian immigrant worker harvests beets in Hamilton City, California, for the Sacramento Valley Sugar Company, ca. 1907–1915. Photo courtesy of the California State University, Chico, Meriam Library Special Collections.

By Rishi Reddi, guest blogger

This blog is part of the Gourmet Intersections program of Intersections as American Life: the Smithsonian Asian-Latino Festival 2013.

What’s the difference between a paratha and a tortilla?  Or, curried beans and refried beans?

A little-known community that bridged South Asians and Mexicans sprang up in the Imperial Valley of Southern California in the 1920s, and knew the answers to these questions. The region had been arid desert before these folks and other brave souls surface-irrigated the land with water from the Colorado River, turning the Imperial Valley into one of the most fertile in the country. Because of immigration pressures, race-based mores, and (of course) true love, many of the South Asian men from Punjab married Mexican women who lived in the area. These couples formed unconventional families with Punjabi fathers, Mexican mothers, and tri-cultural children, who even today can recall the unique and complex aspects of their youth.

Norma Saikhon’s father emigrated from Punjab in 1916 and her mother grew up in Mexico before moving to the Valley in 1931. She tells of how many of the South Asian men, laboring in work gangs to build the railroads in the western United States, continued to cook and eat Punjabi food communally. When they married and settled down to farming, they taught their wives how to cook South Asian food, and the women learned with great enthusiasm. Weekday meals were always of Mexican flavors, but Sunday dinners, wedding feasts, and funeral meals were always of the South Asian variety. The Mexican wives competed with each other, often very obviously, as to who made the best Punjabi food—especially chicken curry!

Despite the seeming similarity of some of the foods—such as Mexican tortillas and Punjabi parathas—Norma recalls how they were actually very different: tortillas were lighter fare and made with white flour; parathas required more labor and consisted of whole wheat.  The families ate beans everyday—mixed with curry, mint and ginger on Punjabi days or boiled with onions, cheese or salsa on Mexican days. But some foods, like Rice Pudding, also known as arroz con leche in Mexico and kheer in South Asia, transcended cultures and continents and were known to all.

More about our guest blogger:

Writer and lawyer Rishi Reddi is the author of the award-winning collection, Karma and Other Stories, published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2007. Her first novel, West, set in the immigrant communities of the Imperial Valley in the 1920s, is forthcoming.  Find out more at www.rishireddi.net.


Food Intersections in Brazil

Food fair at Liberdade. Click for more images.

By Zelideth María Rivas, guest blogger

Cup Noodles stand at Paulista train station. Click for more images from Brazil.

This blog is part of the Gourmet Intersections program of Intersections as American Life: the Smithsonian Asian-Latino Festival 2013.

When asked to do a guest blog on my travels in Brazil, I wondered if I should go out and look for Asian-Latino food connections or just wander into their path. I did both. Visiting the newest Japanese places in town while also running into new interpretations of Asia — that is what is possible in the state of São Paulo.

First up is the area of Liberdade in the city of São Paulo. Its weekend fair reinterprets Asia through the specific lens of Latin America. Here, you can find takoyaki labeled as bolinhos de polvo and shrimp tempura featuring small, local shrimps in their shells amidst a fried concoction of chives, onions, and flour. These are lined up with skewers of codfish, beef, and shrimp balls. But if you’re feeling like sushi, walk into any por quilo restaurant in Liberdade where they make California rolls with mango instead of avocado (did you know that many of your Latin American friends would look at you aghast if you don’t treat avocado as a fruit?) and wrap tuna rolls in thin slices of cucumber instead of nori. Or, try a dessert roll with caramelized banana and rice topped with condensed milk or a fried roll with strawberries, rice, and chocolate. The por quilos mix up their Asian cuisine with staples from Brazilian food: a bean vinaigrette salad next to a wakame salad and cheese balls amidst fried spring rolls, guioza (the local spelling), and mini shrimp tempura. Temaquerias are all the rage, making their way to familial parties (note the mango again) or as a fast food restaurant that you visit to have a hand roll after a night of drinking with your friends. But don’t think that “Asian” refers only to Japanese cuisine here in São Paulo.

Peruvian chaufas. Click for more images.

The increase of Peruvian immigrants has also inspired new varieties of chaufas, or Chinese fried rice. In fact, new restaurants have interpreted many parts of Asia, bringing out the Korean barbecue served with kimchi and Japanese misoshirru. The South Indian flavors of Madhu Culinária India are quick to include cashews, coconut, brown rice, and heavy cream served with chapati, parotha, or appam. The Kenko company makes microwavable popcorn specifically for the Brazilian palette, featuring cheese, bacon, chocolate, and caramel. And the company Sakura makes instant missoshiru in shitake, beef, or chicken flavors. But then again, if you’re in a rush, there’s always Cup of Noodles at the Paulista train station!

More about our guest blogger:

Zelideth María Rivas is an Assistant Professor of Japanese at Marshall University. Her research focuses on the conception of race through literature written by Asian immigrants in the Americas, as well as the representation of race in Japan in post-World War II literature and film. She is the author of “Narrating Japaneseness through World War II: The Brazilianization, Peruvianization, and US Americanization of Immigrants” (in Expanding Latinidad: An Inter-American Perspective, WVT Wissenchaftilecher Verlag Trier, 2012) and “Projecting Mixed Race: Negotiating, Nostalgia, and the Rejection of Japanese-Brazilian Biracial Children” (in Journal of Asian American Studies 14.3, October 2011).