Today we are all Sichuan people

Being here in China, now in the aftershock of the May 12 earthquake, has shown me proof that human beings are fundamentally good.  I have been floored by the outpouring, from my friends, my colleagues, my clients, of a compassionate and sincere desire to help in whatever way possible.
Whenever news of the earthquake has come on public TVs in Beijing, people gather round to watch — stopping mid-step in shopping malls, huddling together around the monitors on the bus.  Jo Kent has done a brilliant job in describing the tremendous generosity that Chinese people themselves have had, so just take a second to read her article here.   
As Jo notes, the Red Cross is one of the organizations tasked with disaster relief.  Another friend who studied with me in Chengdu in 2006 has done some digging and recommends donating through their international website at

There’s much more to say, and much that has been said better by others, so I’ll stop here.  I just wanted to let you know how to donate, and give you a hint of how much people here have come together around this tragedy.  There’s a palatable sense of compassion, perseverance and hope — one I remember feeling in New York City in the days just after 9/11.
Stay well,

Becoming American-Asian

Growing up a cultural immigrant mutt, not European enough to smoke nor American enough to drive a car, I have spent the better part of the past two decades looking for a culture to latch on to.  When I was in high school, I tried to be Jewish.  My effort entailed spreading peanut butter and jelly on matzoth at Passover, singing hymns in Hebrew in front of 400 people, and, when required, kvetching.

I’ve tried other cultures since then of course.  Eating tofu and speaking C++ in California during the dot-com boom and drinking Cosmopolitans and speaking financial “greeks” in the derivative days of Wall Street.  So when I showed up in Beijing, I was ready for the next next thing:  I was determined to become an Asian-American. Continue reading