Culture

Spring India Day at San Francisco’s Union Square
Culture

Spring India Day at San Francisco’s Union Square

By Sharon Simonson As many as 30,000 people are expected to descend on San Francisco’s Union Square today to experience Spring India Day 2015, a first-ever showcase of Indian culture, arts and crafts in the Bay Area’s most famous shopping and tourist center. Organizers hope to bring a bit of home to the city’s Indian population and a taste of India to the broader community. “I am a really proud Indian,” said Ena Sarkar, president, chief executive and executive producer of WomenNow TV, an event platform and weekly talk show for South Asians that is carried by KTSF Channel 26 television. "I want people to understand India and Indian culture, to remember that we can create a bridge between here and India, and I want people to know how vibrant we are and how the nation has so much...
Riding the Waves Across Cultural Divides
Culture

Riding the Waves Across Cultural Divides

  By Sharon Simonson SAN JOSE—Ten years ago, Shreeja Sharma probably could not have found her job in Silicon Valley — or anywhere else in the United States. No, she is not a computer scientist honing technology's cutting edge. She is something a lot cooler — a global citizen riding today's transnational currents of cultural change. A former “radio jockey” for India’s national broadcaster, All-India Radio, Sharma grew up in Delhi, speaks three languages, claims Canadian citizenship and a U.S. green card, and has lived in four countries on two continents. Since January 2012, she has peeled her eyelids back at 5 a.m. each weekday to commute an hour from her East Bay home to the East San Jose radio studios of Desi 1170 KLOK AM. (A “desi” is an Indian person who lives outside ...
Silicon Valley Touches Nepali People Hurt by Earthquake
Culture

Silicon Valley Touches Nepali People Hurt by Earthquake

By Sharon Simonson A November journey to a remote Nepal region by the owner of a San Jose language school has established an unexpected lifeline to the leaders of a devastated community. Working with the Gorkha Foundation, Alicia Forbrich, founder and owner of the San Jose Learning Center, visited the Gorkha district in Nepal last year, bringing school supplies and doing research on behalf of a nonprofit that makes micro-loans to women who are farmers and entrepreneurs. The Gorkha district is now at the epicenter of the earthquake that has killed nearly 4,500 people and injured more than 8,000, according to United Nations’ April 28 estimates. In Gorkha, more than 15,000 people also are stranded in remote villages where nearly all homes have been lost, food stocks destroyed...
Reshaping the Vietnamese-American Identity
Culture, Immigration

Reshaping the Vietnamese-American Identity

By Sharon Simonson In 1974, less than a year before the fall of Saigon, Luong La lived a summer alone in a hut on his family’s tiny farm on Ship Island in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta. While catching and harvesting the bulk of his own food — his mother left him a staple of rice — he avoids grenade-spiked booby traps and navigates a thin strip of political neutrality between roving pro-Communist Viet Cong soldiers and the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese Army. La was 11-years-old. The Viet Nam Project His recollections of those days and nights appear halfway through “Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands: A Boy from the Mekong Delta.” The new memoir, published in this 40th anniversary year of South Vietnam’s final capitulation, captures the tenor and tension of daily life for the La ...
The Immigrants’ Daughter
Culture

The Immigrants’ Daughter

 By Sharon Simonson SAN JOSE—Alicia Forbrich stands on a small patch of grass to the side of the two-story, cream-colored building in downtown San Jose that houses her multi-language school, a yoga studio and a jiu-jitsu academy. To celebrate her school’s four-year anniversary, the 33-year-old daughter of an East German father and a Japanese mother hired Hawaiian muralist Kaiili Kaulukukui to create an expression of her world outlook. Hong Kong’s Big Buddha now gazes serenely down San Carlos Street; Japan’s snowy Mt. Fuji rises above his left shoulder; China’s terracotta warriors march at his feet. Forbrich is pleased. “I wanted (the mural) to show cultures from all around the world, to show everything blending together, and everyone getting along,” she says. “In Silicon Valley, ...
Hindi Proponents Want It Taught in Silicon Valley Public Schools
Culture

Hindi Proponents Want It Taught in Silicon Valley Public Schools

By Sharon Simonson FREMONT, Calif.—Hindi may soon supplant Western European tongues such as German and Portuguese as a staple of the public high-school curriculum, at least in Silicon Valley. Moved by passion for culture and elevated by a rapidly rising Asian-Indian population, a cadre of Indian-American women in Fremont has worked for seven years to satisfy California’s requirements to bring a new language into public schools. In a major advance this fall, the Teacher Education Department at California State University, East Bay, enrolled its first student seeking to gain her primary California teacher certification in Hindi language instruction. With its new status, Hindi’s track in California public education diverges from Telugu and Tamil, two other widely spoken Indian lang...
Historic Burbank Positioned for Change
Culture, Demographics

Historic Burbank Positioned for Change

By Sharon Simonson BURBANK, Unincorporated Santa Clara County — What’s in a number? Not everything, said 35-year-old Shirley Chan, who purchased her Burbank neighborhood home near West San Carlos Street and Bascom Avenue in 2011. The boundaries for the Burbank Community Association, which Chan leads, encompass neighborhoods that have some of the lowest median household incomes in Santa Clara County. But Chan grew up in West San Jose and attended the neighborhood’s Luther Burbank School. As leader of her neighborhood’s association, she is working to drive its gentrification. “I moved to Burbank because I think there is a lot of opportunity, and I want to tap into that,” she said. Chan cites proximity to downtown San Jose; Mineta San Jose International Airport; Westfield Valley ...