Tagged Against The Grain Productions

Congratulations to the 2019 ATG Scholarship Winners

Through our Scholarship Program, ATG proudly awards Artistic, Groundbreaker Leadership, #LiveLikeLyly and the Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarships to a select group of amazing Asian American high school seniors, college undergraduate and graduate school students who are shining examples of what it means to go Against The Grain. Since 2011, we have awarded more than $65,000 in scholarships. Our selection committee reviews a combination of criteria: GPA, extracurricular activities, portfolio, essay, and letters of recommendation. Finalists were given a phone interview. This year, we will award $11,500 in scholarships to 6 amazing students.

The Scholarships Committee was led by Co-Directors of Community Outreach Hue Dao and Lisa Tran. Hue Dao has served on the Board since she was a college graduate. “Being a part of this scholarship selection committee and seeing the hard work and talent of these students has been very rewarding. Since the induction of this scholarship eight years ago, ATG has developed a community of leaders, artists and entrepreneurs, who have been struck with the spirit of paying it forward. They have donated their time and talent to fundraising and our projects on the horizon. I am inspired and very fortunate to witness the impact these young people are making and will continue to make for generations to come,” said Hue.

Lisa Tran also serves as ATG’s Advisor to Thailand and professionally as Managing Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at SMU Cox School of Business. Said Lisa, “The quality of our applicants were exceptional this year. We received over 200 applications with diverse backgrounds and intended majors. Serving on the 2019 ATG Scholarship Selection Committee is one the highlights of being the Co-Director of Community Outreach, and I feel blessed and humbled to have met these six amazing young leaders. I have no doubt that a few, if not all, of the scholarship winners will change the world one day.”

Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG Co-Founder/President, participates in finalist interviews and deliberations. Said Tammy, “Getting to review and talk to these young Asian American students is one of the most rewarding and inspiring parts of what we do. We get re-energized by seeing their work, hearing about their passions, and play a part in building that dream. ATG is very grateful to our scholarship review committee of Hue Dao, Lisa Tran and Carol Nguyen as well as generous scholarship donors like Bruce and Pat McRae and Ranier and Grace Pabilona for helping us keep alive the spirit of what it means to go Against The Grain. Through our scholarship funds, we are investing in these amazing students who will undoubtedly make a positive impact on the world.”

We are thrilled to announce this year’s winners…

  • Alina Dong – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
  • Andrea Liu – Bruce & Pat McRae Artistic Scholarship & #LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship
  • Marty Loh-Deschaumes – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
  • Angelina Retodo – Artistic Scholarship
  • Kevin Tyan – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
  • Kevin Ung – Artistic Scholarship
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Alina Dong | Houston, TX | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Intended Major: Political Science, Music, Economics | Harvard University| Chinese

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“To me, going ‘Against The Grain’ is when an individual chooses to resist the conformity of society’s preconceptions and expectations, and instead chooses to take pride in his or her unique passions. Being unafraid to stand out and be challenged in new and uncomfortable fields are what it means to go ‘Against The Grain.’”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“As an Asian American female in opera and politics (fields which are respectively dominated by non-Asians and males), I work to pave new paths in unexplored careers, create new opportunities for those like myself, and remain innovative so that I may serve as an example of someone who is unafraid to break the molds. I take pride in singing on opera stages and speaking at commission meetings in City Hall as an Asian American female.”


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Andrea Liu |Katy, TX | 18 years old | GPA: 3.91 | Intended major: Visual & Environmental Studies | Harvard University | Chinese

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“To me, going “Against The Grain” means listening to myself and diving head-first into my passion for art. As a mere college freshman, I have yet to determine where exactly this interest will take me, but I know with certainty that I cannot give it up. In the face of defaulting to a future with traditional security, I believe that only by understanding my own truth as a student can I then achieve personal growth. I want to make sure that every day, I challenge not only the “grain” of conformity, but also myself as well to become a better artist—and more importantly, a better person.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“During the winter of my senior year, I took a course called “Imagining Your Future.” To do so, we reflected on what made us the happiest as children and endeavored to look only at our own desires. I soon realized that my past was filled with art; thus, my future should be too. This simplistic, self-centric view of “what’s next?” felt selfish at first, however: would I repay my parents for their sacrifices by entering a supposedly insecure or superfluous field? Thankfully, my time in school has also shown me that art is, in reality, far from selfish. I never considered myself an activist before arriving at Exeter in eleventh grade. Yet, as I settled in to this new community, I realized the importance of having a space to acknowledge the current state of affairs. From designing stickers to build excitement for our school’s Martin Luther King Jr. day of discussions, to helping create the first edition of The Asian—the only Asian(-American) literary magazine on campus—to explore our identity, to founding a publication dedicated to uniting different on-campus affinity groups to start important conversations, I realized that going “Against The Grain” is a mindset: art is empowering.”


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Marty Loh-Desschaumes | Brisbane, CA | 24 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Intended Major: Real Estate & Built Environment | Harvard Graduate School of Design | Chinese/Thai/Indonesian

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going ‘Against The Grain’ to me means creating nontraditional solutions to complex issues. The act of going against the grain usually involves completing something truly unconventional and perhaps even doubted by many. Moreover, going ‘Against The Grain’ refers to a leader or entrepreneur’s ability to proactively innovate solutions and think ‘outside of the box’ in the face of doubt and tradition. “

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go ‘Against The Grain’ by pursuing entrepreneurial solutions to complex issues. My ‘Against The Grain’ journey began in a volunteer role with the LA Conservation Corps to support their mission of empowering at-risk young adults and minority groups within the LA region through conservation workforce development. I brainstormed a native plant nursery concept, intended to supplement the city’s landscaping demands while also creating another LACC revenue stream. This would allow the organization to streamline their current operations with the City of LA and increase funding for their workforce development efforts. At first, various members within the management team were doubtful, citing the stringent rules that govern nonprofit organizations and the apparent operational risk. However, through integration, cooperation, and communication with stakeholders, the LA nursery garden concept became viable. What started as an experiential learning activity transformed into a business plan and then a pitch to social enterprise funds. Through these fundraising events, the nursery concept netted the venture over $150,000 in startup seed capital and proposed social impact lending.”


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Angelina Retodo | Castro Valley, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.26 | Intended major: Animation | California College of the Arts| Thai/Filipino

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?

“To go ‘Against The Grain’ is to challenge the expectations of society by carving your own path and taking risks so you can fully express an experience that is individual to yourself. Those that go against the grain often evolve into architects of our future, since they have the willpower to sculpt society to their vision and introduce the world to a new perspective. The battle against complacency is often difficult, and requires innovative thinking and experimentation without fear of failure. It is those that overcome this battle that become remarkable people who truly go against the grain.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Throughout history, artists have remodeled their interpretations of the status quo into new ideas that reflect their own reality. In effect, the work of artists often sparks new ideas for the world and future artists to indulge in. Through this creative process, artists become natural forward thinkers who make it their prerogative to go against the grain and truly introduce themselves to the world. It is through this continuous staircase of artists building upon the vestiges of the past to create the new that has allowed art to cultivate the world that we live in today and the future we will live tomorrow. As an artist myself, I plan to leave my own footprints within society, by combining my own inspirations and experiences with the fascinating magic of animation. By pursuing a career that allows me to create stories and entire worlds for others to enjoy I hope to use animation to share my own wisdom and project my own interpretations of the human experience to others. As an aspiring animator, I hope to dedicate my life to creating something special and true to my own identity, while empowering future generations as well.”  


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Kevin Tyan | Somerville, MA | 25 years old | GPA: 3.84 | MD | Harvard Medical School | Taiwanese/Singaporean

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”  

“Going ‘Against The Grain’ means innovating in a space that is resistant to change while maintaining steady faith that your work will ultimately benefit the lives of many. It requires one to have the audacity to disrupt traditional industries, shed light on fundamental flaws in the system, and advance new solutions. Going ‘Against The Grain’ embodies the ethos of what I have strived for through entrepreneurship, and is the mindset that has helped me overcome failures, grow beyond inexperience, and contribute my unique perspective to some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“My experience as an inventor and founder of Kinnos has been intensely formative. From working to protect Ebola fighters to expanding our mission towards reducing healthcare associated infections, these past few years have allowed me to learn and grow beyond the traditional classroom. By inventing a new color-changing disinfection method and helping to deploy it on the front lines of Ebola epidemics, I have gone ‘Against The Grain’ through eschewing a traditional career path and bringing change to outdated methods in dire need of innovation.

Through this entire experience of starting Kinnos, both my perception of the healthcare field and my self-expectations have evolved. Initially, I viewed the physician’s role as the important, yet singular task of healing patients. Now, I see that I can contribute to medicine not just by treating my patients, but also by devising solutions to challenges in healthcare. Few are better equipped than physicians to live through and diagnose the shortfalls of the healthcare system. I hope to go ‘Against The Grain’ in the medical profession by not only treating people and saving lives, but also improving its methods and tools through entrepreneurship.”  


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Kevin Ung |San Jose, CA | 30 years old | GPA: 3.43 | MFA Film & TV Production | University of Southern California | Chinese-Cambodian

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going ‘Against The Grain’ is doing something that scares you, because it isn’t expected of you. Asian Americans are supposed to be America’s ‘model minority’: smart and obedient to a fault. I reject this—this is not who we are—we are unique individuals with fascinating stories. With this scholarship, I will show the world that Asian Americans have unique stories that deserve to be told.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go ‘Against The Grain’ by never giving up my filmmaking dreams after almost a decade of working and always keeping film close to my heart. It is a dream that isn’t typically expected of a child of refugees, but it is one that I am intent on pursuing. There needs to be more Asian American representation in Hollywood and that is exactly what I plan to do. The Asian Americans before me paved the way, and I plan to further their progress so that future generations will be confident that people care about our stories. I will try to break down barriers to show the world that Asian Americans can and will be a driving force in cinema and entertainment. There are very real racial barriers in Hollywood, and there is a lot of work to be done. I’ve been warned by others from working in Hollywood because of my ethnicity, but if not now, then when? It’s about time the world sees Asian American stories, and I aim to help make this a reality.”

Announcing the 10th Fashion for a Passion Artist Line-up

Dallas-based non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions is proud to announce its 10th Fashion for a Passion line-up of Exhibiting Artists. The roster of Asian American artists practice a variety of media and includes a mix of emerging talent and established legends. Fashion for a Passion, which serves the organization’s mission to support and provide a platform for emerging Asian American artists, will take place Saturday, September 22, at sixty five hundred near Love Field Airport.

Guests of Fashion for a Passion will have the opportunity to bid on each artist’s work through a silent auction. Proceeds from the silent auction and tickets to the event will benefit ATG’s supported orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, artistic and leadership scholarship fund and community outreach programs.

This year’s Fashion for a Passion emcees include veteran Ben Smithee (CEO of The Smithee Group), Hillary Kennedy (Emmy Award winning Host and style blogger) and Allyn Hoang (Emmy Award winning Journalist).

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ATG to Honor Groundbreakers at 2018 Fashion for a Passion

Dallas, TX — Against The Grain Productions is proud to introduce its inaugural ‘Groundbreaker Awards,’ created to honor those who embody the spirit of ATG. These individuals were chosen for excellence in his/her chosen career path, leadership to pave the way for others, having a servant’s heart to help and improve the lives of those around us and sharing ATG’s vision of “One Voice. Many Stories.” These awards will be presented at ATG’s 10th (and final) Fashion for a Passion charity event, which will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at sixty five hundred in Dallas, Texas.

Against The Grain Productions functions as a traditional 501(c)(3) nonprofit but with a twist. In the true spirit of its name, ATG finds unconventional, innovative and entertaining ways to promote leadership, positive identity, unity and artistry in the Asian American community; promote awareness of Asian American culture; give a platform to emerging Asian American artists; and provide inspiration to the community around us to think and act “outside the box.” Over the past decade, the organization has raised hundreds of thousands for orphanages/underprivileged children, scholarships for Asian American student artists/leaders, produced an award-winning documentary (Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam) and become a platform for artists and leaders through its events. Groundbreakers Speak, a signature event, was a panel which brought together Asian American leaders from diverse disciplines together to share their inspiring journey and path to success.  “As ATG enters its next decade, we wanted to evolve and find a way to continue inspiring the community. The creation of these ‘Groundbreaker Awards’ allow us to honor shining examples of those who have bravely and selflessly served while passionately trailblazing a way in their own career,” said ATG President and Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “You can love what you do, work hard to be successful and still remember to give back to others. That’s the ATG spirit of what we want to inspire.”

The 2018 Groundbreaker Award Honorees are:

Quynh Chau Stone

Quynh Chau Stone, known to many as “QC,” is a mother, educator, entrepreneur and advocate. She is the President and Founder of The Source of Hope, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with more than seven years of service to Dallas-Ft. Worth underprivileged communities. Under Quynh Chau’s direction and leadership, The Source of Hope collects, distributes and donates food and groceries to those in need and starting over through a network of charitable organizations. The Source of Hope delivered over 1000 meals monthly to the homeless, veterans, first responders, and at risk families and actively works with partner organizations to serve the most vulnerable in the Dallas – Ft. Worth communities.

As a Vietnamese woman who has lived the majority of her life in American, Quynh Chau experienced extreme trauma and loss in Vietnam which shaped her world view.  At the age of twelve, Quynh Chau bravely escaped Vietnam with her four brothers. They were rescued and placed in a refugee camp in Malaysia after 13 days at sea. With the help of faith organizations and philanthropies working together, Quynh Chau was reunited with her father, who had already been sponsored to the United States. Quynh Chau’s unthinkable experience as a child strengthened her faith and cemented her lifelong commitment to truly give back to the country and people that helped her so much.

As an entrepreneur, Quynh Chau is a skin care rain-maker and has been working with different platforms to educate and implement skincare practices for over 20 years.  She received her formal training from international institutes such as the Matis Paris Institute in Paris, France and exclusive aesthetic skin care clinics in New York, Chicago and Dallas. Quynh Chau also manufactured a line of exclusive skincare products sold to boutique skincare clinics internationally. Through her training and certification, she continues to support and promotes new cosmetologists entering the aesthetic profession and require guidance, training and experience, frequently publishing insights and training content for professionals internationally and has helped to set up over 1000+ salons.

Quynh Chau is a media darling for the Vietnamese American community, regularly directing and producing her local television and radio show, “The Quynh Chau Show,” which covers resources for the community, political views, life skills for minorities, health & beauty insights and entrepreneurship.

Quynh Chau has won numerous awards each year for her work with the community and including
 the 2016 Women that Soar Award plus over 100+ additional recognitions for her philanthropic work with the city of Garland, Grand Prairie, Mesquite, Dallas and Ft. Worth.
 She was featured in a book written by Mirela Sula titled 50 Inspiring Voices of Migrant Women from Struggle to Success in a chapter written by Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk
.  She and The Source of Hope were celebrated at the event “Heroes of Houston,” where other organizations and individuals were recognized for the work they did in service of Hurricane Harvey.

Quynh Chau Stone is dedicated to the mission of inspiring others and serving those in need with dignity, wisdom and a generous heart. She relies on her faith and generosity of others to grow the community, sharing her story and hoping to inspire others to soar above. 


“To me, ‘Going Against The Grain’ means to not take the easy path that others have already made but to go in the direction that the Lord has chosen for me, though it may be rough and uncertain at first.”

“God has created me to be a leader. Through the trials I have faced along side my family and my friends, I have always wanted one thing, to be able to teach my girls and young men and women across the world, that to be a leader, is to help another in need of your guidance. I am honored to receive this award, as a young girl I didn’t ever think I would be “first” at anything. It always felt as if I were last, last to eat, last to learn, last to escape the life I thought I had been burdened with. But as I continued to grow, as I moved on to my life here in the US, where I got to obtain skills, and help others, I realized that I am lucky to have the life God has BLESSED me with. In receiving this award, I hope to only grow more, and to show people that no matter where they come from or who they are, they can be a leader and accomplish anything.”

Daniel Eng

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas as a Chinese American, Daniel Eng’s Chinese roots date from his great-grandfather immigrating to the U.S. in the late 1800s to build railroads in the United States. Daniel’s father, T.K. Eng., moved from Hong Kong in the mid 1950s, where he later established the real estate foundation for the Eng family.

Daniel graduated in 2001 from Franklin College Switzerland (now Franklin University Switzerland) with a B.A. in International Banking and Finance and started his career and passion in Commercial Real Estate. He has served on the Board of Trustees for his college for three years and is still active on the college’s Alumni Association. He has served as 2016 President for the AREAA DFW Chapter (Asian Real Estate Association of America), the Director for Dallas CCIM Cultural Diversity Chapter in 2011 (Certified Commercial Investment Member), the IREM Dallas Chapter Board for IYP in 2012 (Institute of Real Estate Management ), served on the City of Richardson’s Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors in 2011-2014, 2013 National Association of Asian American Professional DFW Chapter Senior Advisory Council and is an active member at Grace Chinese Baptist Church in Plano.  Daniel maintains an office at the Offices of Legacy Chase Oaks in Plano and manages an extensive Commercial Real Estate portfolio of over 50 properties around the DFW area with about 1 million square feet of rentable space. 

Growing up watching and learning from his father, Daniel gained an interest in community service at an early age. Daniel would say that his father inspired him to “Go Against The Grain.”  Giving back to the Asian American community has always been in Daniel‘s heart. Receiving this award is an honor but he believes there are so many others that deserve this award. “I look forward to continuing to serve and inspire the next generation to ‘Go Against The Grain’ and ‘Be the Cause’ with the ATG team.” Daniel has two daughters and one son. His eldest daughter attends a faith-based private school in the DFW Area, and he hopes she will one day take over the family business and learn to serve others in need.

Nha Khanh Nguyen

Khanh Nguyen, co-founder and the Creative Director of the Nha Khanh label, has been surrounded by fashion and art throughout her life. Khanh attended the University of North Texas and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Fashion Design where she received numerous awards. In January 2010, the Nha Khanh label was established producing seasonal Ready-to-Wear lines, as well as, custom Atelier service to the public. Designs and manufacturing are 100% based in Dallas, Texas, while the sales and marketing PR are based in New York City. The Nha Khanh line can be found in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Stanley Karshak, Rent-the-Runway and many others around the United States. Nha Khanh’s designs have been worn by Kim Kardashian, Brooklyn Decker, Guliana Rancic, and Kelly Osbourne, to name a few. Nha Khanh has been recognized through various awards and articles written by organizations such as FGI Rising Star, D Magazine Best Woman Custom Design, Harper’s Bazaar, People, Vogue, Teen Magazine, US Weekly, Glamour, InStyle, ENews and Style Network. The company takes pride in exceptionally well-made garments and strives to push the envelope on innovation and creative, elegant designs.Nha Khanh’s designs focus on modern glamour; they are inspired by art, architecture and, most importantly, nature. The designs are ethereal, meticulously constructed and host an ease about them that allows for an effortless sensibility. The company offers seasonal “advanced contemporary” Ready-to-Wear, a custom Atelier collection (which hosts one-of-a-kind custom pieces) and a bridal line.

The Nha Khanh mission is to empower women with inner-strength through their clothing while focusing on “feminine elegance with a modern edge.” “Nha”, in Vietnamese, is a feminine word implying‘ light and elegance’, whereas “Khanh” is a masculine word, meaning ‘victory and celebration’. The fusion of the words creates a balance of unison between feminine and masculine. The collection joins lightness and softness of silhouette and fabrication with the celebration of construction and classic forms. This is the fundamental philosophy and creative driving force behind the Nha Khanh label.

For Khanh, “Going Against The Grain” is “taking the road less traveled and stubbornly refusing to fit in and live life on your own terms.” When asked what receiving this award means to her, she said she is humbled, grateful and honored.  “I am humbled that I boldly followed my heart and took the road less traveled, grateful to be able to live life on my own terms and very honored to be recognized among my peers and community for this wonderful award. “

Tickets for Fashion for a Passion go on sale in August.

For sponsorship details, please contact Fundraising@againstthegrainproductions.com

For more information on the event, please visit: www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com.

 

 

2017 Underprivileged Children and Orphanage Aid Fall Update: Thailand

Many thanks to our Aid Advisor (Thailand) Lisa Tran and our volunteer Nong Sasinapa, ATG was able to deliver an aid mission with heart and “vision” to aid many underprivileged children in Phob Phra district, Tak province of Thailand. Through Nong’s research and assistance, we purchased 49,350 BAHT (approx. USD $1,495) for 141 eye-glass frames for 141 children.
Phob Phra Hospital estimates that approximately 10% of children in Phob Phra District have vision problems. This district is far from the city and most people are minorities without Thai citizenship, hindering them access to government facilities and social welfare. Due to the lack of accessibility for parents to provide glasses for their children, those with vision problems cannot live and learn properly. Many of them are reportedly to be intellectually underdeveloped. Most students in the Thoo Mhew Khee Learning Center are Burmese refugees who stay in Prob Phra District without proper civil registration. Many students with vision problems do not have eyeglasses, and this mission provided eyeglasses to enable these students with eye or vision problems to have a better quality of life.

For the 2017–2018 academic year, a total of 141 students received vision checks and eye glasses. The glass frames were purchased by ATG. The lenses and technical support (Optometrist, optician and eye examination devices) were provided free of charge by Thai Glass Center and the Thai Health Promotion Center.

It is with your support that we can continue to improve the lives of underprivileged children and give them hope of a brighter future. Please continue to support our cause by donating.

Announcing the 2017 Fashion for a Passion Presenting Designer Line-up + Emcees

Dallas, TX — Against The Grain Productions is proud to announce the Presenting Designer line-up for its 9th Annual Fashion for a Passion charity event, which takes place Saturday, November 11th, at sixty five hundred located at 6500 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas. Handpicked by the ATG Board, these diverse young Asian American designers represent an exciting mix of influences and design aesthetics.

One of Dallas’ hottest fashion tickets and fall charity events, the evening showcases and celebrates emerging Asian American artists and musical performers. “We’re thrilled to be able to come together as a team and bring this amazing event to the community for the ninth year,” said President/Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “To produce an evening like this takes a lot of heart, dedication and passion, and we are proud to collaborate with wonderful talent in front of and behind the scenes to make it happen, including one of very own Artistic Scholarship winners.”

Fashion for a Passion has become significant as a place to discover talent, becoming a launch pad for Asian American designers such as Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang and Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses, who have all gone on to notable fashion careers.

The evening includes a cocktail reception with entertainment, a silent auction/raffle, art exhibit, fashion show with live auction, tasty bites and sips and concludes with a wrap-party for guests to mix and mingle until midnight.

Proceeds from the evening’s ticket sales, silent, art and live auctions as well as support from generous sponsors benefit ATG’s supported orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, scholarships for student artists and leaders and community outreach programs in the U.S. to inspire, educate and entertain the community.

General Admission and VIP Reserved Tickets range from $50 to $125 and will be on sale at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com/events/ffap starting in September. Sponsorships are currently available by emailing fundraising@againstthegrainproductions.com.

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Orphanage and Underprivileged Children Aid Update: Thailand

Thanks to our aid advisor to Thailand, Lisa Tran, and our ambassador Yui Yud, ATG was able to make a small disbursement of $550 in aid over the Christmas holidays to The Mercy Center, which is located in central Bangkok, Thailand in an area called Klong Toey, an area which is synonymous to the large slum community that lives here. According to a report done by Borgen magazine in 2014, the area is “one of the country’s 5,500 slum communities, covers an area of around a square mile and is home to around 100,000 people.” (http://www.borgenmagazine.com/bangkoks-klong-toey-slum/)

“Around 20 percent of Bangkok’s residents live in illegal squatter settlements all around the city. Dating back from the 1950s, Klong Toey is one of the country’s oldest and most well-known slums. Many inhabitants of Klong Toey originate from the country’s poorer northeast who have been attracted by the work opportunities of the district’s river port, Bangkok’s largest wet market, the business district as well as the oil refineries in nearby districts. Aside from poverty, drug addiction is a very pressing problem among the slum’s youth. Methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine are the two most common hard drugs. Furthermore, basic amenities such as water and electricity are always in short supply.

In Klong Toey, an average household earns only around half of the national average and only around one-third of the income an average Bangkok household. Moreover, the living condition within the slum is also truly appalling. Against the backdrop of the intense and humid tropical heat of over-urbanized Bangkok accompanied with the putrefying odor of the city’s sewage system, the residents of Klong Toey experience murders, abuse, petty and serious crimes, drug addictions, unmanaged waste, unemployment and grinding poverty on a regular basis. Garbage and undrained sewage clogging litter the slum community and elderly and people with disabilities sitting in front of their makeshift tin shack houses.

As many inhabitants lack the skills and the recognized qualifications necessary to achieve social mobility, breaking away from the vicious cycle of poverty is incredibly difficult. To make matters worse, in Thailand—one of the global centers of human trafficking and sex trade—many residents of Klong Toey find their livelihood in the informal sector, some of which are illicit.

In Thailand, it is estimated that a third of the country’s working age population work in the informal sector, an umbrella category that includes everything from black market illegal businesses to selling garlands and street food.This means that a large part of country’s working population do not have any retirement plans, health insurance or any other social benefits. It is also estimated that 2.5 million children in Thailand are absent from school. Certainly social welfare and human development concerns are among the some of the most pressing issues of the country. Nevertheless, with Thailand’s “larger” political and economic problems, these “smaller” issues are hardly discussed and many urbanites are unaware of their existence.”

Read more: http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2013/01/klong-toey-slum-bangkok-helping-hands/

The Mercy Center’s Mission:

We work to help the children and communities of the many slums of Bangkok. Together with our neighbors in the slums we create simple-but-progressive solutions that touch the lives of thousands of the poor every day. We build and operate schools, improve family health and welfare, protect street children’s rights, combat the AIDS crisis, respond to daily emergencies, and offer shelter to orphans, to street children, and to children and adults with AIDS – always together, hand in hand and heart to heart with the people we serve.

As reported by Yui Yud: “After a number of phone calls with the staff at the Mercy Center, I found them to be very dedicated in their mission to help promote education to unfortunate children. They have set up their main office/home in the center of the Klong Toey slums which provides a home to around 200 children aged 3-18. This center also has a significant education center, with many classrooms, an art room, computer room, nursing station and a cafeteria. The education facility is provided for the children that live in the home, as well as other slum kids in the area whom are unable to afford outside education. Apart from the center at this location, they have up to 23 centers around the country which provide basic education for up to 3000 children between the age of 2-6. Many of the children whom come to their schools are not orphans, but families whom can’t afford education. Another interesting program they have is called Construction Camp. The concept is like a mobile school van which visits children at construction sites. Generally, these are migrant families from Cambodia and Myanmar whom come to find more income and bring their children along. Rather than having the children run around the construction sites all day, these vans visit the sites with teachers and provide the kids with some learning tools for the day. There are currently 9 camps at the moment.”

 

 

 

 

 

There are also many other programs that are run by the Mercy Center:

  • Janusz Korczak School of S.E. Asia – a non-formal school for street children
  • Legal Aid Centre for poor children
  • A community drop-in center for the elderly, the handicapped, adults living with HIV, children in trouble or afraid, anyone in need.
  • School Sponsorships. Over 500 primary and secondary school sponsorships for the poorest neighborhood children in Bangkok
  • Hospice Team for home visits to children and adults living with HIV
  • And many others (visit: http://www.mercycentre.org/en/home/programs-at-a-glance)

Thank you to Lisa, Yui and to you for your generous donations so we can continue this important work. Please continue to donate to our cause here. 

Celebrating Asian American Talent for a Cause at ATG’s 8th Annual Fashion for a Passion

Photo | Dr. Jarvis Jacobs
Photo | Dr. Jarvis Jacobs

Nov. 7, 2016 (DALLAS) – Fashion for a Passion presented by Audi Dallas gave guests from all over the Dallas community a fresh take on Asian American fashion, music and art at its 8th annual event on Oct. 29 at new venue sixty five hundred. Through sponsorships, ticket sales, live and silent auctions, a raffle and additional donations, more than 350 glamorous guests gathered together to raise more than $26,000 net, all of which benefit the mission of Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based non-profit, with its supported orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, scholarship fund and community outreach programs for 2017.

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Announcing the 2015 Fashion for a Passion Designer Line-Up

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Against The Grain Productions is proud to announce the presenting designer line-up for its 7th Annual Fashion for a Passion charity event presented by Audi Dallas, taking place Saturday, Nov. 7, at 7 for Parties in Dallas’ Design District. Handpicked by the ATG board, these designers represent an exciting mix of backgrounds, Asian American origins and design aesthetics.

“We are excited to host our 7th annual event at a fabulous new venue, 7 for Parties on Nov. 7th along with seven amazing designers. We really feel the energy of that lucky number and are preparing for an exciting show that will delight our audience,” said Against The Grain President and Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “We have a number of returning Asian American designers showing their new lines as well as a few new designers, plus a few surprises up our sleeve – all coming together to bene fit the causes we support.” Read more

ATG Presents 4th Annual Groundbreakers Speak at NAAAP National Convention

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June 17, 2015 (DALLAS) – Back by popular demand, non-profit Against The Grain Productions will host their 4th Annual Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Movers and Shakers – a diverse panel of remarkable Asian American industry leaders brought together to share their inspiring personal stories and paths to success. For the first time ever, this year’s event, which promotes leadership and mentorship, will be co-hosted with the National Association of Asian American professionals of DFW (NAAAP-DFW) at the NAAAP National Convention to be held in Dallas (another first) under the theme “Resilience: Power of the Asian Leader.”

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Going Against The Grain: Grace Wu

NBC Universal Executives

 

Grace Wu serves as Executive Vice President, Casting, NBC Entertainment since 2009. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California at Berkeley, Wu began her career in entertainment casting as an assistant on the feature film “In & Out,” starring Kevin Kline.  She transitioned into television when she joined Liberman/Hirschfeld Casting, where she worked on casting for the critically acclaimed “Seinfeld,” “MadTV” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” While at NBC, Wu supervised the casting of such network series as “Freaks & Geeks,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood” and “The Black List.”  She is responsible for overseeing the day-today casting on current scripted series as well as pilot productions.

Full name: 

Grace Wu

Hometown: 

Los Angeles, CA

Current City: 

Los Angeles, CA 

Ethnicity: 

Taiwanese-American

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

Lately, it means to speak up when I feel the most scared.

What made you decide to pursue a career in this industry?

I like being around creative people, getting into their heads and helping execute their vision.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?  

I can’t think of any challenges, but as the daughter of immigrants, it’s in my DNA to work hard and not whine or complain.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

My biggest accomplishment is picking the right guy to marry because I’ve created the family I always wanted.

What’s up next?

Finding time to shop Zappos.

Quote to live by:

You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac):

I’m a Rooster/Scorpio

Passionate about:

Keeping my iPhone and iPad charged at 100%.My kids think I’m crazy, but it must be!

Favorite food:

Sushi and fried egg sandwiches

Can’t live without:

Thinking about my next great meal.

I Go Against The Grain #beCAUSE:

It doesn’t seem as much fun to be regular and conventional.