“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!
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.
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.
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.”
Oct. 5, 2018 (DALLAS) – Dallas-based non-profit Against The Grain Productions celebrated its milestone 10th and final Fashion for a Passion presented by Audi Dallas on Saturday, September 22nd at sixty five hundred, giving longtime and new guests alike a memorable experience and intimate glimpse into how the organization has affected change for over a decade. Through sponsorships, ticket sales, live and silent auctions, a raffle and additional donations, more than 350 glamorous guests gathered together to raise more than $40,000 net to benefit ATG’s giving budget in 2019, which includes supporting orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, a scholarship fund, media projects and community outreach programs. Over the past decade, ATG has given more than a quarter of a million dollars to help these causes.
Nov. 29, 2017 (DALLAS) – Fashion for a Passion presented by Audi Dallas (title sponsor) gave guests from all over the Dallas community a fresh take on Asian American fashion, music and art at its 9th annual event on Nov. 11 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 $30,000 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.
To celebrate the opening of their latest bar and event space Jettison (1878 Sylvan Ave, located at the new and exciting Sylvan | Thirty mixed-use development), Houndstooth Coffee will host a series of intimate PopUp Suppers featuring renowned chefs across the Dallas Metroplex serving up dishes from their favorite cuisines from around the world. Their inaugural event will take place from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, September 19, with Thai favorites from Chef Mateo Roberson (Instagram: @mateoroberson) and will benefit Against The Grain! We are so grateful to Chef Roberson for selecting our organization as the beneficiary for PopUp Suppers’ kickoff dinner. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today. Read more
Against The Grain Productions is overwhelmed by the amount of support from the local community at their latest Dine for a Cause. On May 18, Tasty Tails in Richardson donated about $420 that will go toward our Asian orphanages and underprivileged children, scholarship fund and community outreach programs. The donation was a result of a generous 25 percent of receipts from ATG supporters who dined at Tasty Tails that day.
Sukan Jewelry, one of our 2015 Fashion for a Passion presenting designers, will offer a two-day promotion with 10 percent of proceeds donated back to ATG. Sukan believes in the power of giving by being a global citizen and providing opportunities to women in India to learn a skill and be employed. The living wages allow for financial independence and provide women a stronger voice. USE CODE: ATG10 during checkout atwww.sukanjewelry.com. Promotion starts Thursday, Dec. 10, and ends Friday, Dec. 11, at 11:59 p.m. (online only).
When you connect your Kroger Plus card to ATG’s nonprofit account, a portion of your receipts every time will go toward ATG. Here’s how you can connect your current Kroger account, register for a new one and start making it easy to get groceries for good!
WILL YOU HELP AGAINST THE GRAIN MEET OUR #NTXGIVINGDAY CHALLENGES?!
Against The Grain is participating in Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day – and we need your help! Our goal this year is to raise $2,000 in just 18 HOURS for our supported orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, scholarship fund and community outreach programs. Here’s how! Read more
The Against The Grain family’s first members were not only its founders but also the adoptees featured in the award-winning documentary film Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, directed and produced by our president and co-founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. The poignant film, a 5 year passion project that was completed and released in 2009, follows the personal journeys of the orphans who were were airlifted from war-torn Vietnam to the United States. It was this film that inspired the founding of Against The Grain and our support of poverty-stricken orphanages in Asia.
The ATG family was saddened to learn that DC is currently battling cancer. In an effort to return the love and support that he has shown for many years in sharing his powerful journey and raising awareness about adoption, Tammy and the ATG Board would like to donate 100% of all proceeds from sales of Operation Babylift DVDs during the entire month of February to help offset DC’s medical costs.
If you would like to show your support, please click here to purchase your own copy of Operation Babylift. As you reflect on the message of love throughout the month of February, we encourage you to share the love and spread the message of hope that is embodied in the film by also considering copies of Operation Babylift for family and friends. We thank you so much for your continued support of our mission and hope that through our programming and community outreach efforts, you are not only enlightened and educated about Asian American culture, arts and issues but also inspired to do your part, in any measure, to make life better for others. #beCAUSE.
Read more Against The Grain posts featuring DC Wolfe and Operation Babylift: