‘Learning to Speak a Language of Family, Home, and Community’ by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

( Originally published at 1990 Institute, reprinted with permission of the author.)

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a journalist, essayist, and poet focused on issues of Asian America, race, justice, and the arts. Her writing has appeared at NBCAsianAmerica, PRI GlobalNation, Cha Asian Literary Journal, Kartika Review, Drunken Boat. She teaches Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies at University of Michigan and creative writing at University of Hawaii Hilo. She co-created a multimedia artwork for Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She is a Knight Arts Challenge Detroit artist. franceskaihwawang.com @fkwang .


Women’s History Month started with a bang as Chloe Zhao won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director of a Motion Picture and Best Picture Drama for Nomadland. She is the first Asian woman to win the award, and only the second woman (following Barbara Streisand for Yentl in 1984). Chinese in China and Asian Americans celebrated, although some Chinese pushed back because although Zhao was born in Beijing, she left China at 15 to go to school in the UK and the US, asking if she was Chinese enough.

Adding to this year’s Golden Globe excitement was Minari’s win for Best Foreign Language film, although this categorization was controversial. Asian Americans felt the sting of not being considered American enough because the characters spoke Korean, even though the film was set in America, made by American production companies, directed by an American, starred American actors, and told the classic story of the American Dream. 

“Minari is about a family,” said director Lee Isaac Chung while holding his seven-year-old daughter during the award ceremony. “It’s a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own. It goesdeeper than any American language and any foreign language. It’s a language of the heart, and I’m trying to learn it myself and to pass it on, and I hope we’ll all learn how to speak this language of love to each other, especially this year.”

Learning how to speak a language of family, home, and community is powerful, especially as Asian Americans seek community solutions to recent violence against Asian Americans

After Haijun Si and his family moved into a new neighborhood in Orange County last fall, teenagers and children repeatedly rang the doorbell, pounded on the door, threw rocks, yelled racial slurs, and told them to “go back to your country.” Then neighbors volunteered to help stand watch outside the Sis’ home every night so that the Sis can finally eat dinner in peace and their children can sleep through the night. For Lunar New Year, the entire neighborhood came together as a community to celebrate with
lanterns and lion dancing.

“Communities can take care of one other,” said Lateefah Simon, President of Akonadi Foundation, at the 1990 Institute webinar, Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asian Americans during Violent Times, last week. “I am so inspired by our folks reclaiming the narrative. That our folks are not pitted against each other. Yes there is deep violence, there is deep hurt, there is deep pain. But that must not be the end. When communities come together, as they have in Oakland and across the country, we continue our lineage of a human and civil rights movement in this country.”

“What has really encouraged me is to see the Asian American community flock together, said Russell M. Jeung, San Francisco State University Professor of Asian American Studies, Stop AAPI hate Co-Founder, and the 1990 Institute Advisory Council member at the 1990 Institute webinar. “They are standing up at whatever organization they belong to – whether it’s a church or a school place, they are taking leadership in saying, ‘This is wrong,’ and they are getting their local institutions to pass resolutions to say
anti-Asian racism is not condoned.


Billy’s Comments: I am a Chinese American. I am a big fan of Frances and truly admire her Community Spirit and her scholarship. I truely believe that however difficult it is, we must focus on building Global Family, Global Community, Global Friendship, and United Global Language as our ultimate goal together.

Billy’s Talk at FF Strong Town Hall Zoom -March 18, 2017

For FF Brothers and Families and a few good friends, this was not a formal lecture by Billy – Just sharing good feelings. He shared stories on his 70 years FF Friendship Experience and the Evolution of his recent Friendshipology Initiative.

He did try to promote one simple message however: “Be Smart & Kind”. He was fortunate to have world recognized educators, Mr. Joshua Freedman and Dr. Rick Hanson present to give brief talks on their specialty areas – Josh Freedman on Emotional Intelligence – and Rick Hanson on Kindness, Goodness & Happiness.


Joshua Freedman, MCC; cofounder and CEO, The Six Seconds EQ Network, working since 1997 toward a world with more emotional intelligence (EQ). Josh’s goal is for everyone to make friends with their feelings… and to use emotions to step toward a future that works for all of us. He is a Master Certified Coach and author of the international best-seller, At the Heart of Leadership, and five other books on EQ in business, for families, and in schools. Six Seconds’ tools & methods are used in over 200 countries… from developing business leaders at FedEx (6sec.org/fedex) to growing courageous leaders from the future of the planet in Kenya (6sec.org/wmf) to partnering with UNICEF to bring EQ to millions of children for free (6sec.org/popup)… we’re working toward a billion people practicing EQ.


Rick Hanson, PhD is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books have been published in 29 languages and include Neurodharma, Resilient, Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture – with 900,000 copies in English alone. His free newsletters have 215,000 subscribers, and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial need. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.


Billy’s Pitch:

My definition of Friendshipology is The Art & Science in Making Friends.

My definition of Friendship is simply Getting Along & Sharing Good Feelings.

A STROKE – a wakeup call 2 years ago  made me think “ What 2 words to

leave for my grandchildren ? ”

His conclusion: “ Be SMART & Kind ” This he also likes to pass on to his FF Family.

From reading Fareed Zakaria’s ” 10 Lessons for a Post Pandemic World” recently, he learned that global threats and challenges like Climate Change, Pandemics, A.I. etc. etc, are terrifying, but Zakaria soberly suggested that they can and must be solved by people cooperating and collaboating together. To be able to cooperate and collaborate will require the ability to get along, and to Billy Friendshipology is the Art and Science for Getting Along. Friendship is the necessary lubricant for all successful human interactions ! But he feels that there really should be a guiding compass, and the True North could be ” Be Smart & Kind “.

To his FF Family, he said:

” I am very proud to be a FF Brother. I love not just the FF Bothers but the FF Family

We say we are FF Strong. We are also FF Friendly.  FF Caring, FF Kind, and

FF Compassionate.  We are not just for ourselves. We are Non-sibi. We want

to be positive contributors to this Interconnected and Interdependent World.

He also claimed that the goal of his <https://Friendshipology.net website> was to ignite and connect inspired “sparkles” so that the dream of ” An International Cross-cultural Institute on Friendshipology ” may ultimately be realized.


” Manhattan in …friendshipology ” by Amalia Pellegrini – Genoa, Italy – March 2021

Good morning dear Billy,

As  partner in crime…..in friendshipology mission…I wish to homage  Architecture Master William LEE with photographic Complicitas illustrating  an architectural theme.. where friendshipology values are visualized by the communion between  the hardest city manmade elements and the most delicate creatures of nature, flowers

I have choosen  Manhattan as architectural theatre for this  unique “play” to take place: my 3rd eye  has directed steel, concrete, glass.. on where and  how to host, in their tough fibres..the soft architecture of petals, pistils, leaves  !!!

Actually I wish this  eco-architectural fairytale, started years ago…,   could inspire a symbolic harmony  stemming  both  Love..Friendship among we people and Respect  for mother  Nature. 

Furthermore, especially in  these days  thorned by social, climate and health issues,  Manhattan in…friendshipology  aspires to inspire the hope for. a better living, a more sustainable future.
Does it make sense to Master Architect Wllliam Lee ?

Cheers and enjoy !

Manhattan dream
Manhattan in blossom

Amalia’s Letter in Italian:

Caro Billy,

” Quale  artista fotografa italiana, collaboratrice  della missione Friendshipology,  desidero rendere omaggio al  Maestro Architetto  William Lee  con alcune mie Complicitas  sul tema  eco-Architettura,  tese a visualizzare   il concetto  di Friendshipology attraverso la comunione-complicità tra elementi estremi:                           i manufatti più duri  della città e le fragili creature della natura. i Fiori

Ho scelto Manhattan quale teatro dove mettere in scena questo spettacolo il cui regista, il mio 3° occhio, dirige  ferro,acciaio, vetro, cemento armato  su  come e dove  accogliere, nella durezza delle fibre,  la fragranza di  petali,gambi, pistilli, foglie…

Un’architettura surreale… una  fiaba metropolitana, iniziata diversi anni orsono… una metafora dell’ Armonia tesa ad ispirareAmore, Amicizia tra le persone, nonché  Rispetto per la Natura.

Soprattutto, specialmente in questi giorni devastati  da problemi  sociali, sanitari, climatici, Manhattan in… Friendshipology  aspira  a suscitare il fiorire della  Speranza per  una migliore qualità della  Vita,  dell’Ambiente… dono dell’ Universo. “


” Beauty of Human Relations – Stay Connected ” March 2021

A beautiful poem by Lee Tzu Pheng (Singapore Cultural Medallion winner)

Sip your Tea
Nice and Slow

No one Ever knows
when it’s Time to Go,
There’ll be no Time
to enjoy the Glow,
So sip your Tea
Nice and Slow.

Life is too Short but
feels pretty Long,
There’s too Much to do, so much going Wrong,
And Most of the Time You Struggle to be Strong,
Before it’s too Late
and it’s time to Go,
Sip your Tea
Nice and Slow.

Some Friends stay,
others Go away,
Loved ones are Cherished but not all will Stay.
Kids will Grow up
and Fly away.
There’s really no Saying how Things will Go,
So sip your Tea
Nice and Slow.

In the End it’s really
all about understanding Love 
For this World  
and in the Stars above,
Appreciate and Value who truly Cares,
Smile and Breathe
and let your Worries go,
So Just Sip your Tea
Nice and Slow.

This poem is beyond all relationships
But made for us all.

When I’m dead.
Your tears will flow
But I won’t know
Cry with me now instead.

You will send flowers, 
But I won’t see
Send them now instead

You’ll say words of praise 
But I won’t hear.
Praise me now instead

You’ll forget my faults,
But I won’t know…..
Forget them now  instead.

You’ll miss me then,
But I won’t feel.
Miss me now, instead.

You’ll wish You could have spent more time with me,
Spend it now instead

When you hear I’m gone, you’ll find your way to my house to pay condolence but we haven’t even spoken in years.
Look for me now. 

*”Spend time with every person around you, and help them with whatever you have to make them happy, your families, friends and  acquaintances.*
*Make them feel Special because you never know when time will take them away from you forever.*

Alone I can ‘Say’ but together we can ‘Talk’.
Alone I can ‘Enjoy’ but together we can ‘Celebrate’  
Alone I can ‘Smile’ but together we can ‘Laugh’

That’s the BEAUTY of Human Relations. 
We are nothing without each other 
So Stay Connected !


” Friendshipology – Timely Thoughtful Exchanges Leave Deep Lasting Effects ” – By Billy Lee – March 2021

Connector, Dan Ward – Corresponding Secretary Yale Class ’55 wrote in Yale Alumni Magazine – Mar/Apr 2021

Looking for some cheerful news to include in these notes and knowing of his sunny outlook, I wrote to Billy Lee. Here is his reply :  “Dear Dan, just to cheer you up a little. I’ve found that sharing ideas or just good feelings can be very meaningful, cheerful, and satisfying. My 14 – month old website < https://friendshipology> has so far collected 80 plus articles shining light on various aspects of friendship and friendshipology. Even though not yet an expert on the subject, I am thinking about doing a digital lesson on ‘ How to Make Friends’ for secondary school students or their parents. I like my classmates to share ideas and stories with me – magic moments, awkward moments, what happened, why, when, where, and how ? Can you help spread this idea for me ? Reply to WilliamMSLee@gmail.com. Thanks ! Cheers with warm affection always, Billy Ming Sing Lee YC”55.”

Paul Dietche YC’53 saw that note and responded spontaneously:

Billy- Glad to catch up with you.  I greatly wish you could have stayed with us after those 4 goals at Navy!   Very best – Paul Dietche

Billy was so Grateful and wrote back to Paul :

How nice to hear from you, Paul – after almost 70 years.

You know, I think of you whenever I watch Roger Federer 

play tennis – the grace of movement and the intelligent 

playing – you of course on the soccer field. I loved 

especially your forward diving headers from the center field.

Furthermore, on or off the field, you were a kind gentleman!

Did you get my email address from the Yale Alumni News?

Indeed, I should thank Dan Ward for facilitating our Magic

Reconnect. I am copying this note to him so that he will have

more cheerful news to report. I am also copying this to 

Mason Willrich who captained the Yale Soccer team the

year after you graduated.

BTW, will you be willing to write something for my Friendship 

website <https://friendshipology.net> ? Love to hear your

thoughts or good stories.  Cheers !

Billy MingSing YC’55

Within one day, we heard back from, Mason Willwich with cheers !


“Experiencing Random Kindness in Taipei” by John Liu – Taipei – March 2021

An ordinary but beautiful thing happened this morning and I would like to share it with you. Shirley had a medical appointment to get test reports on her unexpected high blood pressure situation. I had an appointment to check up on an abdomen pain that may or may not be related to the prostate surgery I had last November. Both of us were a little weary as we walked into the day clinic of the largest hospital in Taipei.

It was like a day at the market, people everywhere though everyone did obediently have masks on. As some of you might know, Taiwan’s universal single-payer health insurance is so good and so efficient that most people, especially older folks, consider going to the hospital as a day at the department store. Next-day appointments are easily arranged on-line, most treatments and medicines are free of charge, and medicines are picked up immediately after you are seen by the doctor. I watched as an old man picked up his medicines, 17 different prescriptions, gleefully saying to a family member, “Now we can go home and share all these!” “Well, it’s all free.” Imagine all this rampant medical consumerism! Besides, there are many gourmet restaurants and vendor type food stalls right in the hospital which people visit regularly after their medical appointments. Occasionally you might even see in-patients in their hospital pajamas, having a grand time in the restaurants, and then get back on their wheelchairs returning to their hospital beds. This is the everyday hospital scene here.

I was behind her on an escalator ramp (not stairs), going up to the second floor. This morning it was chilly and I had a knit yarn hat on. As I was taking it off, it caught my eye glasses and they fell over the edge of the escalator ramp onto the floor below. The ramp was moving and I turned back to look. A person behind me said she did see the glasses fall. Shirley had gone on ahead unaware of what had happened. When I got up to the top of the ramp, I quickly came around and back down to the first floor to look for the glasses. There is a row of chairs with people seated waiting for their turn at a registration counter. I began looking all around causing a slight commotion. A few people got up and looked around for me. Well, you guessed it, no glasses on the floor below the escalator ramp!

I went up the ramp four or five times, each time reenacting the location and how the glasses fell off, and where they could possibly have landed. Each time I would try to think of alternative scenarios of what might have happened to the glasses. Could someone have picked them up before I got down and turned them to the service counter? I asked at all the nearby service counters. There was no sign of my glasses. Perplexed, I went to see about Shirley. She had just gotten out of the first appointment and was going to the second one to see test results. I told her what had happened to me and that I had missed my own appointment. (By now, preoccupied by the weird occurrence, my pain had cured itself.) I walk her over to get the test results and told her that I would go check at the main building information desk to see if someone had turned the glasses in to them. Then I would come back and meet her at the counter to pick up her medicine. Well, there were many glasses at the main information desk, but mine were not there. I left my name and contact hoping eventually someone might turn the glasses in.

Back at the medicine counter I waited for Shirley and finally she showed up, dejected over the test results which showed she is high on blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride. Both of us had sad faces and didn’t know what to say to each other. After a bit of consoling each other, we went back to the escalator ramp and checked one more time. By now it’s almost two hours since I lost my glasses. We scrutinized every possible corner again to see if we had missed seeing something. Finally I gave up and began to think of when and where to get a new pair of glasses. Shirley said, “let’s go up the ramp again.” I had given up but followed her up. She was looking all around and a young woman became curious.

This young woman, apparently going to her own appointment, after hearing our predicament, decided to help us look. She was very methodical, checked the details of my story, looked at my hat, and began to go up the ramp and down the stairs to look, even using her cell phone light to check the dark places. She also went to the service counter to see if anyone had turned in the glasses. By now Shirley and I were overtaken by this enthusiastic young person willing to take the time to help us. She was cheerful, matter of fact, none of the “feeling sorry” kind of language.

Meeting this person was like a breath of fresh air and we began to feel brightness and positivity, rather than bad luck and remorse over our situation. She spent a good twenty minutes helping to look, but then she also could not find the glasses. So we thanked her for her help not wanting to delay her appointment any further and she went on her way up the escalator ramp. We felt good meeting her even if the glasses were lost. She had turned our spirits around and made our day.

This is not the end of the story.

As we were about to leave, I saw her hurrying coming back down the stairs. She told us to wait for another moment because she wanted to check one more place. After a few minutes she came back around the other side of the escalators with a pair of glasses and a big smile. We were so surprised and couldn’t wait to find out how she found them. “Well, there is a staircase in the back of the escalators that goes down to the basement. I checked there and found them down below. Now I really have to go. Bye.” This whole episode had by now delayed her at least 30 minutes.

We did not have time to ask her name, to take a picture with her, and to thank her. So here it is, an ordinary day in Taipei, a freak accident of losing my glasses, a chance meeting of a stranger, and a totally random act of kindness that retrieved the glasses. As recipients of this kindness, its uplifting power reverberated for the rest of the day, and continues to be with us. For the young woman, being kind and helpful not only to those that you know, but also to anyone you come in contact with, seems as natural as breathing. With the lightness of her disappearance into the crowd, we could sense that she felt good, even late for her appointment.


” Time Marches On – peeping into the future ” by James Luce – March 2021

Hello Billy, Here’s the promised poem for your Friendship website..with some extremely helpful edits by Melissa…


The winds of change are never a gentle breeze.

The tides of time are never still, never at ease.

The dominant destructive force in the Universe is entropy.

The dominant destructive force on Earth is enmity.

Some say the world may end in fire; some say it will freeze.

But those who want fire and those who want ice

Aren’t the ones we want to see rolling the dice.

We prefer those who believe that plenty and peace

May perhaps one day prevail…as then the rolling will cease.

After all, we’re brainy sentient women and men, not mice.

The antonym for enmity is friendship, not love or devotion.

The antidote for enmity is empathy, not some fleeting emotion.

For love can be blind, but empathy requires vision.

Love is an ephemeral feeling that can often foster division,

While empathy is cerebral, lasting, and deep as an ocean.

Enmity is a burning conflagration based on ignorance and primal fear.

Fear of people different and rejection of what should be clear.

Empathy is a natural mental skill that’s easily acquired.

It’s simple to learn because into our brains it’s genetically wired.

All it takes is a bit of practice…beginning with those who are near.

If our world is not to end in ice or in fire.

Or in something else equally extremely dire,

We must cooperate and collaborate on an international scale.

We all must learn to get along, half-hearted measures will never avail.

The choice is clear: peace and prosperity on Earth or a hellish quagmire.



” Expressing The Essence of Universal Love …Friendship” by Amalia Pellegrini, Genoa, Italy, March 2021

Dear Billy,

First of all I hope you and your loved ones are doing very well !

I am OK  and  follow  summarising  the concept of my Complicitas …aiming to visualise the essence of Love..Friendship.

Cheers from a wonderful sunny day in Genoa


” When  I start  working at my photoart,  I do not  want to know  how the outcome  will be. I want to get surprised..!!! Surprised by an ever new, unusual, harmonious, meaningful vision,  I name by the Latin word, Complicitas !
Because of the complicity threading different subjects, mutually enhancing  their  highlights, thus generating a new  Oneness

If no man is an island,  we all are inter-dipendent… hence the Resonance between me  and  any place in the world I visit, focus.. can awake facets of it nestled in me.
thus inspiring  a portrait by an innovative Togetherness among elements of any kind,nature

A Togetherness aiming, beyond any mere  aesthetic ,
to express the essence of universal Love…Friendship  !

It’s  the Complicitas  mission 


“FRIENDSHIPOLOGY” by Jeanne Gadol – February 2021

Jeanne and husband Steve

My dear friend Billy Lee asked me to add to his Friendshipology site so here are my musings on the topic.  Friendships are an integral part of our deeply rooted social nature. As I age I cherish ever more the special people whom I consider to be my friends.

Being friendly and enjoying an activity with another person can be satisfying and enjoyable.  To me, however, and for the sake of this writing, this is not the same as a true and deep friendship although those very special friendships often and typically begin in this way.  Additionally, family members can be but aren’t necessarily true friends.

I enjoy reading quotations.  After reading many about friendship, the ones below resonate the most with me. Through them I’ll describe what friendship means to me and the place it holds in my life.

. Friends are people who know you really well & like you anyway.  – Greg Tambly

We get to know one another through open communications and trust.  Friends are those who know our imperfections and accept us completely for who we are.

  • Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.  – Ed Cunningham

Friends are deeply united with one another; not just by an enjoyment of activities and events, but from our hearts and souls within. With this comes a genuine interest in each other’s lives and a desire to deepen this knowing and understanding.

  • I get by with a little help from my friends.  – The Beatles

Friends help one another through difficult times.  Help can be as simple as a drive to a car repair shop and as deep and profound as being emotionally available when a loved one passes.  This giving and taking between friends is mutual and given freely over time.  It can, of course be unidirectional when one needs it most.

  • Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.  – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Knowing we are accepted, listened to and valued for who we are provides satisfaction, as does giving this to our friends.  In this way we celebrate and increase one another’s joy and comfort through difficult times.

  • One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.  – George Santayana

Being human is being in tune with our deepest emotions and needs.  In most situations and with most people opening ourselves to this level of intimacy and vulnerability is not appropriate and can even put an unwanted burden on the other person.  Friends provide the freedom to share at a deep level.  Not everything and not to every friend, but far more than to others. 

  • The best things in life aren’t things… they’re our friends.  – unknown 

This quote doesn’t need any discussion; it is my favorite in its truth and simplicity.


Jeanne Gadol bio

Jeanne Gadol, a native Californian, exhibited her interest and talent in artistic expression since childhood.  She found her creative niche with the advent of digital art and photography.  A fulltime artist since 2000, she photographs, paints, and combines her photographs and paintings with other digital elements resulting in unique digital artistry.  One of her greatest joys is knowing her art brings thousands of owners and viewers happiness and a sense of peace and wonder.

Her other sources of pleasure are being in nature and of course spending time with her friends and family. She lives in Portola Valley, California with her beloved husband and slightly crazy Siamese cat.

Jeanne’s Artworks :


“Compassionate Outreach to A Suffering Friend ” by a MIT Grad.- a Buddhist – February 2021

100,000 Burmese Monks prayed for Peace together

Billy, I’m not able right now to provide an essay on compassion from a buddhist perspective, but here’s a poem I wrote in 2016 that went to an incarcerated young person, sent anonymously through the Mind Body Awareness Project: Mindfulness & Life Skills for At-Risk Youth (http://www.mbaproject.org . You may find it suitable for your website.

Dear friend,

The world can feel cruel, 

Making kindness seem like something for a fool.

Made me wonder why I should ever go to school.

When life knocked me down, 

I hurt deep inside and struggled to get off the ground.

Saw nothing worth living for in town and around. 

Like many others, I’ve gone through dark times.

Seemed like other kids got sweets when I got only limes.

The only thing I believed in was angry hip hop rhymes. 

When life was dark, I looked at my past with regret,

I saw others as a threat.

Hearing empty promises for the future only got me more upset. 

Then I learned there are ways to free my mind.

Realized even though we got eyes, we’re actually blind.

There’s unimaginable goodness in life for us to find. 

With a glimmer of hope, I no longer felt confined.

Decided to leave my dark days behind. 

Join a good fight somewhere with people unbelievably kind. 

Set your mind straight, and life will be great. 


BILLY”S COMMENTS: It’s admirable to have kind thought. It’s real when compassionate action follows.