Category: Community Outreach

Congratulations to the 2022 ATG Scholarship Winners!

Through our Scholarship Program, ATG proudly awards Artistic, Groundbreaker Leadership, #LiveLikeLyly, Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur and the newly founded Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E Scholarships to a select group of exemplary Asian American high school seniors, college undergraduates, and graduate school students who are shining examples of what it means to go Against The Grain.  Our selection committee reviews a combination of criteria: GPA, extracurricular activities, portfolio, essay, letters of recommendation and even video submissions. Top finalists are given a phone interview.  In 2022, ATG will award $12,500 in scholarships to nine outstanding students. Since the program’s beginning in 2011, ATG has awarded $110,000 in scholarships to 70 exceptional AAPI students across the nation.

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. Said Hue, “This was another great year for ATG Scholarships, with nearly 200 applications from all across the country. I’ve been a part of the scholarship committee since its inception in 2011 and still, every year I am moved with a new wave of inspiration from these young leaders. I choose to stay a part of this process for over 10 years now because it keeps me in the loop of ‘What’s next?’ This year we had the new addition of the Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship, which provided an additional avenue for us to give. Our varied scholarship offerings attract an impressive diversity of backgrounds and disciplines. Community is a core value of the AAPI community and these young people are actively participating and creating pathways for us to be more connected. I believe it’s important that we continue to support those who are paving a way for others. Thank you to our donors for helping us make these opportunities possible.

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 caliber of the applicants keeps rising every year, and this year was no exception.  I had the privilege of interviewing the 16 finalists and were not only impressed with their academic, artistic/leadership skills, but more importantly, their dedication to advancing their respective AAPI communities. I left the interviews inspired, energized, and hopeful because of the passion this next generation of AAPI leaders bring to making our country a more inclusive place.  Thank you to our donors and scholarship namesakes who support AAPI students who demonstrate exceptional artistic and leadership skills. One of the highlights of every year is reviewing the ATG Scholarship applications and meeting the finalists during the interview process. I continue to be blown away by their academic achievements, but more importantly, what they plan to do with their education. Whether it is through art, leadership, or entrepreneurship, I am grateful to be a part of the scholarship recipients’ academic journey and excited to see what they will accomplish professionally.

Carol Nguyen has served on the ATG Scholarship Review Committee for several years. Said Carol, “I am always proud to be part of ATG’s annual Scholarship Review Committee, because we gain insight about the younger generation, learn what they are passionate about, and what steps they are already taking to initiate change. As technology and open source information continue to advance and grow, it is exciting to see how candidates use these available resources to effectively share their stories and activate others. Our 5 scholarships attracted more than 200 applicants, which reveals how important these funds are to help them apply their critical thinking towards an original thought or to solve a unique problem. We are always happy to give them this podium to share their story and success.”

A longtime Board Member, this was Sharon Chan’s first time serving on our Scholarship Review Committee.  Said Sharon, “This year’s candidates were both diverse and extremely accomplished. It’s a joy to get to be a small part of the scholarship review process and get to learn about some of the amazing work that these student leaders are doing. ATG provides an avenue for funding for future leaders, artists, and groundbreakers in our community, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of our scholarship candidates.”

Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG Co-Founder/President, helped create these unique scholarships more than a decade ago with the intention of supporting AAPI youth and giving hope. Said Tammy, “This year’s impressive winners truly stand out for their level of awareness to their own identity, to the world, and the part that they can play in improving it. They embody the spirit of this organization.  As always, we are incredibly proud of them and look forward to all the great things they will do. I am personally very grateful for the dedication and hard work of our scholarship review committee of Hue Dao, Lisa Tran, Carol Nguyen, Sharon Chan, as well as generous scholarship donors and partners Ranier and Grace Pabilona and Thear Sy Suzuki, and countless supporters who allow us to continue this important work that will impact a generation and help us keep alive the spirit of what it means to go Against The Grain.” 

We are thrilled to announce this year’s exceptional nine winners…

    • Gina Bae – Artistic Scholarship
    • Annika Crawford – Artistic Scholarship
    • Jackie Hung – #LiveLikeLyly Artistic Scholarship
    • Shreya Shivakumar – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • Peter Pham – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • Brooke Chow – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
    • Lily Chen – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
    • Danica Leung – Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship
    • Leo Zhou – Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship

Gina Bae | Palo Alto, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 3.88 | Rhode Island School of Design | Illustration | Korean American

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

“Growing up surrounded by cautionary tales about starving artists, I nearly succumbed to the common mindset that labeled art as a hobby, a line in a well-rounded resume at best and a waste of precious time at worst — until I joined a nearby art studio. There, conversations with art history professors, aspiring animators, product designers and gallery artists opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. Going Against The Grain means challenging the traditional thinking that I grew up with, seeking other perspectives to broaden my worldview, and taking risks to pursue what I truly love.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“In addition to challenging a typical career path, I go Against The Grain by amplifying disadvantaged voices and different viewpoints through my journalism and artwork.

In every article I wrote in my school’s newspaper, I discovered a human story worth telling and exposed readers to the diverse perspectives of university student activists, veterans, student sexual assault survivors, and countless other members of our community.

As I created journalistic illustrations, I found that a canvas or Procreate file was just as effective at telling such stories.

Through my art, I spread awareness about issues I was passionate about, whether with an editorial cartoon depicting Hong Kong’s deteriorating press freedom or a newspaper spread design/illustration discussing our school’s Title IX process.

And with pieces exploring topics like cultural dissonance, the oversexualization of teenage girls, and the complexity of race as both a unifying and divisive factor, I embraced the vulnerability of sharing my own experience as a second generation Korean American girl growing up in a divided nation — after all, how could I advocate amplifying Asian voices in the arts if I didn’t join in myself?”


Annika Crawford | Washington Crossing, PA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.11 | Tufts University | Studio Arts + Undecided | Taiwanese/Caucasian American

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

“Going Against The Grain means forgetting the grain entirely. Believing in roads paved by stereotype—whether hating or loving them—maintains their existence. I rebel through indifference.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go Against The Grain by disregarding expectations. I serve at my local fire department as the only Asian woman. I witness about my Christian faith in my secular classes. I pen a myriad of articles in my school newspaper — the ethics of holograms, prison art, and Tropicália — the latter of which won “Best Culture Article” in the Yale Daily News High School Symposium.

Most of all, I go Against The Grain by pursuing truth through art. I seek the unseen parts of life and paint my impressions. My art therefore gives viewers a lens to better see the world and themselves — and consequently, through the aesthetic of an Asian girl in suburbia. I know this aesthetic is rare in the art world, but not unusual in life. For too long, the mainstream has hesitated to feature Asians, under the notion they are uninteresting and unrelatable to Americans, but the face of America is changing. As I pursue studio arts at Tufts University, I hope to create art that resonates with this change, and reflects our ambiguity, depth, and shared humanity.”


Jackie Hung | Rolling Hills Estates, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | University of Southern California | Design | Chinese American

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

“Going Against The Grain means having the courage to pursue a path that deviates from conventional expectations. It means to set an example for those that follow and to welcome any backlash that may come with going against what is considered the “norm.” These actions mean standing firm behind my convictions, even if they do not align with the majority. Going Against The Grain does not necessarily mean seeking controversy, but allowing yourself to see the world in a different light and acting upon it.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“As a girl who always sought out adventure and challenge, I decided to join the Boy Scouts of America when the program first opened to women in February 2019, over a century after the organization’s founding.

I was excited to be a part of this transition despite the many who disapproved. I experienced hostility from male Scouts, male leaders, and most surprisingly, from many women. Upon founding our all-girls troop, we immediately felt the pressure to keep pace and perform better than our male peers, despite not having the same foundational training. At times, this pressure to perform perfectly seemed to undermine my efforts to simply represent this organization.

As a member of the first ever class of female Eagle Scouts in the nation, I cannot help but take pride in my efforts that got me here. My initiative, leadership, and determination to reach Eagle rank were essential for me to succeed in this organization. My work, alongside the contributions of every member regardless of gender, has undoubtedly helped to reshape the BSA into the inclusive program it is today.”


Shreya Shivakumar | Edison, NJ | 19 years old | GPA: 4.08 | Barnard College of Columbia University | Political Science | South Asian (Indian) American

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

“To go Against The Grain is to lead with purpose, spearheading efforts to make a positive impact while staying true to one’s essential values. My passion for public service has led me to advocate for the needs of under-resourced communities while inspiring others to prioritize inclusivity and kindness in their community involvement. Effective changemakers use the unique perspective of their life experiences to fuel their actions. My work as a social entrepreneur has motivated me to pursue a career as an attorney and use the law to advance meaningful social change by defending civil rights.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Founding Nourish America was my first step in going Against The Grain to create a movement that would make nutritious and allergy-safe food available to all. I centered my nonprofit organization around providing enough healthy food to families and children and being considerate of their unique needs in the process. Additionally, my work in the anti-hunger sphere inspired me to found Allergies For Kids, a project to educate children about food allergy safety. Any initiative that aims to go Against The Grain requires demonstrating genuine care and consideration for the sustained well-being of others, and I hope to inspire this value in young people through my work.”


Peter Pham | San Jose, CA | 23 years old | GPA: 3.73 | University of California, Berkeley | Molecular Environmental Biology &  Public Health | Vietnamese American

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

“For me, going Against The Grain means building up the courage to make difficult but ultimately the best choices, even if it is unpopular, goes against the norms, and is contrary to what feels safe in the moment for a person. It means understanding the values and rules we live with, rather than being complacent, and being willing to work to change the rules when they no longer work. We ought to reflect on our place and actions, stand up for what we believe is right, and be ready to face the forces moving against us.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Before I found the words “Against The Grain,” I’ve been practicing this motto throughout my life.

After graduating from a competitive high school where everyone was expected to attend a four-year university, I chose to attend a community college. To my immigrant parents who never made it past grade school, this decision felt like a death-knell for my success. I didn’t go straight to a four-year university to get a good job. I took an alternate route that allowed me the space to support my family, become a community leader, and shape our world through changed policies, emergency authorized vaccines, and touched lives.

More recently, while the youngest redistricting commissioner on a panel of 15 people that included a former Vice-Mayor, healthcare CEO, and school board trustee, I was known to ask the toughest questions to members of the public, which triggered frustration and chagrin. In one case, a major interest group proposed a map that seemed to violate the Voting Rights Act. While other commissioners stayed quiet, I challenged them to clarify their process, which the chair (and former Vice-Mayor) said saved the commission from lawsuits and accusations of bias. ”


Brooke Chow | Raleigh, NC | 20 years old | GPA: 3.8 | UNC Chapel Hill | Business Administration and Management | Chinese American

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

“Going Against The Grain is identifying issues around us and actively working to address them, even if it means going against the status quo. It means speaking bolding and unapologetically, and recognizing that you have the power to shape history — and not be passively shaped by it.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“After noticing many local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, I knew I wanted to help. The businesses that struggled the most were typically local businesses and we wanted to support these business owners, especially because many of them were unique to North Carolina. By working specifically with a target market that didn’t have much prior experience navigating the digital landscape, which was especially important during the pandemic, we successfully helped dozens of businesses stay afloat by consulting with them and providing digital solutions that would solve their problems.

I go Against The Grain by bringing local businesses into the digital generation and providing long-term solutions that ensure their longevity.”


Lily Chen | Basking Ridge, NJ | 19 years old | GPA: 4.0 | MIT | Mathematics with Computer Science | Chinese American

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

“To me, going Against The Grain means pushing relentlessly to create changes that you believe in, regardless of obstacles.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go Against The Grain by building free technological solutions and apps for others and by empowering women in technology!”



Danica Leung | Portland, OR | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Emory University | Political Science and Anthropology | Chinese-American

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

“Going Against The Grain is about defying expectations and choosing your own path. It’s sticking true to one’s own values and pursuing a passion even if it’s not conventional.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I’m pursuing my dream of political advocacy both through my studies and my extracurricular efforts. It’s important to me to lead any and all initiatives for change with a humanistic, equity-focused perspective. My activism, whether it’s getting out the vote or lobbying for immigration reform, is informed by my intersectional identity; and rather than see that as a minus because I am a minority, I see it as a plus for making me a better, stronger advocate.”


Leo Zhou | Sugar Land, TX | 18 years old | GPA: 3.95 | University of Texas (Turing Honors) | Computer Science | Chinese American

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

“Going Against The Grain means taking risks, trying new things, and pushing your limits to create something beyond anyone’s expectations. To me, “the grain” is the box I’m contained in, the box of my comfort zone I must break through to achieve my true potential. Although it was frightening, learning to go Against The Grain is something that has been a critical component of my growth as both a leader and an individual.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Due to COVID-19, the last quarter of classes during the 2019-2020 school year was canceled. Moreover, classes moved fully online, and instruction was shortened significantly for the entirety of the following school year, causing 60% more students to fail compared to pre-pandemic.

Seeing this downward shift in academic performance, in July 2020, I decided to go Against The Grain. Having no leadership experience, the thought of management terrified me, but I knew I had to try. I researched ways to help and discovered Aerovate, a small nonprofit organization offering free online 1-1 tutoring, and started my own chapter. Over the next two years, I grew as a leader, became confident in myself, and learned to always take the jump.

During this time, I took part in my most ambitious project yet: an international AMC 8 (contest math) virtual summer camp. During the camp, I and my team taught students major contest concepts, walked through problems, and implemented a mock contest for prizes.

Today, Aerovate Houston has grown to 200 members and has given over 15000 volunteer hours, leaving an everlasting impact. By going Against The Grain, I have become an assertive leader and role model.”

2022 Heritage Camp Recap – “CELEBRATION!”

“CELEBRATION” – the perfect theme for this 2022’s Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp (SEAPI). On July 28 – July 31, 2022, ATG Ambassador Carol Nguyen and previous ATG Service Sponsor Luwan Hy traveled to the YMCA in Estes Park to be presenters at the 24th anniversary for the Vietnamese and 6th SEAPI camp. After 2 years of virtual gatherings, they were finally able to reunite with our family at Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families.
Opening Ceremony air was electric, as 82 campers, 22 counselors, parents and presenters gathered face-to-face to begin the weekend’s adventures. The excitement, joy, and anticipation in everyone’s eyes were endearing and contagious.

Carol and Luwan presented an arts and crafts workshop entitled, “Knot Again.” Seven groups of campers, from pre-kindergarten through high school, were guided through the art of creative stone wrapping. Binding smooth rocks with colorful twine allowed them to be creative, but it also required mindfulness and focus, bringing life and levity to an elementally grounded object.

For 50 minutes, they experienced a progression of emotions, as designs were considered and problem areas were solved. Eagerness to start led to frustration as they learned to work with the materials for the first time.

Then, focus would turn to despair as their waxed twine would inevitably slip off the smooth edges of their stones, finally culminating in the “aha!” moment, once they figured out the correct tension to use. The pride they displayed for their finished products was heartwarming.

The ATG duo were kept busy at every moment, but they were able to keep their energy up with the Vietnamese coffee they enjoyed daily out of mugs that were hand painted by one of the campers. They even made time to attend and assist other presentations, especially the dancing workshops. Sharing a cabin with the Kaba Modern “KM Legacy” hip hop team from California meant they even got a preview of some of the performances!

The most memorable moments were the  Boodle Fight – hosted by the Filipino-American Community of Colorado, and the epic Songkran – the splashy Thai New Year celebration and final activity during camp. After a long weekend of hiking and learning, the campers were quick to target their counselors with water balloons and water canons. Not a shirt was spared during this outdoor battle!
Saturday night’s Gala brought everyone together again for dragon, lion, and hip hop performances, a dance party, and a super competitive silent auction. The team even won a few of the larger prizes and gifted them to the aunties who prepared the Boodle Fight.
On our last morning, a few campers helped us repurpose leftover stones into a mini zen garden. The Closing Ceremony ended with the traditional Happy Adoption Day song sung by all the campers and followed by a slideshow of the weekend’s activities. Poignant and candid, there was not a dry eye left the stage. Incredibly fun and impactful, gears are already spinning on what to expect next year!

Support our efforts at Camp by donating today!


Recap written by Carol Nguyen

Congratulations to the 2021 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 undergraduates, and graduate school students who are shining examples of what it means to go Against The Grain.  Our selection committee reviews a combination of criteria: GPA, extracurricular activities, portfolio, essay, and letters of recommendation. Finalists are given a phone interview.  In 2021, ATG awarded $14,500 in scholarships to nine outstanding students. Since 2011, we have awarded $97,500 in scholarships to more than 60 exceptional AAPI students across the nation.

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. Said Hue, “We are fortunate to not only witness the talent and creativity of these amazing students but also be proud that these students are representing the Asian American community. They are excellent leaders, present fresh perspectives, and challenge the status quo. Not only are they creating pathways for themselves but blazing paths for others.”

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, “One of the highlights of every year is reviewing the ATG Scholarship applications and meeting the finalists during the interview process. I continue to be blown away by their academic achievements, but more importantly, what they plan to do with their education. Whether it is through art, leadership, or entrepreneurship, I am grateful to be a part of the scholarship recipients’ academic journey and excited to see what they will accomplish professionally.

Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG Co-Founder/President, helped create these unique scholarships a decade ago with the intention of supporting AAPI youth and giving hope. Said Tammy, “Ten years ago, we started this scholarship with a small dream to give back to the next generation. After reaching our scholarship’s 10th anniversary milestone, we look back on all the students we have been able to help and see the ripple effect. It is gratifying to see the bravery, courage and innovation in their projects, their career choices, and how they are continuing to pay it forward –  in effect how much they are going Against The Grain.  This year’s winners are an inspiring group – thoughtful, socially conscious, strong, creative, and compassionate. We are incredibly proud of them and look forward to all the great things they will do. I am personally very grateful for the dedication and hard work of our scholarship review committee of Hue Dao, Lisa Tran, and Ann Chao Sheu, as well as generous scholarship donors like Bruce and Pat McRae, Ranier and Grace Pabilona, and countless supporters for helping us keep alive the spirit of what it means to go Against The Grain. We look forward to the next decade and what good we can do together.”

We are thrilled to announce this year’s exceptional nine winners…

    • Brittney Bautista – Artistic Scholarship
    • Saxon Kennedy – Artistic Scholarship
    • Joe Bun Keo – Artistic Scholarship
    • James Koga – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • AnhPhu Nguyen – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
    • Isabella Nguyen – McCrae Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • Evelyn Liu – #LiveLikeLyly Artistic Scholarship
    • Rose Van Dyne – Artistic Scholarship
    • Olivia Zalecki – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

Brittney Bautista | Lake Hopatcong, NJ | 20 years old | GPA: 3.769 | Pratt Institute | Film/Video Studies | Filipina 

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

“To me, going Against The Grain means challenging the norm, rejecting conformity, and taking risks. As an Asian American, I define this by taking the leap of pursuing an artistic career- a choice that is not normally favored in Asian communities. Going Against The Grain  means going against stereotypes; mustering the courage to reach for anything I desire, and not allowing myself to be defined by others. From an artistic perspective, going Against The Grain means doing the unexpected; being ambitious, and pushing the limits of what I can create. ”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“As an artist, I go Against The Grain by going out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to create art that is completely vulnerable, intimate, and personal. Meshing mediums, combining genres of film, and playing with unconventional framing and lighting are all ways I go against the grain as a filmmaker. Furthermore, as an Asian American woman, I refuse to be classified as quiet, meek, and subservient. Rather, I will continue to amplify my voice through my art, take up space, and encourage young Asian women like myself to take charge in the film industry. After decades of oppression, it is time that we, Asian Americans, stand up for ourselves and encourage our community to pursue a career in the field they are truly passionate about regardless of judgment from others. Through my art, I hope to break boundaries and Asian stereotypes one film at a time.”


Saxon Kennedy | Davie, FL | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Berklee College of Music | Songwriting/Music | Filipina  American

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

“A person who goes Against The Grain pushes against their personal, physical, and social restraints to attempt something new and impactful. When I make music, I push myself and the people around me to use my art as a medium for helping people—whether that be through socially-conscious messaging in my original music, providing free music to young children, or performing benefit concerts for local charities. In all of my work, I try not only to push the boundaries of my music but to do so in a way that helps my community.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Music is a language that connects communities. My musical perseverance has been a source of joy in my life that connects me to so many people around me. These connections have shaped my presence as a musician committed to going Against the Grain.

My most precious musical memories were made through teaching music to others. In my school’s Sagemont Synergy music program, I realized the powerful role of a musical mentor as I sat down after school to teach my peers musical arrangements for our shows. I am grateful that I was able to take my mentorship to a new level by helping young children grow in the Sagemont Siblings mentorship program. It was here that I grew as a leader and advocate of youth empowerment through education, taking initiative to provide kids with free musical lessons every week.

Through my acts of service to my community, I have learned that one person’s music can be an act of greater community at the local level and beyond. I will forever be a leader, a collaborator, a friend, a mentor, and an artist committed to going Against The Grain to affect positive change.”


Joe Bun Keo | Hartford, CT | 34 years old | GPA: 3.5 | Pacific Northwest College of Art at Willamette University | Art and Visual Studies | Cambodian/Khmer American

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

“I’m not against grain, I love rice! All jokes aside, going Against The Grain just means marching to the beat of your own drum, doing things your way.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“My way is to break the chain of the inter-generational trauma of my upbringing and use the experience to educate my fellow Cambodian Americans about mental health awareness. The task-oriented, rigid, and often cold, distant parenting of Asian parents takes an emotional, mental, and sometimes physical toll on us. With my conceptual work, I try to present issues stemming from the effects of this toxic, hostile, and abusive situation using everyday objects as vessels. The items, commodities, and materials become a lightning rod, a place to have that hard introspective discussion of that is what happened and this is how I can stop it from continuing. It’s being vulnerable for the sake of saving the future.”


James Koga | Irvine, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.4 | Cornell University | Music & Public Policy | Korean and Japanese American

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

“My family has a history of silence. Silence became a tool of erasure for my Japanese American grandfather who never spoke about his removal from U.C. Berkeley and incarceration at Tule Lake. Likewise, my dad never shared his father’s WWII history. Grandpa Sumio’s generation was called the “Quiet Americans.” I inherited my family’s quiet ways. I’ve been a listener, an observer. For this, my teachers called me a “role model.” Against The Grain means breaking from family history and society’s perspective of the “model” Asian American and speaking up for the issues that I care deeply about.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I went Against The Grain the day I stood up to an abusive teacher and his months of bullying my classmates and me. I couldn’t stay silent any longer. I spoke to my principal. I spoke on record to my resource officer and defended an unfairly expelled classmate. I was no longer the “quiet Asian” kid. With my newfound voice, I became one of the first Braver Angels high school representatives in the country and promoted this grassroots organization’s goal of engaging students in political depolarization through civil discourse. As a Taco Bell Foundation Live Mas Scholar, I’ve become an advocate for connecting people through communication. Most proudly, as the founder of The Hip Hop Workshop, I’ve promoted rap and poetry as an avenue for self-expression for kids and adults alike. Sponsored by The Dragon Kim Foundation, my social entrepreneurship project has helped people tell their personal stories about racial identity, depression, homelessness, and gender identity. Through the medium of the spoken word, I’ve used my voice to give voice to others. By going Against The Grain, I am making a difference as a leader, an advocate, and a positive role model.”


AnhPhu Nguyen | Papillion, NE | 18 years old | GPA: 4.491 | Harvard University | Computer Science | Vietnamese American

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

“To me, “Going Against the Grain” means to be willing to do things others aren’t willing to do in order to improve yourself and the community around you. It means making the sacrifice, and doing the work in the present, so that your future self and the world you leave behind is better than when you found it.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Being a first-generation student and immigrant to the U.S., my parents can only land low-level jobs as a janitor and a nail tech. Seeing them work so hard, yet still struggling to provide for us let alone buy us electronics motivated me to make an affordable, reliable option to access electronics, and become financially stable. I go Against The Grain by starting my own business, Phu’s Phone Emporium, instead of getting a normal minimum-wage job. I went Against The Grain by teaching myself how to fix phones, and growing my company myself to over $280,000 in sales in less than two years. Going Against The Grain for me also means improving my overall community through my business. I’ve donated phones and tablets to families in need, so they can access online school or contact their families. I’ve donated hundreds of dollars to poor families in Vietnam as well as over $1,000 to nonprofits dedicated to providing free tech access here in Omaha. Improving my community also means making an affordable, quality, and reliable option to access technology for Omaha locals; I go Against The Grain by beating my competitors’ prices $30-150 on almost every repair. *Company Page:”


Isabella Nguyen | Arlington, TX | 17 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Emory University | Pre-Med Biology | Vietnamese American

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

“Going Against The Grain means to challenge the standards and expectations imposed on you to express, exceed, and excel. Throughout my experiences, going Against The Grain  was not a picture-perfect process; it required time and discovery to find the road less traveled on where I still felt comfortable. Against The Grain is more than just finding new strengths. It’s forging new paths, redefining yourself, and igniting a passion for future leaders as well.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain, I was enraptured by the impact my actions have and memories my thoughts can manifest.

Founding a non-profit, I advocate/combat stigmas surrounding women’s health by providing free period products to low-income women. Earning numerous leadership positions in 12+ school organizations, I optimize responsibility to foster communal growth. Leading volleyball teams, I encourage communication as captain. Coaching middle school/club volleyball, I utilize experience to build character/skill in ambitious players. Establishing my core mediation research, I promote environmental sustainability. Administering care at health camps and to impoverished communities in Vietnam, I implement my passion on a global scale. Volunteering 200+ hours and founding my own Asian heritage club—Summit Association of Asian/Middle-Eastern Scholars—I forge connections.

Change requires action, change requires perseverance, and change requires an idea; as I grow I hope to expand the script to include the voices of the unheard I’ve experienced as an Asian-American woman. As I go Against The Grain I work to become an ophthalmologist and researcher to lead global expeditions to serve those in need.”


Evelyn Liu | Parsippany, NJ | 27 years old | GPA: 3.4 | New York School of Interior Design | MFA Interior Design | Shanghainese-Taiwanese American

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

“To go Against The Grain is about confronting the status quo. It means on top of identifying and magnifying an issue, one must also take action in the face of possible rejection or lack of interest. Going Against The Grain is not a comfortable choice but the rewards that lie beyond the initial discomfort are certainly worth it. And what is “worth” the challenge is rising above those that haven’t seen your vision and confidently taking your own stand on an issue- that is how you create change, no matter how small it may be.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“While I am certainly not the first to pursue sustainable interior design (nor am I the last) by actively choosing to place people over profit, I am going Against The Grain. In what I have observed from the deepening industrialized global state, it is very easy to forget that the end-user is a living, breathing human being in the pursuit of power, money, or status. We not only lose our connection to and compassion for each other, but we also ultimately lose our humanity. Despite all that’s happened within these past few years, I still believe that we as a society do have a chance to overcome these challenges. By integrating “slow design” into the public consciousness and by actively promoting the use and development of renewable materials in commercial interior design projects, one can still prioritize human-environmental harmony. Furthermore, as an artist, I have plenty of experience as an outsider and create works that document emotions that are taboo or unconventional. My work may not have mass appeal, but I continue to make those works in the hope that my art can be relatable for those who have had similar feelings or experiences.”


Rose Van Dyne | Fort Collins, CO | 25 years old | GPA: 3.89 | Boston Conservatory at Berklee | MFA MT Vocal Pedagogy | Korean American

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

“Going Against The Grain means to have the courage and bravery to forge a new path ahead, even when it seems like all odds are against you. It means to acknowledge the lives of those who came before you who wanted to take the road less traveled, but couldn’t. It means to choose joy and compassion in all components of the life you are creating for yourself. Defying the status quo is both a privilege and a duty; an everlasting pursuit to be true to ourselves! May we all be so lucky to go Against The Grain.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go Against The Grain by amplifying the voices of historically marginalized communities in an industry that has long favored the stories of the colonizers. We often hear that art is a reflection of society, but I believe that the opposite can be true. Art can serve as a catalyst to change the minds and hearts of those who make up our society. Through continued work to provide greater representation and education of our Global Majority populations on the silver screen and Broadway stage, we inch closer to a more equitable and empathetic culture that includes ALL people.

As an educator, it has become ever more apparent that the Western ideal is the standard from which all other perspectives and cultures deviate. By changing the narrative of what constitutes as standard casting, repertoire, representation, etc. we allow space for new voices to be heard and finally have a seat at the table. Particularly as an Asian American and the daughter of an immigrant, I am honored to play a part in the changing of the telling of the American story; one that finally can include and center people who look like me.”


Olivia Zalecki | Charlotte, NC | 24 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Columbia University | Sociology | Chinese American

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

“To go Against The Grain means to acknowledge and ‘sit with’ societies’ discomforts, fears and injustices- then confront them. It is a path built by constructing your sense of self-worth, critically and thoughtfully examining the world in which we inhabit and challenging all the assumptions we have. Going Against The Grain means speaking out and standing up for a more just world, despite our fears, and with unwavering hope for a brighter future. As an Asian American woman, it means taking up the space I deserve and demanding for my community to be heard for our humanity.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I was in middle school when I was told that I ‘wasn’t really Asian’ for the first time. I began to go Against The Grain when I realized that no one has the power to challenge my identity and authenticity as an Asian American transracial adoptee. I have grown a space for myself within the Asian American community through leading Asian American student conferences, interning with OCA National in D.C. and working as a program director at North Carolina Asian Americans Together. I have found spaces filled with love in the Asian American community. I have had friends guide me through learning and more importantly, unlearning. Addressing my positionality as an adoptee born of China’s repressive One-Child policy, while also acknowledging my own privilege has expanded and challenged my worldview. I continue to go Against The Grain through my advocacy for the Asian American adoptee community. addressing the subjects of cultural erasure and white saviorism that are often considered too uncomfortable to address. My work and thoughts on international adoption have been published by Eleven University of California Berkeley’s undergraduate journal of sociology, and the blog, ReAppropriate.”

Announcing the Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E Scholarship

After awarding nearly $100,000 in scholarships to more than 60 worthy AAPI student artists, leaders and entrepreneurs over the past decade, Against The Grain Productions is proud to announce the addition of The Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship to its scholarship fund for 2022. Recognizing Asian American high school seniors, college, or graduate students who have exhibited an ability to rise above circumstances, demonstrated the ability to lift up others, and shown exemplary servant leadership in the Asian American community and beyond, the new scholarship will provide a scholarship between $1,500-$2,500 for AAPI student leaders attending accredited American universities.

“Upon commemorating our scholarship fund’s 10th Anniversary milestone and seeing how much our scholarships have impacted our youth over the last decade, collaborating with an exceptional Asian American leader like Thear Suzuki who has been an advocate for positive change in our community makes so much sense,” said Against The Grain President and Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “Thear has served as ATG’s Aid Advisor to Cambodia for many years and been a longstanding supporter of our organization. Her special way of giving while lifting up others around her is what makes her so special. She exemplifies what it means to go Against The Grain with hope, courage, and humility. We are truly excited about this next step for our non-profit to help inspire a legacy of leaders like Thear.”

Thear’s personal purpose is to inspire courageous actions in others so they can lead more impactful lives. Thear is a Global Client Service Partner at EY with 25 years of professional services experience. She served clients at Accenture for 16 years and joined EY in 2012, where she has served as Regional Advisory Managing Partner and Americas Consulting Talent Leader. At EY, Thear serves on the Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council, and she champions leadership development programs that build inclusive, innovative, and courageous leaders for the 21st century.

Thear is passionate about increasing leadership and philanthropic capacity in herself and others. She is active with organizations that develop leaders and lift up others. Thear currently serves on the Communities Foundation of Texas Board, SMU Lyle Engineering School Executive Board, the SMU Tate Lecture Series Board, the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Committee, the National Asian/Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship Board, and Co-Chair for the 50/50 Women on Boards – Dallas initiative. Thear is a member of the International Women’s Forum and United Way Women of Tocqueville. With the Texas Women’s Foundation, Thear served on the board for two terms, co-chair of the Economic Leadership Council and a proud founding member of the Orchid Giving Circle. Thear also served two board terms with the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum.

Thear is a Presidential Leadership Scholar and has received several awards, including the DCEO Corporate Excellence in Leadership, the SMU Women’s Symposium Profiles in Leadership, Women Leaders in Consulting Award, NOMI Abolitionist Award, Asian Chamber of Texas Humanitarian & Community Services Award, WING’s Mentors & Allies Award, and Thear was named one of the most powerful business leaders in North Texas 2021 and 2022 by DCEO. Thear is featured in President George W Bush’s new book, Out of Many, One – Portraits of America’s Immigrants and a contributing author to Passionately Striving in Why – An Anthology of Women Who Persevere Mightily to Live Their Purpose.

Thear earned her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with Biomedical Engineering Specialization from Southern Methodist University. She lives in Plano, Texas with her husband and their four sons.

Thear Sy Suzuki

Please share the inspiration behind the Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship.

“At an early age I was displaced from my home in Cambodia and my family survived the Killing Fields after 4 brutal years of not knowing if we were going to live or die. Coming to a foreign land as a refugee and not speaking the language or knowing anyone, I struggled to find my identity. Though I was loved, I had negative beliefs about my value, my worth and my capabilities. I was stuck in a victim mindset and adopted a story that kept me small. It would take many years of development and with significant help from others before I unlocked my true voice and discovered how I can be an agent for positive change. I found my power. I’m speaking of the power to choose my path and live a life of commitment, meaning and purpose, focused on others. I envision a world in which all people feel free and safe to be themselves and use their gifts and talents to help others. My personal purpose is to inspire courageous actions in others so they can lead more impactful lives. The inspiration behind this scholarship is based on my own personal experience of taking actions to rise above my circumstances and negative beliefs in order to live my full potential and play a part in helping to change the world for the better.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I hope to encourage others towards a life of kindness, of giving back and paying it forward.”

Why is this scholarship important?

“What helped me on my journey was having people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. There are times in our lives when we need that from others. None of us makes it alone, we need each other. I owe my successes to people (many are strangers) who chose to invest in me without expecting anything in return for themselves. Rarely are we able to pay it back but we can always pay it forward.”

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

For more information on the scholarship and to apply, visit our Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E Scholarship Page.

If you would like to support our R.I.S.E. efforts, please donate and email to designate your donation to this scholarship fund.

About Against The Grain Productions
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages and underprivileged children. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards annual scholarships to exemplary Asian American student artists, leaders, and entrepreneurs. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at more than a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit or
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2020 Virtual SEAPI Heritage Camp Recap

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asian Pacific Islander (SEAPI) Camp in Colorado ran a little bit differently. From August 7-8, 2020, ATG Ambassadors Nikki Duong Koenig and Carol Nguyen presented a virtual workshop for high school campers that centered around Art Therapy. It was wonderful to see many returning families during the opening and closing ceremonies – families joined from all over the United States, as well as from Hawaii and France. Founding Board Member/Advisor, Jared Rehberg, performed a special song that he wrote for camp this year. During our 1.5 hour workshop, we spent the first part catching up with the campers and what they did, what they accomplished, and what they enjoyed over the summer. We then discussed the Elements and Principles of Design to help them to express their feelings through a timed art session, while we discussed tougher topics pertaining to the current pandemic. Every camper was assigned a word, and after the art session, we asked them to guess the 2 full phrases, “Use your voice to speak up for others,” and “Every voice is an important part of the conversation.” We had 2 lucky winners!

During the last portion of our workshop, we showed examples of how our previous featured entertainers and designers have been using their time/talent/resources to give back in this time of quarantine and isolation. We also included ways the campers (and their parents) can help in a tough situations related to bullying, as well as list resources they able to read in order to educate themselves on the issues of racial equity.

At the end of camp, the organizers were proud to conclude by sharing the collage we made during our workshop, which was a wonderful way for the high school campers to act as role models for younger campers and give everyone a quotable takeaway. Below are a few screenshots we took during the weekend!

Opening Ceremony


Location of Campers

Jared Rehberg Performing

High School Art Therapy Workshop – Final Collage Piece

2019 Heritage Camp Recap – “Sights and Sounds of SEAPI”

Opening Ceremony at Assembly Hall

ATG Co-Director of Community Outreach Hue Dao and Ambassador Carol Nguyen returned to participate as workshop presenters at the Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp (SEAPI) on August 1-4. This is their shared experience at camp and how the ATG team made an impact on this year’s events.

“We were given such a warm welcome on our return to SEAPI Heritage Camp this year. Many organizers and parents were excited to be assigned to help us teach NINE workshops throughout the weekend. We were told that being ATG assistants are a coveted role each year! This was the first time we were teaching in the Longhouse cabin, which was a challenging space due to it not being a true kitchen. However, our coordinator Kristi Kremer made sure we had everything we needed way in advance, and the space was set-up with butane burners, pans, and all the cooking utensils for class.

We taught a diverse range of ages, 1st graders to high schoolers, and a few cooking classes for adults. The theme for 2019 was “Sights & Sounds of SEAPI,” so we spoke about how along with our sense of taste, the senses of sight and hearing also play important roles in how we enjoy eating food. The goal was for everyone to make and decorate a stuffed rice balls that would then be judged on use of color, texture, and creativity. Some of the techniques we taught were how to flip food in a pan, seasoning the filling, stuffing the rice balls, and prepping veggies a variety of ways to enable fun decorations. We were even taught our adult campers how to make puffed rice noodles! The process for each workshop included: 1) make the stuffed rice balls, 2) decorate the base and anchor of the plate, 3) decorate the rice balls. We were so impressed by all the fun creations (many cute animals)! We were touched when several parents came to us afterwards to say that their kids were excited to try making them together at home. After our final workshop, we still had toasted almonds left, so we taught an impromptu class on how to make a smoky/salty almond brittle.

Songkran Time!

The schedule on Saturday allowed a few free hours for Hue to participate in the annual and epic Songkran (water balloon fight)! The ability to breathe in fresh air, view mountains in the background, and delightfully chuck a water balloon at your camp bestie as they are distracted while refilling their water canon — pure delight.

As the camp continues to grow and incorporate more culture from other countries in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, we continually meet and connect with other organizations and families that help bring authenticity to the camp. On Friday night, we were invited to the Thai cabin, and were treated to a delicious homemade meal of larb and Thai beef jerky. After a lovely conversation that lasted well into the evening, their generosity extended to giving us their extra garlic for our workshop, and a full bag of homegrown mint. On Saturday, we were invited to the Filipino cabin for a traditional boodle fight. The preparation for this bounty had taken all day and included fresh fruits (pineapple, jack fruit, mangos), fried fish, panic, chicken adobo, beef and vegetable stir fry, lumpia, purple potato, stews, cassava cakes, and fried coconut mochi. It was a feast for our eyes and our souls. 

Packed room for the dragon dance!

The final night was as festive as ever. The gala showcased a huge team of dragon and lion dancers, a hip hop dance troupe from California, and a hilarious skit performed by the campers. The goodbyes were emotional as we see them all growing up each year, standing taller, and asking more poignant questions. As always, we were humbled to be asked to share our knowledge with Heritage Camp. But we will always lovingly play our part in teaching and encouraging pride in heritage and identity.”

Support our efforts at Camp by donating today!

Postcards from 2018 SEAPI Camp

In mid July, our ATG Tribe flew to Estes Park, Colorado to present at Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp as a part of Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families. We are proud and honored to help adoptee youth spend a few days in the summer connecting with their heritage, bonding with new friends and participating in enriching activities.

Here are some of their memories about this wonderful trip:

“Stronger side by side was the theme of the camp this year. We represented that theme weaving in the food, dances, culture and traditions at Southeast Asian Pacific Islander Heritage (SEAPI) Camp. The parents and students all thoroughly enjoyed ATG’s cooking workshops taught by Carol, Hue and Jennifer. It was a hands-on approach that unified and differentiated the significant beef dishes of each country where campers are most represented at the camp – Bo Luc Lac from Vietnam, Bistec Tagalog from the Philippines and Nam Tok from Thailand. They also presented the class with alternatives to address food allergies and dietary restrictions. ATG team members Jimmy, Lisa and Hue also taught the “Honoring Your Child’s Vietnamese Culture.” With Hue’s adoption background, she was speaking to the parents from personal experience. Hue brought up things that she felt students wished they could tell their parents, from a place of cultural understanding and vulnerability. After coming seven years, she has been watching students grow from young campers to counselors and presenters of workshops themselves. It was fulfilling to see them pay it forward. ~ Hue Pederson (Co-Director of Community Outreach)

“Attending SEAPI Heritage Camp with my husband and three young children for the first time was a privilege and blessing. My husband, Jimmy, and I helped facilitate the cooking workshops as well as Co-presented on the topic of ‘Honoring My Child’s Vietnamese Heritage.’ Through those experiences, we were able to connect with adoptive parents who are invested in ensuring that their adoptive and biological children have an understanding and appreciation of their birth cultures. As the Co-Director of Community Outreach and Country Advisor to Thailand for ATG, this experience impacted me greatly and reignited my passion for serving an organization where one of its goals is to provide aid to orphanages in Southeast Asia. My husband and I are already committed to volunteer at next year’s camp!” ~ Lisa Tran (Co-Director of Community Outreach, Advisor – Thailand

“This was my 1st Heritage Camp and I enjoyed meeting people from many diverse perspectives — adoptees, siblings, parents, community volunteers and alumni (to name a few).  At some point, all our backgrounds blended into one another, allowing us to soak in the beautiful environment and the company of those around us.”  ~ Jimmy Tran (former Director of Community Outreach)

“It was so wonderful to have the ATG tribe back at SEAPI Camp. A diverse group of Asian Americans fit perfectly with this year’s camp theme, “Stronger Side By Side.” Over a span of four days, the tribe presented 10 workshops including cooking, dancing, Vietnamese culture and parenting. Thank you to Carol Nguyen, Hue Pedersen, Jimmy & Lisa Tran, Jennifer Devay and Bryan Florece. You are all the role models our kids need to help build their self esteem and educate them on their heritage.” ~ Jared Rehberg (Advisor and Vietnamese Adoptee)

ATG also gave two Heritage Camp Scholarships to Mai Miller and Alex Jantzen.


You can help us continue this important work by donating to help offset the costs of our team’s travel and expenses.


Meet Our 2018 ATG Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners!

SEAPI Heritage Camp: (L to R)  Mai Miller, Carol Nguyen, Alex Jantzen, Jennifer Devany and Hue Pederson


ATG is Proud to Announce our 2018 ATG Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners!

Alex Thanh Jantzen, 11

Overland Park, Kansas

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?

It has several meanings. One of them is standing up for what you believe in – no matters what the others may think. Also, standing up for what is right. When you sand or saw wood, you can go against the grain. It’s OK to be different from others.


How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?

In my family, I stand out because I look different. Some kids who don’t know my family don’t realize that my sister and I are actual siblings – because I’m adopted.  Not following the crowd when they laugh at another kid is another example of going against the grain. Standing for what’s right.



Mai Miller, 17

Longmont, Colorado

 What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?

To me, ‘Against The Grain’ means not letting others stop you from being yourself. This includes standing up for what you believe in and not being afraid to be different.


How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?
I go ‘Against The Grain’ by embracing my Vietnamese heritage. I am very proud to have been adopted from Vietnam and am always eager to share Vietnamese culture with others. Additionally,  I go ‘Against The Grain’ by not letting the opinions of others affect what I enjoy doing. I feel comfortable with being myself and will continue to be who I am without worrying about following trends.




Samuel Dieu Schlumpf Butler, 10

Chicago, Illinois

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?

What “against the grain” means to me is feeling and being free to love myself without any urge to follow the crowd ; a feeling of freedom and happiness of who and what I am inside and to express the true “me.” It means that I am the only person that I truly want to be.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?

I can be, and am going against the grain by being myself and being happy and proud of what I think of myself instead of what others think of me. I can be who I want to and stick to it by being happy of myself. Then, I will make long lasting friendships with people who respect and appreciate who I am.

For example, a kid who used to think that I was “nerdy” and “weird” ended up actually rethinking and wanting to be my friend after I started dressing goofy because it tends to make me happy and comfortable throughout the day. The next day, he walked up to me and asked if I wanted to play with him and his friends at recess. I was amazed at what being myself could change other’s perspectives and feelings about me and how wonderful it felt to be myself. In conclusion, these long lasting friends over time can help others find themselves as well. So I guess I can say that being against the grain has changed my life and how I view myself.

Apply Today for the 2018 ATG Culture/Heritage Camp Scholarship

The 2018 Against The Grain Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Camp Scholarship application process is officially open! Following our support of orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, Against The Grain also provides scholarships here at home to ten young Asian American adoptees each year to attend culture camps such as Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families SEAPI (Southeast Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Camp). Last year, we raised $1,000, allowing ten youths to spend a few days in the summer connecting with their heritage, bonding with new friends and participating in enriching activities for this year’s Heritage and Culture Camps.


Eligibility: Proof of camp registration with Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and HCAF SEAPI Heritage Camp. Sorry, past recipients are not eligible for this year’s scholarship.

Due Date: Saturday, July 1, 2018

Application: Simply submit the following in an email to

  1. Name of Applicant
  2. Age of Applicant
  3. City and State
  4. Photo of Applicant
  5. Question 1: What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?
  6. Question 2: How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?



2017 Underprivileged Children and Orphanage Aid Update (Holiday): Thailand

Thanks to the help of our Ambassador, Nong Thangsaksathit, ATG was able to finish our final disbursement for the year to Thaplamu Safe Haven and Learning Center in the Phang-Nga province in southern Thailand. We were able to provide aid to 71 children from the ages of 3-10 years old. Aid was given in the form of clothes, nutritious food for school staff to prepare school lunch, milk, drinking water, supplementary food for small children, first aid kits and learning materials (stationary, textbooks, etc).

Nong’s report:

The pre-school in Thaplamu provide day-care and early education opportunity for undocumented Myanmar migrant children in Thaplamu district in Phang-Nga province. It is estimated that at least 10% (4 to 5 million people) of the Thai workforce are migrants, the majority coming from Myanmar. Myanmar migrants often bring their families with them and sadly, many children have been left behind when their parents get arrested and deported. Thai policy allows migrant children equal access to compulsory education; however, in most instances, migrant children are discriminated against in the Thai education system (mainly due to language barrier) and many parents cannot afford to enroll their children due to their economic difficulties. Most parents are working in fishing and construction sectors. The school depends on workers’ charity and partially parents’ contribution which are insufficient and not sustainable to even cover basic service. Children don’t have enough books and stationary for study. The school doesn’t have a proper classroom and in some months the school cannot afford to provide milk or lunch to children (in which normally children spare some lunch from school for their own dinner at home). This pre-school does not only provide education but also protection to the children as they will be very vulnerable at home when their parents are at work.

The kids were very happy and teachers and parents highly appreciated support from ATG. There was a little conversation, which I think it was cute and would like to share. We told children a bit about ATG in a very simple way, like they also helped other children in other countries… and there was a little girl said “now I know who ATG are; they are kind people from the other side of the sky.”