tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC March 3, 2019 5:30am-5:58am PST
robert handa: hello, and welcome to "asian pacific america." ♪ i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. we start with an award-winning mother-son piano-playing duo currently on a benefit concert tour to make the world a better place by helping nonprofits. been a heartwarming story of dealing with and raising awareness about congenital heart defects. a family and their two-year-old heart warrior will join us. next here in the heart of the nation's largest vietnamese-american community, a look at the first vietnamese and wanna find bargains on everything from kitchen items, toys, furniture, as well as home and garden products, and help community pam the junior league of san jose is here to tell ya how. all that on our show today.
robert: well, take a critically acclaimed pianist who raised a child prodigy, then they decided to combine their talents to entertain and save the world, and you've got the mother-son duo, two piano journey. with me right now is the mom, michelle kuo, and son, christopher kuo, who will be playing a benefit concert in san francisco, april 13, to help wu yee children's services. welcome to the show. we were talking a little bit earlier. it was so enjoyable talking to you guys, musicians. give me an idea though, first of all, in terms of this benefit concert tour, what you're doing and why you're doing it. michelle kuo: we are doing this because we love the music, and music is our whole life, and we are so happy and blessed to be able to use our talent of music to help trobert: oh, wow.p the nonproi tell you what. we have a little bit of a clip to see a show, so let's go ahead and play that, and then we'll talk after that, okay. ♪
♪ ♪ [audience applauding] robert: wonderful, i thought i was watching a home movie of myself practicing. we were talking earlier about trying to learn the piano. give me a quick background, and we could talk all day about your background, but give me a brief biography in terms of when you started. michelle: when i started, i was about seven years old and-- robert: you were a prodigy yourself, weren't ya? . nowadays, really, there's so many talents out there, and i saw on the corner of the house there was a piano going on, so i stood there, and so mom was asking afterward,
say, "would you like to learn?" and that's how i started with my piano learning. robert: wow, when did you first play carnegie hall? michelle: i was about--oh, after i raising family. robert: oh, okay, that's right because you stopped for a while. michelle: yes, i stopped for about six, seven years. robert: right, at least though. you raised a child prodigy yourself, right? christopher: i wouldn't call myself a child prodigy. michelle: he's a great kid. robert: how about for you growing up in that environment? we were talking a little bit about that earlier. how about growing up in that environment and as well as having the influence, both genetically as well as just personally? christopher: i think it's a dream to grow up in this family. i think one of my happiest memories as a child was waking up to--both of my parents, actually, graduated from juilliard, from, like, a wonderful conservatory, and just waking up to the sound of my dad playing trumpet and my mom practicing piano at the same time was just such a joy for me. robert: wow, to have music in the background that's part of the soundtrack of your life, it's great. christopher: absolutely. robert: tell me a little bit this benefit concert tour, and why did you guys decide to play together? has this been something you've beenoiow?
you're just applying it to this or-- christopher: we never really played together all that often. the first time we played together was when i was still in high school in 2006 and 2007, but the inspiration for doing this benefit concert tour actually comes back down to the story of my mom and the fact that, when she was young, she had opportunities abound because she was winning international competitions and attending top conservatories, making a name for herself in taiwan and hong kong and london, and the united states, but because she chose to raise my older brother and myself and allow us to have a natural, happy childhood, she decided to give up all of her pursuits, so this project is kind of in dedication to her so that we can go around and perform and have fun and enjoy a life full of music, and we get to work with nonprofits robert: well, i gottk at the same time. i'e
michelle: very inspirati have having such a great time working together, and the best of all is we can use our work to help the needy. robert: yes, i wanna talk of that quickly, but what about the dynamic as creatively playing with him? what's it like? michelle: he is such a wonderful musician because he's so sensitive. he's so musical. so when we are working together, we almost don't have a difference of the ideas, but even if we do, then we will work together because finally, you know, ultimately, we want to bring the best of the music together. christopher: --an argume tell us a little bit about wu yee children's services and why you want people to come. christopher: sure, absolutely. wu yee children's services is a nonprofit organization that serves nearly 7,000 people in the bay area,allthe familiesg as hard as they can to make sure that their children have a bright, happy future that every parent would want
for their kid, and we want to be able to communicate that story because we feel like it ties in so well with our story as well, where my mom and dad are immigrants. they came to this country with absolutely no money in their pockets, and they were able to find a footing and to build a family and a career up and, you know, have a happy family, and it's such a basic thing, but we would like for all the people that we support to have the same opportunity, so we wanted to share that message through our concert. robert: that is fantastic doing it personally and professionally, that's great. thank you very much for being here. christopher:nk thank you very much for being here. for wu yee children's services, will be on saturday, april 13 t francisco war memorl & performing arts center, again, raising funds to connect low income and immigrant families to self-sufficiency services, quality child care, and education. for more details, go to nbcbayarea.com. robert: and coming up, is about congenital heart defects. yes, it can be a scary topic, but we have a two-year-old heart warrior that will show us all how to be brave and help those who need it, so stay with us.
wanna see a two-year-old heart warrior? well, here he is. ripley and his older sister, four-year-old madison, with their parents, "heart mom," shannon liu shair, and dad, hayes shair. the family team helping ripley deal with a heart defect that led to open heart surgery at just 30 days old, but as you see, he is now a very happy and strong-looking two-and-a-half-year-old, and now the family also wants to help others going through the same thing. welcome, everybody. shannon liu shair: hi. robert: well, first of all, give me an idea. i was surprised to learn how common heart defects are, but did you have any kind of a road map to deal with the situation that was goin' on? shannon: so before ripley had his diagnosis while i was actually pregnant, we had no idea how common heart defects are, and actually they're the most surgery, and in our particulart case, because we were able to find out about the heart defect when i was pregnant, that allowed us to be with the
best medical teams and to understand what we needed to do, for instance, having him be born at the correct facility so he could get the care he needed. robert: mm-hmm, yeah, well, you can see that's really affected him--his enthusiasm and everything. give me an idea, how was it, dealing with it, first of all, and then how was it, like, going through it? hayes shair: yeah, i think that we were one of the lucky ones because we had the best results at our 20-week checkup. shannon: at our ultrasound. hayes: ultrasound, yeah, and the tech took a long time to look at his heart, and it was during that time where we found out that happened, but it was a blessing in disguise because we got him the help he needed, and it was better to know early, to be robert: and, of course, what your worst fears might've been, i was watching him in the hallway, running around, jumping around, i mean, it is something that, at least, gives hope for people, huh?
shannon: certainly. it's such a blessing. his cardiologist had said we should focus more on saving for college than for medical expenses in the future. he does need lifelong medical checkups. right now he sees his cardiologist once a year to see how his heart is functioning. the hope is that he will not need further intervention, but we'll just have to see as time goes on. robert: how about madison? how much of a help has she been for this? hayes: well, madison was one of the first people to see ripley very sweet, but she's been very understanding through robert: madison, have you been real helpful for your brother? yeah? what kind of needs do you think are the most that need to kind of be addressed for families going through this? shannon: certainly, so i think that it's important that people realize how common this is and also the fact that there is support.
you know, we've gotten to know many other heart families, some whose kids have the equal prognosis as ripley, and some whose kids have to go to multiple open-heart surgeries, potentially heart transplants, so we do understand how important it is to really talk to others, people who get it, but also the need for research and funding so that medical treatments can be better in the future, so that there can be better prognoses even than there are now, so, you know, we really focus on the research, the patient support, and really knowing how common this is because i think that it's still tabo tborn with something that no one knows what the cause is. robert: yeah, how about in terms of how people can help, generally speaking, as well as specifically? shannon: so february had a congenital heart defect awareness week as well as it's known as "heart month." i think the big thing is for people to know their options. for instance, when your child is born, you can ask the medical
team for a pulse oximetry test to see what their oxygen levels are because right now a lot of people still don't know that their children have heart defects until well after they're born, which leads to a lot of potential complications, so if they can get the pulse ox intervention if necessary.enowr robert: and sometimes understanding that it is somewhat common, helps a lot, huh? shannon: yes, i think that it's important for people to know it's not because it was anything related to some sort of a bad habi just that these are things that happen randomly, and it's not a result of anyone's fault, necessarily. robert: this reminds me of my holidays when my kids were young. wasn't there an event coming up in june, you were mentioning? shannon: yes, so on june 22, the children's heart foundation
is having its first congenital heart walk in san francisco at the zoo. the congenital heart defect walk is aimed at bringing more funds to research, particularly for heart defects, so that's a great way to get involved and also find out more about the cause while having a good time. robert: all right, well, ripley, have you had enough of being on tv? are you done? ripley shair: yeah. robert: okay, good. well, we wanna thank you guys for comin' on. this is great. i actually am just so happy because, having heard about it, i didn't really know what to expect, and to see, you know, madison being so supportive, seeing ripley so energetic, it's actually a very encouraging thing. okay? shannon: thank you. robert: all right, thank you, and we'll have you back. i'd love to hear more about it.. robert: and we will have a link on nbcbayarea.com, on how to help heart warriors, including some events this summer. and, next, we look at the first vietnamese dual-language immersion program in northern california.
district in san jose, but also a little surprising, maybe, that it took so long to happen. here to talk about this huge cultural leap is yelitza pena from the school district. also with us is van nguyen, a parent whose child has started the program this fall. robert: give us a quick overview in terms of not only what's happening but how it became. yelitza: yeah, well, as you mentioned, it's been years in the making for the school district to consider launching a vietnamese dual-language immersion program. as a school district, we serve approximately 34% of vietnamese families within our community, and so this is really exciting for us to be able to finally bring this to life. the program itself basically builds bilingual and biliteracy for students that are gonna be participating, so children that are gonna be starting kindergarten in the fall will have the opportunity to be eligible to participate in this program. robert: what were some of the obstacles, and have those obstacles all been basically surmounted?
yelitza: yeah, definitely. being that this program is a first in northern california to actually come to fruition, there's only two other programs in california that offer vietnamese dual-language programs, so there's not a a thiprogra resrcready createdr you see, oftentimes, you know, spanish immersion programs and mandarin programs, so we're really in a place of being able to be creative and innovative, and so our educational services they went to visit the programs down south, and we've got a stakeholder group that's made up of local vietnamese leaders, parents, that are gonna really be able to help us really shape what this program is gonna look like, both in terms of the academic instruction, but also the cultural pieces that are gonna be really important to integrate within the program. robert: yeah, that would be some of the intangibles there, huh, the cultural aspects of it? yelitza: definitely. robert: and give me an idea here. first of all, your child is not bilingual right now, right? van nguyen: no, she is not.
robert: so is it your feeling that you want your child to be bilingual? van: i do, i do. i see that it opens ent upoongu, just, that franklin-mckinley offering up it, being a dual immersion in vietnamese, is just a plus on my side. not expect to be able to do almost in any school district. van: yeah, and i've been researching on, like, just teaching her vietnamese and things like that, and this opportunity just happened to fall on my lap, which was great. robert: yes, because the windovan: yes, yes.ght? robert: does your child--expressed any kind of reluctance or enthusiasm? van: whenever i speak to her in a different language, she tries to repeat it, but it's extremely hard when you have not another native speaker in the household, so, you know, her dad doesn't speak vietnamese, so i'm speaking english to him, and then it's hard to kind of, like, enhance
that language inside the household. robert: yeah, yeah, and it'll be nice to have a--be immersed, huh? van: yeah, exactly, exactly. robert: i mean, it really is kind of a cliche in a way, but it is so true, right? yes a ton of research that indicates language development is best to be integrated in those early years, so, zero to five, we know that that's when children are developing those language skills that are gonna last a lifetime, and so for the program to be starting for us in kindergarten, is windmill springs school. starting from kindergarten, all the way through eighth grade, programs, so our first cohort will be kindergartners starting in the fall, and from there, it'll continue to build. so we really do feel like it'll be a great sense of community, both for the students participating, and the families. robert: you mentioned 34%.
does that mean that all the students who are in this immersion program aren't vietnamese or-- yelitza: no, so the students that are eligible to participate in this program can be english-speaking students who are native-speaking english, and also english-language-learning students who are vietnamesesom to be of either english-speaking already or vietnamese-speakingmg 50% of the day in english, and 50% of the day in vietnamese. robert: and then just being able to be immersed like that, and then everybody already at least knows the advantage of being bilingual these days. yelitza: correct. robert: all right, well, good luck with your program. yelitza: yeah, we're very excited. robert: all right. good luck. van: thank you. robert: i know, i think it's a great thing. well, next, it's mother of all rummage sales. one day only, 45,000 square feet of bargains, and it's free admission. oh, and it's for a good cause. when and where, and why, coming up.
the junior league of san jose is an organization of women committed to developing the potential of women improving the community and promoting volunteerism. one way to do it, raise funds with the biggest rummage sale you've probably ever seen. joining me to talk about the group's big annual rummage sale coming up on march 16, at the santa clara county fairgrounds, is the incoming president, victoria kroll. hello, welcome to the show. victoria kroll: thank you so much for having me. robert: now, i guess because this has been 26 years, that's one reason why you hear the word "rummage," "rummage sale," but you don't hear it all the time, right? victoria: yes, probably not. you're probably more familiar with things like poshmark, or you hear about facebook marketplace, but it's essentially the same thing. it's this marketplace that's actually in person versus online, where you can get great quality items at garage sale prices. robert: yes, in fact, that's one of the things i've always heard about this is that you can get great stuff there. this isn't like some throwaway, backyard kind of stuff. victoria: absolutely, i mean, we have people donate things from estate sales, so you have really quality items, designer items. we have a boutique. we sometimes have, you know, maybe ethan allen or other
department store-type of retailers donate things to us. you can get really quality items. robert: yeah, you can get really good quality stuff. who does this benefit? victoria: so the junior league of san jose's current focus area is actually transitional-age foster youth, so not only dot the items, but the funds go back into the community in the form of grants and other donations to local nonprofits that support transitional-age foster youth. robert: yeah, and helping foster youth is really important. those people are really at a crossroads, huh? victoria: it really is. it's aey jdet need that extra helping hand. they don't have as many resources as, you know, you or i might've had, and so it's a really great focus for the junior league 'cause we really step in and help fill the gap in different areas in the community, and this is one that, i think, santa clara county is really struggling with. robert: yes, and, of course, the people who are helping also learn a lot about leadership and helping programs and things like that.
victoria: absolutely, so to put off--you know, to put on a sale like this takes at least a year and a half, and we have women who come in with no experience of, you know,planning big evenn and they walk away feeling like they could go do this for a company, or they could put on, you know, any other large event for any nonprofit so-- at there besides the bargains, right? they have, like, onsite services and things, huh? victoria: so we have a health and services fair, so if you were to show up with your family, you could maybe get, you know, an ear check or a vision check, and find out what services are available to you and your family in the area, so it's a really great opportunity. robert: we're pretty much talking about bargains all the way down the line, huh? victoria: pretty much. robert: all right, thank you very much, good luck. victoria: thank you so much. it'll be great. robert: well, prepare for a nice, long day of bargain hunting at the 26th annual rummage sale, put on by the junior league of san jose. again, saturday, march 16, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the santa clara county fairgrounds.