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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: KPBS

2013 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Heroes - KPBS

        Sophak Yem
        Group Coordinator
        Amnesty International, Group 137

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After a traumatic childhood in Cambodia during the civil war, Ms. Sophak Yem escaped with her mother and brother and came to San Diego. At the age of ten, Ms. Yem attended school for the first time and learned English. As an adult, Ms. Yem supported her family by working. Determined to earn a college degree, Ms. Yem went back to school and enrolled at San Diego State University, where she earned her degree in Accounting.

In addition to providing for her family, Ms. Yem got involved with the San Diego chapter of Amnesty International as a volunteer. The global human rights organization works on behalf of prisoners of conscience and other victims of human rights violations. Soon after joining Amnesty International as a volunteer, Ms. Yem became the chapter’s coordinator and has held the position for the past three years. She runs the groups semi-monthly meetings, organizes letter-writing campaigns, plans the group’s participation in community events, and travels to attend regional and national conferences on behalf of the San Diego chapter. Ms. Yem has ensured the chapter works on human rights issues on both a global and local level.

        Elmer Bisarra
        Community Activist

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Mr. Elmer Bisarra has been actively involved in the San Diego HIV and AIDS community. Mr. Bisarra earned his certification as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor and began to volunteer with Asian Pacific Islander Community AIDS Project (APICAP). Additionally, he offered his time by volunteering at the Operation Samahan Health Clinic in National City to assist with HIV testing. Mr. Bisarra continued to pursue education of HIV and AIDS, substance abuse, mental illness, and more. Mr. Bisarra was the first HIV Case Manager at San Diego American Indian Health Center. For many years he has also served on the San Diego County HIV Health Services Planning Council.

He volunteers his time to Being Alive, San Diego's provider of comprehensive support for people living with HIV and AIDS, and the community. During the past year as a volunteer at Being Alive, Mr. Bisarra has been working with associates to open a clinic for Hepatitis that provides testing, counseling, and social services. Mr. Bisarra continues to educate both the San Diego community and the Asian Pacific Islander community about outreach and support for HIV and AIDS.

View Past Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Honorees

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: KCET

2013 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Heroes - KCET

Madame Sosei Matsumoto         Madame Sosei Matsumoto
        Japanese Chado Tea Ceremony Master
        Urasenke School of Chado

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Japanese Chado Tea Ceremony Madame Sosei Matsumoto is considered to be the most influential teacher and accomplished master of chado, or the “way of the tea,” in the United States. At 93 years old, Madame Matsumoto continues to teach her students the hundreds of complex steps designed around this Japanese art form as followed by the Urasenke School of Chado in the tea room her late husband built for her in their home near downtown Los Angeles. The instruction she received during the 1940’s in Kyoto, Japan, under Tantansai, Fourteenth Generation Grandmaster of the Urasenke School of Chado, and Hounsai Daisosho, Fifteen Generation Grandmaster, has enriched the nation’s cultural fabric. Madame Matsumoto courageously introduced chado to American culture during the aftermath of World War II and has instructed more than 5,000 students, some of which have become masters themselves.

Madame Matsumoto has conducted chado ceremonies to countless diplomats and politicians, including President Harry S. Truman, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and about 3,000 other participants over a three-day period at the historical signing of the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1951 in San Francisco. Her ceremonies have been featured in films including “East is East” and on television. She has lectured and demonstrated throughout Southern California and the Southwest. In 1989, Madame Matsumoto received the title Meiyo Shihan, or Honored Master, from her instructor Soshitsu Sen. This is the highest teaching certificate available for instructors. Matsumoto received the Fifth Order of the Merit (The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays) from the Emperor of Japan in November 1990. In 1994, Ms. Matsumoto was named a National Heritage Fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Nobuko Miyamoto         Nobuko Miyamoto
        Artistic Director and Founder
        Great Leap

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Nobuko Miyamoto is artistic director and founder of Great Leap, a Los Angeles-based, multicultural arts organization which uses art as both performance and creative practice to deepen relations among people of diverse cultures and faiths. Ms. Miyamoto founded Great Leap in 1978 to initially serve as a creative voice for the Asian American community. After she witnessed the cultural tension and violence that emerged during the Los Angeles Riots in 1992, Ms. Miyamoto embraced Los Angeles’ diverse cultural fabric into Great Leap.

Ms. Miyamoto’s experience in the performing arts spans more than 50 years. As a dancer, choreographer, actor and composer, she has performed on Broadway and in films such as “King and I” and "West Side Story." She discovered her own voice as an activist and a singer in the 1970s, co-creating the first album of Asian American songs, “A Grain of Sand.” As Artistic Director of Great Leap, she created scores for theater, dance and solo albums. Ms. Miyamoto has taught and led workshops at many universities, including UCLA and Columbia University Teachers College. In 2006, she received the California Arts Council Director’s Award. In 2003, Ms. Miyamoto received the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award.

View Past Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Honorees

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: KQED

2013 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Heroes - KQED

Evelyn Nakano Glenn         Evelyn Nakano Glenn
        Professor, Ethnic Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies
        University of California, Berkeley

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Evelyn Nakano Glenn is one of the country’s leading sociologists, her scholarship on the intersectionality of race, gender, citizenship and labor is groundbreaking. She is a professor of gender and women’s studies, ethnic studies and is the founding director of the Center for Race & Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include "Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America"; "Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor"; and "Issei, Nisei, Warbride: Three Generations of Japanese American Women in Domestic Service."

PJ Hirabayashi         PJ Hirabayashi
        Artistic Director, Emeritus
        San Jose Taiko

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PJ Hirabayashi is a taiko artist, teacher, artistic director emeritus and founding member of San Jose Taiko (SJT), a nonprofit professional performing arts company celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013. Based in the heart of San Jose’s Japantown, SJT is an active catalyst in its cultural preservation and contemporary vitality. Ms. Hirabayashi has helped guide SJT’s longevity through extensive educational and outreach programs, performances, collaborations and national and international touring.

Hyon-Chin (HC) Lee        Hyon-Chin (HC) Lee 
        Executive Director
        The Link to Children

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Hyon-Chin (HC) Lee is the executive director at The Link to Children (TLC), an Oakland based nonprofit that provides Early Intervention Programs at eight locations in Alameda County and at the Alameda County Family Justice Center. TLC strives to reduce stress and conflict in families and childcare settings. In her role at The Link to Children, Ms. Lee has created momentum and opportunity for vulnerable children especially child victims of crime, to prepare for a brighter future.

David Lei         David Lei
        Community Leader and Co-Founder
        Chinese American Community Foundation

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David Lei is an accomplished entrepreneur with a deep-seated commitment to community development. In his 40 years of involvement with Bay Area nonprofits, Mr. Lei has volunteered his time for numerous charitable events and has served on the boards of organizations such as the Chinatown Community Development Center and the Asian Art Museum. Most recently, he co-founded the Chinese American Community Foundation to support donors who want to be resources for nonprofits serving Chinese American communities.

View Past Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Honorees
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