Asian American fashion in Utah: appropriation appreciation and expression

Story by KENZIE WILKINSON

Clothing is a means of expression and a way to represent culture. The presence of Asian American fashion is growing within the industry, and it is important to learn about where these trends are coming from.

Krecia Fullmer is a full-time freelance model, an interior design student at Ensign College in Salt Lake City, and a fashion blogger. She is also half Indian and half Vietnamese.

The combination of Krecia Fullmer’s passions: interior design and modeling. She is holding a pot of inspiration. She said she loves working with natural elements such as plants and stone. Photo by Emily Michelson.

Growing up in Utah, Fullmer saw her father as the odd one out. Other dads didn’t wear traditional Vietnamese slippers, silk pajamas, and button-up shirts with bright designs. She remembers degrading her father and telling him that was not how he was supposed to dress.

Fullmer said it is hard to embrace one’s culture when everyone around doesn’t accept it and makes fun of these cultural customs.

“My father was proud of his culture and a lot of the time my siblings and I were the ones to bully him because we didn’t think he fit in,” Fullmer said in a Zoom interview.

Fullmer began to appreciate her ethnic background and regrets the disrespect she showed her father. Now, she is proud of where she comes from — a mindset she learned to have from both her parents.

Fullmer gets to represent her culture through clothing and embrace it through modeling which she describes as a unique experience. She is working on a photo shoot with a Utah-based clothing brand that celebrates her mother’s history through Indian fashion. Her body will be painted with a henna tattoo and her face will be decorated with traditional Indian makeup.

The world of modeling can be very intimidating. It requires vulnerability. Fullmer finds herself comparing her dark skin, hair, and eyes to other models she works with, who often have light skin, hair and eyes. She reminds herself that companies want her to represent them because of her differences.

“I have the most confidence when I stop comparing and fully embrace my Asian American identity,” Fullmer said.

She brings diversity into companies. Fullmer loves how Utah brands are trying to branch out. They want to show their market that they can embrace diversity, and Fullmer has the opportunity to be the face of this change.

Fullmer said Asian trends are becoming more popular in Utah because similar standards of modesty are important in both cultures. She likes that her ethnicity and culture are represented in Utah, even if people don’t recognize it.

Whether it’s off-centered buttons down a dress or high neck collars, Fullmer said these examples show that Asian-inspired trends are rising especially within various Utah-based boutiques.

Because of beliefs within their Asian culture, Fullmer’s parents didn’t always support the idea of her chasing her passions of modeling and interior design. Her parents often led her to think that she couldn’t succeed and encouraged her to pick a more stable career in the medical field. 

The battle between passion and financial and career stability is also familiar to Andy Suh, a current student at Salt Lake Community College.

He is in the fashion design program but is planning to change his major to computer science. For him, having financial stability is important, and the main reason behind his degree shift.

“Fashion won’t be my career, but it will be a hobby I continue to pursue,” Suh said in a Zoom interview.

Both of Suh’s parents were born in Korea and then moved to California. Growing up there, Suh said he was surrounded by mostly white people. It was hard for him to accept his Asian American identity. He tried to immerse himself in “normal” culture and didn’t want to seem different.

During his high school years, Suh found his love for fashion which also became a way for him to accept and appreciate his Asian American identity. Scrolling through Instagram, seeing Asian influencers and high-end designers, he was inspired to create and sketch outfits.

Moving to Utah in 2019 was a challenging transition for Suh. There is a lot less diversity in Utah which caused some culture shock. Suh said It is harder to find Asian fashion in Utah than it was in California, but slowly he began to adjust. The representation of Asian American fashion could be better, he said. But he believes that is changing.

Social media, Anime, K-pop, and Asian American influencers are a few ways that Suh has seen Asian American fashion begin to be more accepted. The interconnection of fashion and other cultural aspects is helping to propel the change forward.

But, Suh said cultural appropriation happens a lot among high-end designers and haute couture fashion houses, which can strip traditional fashions of their cultural significance.

“This is a problem because a lot of trends start at the top and work their way down. We don’t need cultural appropriation being a part of those trends,” Suh said.

Kathy Tran, a University of Utah student and fashion lover, explains cultural appropriation as a lack of education and bad intent.

Paris is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world. Here, Kathy Tran visits the Louvre dressed as artistically as the museum she visits. Photo courtesy of Tran.

“If there is one Asian-inspired dress in a whole store, it’s cultural appropriation. If designers use an Asian pattern, copy a traditional dress such as an Ao Dai — a traditional Vietnamese garment — or use any part of a culture that isn’t theirs for personal gain, it’s stealing,” Tran said in a Zoom interview.

Tran loves her Vietnamese culture and wishes people would take the time to research it before they use a part of Asian culture.

Taking the time to learn where it came from, giving credit to the sources, and having respectful, good intentions are things Tran encourages everyone to do. These things can allow individuals to appreciate culture instead of appropriating it.

Despite growing up in a predominately white part of Utah, Tran stayed very connected to her Vietnamese identity. She went to a Catholic Vietnamese church, was taught to speak Vietnamese, and was surrounded by supportive friends and family.

Tran’s parents both worked full-time to have a successful life. Tran said her life has been very blessed because of them despite the challenges they faced.

“My friends all did tennis or dance. My parents couldn’t afford to put me in extracurricular activities and didn’t have the time to drive me to them,” Tran said.

Fashion and beauty became her passion and sense of identity. Everyone wears clothes and it was something she had access to. She remembers cutting her clothes and repurposing them after being inspired by YouTube videos.

Over the years, Tran became more confident in expressing herself through bold clothing and makeup. Music festivals are one of her favorite events to dress up for. Eccentric and avant-garde fashions are the norm at these festivals, and Tran loves that she can wear whatever she wants without the worry of what others might think.

Fullmer, Suh and Tran all have different positions in the fashion world and express their passion for it in various ways. It is an outlet for human connection and cultural expression. It is a time and place for education about Asian American culture, and an opportunity for fashion enthusiasts to embrace it.

“I love that we are in a day and age where I no longer feel that I have to divide my love for fashion from my Asian American identity,” Tran said. “I am learning how to embrace both and I hope everyone else can do the same.”
 

Devin Oldroyd

MY STORIES:

MY BLOG:

If I have learned anything from this past semester, it is that “the” Asian American community is much more present in Utah than I knew. Now that I have written my stories, I see ideas for new ones surrounding “the” community everywhere I look. Because of Voices of Utah, I will keep a closer eye on things surrounding “the” community in Utah, whether that be festivals, restaurants, legislature, etc.

Throughout my experience, I learned more about “the” Asian American community than I ever thought I would. Writing my stories has helped me realize that Utah is full of Asian communities and Asian culture that I, as a white American, an outsider, can never fully understand. That does not mean that I cannot learn from them though.

I have learned so much, particularly, from the individuals I was able to interview. Interviews are something that I have a love-hate relationship with. I would call myself introverted, yet interviewing someone can be so interesting. Learning about somebody’s story or their thoughts and feelings on a particular subject is truly a valuable experience and something that I love so much about being a journalist.

Talking with and getting to know my sources was one of the best parts of Voices of Utah. It was so great. Maxwell and Annie from Tosh’s Ramen in Holliday were so kind and hospitable to me. I was able to coordinate with them when I was coming to their restaurant and they made sure to treat my friends and me with kindness. They checked in with us periodically throughout our meal and made sure that everything was perfect for us.

Everyone at the National JACL Credit Union was incredibly helpful while I was developing my story. They were quick to respond when I reached out and always gave super helpful answers. Overall, I don’t think I could have had better sources.

ABOUT ME:

Devin Oldroyd is a sophomore at the University of Utah. He is pursuing a double major in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism and Gender Studies. He expects to graduate in May 2024.

Oldroyd has a passion for journalism that he discovered in high school when he wrote for his school’s newspaper. He wrote for The Buffalog for three out of his four high school years. During this time, he held the position of both the managing editor and the in-depth page editor.

This eventually led to Oldroyd joining the staff of the University of Utah’s campus newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle as a news writer. During his time at The Chronicle, he has published over 30 articles ranging from features to breaking news stories.

Currently, Oldroyd works as a digital content producer with KSL Newsradio. At KSL Oldroyd writes web stories, maintains the KSL Newsradio app and works with the social media accounts sharing stories and promoting the brand. Oldroyd has learned so much from his time spent in the newsroom at KSL and is excited for what the future holds.

Oldroyd finds journalism to be challenging, but very rewarding. He enjoys seeing his work published and is so happy to be able to participate in the final year of Voices of Utah with Professor Mangun.

In his free time, Oldroyd enjoys theater, reading, writing, hiking, and spending time with his friends and family.

The National JACL Credit Union and the importance of the JACL

Story by DEVIN OLDROYD

On Feb. 19, 1942, more than 125,000 Japanese Americans across the United States were forced out of their homes and into internment camps. Japanese internment was a response to the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor carried out by the Japanese military. This time is now remembered as a dark spot in the history of the United States.

Utah was home to one internment camp, Topaz War Relocation Center, located in Delta.

Finding themselves displaced, distraught and disjointed from society, Japanese Americans coming out of internment camps turned to the National Japanese American Citizens League Credit Union as a safe place to bank. The National JACL Credit Union was born out of the idea to help those who had been forced into internment camps assimilate back into society.

This sign showcases a plum blossom, the logo of the National JACL Credit Union. Photo courtesy of Dean Hirabayashi.

According to Dean Hirabayashi, the president and CEO of the National JACL Credit Union, efforts to start the credit union began with Topaz. Individuals who had jobs were being released. They were earning a paycheck but found that banks would not allow them to deposit their money or take out any loans.

“There was a group that wanted to help these people,” Hirabayashi said in a phone interview. “They did some research into a financial institution that is a cooperative, which is a credit union.”

Nearly 80 years later, the credit union still serves Japanese American Citizens League members. It is a relatively small credit union, only having one office in Salt Lake City. According to Hirabayashi, today it serves about 3,800 members and has around $37 million in assets.

Though in the beginning, the credit union was only open to members of JACL, it now serves residents of Salt Lake County. Additionally, by extension, family members of customers of the credit union can bank with it.

“Those people who are members in JACL are our primary members,” Hirabayashi said. “We opened our fields of membership to Salt Lake County, only because [of] the aging population of the JACL.”

Dean Hirabayashi is the CEO and president of the National JACL Credit Union. Photo courtesy of Hirabayashi.

Maya Chow associates the credit union, JACL, the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple and organizations like them with a feeling of camaraderie. She is the daughter of Tatsuo Koga, one of the National JACL Credit Union’s founders. Chow said in a phone interview that it served as a place where everyone knew each other and felt comfortable. In the earlier days, it was a place where Japanese was spoken, something she thought to be helpful.

“I think the Nisei (the child of Japanese immigrants born in the U.S. or Canada) tried hard to fit in as ‘Americans’ so [they] did not speak Japanese to us or try to make us show ourselves as Japanese, especially during the war,” Chow said in a follow-up email.

Chow said the Nisei would borrow money from the National JACL Credit Union during wartime because they knew of nowhere else to go. She described the Nisei as a “tight-knit community back then.”

Hirabayashi said the National JACL Credit Union still aims to help Japanese Americans and members of JACL, over anyone else.

“For us, being able to help the Japanese American community, whether it be for financial services, or small sponsorships or different things like that, that’s one of our main objectives,” Hirabayashi said.

He said all of the current employees at the credit union are members of JACL. Employees are encouraged to join JACL, and Hirabayashi even pays for their memberships.

Additionally, it is not a requirement that employees be Japanese to work at the credit union. Hirabayashi said that individuals of Chinese, Korean and European descent all work at the National JACL Credit Union.

“I’ve been a long-time member of the JACL,” said Larry Grant, chairman of the board of directors for the National JACL Credit Union, in a phone interview. “I joined the credit union initially, just because it was, kind of, an alternate place to put my savings, where, at the time, the credit union wasn’t offering checking accounts so it was a little less accessible.”

Along with the National JACL Credit Union, Grant, who is half-Japanese, said he has done quite a bit of work with JACL in general.

One of Grant’s first responsibilities as a chapter officer was being the vice president of scholarships. He said most JACL chapters offer scholarships to high school seniors and some even offer them to college students.

Both entrances of the National JACL Credit Union feature a torii-inspired gate. In traditional Japanese culture, toriis represent the entrance of a sacred area. Photo by Devin Oldroyd.

“We promote education about Japanese Americans and things like what happened in Topaz,” he said, noting that “120,000 people were incarcerated and two-thirds of them were American citizens. There was never any court hearings, no habeas corpus or anything. [They] were summarily moved out of their homes and forced into these camps.”

Grant said JACL does a lot to educate people on Japanese culture. It hosts cultural presentations and the Japan Festival in Salt Lake City each year. (Due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus, the next festival is scheduled for 2023.)

It is also very involved in civil rights issues, Grant said.

“We’re not only looking for things that affect Japanese Americans but other Asian Americans and any other minority groups who suffer [from] discrimination because of their race, religion or even sexual orientation. We’ll fight for their rights,” he said.

The building is dedicated to Shigeki “Shake” Ushio, one of the founders of the National JACL Credit Union. Photo by Devin Oldroyd.

Chow, whose father was a founder of the credit union, described JACL as a way to bring Japanese culture to Utah, something she feels is important for younger Japanese Americans.

“I think the generation now doesn’t feel the need that they have to associate with the Japanese [culture] or seek out any Japanese [culture],” she said. “I would think that they would want to carry on, just like us, what their heritage was and try to pass it down to the next generation.”

The National JACL Credit Union is located at 3776 Highland Drive in Salt Lake City. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

New owners bring fresh ideas to Tosh’s Ramen in Holliday

Story and photos by DEVIN OLDROYD

Savory curry ramen, sweet mango sticky rice and much more dance across the tastebuds of customers just through the glass doors of the evolving Tosh’s Ramen Holladay.

“Tosh’s Ramen initially started with a Japanese man named Toshio Sekikawa,” said co-owner Maxwell Peck, during a Zoom interview. “He had been in the food industry for his whole life. … He just recently retired and sold the Holladay location to me and my wife.”

Tosh’s Ramen Holladay is located at 1963 E. Murray Holladay Road.

In January 2022 Maxwell and Annie Peck became owners of the restaurant, about 20 minutes away from downtown Salt Lake City. They run one of the two locations — the other located closer to downtown on State Street — and have a big vision involving more than just ramen. Sekikawa, nicknamed “Tosh,” ran both restaurants until selling them so he could retire.

Both Annie and Maxwell say they love running their restaurant. They enjoy the existing customer base and the relationship they have maintained with Sekikawa, who is now 70.

“Everybody loves Tosh,” Maxwell said. “Even trying to do a business deal with Tosh, we love him so much, he’s such a great guy. He stops by every once in a while, but he tries to stay retired.”

Maxwell and Annie were first introduced to Sekikawa and Tosh’s Ramen through a friend. Annie, who is from Thailand, was working at Sawadee Thai Restaurant at the time. The owner, Pom, heard from Sekikawa that he wanted to retire and return to Japan. She told Annie, “Hey, this restaurant is for sale, you and your husband should have it.”

With Pom’s encouragement, Annie left her job at Sawadee to learn how to cook ramen with Tosh and, eventually, assume ownership of the restaurant.

“I got to make ramen for two months with Tosh,” she said in a Zoom interview. “Tosh, he just [taught] me everything, like [the] ingredients.” Annie also studied his business format.

Curry ramen is a favorite of Maxwell and Annie, as well as customers. It is made with Japanese-style pork cutlet, onsen tamago (soft boiled egg), bok choy, negi (spring onion) and wheat noodles.

They have different roles at the restaurant.

“The dynamic of a couple running a restaurant works very well,” Maxwell said. “But you can’t have husband and wife both in the kitchen. You’ll butt heads for sure. Especially if you’re both hardworking people. If you have two very strong energies, one has to control for sure. I leave the kitchen to [Annie]. She runs that perfectly and I handle all the other business aspects.”

Even Annie said that she takes control of the kitchen, while Maxwell checks in on customers, making sure they are enjoying their time dining.

“I have to handle everything, like [making] the food come out,” she said. “[Controlling] the quality, [making] every bowl taste the same. Not salty or sweet, or something like that, and make the food look good. That’s all my work.”

Green tea is a classic from the original menu. Tosh’s Ramen serves Hojicha, which is a homemade green tea that is roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal.

Annie said that making her dishes look appealing and pretty is something she puts a lot of thought into. She pays close attention to the presentation of every dish, making sure it is appealing to the eye. According to the Pecks, this contrasts with the traditional, simple style of food preparation that Sekikawa favored when it came to his menu and the interior layout of his restaurants. This is something they love about the former owner, but they intend to expand upon his original concept.

“We’ve kept every same recipe because we know that that’s important,” Maxwell said. “But we wanted to do some interior changes. Like we’re painting the walls, we’re gonna put up a mural and make it look more like a restaurant. Right now, it does, kind of, look like an office space. It was a bank before. It still kind of looks like a bank inside.”

Every dish is specially curated by Annie. The mango sticky rice dish is a good example of this with its carefully placed mango slices and mint leaf in the center.

The couple has added to more than just the interior of their restaurant. Along with getting new kitchenware, décor and dishes such as bowls, they have expanded their menu. Things like katsu curry rice, lemon honey green tea and mango sticky rice have all made their way through the kitchen and onto the plates of customers. They are enacting their vision while still doing their best to stay true to that of Sekikawa.

The duo’s vision is something Megumi Haverson, a server who works with Annie and Maxwell, called refreshing. Haverson has been with Tosh’s Ramen Holladay for over three years, working with the Pecks as well as Sekikawa.

“It’s like a different energy,” Haverson said.

Sekikawa was a “typical, older Japanese man,” who stuck with tradition, Haverson said. She noticed customers were intrigued when he strayed from tradition and sold to the Pecks.

Haverson said the additions to the menu and the interior renovations have begun to draw a younger crowd. She said that the new generation, as she called them, get excited to try the new dishes.

“I was really, kind of, nervous about how much Tosh’s Ramen is going to be changing,” Haverson said. But now she is excited to see what the Pecks will bring to the business.

Tosh’s Ramen Holladay is located at 1963 E. Murray Holladay Road. It is open 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Leyre Casarin

MY STORIES:

MY BLOG:

WHAT A RIDE!

That is when you need to start appreciating the little things and celebrating the successes. In this class, I tried to go out of my comfort zone since I am not a public speaker and doing interviews for the first time with important people was challenging. I had to go through a process every time which required me to face up to all my fears.

Woooow. What a rollercoaster of a semester! It brought a lot of things on my plate. I want to celebrate the little successes, but I want to start with the disappointments, since, unfortunately, there were more of these.

In this semester, I overcame some disappointments, but I haven’t gotten my life poisoned by them. It happens! Maybe this is something you wouldn’t expect to read…

Disappointments cannot be avoided; they displace and jeopardize our balance. But we can always defend ourselves. And they can even be turned into a springboard to new challenges and opportunities. The secret is to know yourself well, not to cultivate disproportionate expectations and never stop safeguarding your self-esteem. But also, in “not closing yourself to desire” while maintaining the willingness to do and move forward.

Starting from a fact: each of us has happened to be disappointed at least once in our lives, and when it happens, our expectations are shattered and us with them. People, circumstances, contingent situations, everything can contribute to disorienting us and collapsing ourselves. And we are disappointed in love, in work, social, life, school, or sport.

In my case, I had some “down moments” in general. That’s life though. I always wanted to push myself in everything I do and this semester I ended up having six classes, two internships, and a busy schedule with swimming.

I felt like Wonder Woman, but in the end, my physical and mental health were having a lot of ups and downs.

So, what did I do? We can always react, and go through the painful experience successfully, to get out of it positively.

I have regained lucidity and balance by always keeping in touch with reality, with Professor Mangun who was like a Holy Grail for me, with having realistic expectations, and learning to know myself better. Self-knowledge is the basis of a good relationship with reality as well as being aware of our limits and our potential. This nourished my confidence.

I also learned to be more patient because there are waiting times that I can’t control, especially when the people you interview don’t answer you or they are busy. It can be stressful, but the idea of a “race” also comes into play. The fact of not wanting to surrender to the obstacles that life and this class put in front of me. For some people, they are even stimulating because they push them to “get busy.”

Finally, the mutation of disappointment into a vital process is actually the transformation of pain, its “sublimation” into a creative act: “creating” yourself, aware that you can be the architect of your own life, as an actor and not a spectator.

Stick to reality is really important, and the book “Writing as Craft and Magic” by Carl Sessions Stepp helped me. Especially Chapter 6, “Beginning to Write: Focus and Leads,” as that was my major problem. It illustrated the writer’s purpose and all the different types of examples, which were really helpful for utilizing the creativity I knew I had but I didn’t know how to start a story and give order to it.

I celebrated the fact that I have made it through this class, through my swimming career, through college in the United States — which is on the other side of my homeland, Italy — through a culture, system, language, challenges that helped me better myself, be openminded and learn.

Voices of Utah, I will say it again, really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. I have realized I might not be the best person to conduct interviews, and that maybe reporting isn’t my specialty.

I am “pathos girl” and that is why it is hard for me to keep myself out of the stories. I emotionally connect too much with the people I interview.

I have realized that collaboration and constructive critics are so important, and it was amazing to work with fellow classmates and learn from their brilliant points of view.

This is more than just a class. It is a very introspective analysis, and this is what I collected:

  1. In times of crisis, great opportunities are hidden. When everything seems to go wrong, stopping, thinking and taking a good look around is very necessary because it is in these moments that the greatest opportunities and epiphanies/realizations often lurk.
  2. Change is inevitable, it is part of life. Everyone changes, so work on yourself to be one of those people who get better over time. And as doing so, be flexible and adapt to every situation that changed.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. This might be cliché, but it is so true sometimes. The things that happen to us, good or bad, are less important than what we give them credit for.
  4. Don’t take anything for granted. While working and readapting the topic for Voices of Utah, there were times where I felt hopeless because I couldn’t see the work I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. But then I remembered that life, your loved ones, your peace, your freedom, your security are still there even when we do not see them. And being grateful for what we have is always a good reminder that it is never the end of the world if an assignment didn’t come out as we planned. You are still doing a good job and putting a lot of hard work into it that will pay off anyway.
  5. The only person who will be with you for your entire life is you. Before worrying about solvable problems, you need to take care of yourself, even if it means to slow down and take a break. More than once, I got stuck with my writings and so I decided to leave the work there to take time for myself.
  6. The ego is your biggest saboteur. Sometimes we create the biggest obstacles ourselves. Keeping it in check was what I learned, and that helped to realize that things were easier than I thought, and I just needed to take that little first step, the start.

The most satisfying part of being a professional communicator or storyteller was having the privilege to meet important people and connect with them. Telling stories about Asian Americans was incredibly helpful to myself to learn more about them. There is always a new facet that the big most popular newspapers/websites miss or do not include. I would say I had some adrenaline while going into the interviews.

I have always wanted to be a journalist or a storyteller. It started with the newspaper in middle school or in the parish and ended up bringing me to college and pursuing journalism. At all costs, forever.

A profession? No, a good mess. Considered too romantic, always much talked about, so mythicized, but most of the time little understood due to the infinite emotions it causes you and which you often cannot tell due to the lack of space. A tender passion which never abandons you and which no threatening “network” or multimedia can turn off. But this is all satisfaction.

When I was writing my stories about Asian Americans, I was thinking, and overthinking, but especially, I was feeling what they were saying.

You have to be pierced by pain, by their feelings, to be able to tell them and give a soul to those thousand or three thousand words… This is why also a reporter can be moved as a human right and as a professional duty.

ABOUT ME:

Leyre Casarin is a senior at the University of Utah and is majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism. She is also completing a minor in business. She is a swimmer and part of the Utah swim and dive team, competing at one of the highest levels in college swimming.

She is an international student from Italy, and aspires to enter the digital media world.

Her ultimate dream is to create. She has some long-term projects but doesn’t want to tell them. Superstition! 

As plan B she would love to work in the fashion industry as she has always been passionate about it and growing up in Italy that helped her have a sense of style.

Being a student-athlete, she has faced many challenges that brought her to have good time management. Leyre has had to balance being a Division I athlete while maintaining good grades in order to compete. 

With a new language, new culture, new people and far from home, with double practices almost every day of the week, lift sessions, treatments, and rehab, Leyre had to go through ups and downs that only made her stronger.

As athletics have taken up a ton of her time throughout her life, Leyre is managing to complete two internships as a writer for a sports magazine, and as a marketing intern for the University of Utah Athletics. She hopes to find an internship as a digital media marketer, or content writer/creator within the business, fashion, health, or sports industries.

As she has been into sport her whole life, Leyre hopes to give space to her creativity and focus on her other passions. Voices of Utah is definitely another experience in the books!

From suffering to redemption: Asian American Floyd Mori tells his story

Floyd Mori shares how, besides the pain, violence and discrimination, there is still love to give to the Asian American communities.

Story by LEYRE CASARIN

Sometimes you don’t need to be a superhero to do great things. Often, it is enough to simply give love and complete your work with dedication, commitment, and passion. As Floyd Mori did and does, showing uncommon courage.

Shiro Floyd Mori is a farm boy.

He is the seventh of eight children, who was raised in Utah by principled parents and long-suffering siblings. 

Floyd Mori, in the front row, with his older brothers Nobuo, Tom, and Shig in about 1944. All photos courtesy of Floyd Mori.

“I benefited greatly from my older siblings’ example and reputation they had of being stellar students,” he said in an email interview. 

Mori’s father emigrated from Japan in 1906 at age 16. Originally a worker at the railroad in Utah and then a farmer, his goal was to give and help the family have a better situation.

His father returned to Japan to find a wife when he was 30. He did and brought her to the U.S., where they settled in Cache Valley in northern Utah in 1921.

Because of language barriers, Mori’s parents were occasionally speaking English and conducted a social life more at home and at the farm. Mori and his younger brother helped till they left for college.

“Yes, my parents had their struggle with prejudice, but my father was very honorable and soon gained respect from neighbors all of whom were white,” he wrote in the email.

Japanese Americans and other Asians in the U.S. had suffered from racial prejudice and fear for decades. Discriminatory laws that prevented Asian Americans from owning lands, voting, testifying against whites in court and other racial discriminatory laws existed before World War II.

But that brought even more pain to the Mori family. Two of his older brothers got drafted into the U.S. Army and served during World War II. But one of them died while serving.

“It was a major loss to a Japanese family,” Mori said. “My mother suffered greatly and was depressed for years after his death. She regained much self-regard when she and my father joined the LDS (Mormon) Church in their later years.”

As if that wasn’t enough, in 1942, President Roosevelt authorized the secretary of war to prescribe certain areas as military zones, paving the way for the incarceration of Asian Americans in U.S. detention camps. The overwhelming majority of the inmates were Japanese Americans.

“So, during WWII much of the pride turned into shame because of the way they were treated. WWII was depressing for Japanese-born as well as U.S.-born Japanese. Besides being denied citizenship they were sent to desolate concentration camps just because of who they were,” Mori said.

Mori confirmed that the “generation of Asians that experienced a catastrophe in their lives are bound to become depressed with the results. WWII did that to me as I was a child when war was in progress and saw the negative caricatures and ugly depiction of the enemy at that time.”

Allyson Drayton, who is a National Certified Counselor, has written about racial trauma. Mental, physical and emotional health problems associated with racial trauma really build up over time. 

Mori added that he was ashamed of his identity, of who he was, and he avoided all that was Japanese in his youth, such as Japanese food. He was beaten up by older boys when he was a kid. During his teenage years, girls’ mothers would not allow them to date him.

Mori wrote that racial trauma is in violence, hate and taunting: that became part of their lives.

Violence has always been there but more recently recognized by society at large.

“My father-in-law lost a thriving business, his home, his dignity when he was forced from Los Angeles during WWII,” he said. “There was never a recovery from this trauma.”

Floyd Mori with the then Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. 

Mori added, “There is shame, embarrassment, and humiliation because of these violent treatments Asians receive.”

But from all this suffering, he made his way to redemption. Floyd Mori acted: a powerful weapon against pain.

He became an author and is an educator.

He is a former CEO at Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and a former executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

To become who he is now, and to make it where he is now, besides a turbulent path, Mori became also a political activist and a civil rights advocate for minorities, impacting a lot of people’s lives.

Mori was a city council member, a mayor of Pleasanton, California, and an assemblyman.

“I knew he would be a great asset to the city of Pleasanton because of his values, knowledge and fairness. He was elected to the city council and then went on to be Mayor of Pleasanton,” Mori’s former student, Steve Ferguson, said in an email.

Floyd Mori with JACL fellows at an immigration march in Washington, D.C., 2010, while he was the national executive director/CEO of the Japanese American Citizens League.

“I met Floyd Mori in 1966 when I first attended Chabot College in Hayward, CA. He was my Economics Professor. He had always impressed me as a bright, caring, and dedicated man,” Ferguson said.

Sherrie Hayashi, Mori’s co-worker, said in an email, “Floyd is one of my favorite people. His dedication and commitment to advocating for Asian American communities and issues is aspirational. Floyd always has new ideas. He creates opportunities for young leaders and actively mentors and encourages people to collaborate and be engaged in community work.” They worked together on several projects, including the National JACL Convention in Salt Lake City in 2019. 

“Floyd has had a significant impact in Asian American communities, especially the Japanese American community. He has been a leader at the local, state, and national level, serving in leadership capacities in the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States (JACL) having been established in 1929,” Hayashi added. 

His works, his devotion, his love for his people, along with Asian American advocacy and organizations, are making the difference.

“The new generations of Asian Americans that have seen the results of bigotry in this country are not going to let this continue,” Mori said.

Floyd Mori, left, with Jake Fitisemanu at the Organization of Chinese Americans awards dinner in Salt Lake City, 2019.

Jake Fitisemanu, current West Valley City councilman, recollected good memories of Mori. 

“We first met in May 2015 when I was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the presidential advisory committee. Floyd has been an amazingly supportive and insightful mentor who encouraged me to run for local office when I concluded my service in the White House,” Fitisemanu said in an email interview.

“One thing that stands out to me is that despite his demanding schedule and external commitments to family, church, business, etc. he is frequently seen at community events, demonstrating his devotion to community through his presence, his physical, tangible support,” Fitisemanu wrote.

Floyd Mori is like a hero without a cloak. He is that type of person who has been able to face the difficulties of life with his head held high and who looks to the present and the future with a strong and enthusiastic spirit. 

“He provides strategic guidance and overarching direction but allows staff and volunteers the freedom and power to operationalize and implement using their own creativity and expertise,” Fitisemanu said.

Mori is an example to follow, as he is giving voice to and helping Asian American communities by showing courage in daily life, overcoming the obstacles society, the system, and the government throw their way, besides the improvements made for these minorities in the past years. 

“Floyd has also actively supported Pacific Islander communities and initiatives, with sensitivity and respect toward the controversial notion that combining Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders into a single demographic category is not mutually beneficial, and actually disadvantages Pacific Islanders,” Fitisemanu said. 

Without forgetting the past, Mori envisions a better future. “My optimism is in the fact that more Asians are engaging in the political process as voters and as vote-getters running for office.”

Jiyoon Yu

MY STORIES:

MY BLOG:

When I heard our Voices of Utah Spring 22 beat is related to Asian Americans, I was excited and nervous at the same time. Because I felt little pressure to come up with a creative topic, it was my first time writing my article.

At first, I felt difficulties collecting and selecting some sources and interviewees. Publishing a story can be a crucial factor in giving recognition to an audience. 

Learning the manner when I do some interviews with people whom I never met was a challenge itself for me. Setting the location, interview times, and making appropriate questions are valuable experiences as a future journalist.

News outlets that thrive now and in the future will be those that can understand and serve the whole of their communities.

I continually tried to consider the ‘Writer’s toolbox’ by completing my article. I’m not an English person, but I believe that text and strong topic sentences have the power to move our minds. Writers should look over their stories before publication. This practice makes a lot of sense in investigative reporting when we interview powerful people for a story. The vast majority of my interviews were not adversarial situations. People I interviewed were often helping me out. In this point of view, peer editing is also one of the essential previous steps. 

The relationships between my peers and me are cooperative ones. We can exchange much advice and get ideas for a wide range of sentence types. Solid supporting details and a nut graph tell the reader what the writer is up to; it delivers a promise of the story’s content and message. All these diversity components need persuasive arguments that this issue has broader, deeper, urgent effects on our news organizations and their future sustainability. It is an honor to participate in this meaningful project, and I’m grateful to everyone around me for helping me develop my reporting and writing skills. 

ABOUT ME:

A graduate of the University of Utah, Jiyoon Yu is a high achiever who majored in Communication. She has a passion for journalism and looks forward to writing her own stories with her point of view as she enters the field of journalism and begins studying.

Jiyoon knew from an early age that she wanted to work as a journalist. Participating in journalism is something she is truly passionate about. Jiyoon enjoys movies and games as much as other people, but she actually views newscasters as the real superheroes in her life. She loved school from the moment she hosted the news as a school announcer. She has loved every minute of her time in the broadcasting booth, from exploring new topics to building strong announcing skills and collaboration with other students. 

Jiyoon is also an active learner of foreign language. In 2019, she was selected for Chinese Language Summer School program from University of Utah Asia campus (UAC) and went to Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) for four weeks. She finds this achievement very rewarding and considers it to be a wonderful experience that will help for her future career. During her high school years, Jiyoon served as a volunteering English tutor, helping students in lower grades master spelling and writing skills. 

She was a member of U-Go-Girl, which is a girls hip hop dance club and Ultimate Broadcasting with Absolute Quality (UBAQ) in UAC. She played a role that allows her to participate in various performances of UAC, such as Incheon Global Campus (IGC) Music Festival. For the UBAQ, she filmed and edited some short films directly to introduce students’ school life and uploaded them on UAC social media (Facebook) page as well.

The most effective way to use an opportunity given to the U students 

Story and photos by JIYOON YU

University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC) main entrance. Since September 2014, the Asia campus has offered undergraduate programs in communication, psychology, urban ecology, film & media arts, and graduate programs in public health and biomedical informatics. 

According to the University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC) website, with an investment of one billion dollars, the global campus will host 10 of the world’s leading universities all ranked among the top-100 universities and draw a diverse population of about 10,000 students from around the globe.

Termed the “best global education hub in Northeast Asia,” Incheon Global Campus (IGC) is a national project established by the Korean government and Incheon Metropolitan City to nurture the next generation of global manpower who will lead in education, economics, industry, culture and art. 

Incheon is turning itself into the business hub of Northeast Asia. The city has a well-established transportation network including Incheon International Airport — which was ranked first in airport service quality by the Airports Council for 10 consecutive years — Incheon port and the international business complex.

Boasting a highly effective business environment, the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) offers almost everything from logistics and medical services to education and cutting-edge industries. Songdo is home to multinationals and regional headquarters of international organizations, such as UN APCICT and A WEB.

Both campuses promote top quality teaching and advanced research practices, which lead to innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. Whatever students’ interest, they will be part of a rich legacy of excellence at the University of Utah.

Jaehoon Choi, a senior admissions counselor at UAC, said in a Zoom interview, “The undergraduate students will spend three years studying at the UAC in South Korea, and one year studying in the Salt Lake City campus in Utah. Graduate students will also spend one year at the Asia campus and one year in the Salt Lake City campus to complete their degrees.”

All students at the UAC will receive a University of Utah degree, while being taught and mentored by qualified faculty appointed at the University of Utah in South Korea.

This is one of the housing buildings at IGC. Students at the UAC are eligible for on-campus housing. Fully furnished apartment buildings have lounges, a laundromat, exercise facilities, and a cafeteria. The University of Utah provides a safe, comfortable, and healthy living environment that is shared with students from other universities at the IGC. 

Choi also added that students will typically spend two semesters, roughly around their third year of studies, at the University of Utah Salt Lake City campus. The fourth year integrates degree coursework with career readiness and preparation.

“As an undergraduate student admitted to the Asia campus you will spend three years studying at the Asia campus and one year studying at the U.S. campus. Undergraduate degree programs offered at the Asia campus include: Communication (BA/BS), Psychology (BS), Film & Media Arts (BA), Urban Ecology (BS), and Civil & Environmental Engineering,” Choi said.

“The first year at the University of Utah Asia campus is called Global Campus First Year Studies. First-year students complete a set of foundational courses: A two-semester sequence on the topic of global citizenship; introductory major courses; courses to develop academic writing skills; and also math and science. The second year is focused on coursework for the major,” Choi said.

The lobby is a place where many events are held at UAC, such as Thanksgiving dinner and orientation. Students will typically spend two semesters, roughly around their third year of studies, at the University of Utah Salt Lake City campus. The fourth year integrates degree coursework with career readiness and preparation.

According to Cameron Vakilian, academic advisor and internship coordinator at the U, “The University of Utah is honored to have been invited to bring its record of academic excellence to the Republic of Korea with the opening of its new Asia campus. The University of Utah offers the best possible academic experience. Your education is based on more than just the classes you take or the grades you receive.” 

The Department of Communication website described that communication is much more than just the written word, and it takes place at both an interpersonal and mass scale. With the University of Utah’s Communication degree program, students learn how to be effective communicators for all different types of audiences. Communication is a diverse discipline and offers a variety of skills to prepare students for their careers.

Through a combination of theoretical and technical training, the Communication program allows students to develop a comprehensive portfolio to market themselves to the industry.

“The program has focus areas in four sub-fields of communication, allowing students to tailor their degree to best fit their strengths and interests. These focus areas include Strategic Communication (public relations, advertising, integrated marketing), Journalism (digital, broadcast, print), Communication Studies, or Science, Health, Environmental, and Risk Communication,” Vakilian said.

Celine Ku, a senior transfer student from the UAC, said, “The Department of Communication offers students many enrichment opportunities, such as internships and part-time work in professional settings. If you want to network and spend time with fellow communication students, be sure to join one of the department’s many clubs and organizations.”

Ku said, “The Communication major at the University of Utah emphasizes academic learning, including theoretical and methodological expertise, along with practical and technical knowledge and training.”

Anna Yacovone, international programs coordinator of UAC, said in her email interview, “The John R. Park Debate Society in Salt Lake City allows members to practice debate skills in a friendly, competitive environment, while the Absolute Communication agency both at UAC and Salt Lake City is a student-run advertising and PR company affiliated with the U that allows students to gain experience in the communications industry.”

The College of Humanities website states that the “Communication department is highly ranked in critical theory, cultural studies, ecology, law, popular culture, race and ethnicity, and rhetoric. The department is committed to excellence across the full range of communication research and teaching, offering top-notch B.A., and B.S. degrees, as well as two undergraduate sequences like Strategic Communication sequence and Journalism.”

The Incheon Global Campus Health Center provides primary and outpatient clinical care for students and staff on campus. Services include medical care for injuries, symptom management, medication treatment, health screenings and health consultations. 

According to University of Utah Regulations, students at U must complete a total of 122 credit hours to earn their bachelor’s degree. Forty of those credit hours must be upper division (3000-level or higher). Students may need to complete additional courses outside of general education and major requirements in order to meet total required hours.

According to the Admissions office, transfer students interested in a Communication major should consult with the department’s undergraduate advising office. Certain courses may articulate between a previous school and the department. Transfer students may apply up to four articulated or equivalent courses from other institutions toward a major in the department.

“Graduates of the Communication program have found work as editors, communication directors, marketing and sales managers, and radio and video producers. Careers in publishing (as a writer or editor), advertising, and the media (as a broadcaster, journalist, or reporter) are also possible,” said Yacovone, the international programs coordinator.

Employment support systems for Asian American International students at the U

Story and photos by JIYOON YU

According to International Student Insurance, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed their degree programs are permitted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work towards getting practical training to complement their field of studies.

Sue Seong is smiling in front of cherry blossoms at the Utah State Capitol. She graduated in May 2021 and is working as a social media specialist at Sophos. Seong got her current job position via her OPT visa.

Sue Seong, who is working as a social media specialist at Sophos, a British cybersecurity company, with OPT status said, “Working overseas allows you the opportunity to explore new cities, immerse yourself in a new culture, and make new friends.” 

In the USCIS website, I-765 is described as an application for Employment Authorization, to request both authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Certain foreign nationals who are in the United States may file Form I-765. The EAD is the card issued as evidence that the holder is authorized to work in the United States. 

“OPT is a temporarily permitted visa to U.S. university students. After graduation, students can work for 12 months in any fields with this visa. In other words, it is a more practical employment visa program,” said Sylvia Christensen, administrative manager of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

Christensen added, “STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) allows non-immigrant F-1 student visa with a science, technology, engineering and/or math degree to extend their stay in the U.S. for up to 24 months after the student’s initial post-degree-completion OPT, which is for 12 months.” 

This is a picture of the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office, which is located in the Union building, room 410. ISSS is now available for limited in-person and drop-in visits to the main office. ISSS office supports a global campus community as part of the University of Utah’s vision of a welcoming and internationally connected campus. 

ISSS fosters and supports a global campus community as part of the University of Utah’s transformation into a global university. ISSS office tries to develop global competence and other essential skills to be successful in today’s global society. 

“ISSS advisor helped me a lot. They reviewed my documents before I submitted my application, and also helped me to filled out the I-765 form. They also offered info session for OPT and STEM OPT, so attending those sessions can be helpful,” said Seong, the social media specialist.

According to Christensen, U.S. college students do not always have qualifications to get job positions here. In that case, they should apply for their OPT with some necessary documents. ISSS is a perfect place for the global engagement of applicants. 

Seong said, “All the documents you should prepare to apply for the OPT visa are OPT I-20, previous I-20, copy of passport, copy of your visa, Form I-765, Form G-1145, two photographs, application fee of $410, I-94.”

The office has workshops throughout the semester on various topics, presented by international student advisors about applying for a working visa and F-1 students’ visa regulations.

Especially many Asian American students might have concern about setting their desired start date when applying for OPT. The date can be set up to 60 days from the graduation date. 

“The biggest issue is whether the company can sponsor a visa after the OPT expired,” Seong said. “If there are something to discuss with the company when you look for a job, it will be a migration status. The best option for international students is to choose a company that suggests sponsorship during the final interview.”

Graduate students need to deeply understand their current migration status and visa sponsor. The reality is that no matter how much the company wants students to work, Asian American international students will eventually return their countries without knowledge. 

In the International Student website, CPT, or Curricular Practical Training, gives international students authorization to gain employment training and to work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week) earning money and gaining work experience.

International Student Insurance states that CPT is especially targeting undergraduate university students in the U.S. So, it is appropriate to students who want to get an internship while in college. It is designed to give students practical experience in the workplace to supplement their work in the classroom. 

This visa is available when students attended at least two full semesters. If they want to apply for OPT as well as CPT, they couldn’t work over 12 months. Because applicants only can register after getting a job offer letter, it is considered more complicated than OPT. 

“Most courses in a CPT program will be offered in the evenings and/or on weekends. This will allow students to work during the week,” Christensen said. “Many schools offer online courses in their master’s degree programs.” 

She added, “It is legal for international students to take one online course and two in-person classes per semester. However, you cannot enroll in only online courses; at least two out of three of your courses must be in-person.”

General eligibility criteria of CPT will vary depending on each university, so students make sure to review policy guidelines on the application and meet with designated international student advisors prior to applying.

Christensen emphasized that registration opens 30 days before the workshop date. Additionally, she recommended students come to their next workshops, which will be noted on UAtlas Services

Besides that, ISSS provides international student orientation, including pre-arrival communication, immigration guidance, American classroom overview, and campus resource fair.

“We give some advice on international student and general scholar questions, including workshops on immigration topics,” Christensen said. “Our ultimate goal is to assist international students by supporting with review of their e-forms and internship course approvals.”

On the other hand, Seong gave a tip about the number of office counselors. “There are not many advisors in ISSS, so you have to plan ahead and book an appointment earlier than you’d expect.” 

The ISSS office allows students to meet with advisors by an appointment. It is for 30 minutes and available during mornings and afternoons Monday through Friday. Unfortunately, same-day appointments are not available, and it may take up to a week to meet with an advisor during the busy season.

Chinatown Market: haven and home for Asian American communities in Salt Lake City

Story and photos by INDIA BOWN

On the south side of Salt Lake City, the mountains are accompanied by a grander view. The crimson paifang arch structure marks the entrance to the Chinatown Supermarket. 

The Paifang, a traditional Chinese arch, is the first structure seen before getting into the Chinatown Shopping Center.

The aroma of traditional Vietnamese beef pho fills the air before even getting to the shops. Sweet sounds of sizzling fresh meats on the grill and the pure enjoyment of cooking your own hot pot meal. 

Chinatown is home to all these sensations.

In the 5.7-acre shopping community, the largest cultural Asian shopping center in Utah takes on an even bigger role within the daily lives of Asian American communities in and around the Salt Lake area — a safe haven.

On 3370 State St., the marketplace and surrounding businesses made their debut opening on July 30, 2014. Before that, Salt Lake City wasn’t known for Asian markets or substantial in size for that matter. 

The development of the shopping center went through many phases and with the initial proposal for Chinatown starting in 2005. Lots of trial and error occurred, but with the importance of the project and having a hub for Asian people in Salt Lake City, a $15-million investment was headed by Hong Kong developers Yue So and Wai Chan, according to Voices of Utah.

The population of different Asian American communities residing in Utah, and Salt Lake City in particular, is increasing. According to the Census Bureau, the population was 5.4% in April 2020.

Salt Lake City’s Asian American population is among the faster-growing populations of diverse groups. Having a larger population of Asian Americans, especially those that continue to grow, signifies the need for the Chinatown Center. With South Salt Lake being one of the most Asian populated areas in the county, the location of the marketplace is pivotal to communities nearby. 

The outside of the Chinatown Shopping Center with access to the market and other shops inside.

Amongst the karaoke bar, boba shops, and hot soup restaurants, the marketplace and its products are the main attraction. Aisles of all kinds of authentic cuisine, from Chinese to Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese, to Indian, Filipino, and Japanese, the supermarket accommodates the Asian American residents of Salt Lake City.

Justine Nguyen, a University of Utah student and a Chinese-Vietnamese American, came to Utah for school from the East Coast, hoping to find a place that could provide a multicultural food experience. Then she found Chinatown. 

 She likes to order a Bánh mì sandwich at the supermarket, a French baguette filled with pickled carrots and radish, meat, or tofu, along with other fresh veggies and jalapeños. With just the perfect balance of spicy and sweet, she thought no other sandwich could compete with those she previously tried in Utah. 

“I love the feeling of familiarity, the people, the ambient lighting, the chaos of the market, it creates a sense of home for me that I’m missing here in Utah,” said Nguyen over direct messaging. 

Nguyen, from Maryland, said there are more Asian markets there. The state also has a higher Asian American population of 6.7%, according to the Census Bureau

The inside entryway, guarded by a panda bear statue, leads into Chinatown Supermarket.

This wasn’t too much of a cultural shock for Nguyen but with the overall lack of diversity in Utah, the 19-year-old college student wanted a place to call home. “The Chinatown Market is a place where I can go to get a sense of home and feel safe,” Nguyen said. “With recent events (Covid-19 and the growth of Asian hate), it’s scary going around Utah myself. I don’t have to worry about that here (Chinatown) and I can fully embrace my culture.”

Having previously worked at the Tiger Sugar Boba Shop in Chinatown, Nguyen emphasizes the way the experience allowed her to “immerse herself in the Asian culture of Utah.” 

The cultures that are highlighted are available to those from different groups as well, giving people from different nationalities and backgrounds the same opportunity to discover all that Chinatown has to offer. Part of Nguyen’s experience includes helping people from other cultures on their food journeys. 

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Cynthia Wang, a Chinese-Vietnamese American, gives insight into the tie to her identity that the shops and restaurants have. 

“It feels like home. It smells like the spices and flavors my parents used in their cooking. I see people who look like me,” Wang said over direct messaging. 

The third-year student describes what it was like living in Utah growing up, and how markets that were around before the Chinatown market had some traditional Asian products, but in smaller selections and markets. “It makes me feel seen,” Wang said. “Growing up here, there were very few restaurants that served food from my culture, but most of them catered to white consumers.”

The South Salt Lake Chinatown allows the majority of residents in Utah to gain a new perspective through the cultural diversity the market has to offer in customer and employee interaction. Engaging with people from all walks of life is a valuable experience, especially when minority populations continue to rise. 

The majority of Utah’s population is white, the Chinatown is a community for the underrepresented. For those who haven’t had a place to belong or relate to. A community to be able to “blend in” as Wang describes it. 

With the occasional homesickness, Aurora Xu, 36, a Chinese immigrant, had a relatively easy time adapting to Salt Lake City and its culture. 

Asian snacks and drinks are two types of purchases Xu said make her visits to the Chinatown Market. Whether the snacks are shrimp chips, choco-pies, or mochi, Xu enjoys the foods that feel more familiar.

About the living adjustments and the transition of living in Utah, Xu said the Chinatown has foods from her hometown, making connecting to tradition “easy for shopping and with the Supermarket having a lot of restaurants.” 

Even though her journey to finding her community wasn’t as difficult as others moving from out of state, Chinatown is a meeting ground for social interaction and for cultivating more relationships. Restaurants around the market like Hero Hotpot are hot spots for Xu and her friends to get together. 

The impact that Chinatown has on different Asian American communities in Salt Lake City has brought various groups together in celebration of Asian cultures. 

A marketplace, one unlike the American grocery store chains, is more than just the produce and products that reside there. It’s a home, a safe haven, a market for all Asian Americans. 

%d bloggers like this: