Food, History, Intern Update, Japanese American

Karami: a Japanese inspired salsa from Pueblo, Colorado

By Kristen Hayashi, Summer 2013 intern

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

Asian-inspired tacos are the epitome of the recent Asian-Latino fusion food phenomenon, yet the intermixing of these two pan-ethnic cultural cuisines turns out to have a much longer history than one might expect.  For over a century, cultural diversity due to immigration and migration of individuals across the United States has created the opportunity for the fusion of gastronomic traditions.

In the 1890’s, Japanese immigrants established roots in Pueblo, Colorado, to work on the railroad and nearby farms.  They longed for comfort foods from their homeland, but distance from the Pacific coast made it nearly impossible for them to obtain seaweed and other Japanese staples.  Out of necessity, they began experimenting with locally grown vegetables to replicate the taste and texture of the seaweed they typically ate with rice.  The hot green chile—a mainstay in Pueblo due to the growing Mexican population—when combined with soy sauce produced an acceptable substitute to the seaweed they grew up eating in Japan.  They called the innovation karami, which means “beautiful heat” in Japanese.  While karami remained a local specialty that was eaten mostly with rice by the Japanese community in Pueblo, it has recently found a new niche as a Japanese inspired salsa eaten with tortilla chips.

Author and journalist Gil Asakawa explores the story of “Karami” in a recent article that he wrote for his weekly blog, “Nikkei View.”  For the full article, click here:

Intern Update

Intern Update: Emilio Eusebio

Spring 2013 interns with Dennis Kamakahi (center bottom). Interns from left: Sara Schreck, Emilio Eusebio, and Esther Jones.

By Emilio Payne Eusebio, Spring 2013 intern

Hello all! My name is Emilio Eusebio and I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.A. in History. I spent half of my time working at the National Museum of American History (NMAH) and the other half working at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC).

At  NMAH, I worked with Curatorial Assistant Noriko Sanefuji by handling and cataloging artifacts, researching, and transcribing different interviews.  I learned a great deal about the Advanced Fresh Concepts Corporation which was one of the first major companies of sushi in the United States. I also researched the paniolo cowboys and the slack key guitar. One of the most memorable events I attended was the donation ceremony of Dennis Kamakahi’s slack key guitar.  It was an amazing experience because interviewing him was the culmination of all my research on the slack key guitar and Kamakahi himself. I also enjoyed hosting a private tour at NMAH of Asian Pacific American artifacts to a few guests because it gave me an opportunity to express all the knowledge that I had learned.

At APAC, I assisted Initiative Coordinator Lawrence-Minh Davis in the completion of the banner exhibition I Want The Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story. I handled license agreements, image procurements, assisted with video interviews, and more. My work with the exhibition revolved mostly around intellectual property. The experience I gained regarding intellectual property is particularly valuable because I plan to go to law school in the future. Overall, my experience working at the Smithsonian has been great and I would encourage other people to have an internship here as well.

Intern Update

Intern Update: Pearl Presidential Inaugural Gala

From left: Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa being interviewed by Krista Aniel at the Pearl Gala, filmed by Mark Wolf.

By Emilio Eusebio, Spring 2013 intern

At the 2013 Pearl Presidential Inaugural Gala, I assisted our team while we filmed and conducted interviews for our upcoming exhibition: I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story. The traveling exhibition consists of 30 banners and an app that will tell the stories of many different Asian Pacific Americans (APAs). The Pearl Presidential Inaugural Gala brings together different leaders of the APA community, supporters, entrepreneurs, and public policy makers who highlight APA involvement in politics and prepare for the new administration.[1]

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center staff attended the Gala because it was a great opportunity to meet and interview some of the biggest and important leaders in the APA community. Our team consisted of Lawrence Minh-Bui Davis, Noriko Sanefuji, Krista Aniel, Krishna Aniel, and videographer Mark Wolf. We asked our interviewees many different questions for our exhibition such as “What does it mean to you to be APA?” and “What does it mean to be American?”

A few of the interviewees include Secretary Norman Mineta, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, and Deepa Iyer. I assisted our team by  making sure no one interrupted the interviews and had every interviewee sign our release agreement.  The experience was  surreal and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.

Intern Update

Intern Update: Marie Ramos

Intern Marie Ramos (right) with other APAC staff and interns.

Aloha! My name is Marie Antonette Anamong Ramos, and I am the 2012 Francis & Sarah Sogi Fellow at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. I am majoring in Ethnic Studies with a minor in Filipino Language and Culture at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa and will be graduating in May 2013.  My main responsibilities at APAC revolved around #apa100, an upcoming online exhibition that tells the Asian Pacific American experience through 100 milestone objects, events, sites, images, sounds, and videos. As a project assistant, I secured materials for the exhibition from both the Smithsonian and outside cultural organizations and institutions across the nation.

In addition, I conducted independent research that examined the art form of Spoken Word as a site for identity construction amongst Asian Americans. I interviewed and analyzed the works of the following poets: G Yamazawa, Asia Samson, and Regie Cabico. This project was important to me because I do volunteer work with a couple of high schools in Hawai’i that have recently started a Slam Poetry club on their campuses. These schools have a predominantly Asian American student population.

To sum it up briefly, this fellowship fosters growth on multiple levels: professional, academic, and personal. I have gained valuable experience in public programming, curatorial work, and project management. Ultimately, I hope to take the skills and knowledge that I acquired at APAC and implement them in my work with the various communities that I serve in Hawai’i.

Intern Update

Intern Update: Madeline Sumida

Interns Madeline Sumida and Marie Ramos at the Congressional Gold Medal Tour Press Conference, September 13, 2012.

My name is Madeline Sumida. I recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.A. in History. While I did not study Asian American history in college, my Japanese American heritage sparked my interest in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.  This internship has exceeded my expectations of expanding my knowledge of Asian American history and present day issues. Now, I feel more connected to my roots and inspired to become more active in bringing attention to the experience of an often overlooked and misunderstood minority group.

One of my projects included searching for photographs to be used in an upcoming exhibition highlighting Asian American history. Through my research, I learned about diverse  immigrant Asian ethnic groups at a level of detail that I never encountered in school.  I also learned about the curatorial aspects of working at the National Museum of American History as I cataloged artifacts for upcoming exhibitions on Chinese take-out and Japanese American cowboys in Hawaii.

This internship also improved my research and analytical skills while I worked on my individual project. I explored the topic of Asians in the United States military, focusing my time frame of interest on World War II and the present day. Through analysis of historical context, newspaper and journal articles, demographic data from the Department of Defense and West Point, and interviews with individuals either in or closely associated with the military, I wrote a paper that provides a basis for future studies of Asian American soldiers. The Smithsonian provided the opportunity to go to the Nisei Congressional Gold Medal conference, where I was thrilled to meet veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. To see the medal in person meant a great deal to me because my grandfather and his brothers served in the Military Intelligence Service and the 442nd.

The excitement and variety of the Smithsonian internship transformed my personal and professional growth. The real-world experience of working in an office and interacting with such dedicated staffers whets my appetite for the next experience. I look forward, too, to seeing the exhibitions that we worked on!

Intern Update

Intern Update: Allia Alliata

By Allia Alliata, Fall 2012 Intern

Interning this past Fall semester at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) has truly been a one of a kind experience. I worked with curator Masum Momaya on the upcoming exhibition Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, as well as the development team. This provided me with a rich and well rounded intern experience. Working with both the curator and development staff, I was able to see that no matter how much they differ; one could not exist without the other. With each day came a new opportunity to learn, whether it was working on image licensing forms, attending meetings, or assisting with fundraising outreach. It is rewarding to know that I was able to contribute to Beyond Bollywood, an exciting, relevant, and important exhibition.

In addition to my internship duties, my research project focused on the personal reactions of Asian Pacific Americans during the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections. My research was based on surveys, polls, news articles, reports, interviews, and panel discussions. Being an APAC intern allowed me to attend various panel discussions and events where I was able to conduct interviews to supplement my analysis and research.

APAC fosters a community of growth and innovation that allowed me to understand how each role in this organization is necessary. I learned about how the Smithsonian Institution impacts not only Washington D.C., but the world at large. This internship was an invaluable experience that allowed me to see the direct impact of my hard work and dedication within the APA community.

Indian American, Intern Update

Intern Update: 2013 Indiaspora Inaugural Ball

Click on the image to view more photos.

By Sara Schreck, Spring 2013 intern

The Indiaspora Inaugural Ball was a success and a chance to highlight Indian American accomplishments and presence in America under a long-deserved spotlight. Various VIPs glided along the red carpet and spoke into waiting microphones. It was a great debut party for Indian Americans, who—at 3 million strong—are becoming a political force in U.S. politics.

Among the VIP guests were Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate India Caucus; Congressman Joseph Crowley, co-chair at the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans; the Honorable Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the U.S.; and Congressman Ami Bera, a newly elected member from California. Indian Americans from all fields were represented such as technology, politics, government, academia, and business.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) was asked by the founder of Indiaspora, M.R. Rangaswami, to promote another first for Indian Americans: the Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project, an initiative about an American story yet to be told—that of Indian immigrants and their descendants. The Project is anchored by a groundbreaking exhibition, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation. This exhibition takes visitors beyond the spectacle of Bollywood cinema, which is globally popular. Exotic and romantic stereotypes of India are broken by a rich history of Indian immigration to the U.S. and numerous ways in which Indian Americans have shaped America. Beyond Bollywood will open at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in late 2013.

The President did not attend the ball, but his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng (wife of Konrad Ng, APAC Director) made a surprise appearance. “It is certainly a reflection of how important India is and how important Indian Americans are to the fabric of this nation. I would just like to celebrate all of the contributions—artistic, political, and so much more of the community,” she remarked. A video clip of her response can be viewed here at 04:25.

APAC staff and interns were available at an information table to answer questions and introduce the exhibition to ball attendees. There was also an opportunity for attendees to enter a sweepstakes to win a private exhibition tour of Beyond Bollywood. A banner featuring an iconic photograph of the first Asian American Congressman, Dalip Singh Saund (with then Senators John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson) was near the table for guests to pose with. To see photographs from the evening, click here.

To learn more about the Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project and Beyond Bollywood, please visit

While federal funding is a mainstay of the Smithsonian, the Asian Pacific American Center receives no direct funds from Congress and relies on financial donations to fund its initiatives, including the Indian American Heritage Project. If you would like to make a donation to the Project, visit It is fast, easy, and secure!