Past Talk Stories Archive

D.C. Chinatown Community Activism in the 1970s & Open Mic

  • Sunday, July 24, 2016

Come join us at this month's Talk Story where we look into D.C. Chinatown's activism during the 1970s through a photo retrospective. Afterwards, stick around for our open mic!

Chinese American Authors: What They Write About and Why

  • Sunday, April 17, 2016

Join Stan Lou and the 1882 Foundation on a roundtable discussion about Asian American Literature and an exploration of what and why authors write in this genre. Local authors Veronica Li, author of Confucius Says, Andrew Lam, author of Two Sons of China, Scott D. Seligman, author of biographies on Chinese Americans, and Robert Wells, author of Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea, have been invited to share their experience in creating their works. If you are curious about what it takes to become an Asian American author or if you support Asian American Literature, don't miss this opportunity! 

Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal

  • Saturday, March 12, 2016

Author and urban forager Ava Chin explores the writing and meaning of Eating Wildly, a food it and memoir. "I often tagged along with my grandparents down the aisles of Chinese supermarkets. Grandpa knew the secrets of the dried, preserved goods and vegetables tucked away into the stores’ dusty corners...I’m not sure how Grandpa knew what he knew—whether his parents had taught him or he’d learned from the cooks at the restaurant—but I just chalked it up to his being more inherently Chinese than I was and that somehow the knowledge came with the territory...I followed my grandfather over to another bin." Eating Wildly examines family ties, romantic failures and self-discovery while revealing a world of edible/medicinal plants, with recipes and culinary information to stir emotions and enliven taste buds.


Made in the USA: Chinese Food in America

  • Sunday, February 28, 2016

There are over 41,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States. Join Cedric Yeh and Noriko Sanefuji, curators of Smithsonian's Sweet Sour exhibit, in a talk about the history of Chinese restaurants and food in America. From immigrant-only destinations and exotic cuisine to everyday fixtures in American life.


Lion Dance: Finding the Inner Lion, or What Makes it Tick

  • Sunday, January 17, 2016

As the Chinese New Year comes, so do the lions! The cymbals! The drums! The acrobatics! Oh my! But how do you know a good lion dance from a bad lion dance? What is its history in DC? And what does it mean to the inner lion (meaning the guy or gal within the beast)? Join us for a Talk Story event led and demonstrated by Raymond Wong and the Wong People Lion Team.

Ricki's Promise: A Film Screening with a meet and greet with Producer/Writer Changfu Chang

  • Sunday, November 28, 2015

When internationally adopted American teenager Ricki Mudd returns to China to live with her long-lost birth family for a summer, she pieces together fragments of her mysterious past, exploring culture, tradition, politics and past choices that shaped her life. "'Ricki's Promise' stands out as a more complex work, with many moments of unexpected sweetness and authenticity" praises the Wall Street Journal. Producer, writer, and film director Changfu Chang will discuss the making of the film.

80 Years - The Way We Were and Are Today

  • Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Join for an afternoon of storytelling by long-serving church members who recall the early days in 1935. We will share their thoughts about the church's continuous community service in DC Chinatown. It's all part of the Chinese Community Church's amazing 80th Anniversary celebrations.


Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea: America's Largest Chinese Emigrant Disaster

  • Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Voices tells the story of the 1874 shipwreck off Southern China that killed nearly 400 Chinese who were returning home after having built America’s railroads, mined its silver, and grown its food. Join us as Robert S. Wells recounts the passions, ambitions, and animosities of Chinese and Americans seek-ing fortune in nineteenth century California only to meet disaster at sea as they neared home.


Confucius Says

  • Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Meet the author of Confucius Says, a novel about a Chinese American family caring for elderly parents and coming to terms with Chinese filial piety.


"Chinese Americans in Vaudeville 1920's-1930's" & "Alexandria's Immigrant Oral History Project"

  • Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Join us for the next Talk Story event with Director Penny Lee, who will present the documentary: "April 1968: Through Chinatown's Eyes." This film is sponsored by the Humanities Council of D.C.'s "Who's a Washingtonian?" program( This documentary features interviews with former DC Chinatown residents and members of the community who lived in DC during the April 1968 riots.


"Chinese Americans in Vaudeville 1920's-1930's" & "Alexandria's Immigrant Oral History Project"

  • Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Join us for the next Talk Story event with Krystyn Moon, Director of American Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

We will examine the topic of Chinese Americans on the Vaudeville stage and the ways in which they broke stereotypes through their singing ability, comedic patter, use of dialect, and dancing. We will also hear about the oral history project underway at the City of Alexandria about immigrants since the 1970's.


Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin

  • Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Smithsonian Channel documentary tells the story of a young Chinese American Marine whose actions during the Korean war saved the lives of 8,000 comrades. Please join us for the film and to remember veterans throughout our history. There will also be an open mic to share your story and those of family and friends.


Chinese immigration between 1943-1965

  • Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Chinese Exclusion Laws were repealed in 1943. But, it was not until 1965 that the limitations based on race were eliminated. Officially, only 105 Chinese could immigrate to the U.S. each year under the quota system in place from 1943 to 1965. But many Chinese came despite the quota. How did they do that? And, in what numbers? CF Kwok, born in Hong Kong and a student in Shanghai before coming to the U.S. in 1946, explores that topic through his personal experiences and research.

Join us for discussion, sharing your stories, and casual no-host dinner afterwards.


Stories My Mother Told When Dad Wasn't Around: Angel Island, Searching for Lola and Sugarmen

  • Sunday, August 24, 2014

Come to listen as Ted Gong recalls stories his mother told about her time on Angel Island as a paper daughter. Come along for the journey as he traces his family roots to China in search of the girl his mother pretended to be.


Shattering the Secret Identities of Yellow Peril: Telling Asian American Stories in Comics

  • Sunday, July 27, 2014

Talk Story event on July 27 on the world of comicsTalk Story event on July 27 on the world of comicsA large percentage of the people who write, draw, and read comic books are Asian Americans, but finding them in comic books can be difficult. Two comic creators have been trying to change that. Keith Chow edits the Asian American comics anthologiesSecret Identities and Shattered. He is founder of The Nerds of Color, a website with unique perspectives on pop culture. Illustrator and cartoonist Jamie Noguchi created the office romance comic Yellow Peril and co-founded “Super Art Fight.” They are joined in a conversation about Asian Americans in Comics by Kat Chow -- a journalist covering race, ethnicity, and culture for NPR's Code Switch blog. Books will be on display and for sale.



What Does Chinatown Mean to You?

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014

Talk Story at the Folklife Festival on June 29, 2014Talk Story at the Folklife Festival on June 29, 2014On June 29, a special Talk Story event was held at the Washington, DC National Mall in conjunction with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It was a remarkable setting and enjoyed a stunningly beautiful day with an avid audience of Festival visitors, including many Talk Story regulars. The Festival was celebrating Diaspora Day at the China:Tradition and the Art of Living exhibition. Talk Story was invited to hold a conversation on Chinatown Today at the Teahouse Commons Narrative Stage. Participating in the conversation with the audience were: Stan Lou, Ted Gong, Walter Woo, and Shirley Woo (see photos). They engaged the crowd on the importance of Chinatown to the community and challenged all to find a way to preserve the spirit and authenticity of Chinatowns all over the country, including Washington. From the reactions received, the presentation opened many eyes to the profound feelings that the Chinese American community have on this subject.


Chinese in Hollywood: A Book Talk and Signing 

  • Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hollywood has long influenced the global imagination. In the first half of the 20th century, Chinese American actors who aspired to a Hollywood career found their opportunities limited to roles that propagated Asian stereotypes. Meanwhile, many Chinese roles were given to non-Asian actors playing yellowface. Jenny Cho, author and scholar, chronicles the journey of Chinese in Hollywood.


The Legacy of Chinese Railroad Workers: A Special Talk Story Event 

  • Saturday, May 10, 2014

Everyone with a story to tell about Chinese Railroad Workers is invited to join us for an open mic. There will also be presentations by Sue Lee, Director of the Chinese Historical Society of America, and Connie Young Yu, historian and descendant of a Transcontinental railroad worker. We hope that you can join us for this great event!

Come and share if you have a story to tell about the Chinese Railroad workers. There will be a projector available if you have a PowerPoint to accompany your story; bring your presentation on a flash drive.

Read more about this event and see photos from it here.


Talk Story: Hear about a Chinatown View from the Burma Restaurant

  • Sunday, April 27, 2014

At the Burma Restaurant in DC Chinatown, you could always find great food. You could also find great company and stimulating conversations. It was the place where community leaders and organizers met regularly to share ideas and plan civic and art activities. John Tinpe, owner of the Burma Restaurant, shares his stories from his unique vantage point, as an immigrant to the U.S., a DC Chinatown business leader, public servant, and supporter of the performing arts.


The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo

  • Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chinese in America endured abuse and discrimination in the late 19th century, but they had a leader and fighter in Wong Chin Foo (1847-1898), whose story is a forgotten chapter in the struggle for equal rights in America. The first to use the term "Chinese American," Wong fought for his compatriots and urged them to become Americanized to win their rights. He founded America's first association of Chinese voters and testified before Congress against anti-Chinese laws. Author Scott D. Seligman provides an account of  the life and times of one of America's earliest campaigners for racial equality.


Special Talk Story Event and Fundraiser with Guitarist Richard On

  • Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We are holding a special Talk Story event and fundraiser where you will have a chance to meet and hear from Richard On, guitarist for the bandOf A Revolution (O.A.R.). He will share his story about life as a musician, his travels around the world, and life as an Asian American growing up in Rockville, MD.

Read more about this event and see photos from it here.

About Richard On

Richard On, Guitarist of O.A.R.Richard has been writing, touring and playing guitar with O.A.R. since the band's inception in 1996.  Raised in Rockville MD, they released their first album, The Wanderer, in high school and stayed together throughout college attending The Ohio State University. Recording two additional albums before leaving Columbus, the band began pursuing their musical dreams full time in the summer of 2001. By the end of 2008, the band had released six studio albums and three live double disc CDs.

To date O.A.R. has sold close to 2 million albums and over 2 million concert tickets, including three sold-out shows at New York City's Madison Square Garden. In 2011, the band released their seventh studio album, King, which debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200 chart, #3 on the Billboard Digital Album Chart, and was #3 at iTunes on the day of the release. King was the follow-up to the band’s 2008 release, All Sides, which contains the Platinum hit radio single “Shattered.” In 2012, the band released a live CD and DVD of their July performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO entitled Live on Red Rocks. Most recently, their new single “Peace” has been climbing up the iTunes Singles chart, as they are wrapping up their eighth studio album slated for release in June of this year.


Traditional Chinese Burial Practices & Range 99 At The Congressional Cemetery

  • Sunday, March 2, 2014

Community Historian and Preservationist, David Lei, explains traditional Chinese burial practices and beliefs.  He explores Chinese concepts of death and the relationship of rites to assuring proper passage to the afterlife.  Are there two souls?  What is Ying and yang, good and bad?  Can we just feed the hungry ghosts?

Melissa Lin and Jason Fong will also talk about Range 99 at the Congressional Cemetery in DC. Range 99 was preserved for Chinese to be buried before their bones were exhumed for shipment to China.


Tyrus Wong: Brushstrokes in Hollywood

  • Saturday, January 26, 2014

Film producer/director Pamela Tom will talk about her film on the life of Tyrus Wong, a legendary Chinese American painter, concept artist, motion picture production illustrator, and kite builder. He is best known for his work on Walt Disney's feature animated film Bambi. His strikingly beautiful concept paintings and sketches continue to influence generations of animation artists and designers.