I kick off my shoes and pull on my slippers before entering the house. The aroma from the kitchen overwhelms the dining room. I lift the curtain and see my aproned mother handling the wok, covered in a cloud of steam. Her spatula clangs against the metal, the ingredients sizzling as they stir-fry.
Of all the foods I’ve eaten, I cannot give up my mother’s Cantonese home cooking, a southern Chinese style of cuisine. Cantonese food is healthy; vegetables are not over-seasoned, but clean and light, and the food isn’t spicy because it is meant to cool you down from the dense, southern heat. Everything is either punch-in-the-face flavorful, or easy on the tongue. There is no in-between. 
These easy and authentic Cantonese recipes can be made anytime. Most of the vegetables in these recipes can be found in any farmers’ market, but the dried ingredients and seasoning may be found in your local Asian grocery store, like Super 88 or H-Mart.

Stir-fry Glass Noodles
My family is Buddhist, and this dish has elements that reflect Buddhist philosophy, which is why we often eat it during traditional holidays. 
  • 1 pack of thin glass noodles 
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery 
  • Scallions
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 2 chinese sausages
  • Seasoning: 1 pinch salt, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, maybe some MSG. 
  1. My mum likes to soak the noodles in cold water before cooking them. I always skip this step, but we should listen to mum this one time. 
  2. While the noodles are soaking, chop and mince the ingredients. My mum specifically slices everything diagonally for this dish. The vegetables and sausage should be long and thin to mimic the noodles. 
  3. Pour your preferred oil into a hot wok together with garlic. 
  4. Garlic burns easily when cooking with high heat, so quickly throw in the sausage, carrots, and celery after the garlic releases its scent. 
  5. Drain the glass noodles, toss them in, and stir quickly so the noodles don’t stick to the wok. 
  6. Add one or two cups of the water that was used for soaking. Stir until a majority of water evaporates. 
  7. Now it’s time to season. Mum only uses soy sauce, but it is going to end up being bland, so I add salt first, then soy sauce for some color. 
  8. Toss all the ingredients in the wok one final time. The dish should look golden brown when served.

Baby Napa Cabbage
My uncle made the best stir fry napa cabbage! My mum tries to replicate it all the time.
  • 1 pack of baby napa cabbage
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • Tiny knob of ginger (minced)
  • Handful of dried shrimp 
  • Handful of dried scallop
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Wash your cabbage and peel the leaves apart. 
  2. Give the dried shrimp and scallop a quick wash. Dry with paper towel.
  3. Put oil in a hot wok and quickly toss the shrimp and scallop in.
  4. After crisping up the shrimp and scallop, toss in garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Mum never gave measurements, so you’ll have to eye everything. 
  5. Sprinkle in some water. Mum says the wok should now look like “a milky broth.”
  6. Toss in the cabbage, put the lid on for one or two minutes, then remove the lid. 
  7. Stir until the cabbage leaves soften and the excess water evaporates. 
  8. This dish is formally served with the leaves all facing the same direction and the shrimp and scallop as topping. I usually eat this with rice to balance out the saltiness. 

Homemade Wontons
Wonton soup is oh-so-Cantonese. It can be eaten any time of the day. 
  • A pack of square wonton skins (preferably yellow)
  • 1/2 lb. ground shrimp 
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • Scallions
  • Seasoning: 1 tbsp white pepper, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp salt, and 1 tbsp soy sauce. 
  1. Mince the scallions finely. Add the ground pork, shrimp, and seasoning. Mix until a paste-like consistency. 
  2. With a spoon, ladle 3/4 spoon worth of filling. 
  3. Place filling in the middle of the wonton skin, fold in half, and pinch the ends to seal. 
  4. Repeat until all filling and skin have been used up. 
  5. Boil your wontons in water or stock until they float. 
  6. Serve soup and wontons in a bowl, topped with scallions and extra soy sauce (of course). 

“I’m home!” I yell in her ear, but she gives no reaction and continues working the wok. I peek over her shoulder and see black mushrooms, lotus roots, snow peas, and pork belly all dancing around in the wok. She hands me a sample and asks in Taishanese: “Is it salty enough?” I’m her designated taste tester. 
My mum shows her love and appreciation through her cooking. I will continue her legacy and learn to show love through my cooking as well. 

Read more…
When asked about racism in America, Asians probably do not come to mind. But, catch a glimpse of us on the big screen, and you’ll see how America only has misrepresentation and mockery to offer. In today’s films, Asian actors often don’t play a role unless they do the stereotypical accent. Opportunities are not being taken away, but they are narrowed down to the idea America has of us. 
“We don't have a history here, Asians aren't in the Bible,” said Andrew Fung, a YouTuber based in LA, in an article for Vice. “Our accents are comparable to having a lisp or some kind of speech impediment, they aren't used for authoritative voices.” 
America has a prejudiced history with Asians, beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 created to prevent Chinese laborers from immigrating to America to “steal” jobs. It was not just the Chinese who were denied access into the country, but all South and Southeast Asians. 
During the influx of Asian immigrants, the “coolie” stereotype began and Asian women were commonly associated with prostitutes. Many other racist depictions of Asians also derived from propaganda during the Korean and Vietnam War. 
Discrimination against Asians in America has formed a negative stereotype towards the Asian accent. Despite this, Asians continue to be in films, although most representations of Asians have not been positive because many non-Asians continue to mock our accents and reinforce negative stereotypes.
Lynn Nguyen of Roxbury said, “American media has found comedy in Asian accents. They use to cast white people to star as Asians in movies, and to be ‘authentic’ they would make an accent, their role was meant to be funny.”
In the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, actor Mickey Rooney played a Japanese landlord. The director had him stomping instead of walking in an attempt to dehumanize his character. He had buck teeth to emphasize his horrendous accent, and to show how being Asian is meant to be unappealing. 
Yvonne, from the Hebei Province in China, said, “ I think it’s uncomfortable when white actors play Asian characters.” 
 These issues can be resolved by having more Asian directors, diverse casting directors who do accurate casting and for Asian actors to have the opportunity to accurately represent our many communities. There is a large populations of Asians in America that are missing representation. The idea that Southeast Asians represent the entire continent need to be erased. 
My mother has a heavy accent. I see my mother’s accent as resilience. When our pronunciation becomes a stereotype, the identity of the Asian community becomes reduced to nothing more than misconceptions. 

Read more…
Curveball: Packy Naughton’s Journey from BLS to the MLB
“I was 4 years old,” Patrick (Packy) Naughton recalls. He’s sitting in his hotel room, resting after pitching five innings and earning seven strikeouts for the Dayton Dragons just a couple hours earlier. 
“I started going out to the field with my older brother, Jake, and my dad. I wasn’t on the team, but I was always out there with them practicing.”
That practice paid off for 22-year-old Naughton, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in June 2017. He now pitches for the Dragons, their minor league team, and is still following his dream of making it big.
His persistence inspires many Boston teenagers. “I’d say many of the high school baseball players look up to him,” said 18-year-old Lauren Cloherty of West Roxbury. “In a way, he makes ‘making it’ real.” 
18-year-old Maria Levine of West Roxbury agreed. Levine particularly admires how Naughton “follows a path that takes him out of Boston, yet still remains very connected to his roots.”
Naughton began following this path in eighth grade, when he became a starting pitcher for Boston Latin School’s varsity baseball team. By his sophomore year, his coaches were pushing him to fulfill his remarkable potential. 
“My pitching coach...said I could make some real money playing the game of baseball,” Naughton recounts contemplatively. He smiles subtly and continues. “I thought, ‘Yeah, okay. I could see myself playing this for the rest of my life.’”
But Naughton, more than anyone, is aware of the physical risks of pursuing an athletic career. He experienced them firsthand during his junior year of high school. As he began talks with various college coaches about his future baseball career, Naughton suffered an injury in his left (dominant) arm, and had to endure Tommy John surgery. The procedure, which replaced a torn ligament in his elbow with a tendon from his wrist, put him on his team’s injured list for longer than any athlete would like. 
In the 15 months before Naughton started pitching again, he was in physical therapy up to four times a week. He had to work to obtain full range of motion back, and then to strengthen his shoulder and elbow muscles. Thankfully, Naughton made a full recovery from the injury, but the surgery constantly reminds him of the fragility of a professional athlete, as it jeopardized his career before it even had a chance to take off.
“Going out to the field each day, I definitely don’t take it for granted,” he says. “I know that this can come to an abrupt end, but as long as the game of baseball is giving me time, I’m going to make the most of it.”
What exactly is making the most of it for Naughton? It’s rigorous weight training, daily long toss, working seven days a week and pitching one out of every five games. When he isn’t pitching, he’s taking notes on other pitchers and batters, warming up other players, stretching, working out and reviewing film. It’s always something, he says. The constant work is important for Naughton if he wants to stay on top of his game. But the first time he pitched for Virginia Tech, in a game against Clemson, he wondered if the top of his game was even enough. 
“It kind of slapped me in the face when I got to college where I was facing 18- to 23-year-old men who I can’t just throw a 90 mile an hour fastball by,” Naughton says. “I actually have to work for it more. I came in that game against Clemson in relief, there’s a runner on first with no outs, top of the tenth inning and a tie ball game. I wanted to come in and shut the door, give our team a chance to take the win.” The detail with which he presents this story make it clear just how much it’s stuck with him.
“I walked a kid, gave up a single, and all of a sudden, it’s bases loaded. I went on to give up a grand slam that ended up winning the game.”
 It’s almost hard to hear Naughton’s low voice and slow speech at this point. He’s lost in his own memory, reliving the first game that made him fear he was not cut out for this sport. But he did what he knew he had to: “I worked even harder.”
His coaches have noticed this dedication, specifically Seth Etherton, a pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds. “The [Reds] organization holds him in high regard as a young left-handed pitcher,” Etherton says. “He should move through our system pretty quickly if he continues on this track.”
When Naughton is having a particularly tough game, he is able to recognize how far he’s come and how one small detail, whether that be a rocky field or a bad pitch, won’t determine his entire career. 
“It’s just an error. One error isn’t going to make or break your career. Battle through it.”
And battle through it he does. When he recalls a home game against Boston College—just weeks after the devastating Clemson loss—Naughton grins, as if he’s realizing why he plays the game for the first time all over again. 
“I had pitched six innings perfect, without allowing a base runner,” his voice is noticeably lighter now, excited, even. “Again, I’m facing 18- to 23-year-olds, but this time I’m absolutely dominating them.”
Naughton’s sense of belonging is contagious, Coach Etherton notes.
“When it’s time to work, he works,” he says. “When it’s time to be a teammate, he’s 100 percent supportive, keeping everybody laughing.”
As Naughton finishes reflecting, he emphasizes the preciousness he finds in every moment of his career and his life. 
“No matter what, it isn’t as bad as you think it is,” he says. “From having career threatening surgery at 17, to facing challenging opponents on tough days, your head can get caught up in the hard parts. But don’t let it. You’re out here playing a game for a living.”

Read more…
Almost everyone has felt it: the anticipation of waiting for a treasured package’s delivery, checking the doorstep every day to see if it’s arrived. Amazon’s one click ordering feature feels like magic at your fingertips, because with one touch, you can have your desired product in 48 hours. But, I hate to break it to you; it isn’t magic, and Jeff Bezos isn’t Santa—unless Santa’s elves suffer unhealthy workshop conditions. 
Since Amazon’s launch of Amazon Prime in 2005, a feature offering two-day shipping, the company has been aiming to further decrease this delivery period. According to their 2017 quarterly report, the service has accumulated over 100 million users who are supported by Amazon’s half a million employees. 
It is clear that 19-year-old Liam Naughton, of West Roxbury, is a delighted Amazon customer as he snaps his fingers to describe their delivery speed. “Boom, your package is right there. It’s crazy fast.”
While customers are elated by Amazon’s service, workers are not as overjoyed. As of earlier this year, warehouse employees are speaking out against the mistreatment they endure while committing to exceptional customer service. As Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos makes approximately $275 million per day, according to Money Magazine, his employees complain of brutal working conditions. As Amazon prepares to open an office in Boston, and continues its warehouse operation in Dedham, it’s important to stand by our neighbors who already do, or soon will work for the company and demand better treatment for them.
One of these employees, Avelina, whose last name is being withheld per her request, witnessed someone “pass out because of dehydration” during her second week at Amazon. “I don’t think any day I worked ever felt normal,” Avelina added. “If you were late by five minutes you wouldn’t even be able to clock in.”
Prime’s convenience is made possible by men and women working around the clock in warehouses with unrealistic metrics and heavy scrutiny over their every move, such as how often they converse with coworkers, or how long their bathroom breaks are, due to news reports. 
The packaging and shipping responsibilities they are given are nearly impossible to fulfill because of the large tasks they are assigned in a short period of time, with truck routes spreading out as far as possible and keeping employees late, according to Business Insider. 
I reached out to former Amazon employee Hunter Hancock on Twitter, who sports black sunglasses and a jean jacket in his profile picture. He described his time working at the company as “exhausting, uncomfortable and stressful.” He began working at Amazon in San Antonio after his mother got a job there, and both hated their experience, finding themselves in pain after work each day. Hancock spent ten hours a day doing physical labor, on his feet constantly, except for two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch, and only earned $9 an hour.
Both Hancock and Avelina reported crying after or on their way to work. Avelina said, “the management team I was working with made me feel like I was doing everything wrong.” Hancock endured a similar experience, recalling that whenever his manager checked in, “he had an issue with something, even if we weren’t doing anything wrong.”
Lauren Correia, 19, of Roslindale, was horrified to learn about the mistreatment of Amazon’s employees. “Proper treatment of workers should be a company’s top priority,” she said. Naughton agreed. “Jeff Bezos should be giving back to his workers,” he said. “They deserve more.”
The job negatively pushed Hancock to handle more than he was capable of, both mentally and physically. A work environment should be a positive place that encourages employees to improve, but Hancock felt Amazon did the opposite. He recalled that many employees quit mid shift, and often wished he could do the same, but tried to endure the job due to financial reasons. When he finally quit, he didn’t put in two weeks’ notice, he just never returned to work. While describing this decision, Hancock stated, “I don’t regret it at all.”
 Hancock believes Bezos should consider the perspectives of his workers, as “he is so successful, but yet, there’s so many employees that are unhappy, which just seems so selfish.” 
 Correia, an avid Amazon user, also feels strongly about this issue. “It completely changes my opinion about the company and will decrease how often I use it, if I even continue to at all.”

Read more…
Although there is no “calm” period in the year for a large urban school district, there is certainly something gratifying about the beginning of summer—students have finished another year, and schools and central offices can focus on preparation for the next. At least, that’s what usually happens. This year brought abrupt changes, with Tommy Chang’s unexpected departure and the controversial appointment of new interim superintendent Laura Perille. 
Much of the media coverage last June focused on overviewing Chang’s rocky tenure, as well as questioning the lack of community input surrounding Perille’s selection. But as students head back to class, attention shifts from the past to the future. 
“It’s an enormous logistic challenge to get 57,000 children into clean, safe and welcoming buildings with transportation ready to go, with healthy meals ready to be served, and with teachers and staff hired and ready to go,” said Perille. Much of her focus so far has been supporting school and central office staff, ensuring that the 2018-2019 school year begins without any major issues. “It’s not automatic, and it requires attention, so it’s worth saying out loud,” she said of the process. 
After the initial kinks of the first few weeks of school are smoothed out, Perille will shift her focus to advancing the district’s long-term goals, including BuildBPS. The Boston Public Schools website boasts a 230-page guide to their “10-year educational and facilities master plan,” but the interim superintendent acknowledges that we have a long way to go before its completion. “That conversation has had some struggles over the past couple of years around clarity, transparency and authenticity of the community engagement process,” said Perille. She believes that now is the time for the difficult conversations that the city must have in order to move forward with big changes for the future. 
As for the opinions of the students themselves, they would like to see Perille in action before they make a final judgement. Emma Berens, a senior at Boston Latin School, said she “think[s] that involvement and just simply presence—as in, visiting schools and interacting with students—is key for a superintendent to be successful.” She said that she shares many of the values that Perille does, and Boston Latin Academy senior Kevin DiCarlo expressed similar sentiments. “Perille has a similar view to my own on reforming the school systems in Boston, and I hope she will make BPS a more inclusive place and give students the opportunities and support that they need to excel,” he said. 
To achieve these goals, Perille will use experience from her 16 years as CEO of EdVestors, a non-profit dedicated to urban school improvement in Boston. They have pioneered projects to improve art instruction and middle-grade math, both of which are featured prominently on their website. Perille said in her role at EdVestors, she spent countless hours collaborating directly with “classroom teachers and school leaders who are solving problems and coming up with solutions to common challenges across schools.” 
Perille hopes to use these principles to guide her work in BPS, despite her critics’ concerns. According to a July Boston Globe article, many members of the BPS community worry about her lack of experience managing a large institution—at EdVestors she oversaw “fewer than two dozen employees,” while the Boston Public Schools has over 10,000. 
Perille faces complex problems and ambitious goals for the future of Boston Public Schools, but she does not let her interim status stop her from moving forward. “We have to at least begin the conversation,” she said. “Our kids can’t afford to wait another year.”

Read more…