Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival

Today was the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 - zhong1 qiu1 jie3). It's also more colloquially known as the "moon festival" because one of the highlights in celebrating this holiday is eating so-called moon cakes. I love Chinese holidays because they all center around food (well, almost all). My two favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Chinese New Years (I think I might've blogged about that before . . . a long time ago).

Because the Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates of all the holidays change every year. This is annoying as I didn't know today was the Mid-Autumn Festival until a friend IM'd me yesterday reminding me of it. So this afternoon, a friend and I made a special trip to a nearby Vietnamese store to specifically buy a box of moon cakes. And it was totally worth it. Too bad it's cloudy today and I can't see the full moon. :-/ *curses the Midwest*

Also today several of us met with local Hmong leaders to discuss the Hmong Health Education Program that an out-going M4 secured a 4-year grant for. The Hmong are a minority group within the Asian population in the US; they're a minority within a minority. Many of the older generation being refugees from Vietnam that the US oh so carelessly didn't treat well once they were on US soil. Holy crap I never thought it'd be such a daunting task! I mean, I had learned about this special population in my medical anthropology course in undergrad, and I had assumed things had improved for them in the last 30-40 years. Apparently not - they're still just as marginalized, the barriers are still up. The difficulty extends beyond "just" translation obstacles, there are fundamental communication barriers in reaching this population that we as med students are just not equipped to handle.

The M4 kept mentioning all these organizations that we might be partnering up with, but the task of communicating and coordinating all those groups might largely fall to us. And I don't think any of us - the M1s and M2s - expected to be given such a large responsibility. We had thought our main role was to develop culturally sensitive material to be used in radio broadcasting and in handouts/leaflets. Even this is easier said than done, as none of us on the committee (or probably in the entire med school) can translate into Hmong. We'd have to work really closely with specific Hmong community members at length to make sure the material is at an acceptable level of comprehension and accurately translated.

It's annoying that the M4 made many of the initial contacts, so they're familiar with him but not us. And since he's outgoing, that means he's not likely to have a direct participatory role in what happens. That bastard, lol. I think all of us M1s left the meeting feeling like we're in over our heads and the whole "What have we gotten ourselves into?" mentality. But, if we make this work (and we CAN make this work), it'll be an amazing achievement. Truly something worthwhile.


Anonymous said...

Was it really the Mid-Autumn Festival yesterday? I'm like you, I can never keep track of the events on the lunar calendar so I rely on my family/friends to keep me abreast. :) But I'm away from home so I really had no way to know.

I personally love the Mid-Autumn Festival in both concept and reality. I like moon cakes (though they're a bit fatty) and it's cool the 'holiday' is about remembering loved ones who may be far away. Maybe it wasn't coincidental that I was thinking so much about my family yesterday!?

Anyway, just wanted to let you know I added your blog to my blogroll. I see your comments often on other sites we both frequent, so I just wanted to say "hi" and invite you to come over & comment whenever you feel like it.

Jason Carwin said...

I noticed that the moon was really really bright last night. I thought that there was another fire or something because the sky was actually glowing.

Seth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seth said...

Ahh I was wondering why I saw mooncakes in Chinatown over the weekend, I thought in my ignorance that it was a Chinese New Year food.

Anyway, (have a happy one?) if that's the right thing to say?

Aaron said...

I miss all the mooncakes! :( The nearest asian shop from my house is like 30 minutes away by bus and I don't have time to get there to get some!

Aaah.. All the lanterns and mooncakes I used to have..

Aek said...

mrgagaa: Cool. When I get around to reading your blog, I'll link your blog to my blogroll too (this may take a while though, so please be patient).

Jason: I really wish I was able to see the moon. But it's all cloudy and crappy here in the Midwest. :-/

Seth: Lol, I don't know what's right to say either. But I accept your happy wishes. :-)

Aaron: Sadness! Yeah, when I was home I could have more mooncakes than I currently do. Alas.

Thirty3 Naked Laydies said...

I was up till 2am on that full moon. It wasn't till midnight that I figured out why I couldn't sleep. Always happens! Not fun when one has to be in the office at 6am.

Also sounds like you're in a super cool and comprehensive med program. The fact that you are getting communication projects is great. People often forget that medicine is not all about science, but also, INTERACTING with humans. And that, can be offer some of the most challenging and life-affirming lessons of all. Enjoy!

Aek said...

Thirty3 Naked Laydies: Well . . . I wouldn't consider it super cool and comprehensive, lol. I'm doing this as a part of a student group, not as part of the curriculum. It would be nice for the med school as a whole to reach out to this community, but as it is, it won't (not in any significant way).

But yes, medicine is a lot more than the science. Honestly, sometimes the science is a bit shaky. We can't forget what is moral and right to do for our patients, and that communication is a huge part of it all.