Reflections on our Skype with Gene Yang

On Monday 9/30, we had the exciting opportunity to Skype with Gene Yang. As a “comment” to this blog post, please reflect on our questions and Mr. Yang’s answers and compose a well-written paragraph on what you learned or realized in our talk. Consider, what did you find interesting? What did you find surprising? Were your ideas about ABC challenged or confirmed? What did you take away from the Skype with Gene Yang?

Responses should be at least one well-written paragraph, about 8-12 sentences long, with a clear topic sentence, sentence fluency and variety, descriptive word choices, and specific examples and details. Please proofread for grammar and conventions, as well. Your response may be longer than one paragraph.

I challenge you to use the sentence composing tools we’ve learned this year — opening adjective and adverbs, delayed adjectives and adverbs, and absolute phrases. I also challenge you to use vocabulary words.

Compose, peer review, and revise your paragraph in GoogleDocs, Word, or Pages. When your paragraph is complete and you are confident in your final draft, then copy and paste it onto the blog.

Include your name (first name, last initial) and section at the top of your response.

This response is a graded formal writing assignment, worth 25 points. Moreover, a link to all of our responses will be forwarded to Gene Yang and First Second Books.

The video of our Skype, which is password protected, can be found on vimeo: See me for the password.

Here are the questions we asked Gene Yang:

2013 Skype with Gene Yang Questions


83 thoughts on “Reflections on our Skype with Gene Yang

  1. Madeline M.

    On Monday, September 30th, the eighth grade students asked aspiring author Gene Yang some questions about his award winning book, “American Born Chinese”. There were things in the interview that intrigued some of the students. Gene Yang dedicated his book to his father. Some of the stories in “American Born Chinese” come from stories his father told him when he was younger. His father had a character that was always in his stories called Ah-Tong, the Taiwanese village boy. Mr. Yang also came up with characters from a notebook he kept in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. Sadly, some of those characters originated from insults pointed at him in those years of his childhood. Yang recalls he doesn’t remember thinking they were insults and just remembering that they were jokes that he had laughed about with his friends. There were many things that the eighth grade wouldn’t have ever thought about Gene Yang, and there were many stories behind the one he portrayed for us in “American Born Chinese”. Most of his book was based on his own life stories and memories from his youth. Overall, speaking to Gene Yang influenced the eighth graders and altered the way they look at Yang’s book, “American Born Chinese”.

  2. Graham K.

    I learned a lot from the Skype with Gene Yang and he taught us about all of the hidden meanings from American born Chinese. First I liked learning about those symbols on the tops of the pages and how each symbol represents a character. Next I also liked the Pat Oliphant and late 1800’s political cartoons and how Chin-kee was the embodiment of these things. Chin-kee’s over the top personality and his stereotypical facial features and speech impairment make him a contrast to how people want to be seen. I also liked how he fashioned the book in such a style that to understand the true meaning you have to read it again because at first glance the book seems like it is just for entertainment and it has no real meaning. After reading American Born Chinese with detail the reader realizes how hard it is trying to integrate into a different culture. As Mr. Yang explained it is hard to come to America from Asia because all of the negative stereotypes that exist and how unwelcoming it can be. Reading American Born Chinese showed me all of these things and more and the Skype session with Mr. Yang opened my eyes to all of the hidden meanings of the book.

  3. The Skype with gene yang was very insightful and interesting. I loved his story about how his dad would tell him stories about the Taiwanese village boy. Amusingly, I liked that he believed the boy was his dad in the stories. It was important for him to realize the stories were about his dad because it made the stories more relatable and make Mr. Yang listen to the morals better. His dad probably wanted him to realize that he should follow these morals because it is the right thing to do, not to be like his dad. I was proud of us for reading into the book so much that some of the things we found in the book he didn’t even intend for. For example, in the clothes that the people were wearing, especially Danny and Jin, were the same pants and shoes. He like that we the connection but it was not his intention to be the same. That was just how he drew the clothes. I was really interested in the foreign culture like the English shirts for Chinese people and the Chinese tattoos for American people. I was interested in that because I did not know that the translation, especially for the tattoos, doesn’t make sense. He is extremely creative with the pictures and symbols. I sincerely appreciated how when movie companies approached him he turned them down because of their bad intentions. The movie companies only wanted to make the movie because of the Beijing Olympics were soon and they wanted something with Chinese in the title so people would want to watch it. I believe that is a great characteristic to have and it shows that he is not just in this for the fame. All of those are reasons why I genuinely enjoy the Skype with Gene Yang’s.

  4. During our Skype session with Mr. Yang I learned many new things about the creation of American Born Chinese. All of his answers were very detailed and gave lots of insight on why everything is the way it is in American Born Chinese. It was interesting to hear about his father telling him stories and how that inspired him to write this story. I also enjoyed hearing about how some of the characters were like the people he had met in real life. All of the racial stereotypes used against Asian Americans took place in this book, especially with the character Chin-Kee. When Mr. Yang talked about the drawing he found from when he was a little kid, it was very interesting to see what a young child though of his own race. All in all, Mr. Yang gave in-depth answers to all of the questions, which offered another perspective on the book. It was a great experience to talk to him and I learned a lot more about the book and Mr. Yang has a person.

  5. In the Skype conversation with Gene Yang, we had a question and answer discussion about his award winning book, American Born Chinese. He explained to us a lot of hidden ideas that readers tend to miss while reading the book for the first time. In the beginning of the book, there is a dedication to his father for his stories of Ah-Tong, and Yang informed us about how his father made up a character named Ah-Tong and would make and read stories about Ah-Tong to Yang. He also mentioned that he was given an invitation to make a film out of his graphic novel, but he declined because it was during the 2008 Olympics in China and they just wanted a movie to come out with the word Chinese in it during the Olympics. What I found most interesting was how Chin-kee was created. When Yang was a kid, he created a comic with a slant-eyed, bucktooth chinese person with a blond boy spitting out his coke. Yang had heard this joke on the playground, but what he hadn’t realized was the chinese person symbolized himself. Another interesting part our conversation was that at the end of the book, there is a picture of Jin and Wei Chen wearing Yao Ming jerseys and singing a song. This was based off of a popular Youtube video with two chinese college students doing the same thing and it has significant importance because it shows that Jin and Wei Chen are friends throughout college. I find this interesting because it shows that they are together in elementary, middle, and high school. Lastly, I found it interesting that Jin’s name is Yang’s middle name and that Wei Chen’s name similar to one of Yang’s friend’s name. I thoroughly appreciate the time that Gene Yang dedicated to us and I also appreciate his well-thought out answers.

  6. It was amazing to have the opportunity to Skype with Mr. Yang. I loved how the characters meant so much more than what you would expect, even of you read as extensively into the book as we did. Some of the characters like Steve and Greg were based off of the people that Mr. Yang tried to avoid in school. Or how Chin-Kee was supposed to be that stereotypical person that many people think about. When I listened to Mr. Yang answer our questions I felt, looking back on reading the book, that I enjoyed the book more knowing the characters were mostly based off of people Mr. Yang was around his whole life. After skyping with Mr. Yang I felt as though the book had a lot more meaning than I thought. Even though we had gone through this book many times, searching for the deeper meaning, I think that talking to Mr. Yang made the experience of reading the book more enjoyable, knowing what the story was behind his spectacular writing.

  7. On Monday, we had the opportunity to Skype with the author of the book American Born Chinese, Gene Yang. As you know, we had to read Gene Yang’s book for summer reading. It was a pleasure to learn more about his book and ask him some questions. As the session progressed, we learned about the deeper meanings behind the story and why certain things were included. For example, the Monkey Kings shoes, Jin’s Hair, and Wei-Chen’s glasses all mean to accept yourself and find your true identity. Also, he went into the more detail about the more racial things in the book such as Chin-Kee. He told us a story about the Chin-Kee coke joke. One time when he was visiting his parents, he came across a drawing he made in grade school. It had a the racial poem about Chinese people underneath and it is found in the book. Another story he told us was how he came up with the characters names. He told us that Jin’s name was based off of his because he’s actually been called that by mistake. Wei-Chens name was based of his friend’s name. In all, I had a great time Skyping with Gene Yang. I glad that the whole grade and I were able to have the opportunity to do so and learn more about American Born Chinese.

  8. During the Skype with Mr.Yang I enjoyed many things but some stuck out more than others. Personally, my favorite part was learning about how he helped create the new Avatar The Last Air Bender: The Legend Of Korra because I’ve watched almost every episode of both and never knew that Mr. Yang was helping create them. Second, I really liked learning how he came up with the idea of Chin-kee, Jin Wang, Wei-Chen, and Danny. He got the names Jin Wang from people misspelling his own name. Wei-Chen came from one of his junior high friends. He also added little things like having Melanie and Amelia having similar names with many of the same letters. One thing I still wonder is how when Mr. Yang was a kid did he not realize all the racial stereotypes like the ones presented by Chin-kee and Timmy. My favorite part about American Born Chinese was the Monkey King story and how it twisted into Jin Wang’s and Danny’s tales. These are just some of the things that I enjoyed during our Skype with Mr. Yang.

  9. Meeting Gene Yang was an amazing experience; especially since I was able to skype to Wisconsin, to then skype back to California! It fascinated me that Mr. Yang based a lot of the details in American Born Chinese on himself, his friends, and family. He based a lot of the character’s names on people he knew. Jin Wang’s name was based on his own and he used his friends name as an inspiration for Wei-chen. He even based the “Chinkee joke” on a comic he found that he drew in 2nd or 3rd grade! As Gene Wang says, “As I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom, I found a journal that I kept in second or third grade. It had all of these silly little drawing and comics in it. In that notebook, I found this cartoon featuring two characters. One was a slant eyed, bucktoothed character and the other was a little blond boy with a coke.” It was in this comic that Gene came up with the inspiration of chinkee and the rude joke that he played on Steve. I find it amazing how something that is a fictional story can actually be based on real life.

    One thing that I learned about Mr. Wang was that he loved to say “hello” to every student. After each person came up and presented their name he always smiled and greeted them, his face like a kid on Christmas day opening their presents. I believe he enjoyed seeing us as much as we were excited to see him. He might have been even more excited than Ms. Walczak who got all giggly when the Skype started.
    Finally, seeing him talk about Avatar The Last Air Bender was really fascinating! My sister was obsessed with this show and she eventually got me obsessed with it. We’d have Avatar marathons, squeal when the new episode of a season would start, and, when she went away to college, we texted each other every few seconds when the first episode of Korra came out this year. It was so much fun to understand exactly what he was talking about. For example, the animation on this show is amazing and it is the best there has ever been!

    We got on the topic of Avatar since Mr. Yang was explaining how he writes comics. His books are about what happens in the “gaps” of different stories. His example with Avatar was that when Avatar, the last airbender finished and The legend of Korra started, there was a 70 year gap between the two shows. If he were to write about these books, he would have written about what happened during the huge, 70 year gap. Mr. Yang even helped create Legend of Korra!

    Overall, between the interesting facts and a smiling Gene Yang, this was a wonderful way to finish up the American Born Chinese Book. (If Mr. Yang ever reads this – THANK YOU!)

    • Stewart L.
      Section 8-3

      Gene Yang Skype Response
      After our Skype with Gene Yang, the author of the book American Born Chinese, I learned that the characters and the experiences in Yang’s book tie into his early life somehow. This book ties together multiple stories into one, contrasting stereotypes with reality, and humor with reality. There are many examples of his life being tied into the book, but these three examples seem through with great importance. These three examples include; the dedication of the book, the thought process behind the characters’ names, and the group of boys who are filled with impudence.
      First, American Born Chinese is dedicated to Ba for his stories of Ah-Tong, the Taiwanese village boy. Mr. Yang told us about some of these stories his father used to tell him about these nasty chores that Ah-Tong had to do. As Mr. Yang said during our Skype session, “You know, I am the son of two immigrants and both of my parents were avid story tellers… When I look back at this as an adult, I think that my dad was kind of telling me these stories of his childhood because he wanted me to be grateful that he didn’t make me do those things. I definitely believe that both my parents’ storytelling voices have gotten into me, and they both affect my comics.” That is a great example of how his earlier life has tied into the book.
      Second, Mr. Yang explained to us the process in which he developed the names of the different characters for his book. First off, Jin Wang was named to sound similar to Gene Yang without being the same. Next, Gene created the name Wei-Chen after a good friend of his from high school. Unknowingly, Mr. Yang also named the girl Amelia, which is ironically very similar to how Chin-Kee says America: Amellica.
      Finally, the obnoxious group of boys that were being mean to Jin derived from Mr. Yang’s past. In high school, there was a group of juvenile, impudent boys known as the “stoners.” The stoners always dressed up the same and supposedly did certain things they weren’t supposed to in the parking lot behind school. This group of boys was always being rude to Gene, just like Greg and the other two boys on Page 32 and Page 33. They first start by making a racist remark about Chinese people eating dogs. After that, they make fun of him for having buckteeth, which is fairly ironic due to the fact that one of the boys has large buckteeth. Kindly, Greg, one of the boys in the group, started to feel repentance about his friends’ actions, and in a way, he started to stick up for Jin.
      In the end, you can see that American Born Chinese is a great comic book, that incorporates tons of hidden detail that you may not encounter the first few times you read it. Gene Yang did an outstanding job in writing this book. It is very thought-provoking to finally get to understand the reasons behind all these hidden, but key points of information in the book. This Skype session was a great experience and a great learning tool.

      • In our Skype with Gene Yang, some new things interested me, but I was surprised by a lot of other things. Something I was interested by is, that your parents are always going to affect who you become and how you get there. They are important in all of your success and will support you through your mistakes. Mr. Yang was a great example of that. Besides that, I was interested that he used his old comics he drew and put them in the book to form some of the main characters. Along with that, I was interested that his dad’s stories influenced his way he writes and how it influenced the book. Also, I was surprised to find out so many different things that I never noticed in the book that showed what was going to happen before it did. Along with that, he made everything means something like even the clothes mean something that was important to him. Finally, I was surprised that he found a way to be slightly different than every other book that had the Monkey King in it. I would love to thank Mr. Yang for this amazing experience and how special it all was. This is what I learned from my helpful Skype with Mr. Yang.

  10. Maddie M.

    In the Skype I learned that there are things in the book that tied the author the story. For example Ah-tong is a character in stories that his father had read to him when he was young. Then Chin-kee was a way to express racial types and the story originated from when he was two years old. He found the story in a journal that he had made when he was little and he put parts of it into the final book. Another example would be Chin-kee was a combination of all the stereotypes that has been made in the past about Chinese people. Also the comics of Chinese people in newspapers, the exaggerated facial features, influenced Chin-kee’s character. Then Long duck dong was another huge influence for playing a role in a movie and after the movie came out he was a stereotype for all Asian people. Lastly the Monkey King was a story that was told to him by his mom, but it originated in a story called Journey to the West that was a novel about 500 years ago. Ever since he was a little kid he always wanted to do something or wright something a bout the Monkey King. He wanted it to be an Asian-American story so he put in the birth of Jesus and had the Monkey King present.

  11. Skype – Mr. Yang
    Jonah B, English 8-2

    I found that Mr. Yang had many of the similar ideas that I did about American Born Chinese. He had a lot of thoughts and continually spoke, his words seeming to never end, eventually running out of time! However, I found that many of his thoughts were like mine and the ones that I predicted. The allusions to Pat Oliphant and others were quite interesting but bored me after a while – I don’t like people talking about people, it makes me feel weird. Most of the talk was boring anyways, except for the brief summary he always started with. Always helpful, Mr. Yang gave the information we needed to know and then continued. Jin Wang was himself, in his childhood. Steve was the universal “good guy”, and Greg the “popular one”. Chin-Kee, as we all knew, was a mashup of the most common Chinese stereotypes. The Monkey King’s story was inspired by Chinese mythology but adapted so it would fit in with Western culture too. Even the clothing was explained: it was common fashion in Taiwan to have English words on clothing – like the “Robo Happy” shirt. Overall, Mr. Yang detailed all of the little bits of the book and the things that a lot of us noticed and many of us didn’t.

  12. I learned about how Mr. Yang wrote the book American Born Chinese. People from my class asked questions about his thought process. For example, we learned that he replicated his older drawings from when he was a kid. I also learned that he got the name for we-chen the story from one of his friends in high school. I learned that he took from two sources primarily to create the chin-kee character. These sources were the political newspapers from the late 18 hundreds; his other source was his journal from when he was a kid. The reason that he made the chin-kee story is a sitcom because most family’s want to be typical so they watched sitcoms to know what that was. I learned a lot about the book in the Skype call we had with Mr. Yang.

  13. I am happy that we had an opportunity to Skype with Gene Yang, because he explained many things about the book, that without asking him, we would have a very hard time understanding. He also told us about himself, and his childhood, how he grew up and became a story teller. Mr. Yang explained to us how he loved Monkey King stories that his mother would tell him. He new that when he grew up, he would want to write his own version of the Monkey King, and his journey to the West. I was surprised when he told us about his inspirations for the story, and how he decided how the characters would look, and what they would say. He told us about how when he was a child anti-chinese comic strips were in the news paper. Many people at his school were anti-chinese, and many said racist things against him. When he was preparing to move out of his room in which he had lived in since his childhood, he found his old notebook containing drawings and phrases that he had read and seen when he was a kid. He decided to take a different approach to writing American Born Chinese. Instead he would use the Monkey King in a way to make a story, and to show people how racist they used to be against Chinese-Americans. During the skype session the students asked Gene Yang questions about the book, and it’s certain aspects, and why he used specific symbolism in some places. He told us many things about the book, that we would have never figured out ourselves. I am happy that we had a brilliant opportunity to skype with the author of American Born Chinese, Mr. Gene Yang, and I think that this changed the way I look at this book.

  14. Skype with Gene Yang
    Excited, as always, I was in the room finally able to learn the purpose of many things in the book, which confused me. The atmosphere among us was mostly exciting as the Skype was about to start. Milton and Hailey skillfully introduced us to Mr. Yang by providing us some background information about his book and a little bit about himself. In his book, what confused me the most was the character, Chinkee. I never really saw a reason to why the author would include such a character like him in the book, but he successfully explained his reasons. When he was cleaning his room, he found two pictures in a journal of his, one was Danny and the other was Chinkee. The author explained that he thought of himself as Danny when he was young, but the other kids saw him as Chinkee. In the book, Chinkee’s purpose was to act as a signpost to Jin’s soul, to remind him of who he really is. I can’t wait to read the other books of Gene Yang, I am sure to find the same thrill that I found in American Born Chinese.

  15. We thank Gene Yang for taking the time to elaborate on his well-known book, American Born Chinese. Mr. Yang brought with him his wonderful ideas, and shared it with all of us students with pleasure. This experience proved to be very inspirational, and a positive experience enhanced our intellect on this larger than life masterpiece. His deep thinking and rich descriptions make us see this excellent piece of writing in a different and more meaningful way. As a young Chinese American, Mr. Yang has first hand accounts on stereotypes used against him in a demeaning attitude. Chinkee, A very stereotypical Chinese character, says, me Chinese, me play joke, and me go pee pee in your coke. As Mr. Yang told us, he had heard these very words as a young boy, and wanted to express his belief towards these racial stereotypes throughout his writing. This interview also called on two semi famous individuals. Pat Oliphant, a political cartoonist, and John Hugs. During the heat of the Chinese spy plant crisis Mr. Oliphant created a very abasing cartoon, where a buck-toothed and slant eyed person is serving the ever-recognized Uncle Sam. Naming a school after Pat in American Born Chinese was derived from his thoughts and elaborations on this very condescending cartoon towards Chinese Americans. John Hugs, well known for his directorship of Ferris Buellers Day Off has also been a part of another movie, sixteen candles. This movie features a Chinese exchange student, Long dot Dong, played by a Japanese American Actor. As Mr. Yang expressed to us, long do Dong is a character who spoke in a over exaggerated accent and was created as a stereotypical Chinese individual who was used against him and others like himself in a very vulgar tone. The Monkey King, one of the many story lines in this novel, complimented Mr. Yangs’ other characters perfectly. As Expressed by Mr. Yang himself, the monkey king is a Mythological reference to Journey to the West, held at the same esteem as the works of Shakespeare. The Monkey King, present at the birth of Christ in this work, collides the Western beliefs with the myths of the East. Mr. Yang has received innumerous help from his mother and father who inspired him to be the successful author he is today. We are eager to read his next comic book, Boxers and Saints, the story of the Boxer revolution in China. His ideas and themes could not have been portrayed any better. We thank Mr. Yang again and hope he continues his love and passion for his exquisite writing.

  16. While Skyping with an author who has unmitigated success with his graphic novel American Born Chinese, one may come across questions relating to the racism portrayed in the book. While reading his book for a second time, I was more observant to the hints Gene Yang was dropping. I often times found myself asking if such racism in schools actually exist. Having the opportunity to Skype with Gene Luen Yang, the author of the Michael L. Printz award-winning book, we came together as a class and had the chance to ask Mr. Yang where he came up with the characters for his book. He responded in a way which shows such racism does exist. For example in the beginning of the novel, a teacher stated that an Asian student ate cats before he moved to America. In addition, Mr. Yang stated that all of the characters have some real attachment to his life; he specifically said that all the bullies in the book resemble those he experienced in school. Noticing, the theme of his book goes long the lines of thinking you are more superior than others and racism. Mr.Yang stated he was able to gather enough of the elements to base an entre character off of (Chin-kee) and shared with us, that racist comments were aforesaid to him. In a way, you could say that this is ‘based on a true story’. Throughout the Skype conversation I appreciated his work even more than prior to the conversation. In conclusion, this rare opportunity thought me that just maybe everything isn’t as simply as it seems, and with a little more effort a story will unfold.

  17. I thought this was a great Skype because of all of the things I learned about authors and how they come up with ideas. I thought it was really cool how Gene Yang imported so many childhood ideas and dreams into this book. He put so much thought into it and had to be so creative to be able to come up with a graphic novel like this. I surely would not think of this many creative things.
    Sneakily, he got so many hidden messages in this book, like how Chin-Kee way portrayed and how character would try to change who they are.. Most of them you would probably never catch unless you were looking for them. These messages have some deep meaning especially if you had gone through some of it and made me think about the topic when we were discussing.
    I also really enjoyed reading this graphic novel because all of the stories ended up tying in with each other. Once I read it for the second time, everything made more sense and it was a very enjoyable read. I also enjoyed how the different stories were rotated, because then it allows you to have that cool ending where everything comes together.
    These were just some of the reason I thought this graphic novel was very well written and a great read.

  18. After I read part of the book, I was interested in why he would decide to put the characters like Chink-ee and Danny in the book and how they tied with Jin and the Monkey King. After pondering about the Skype session with Gene Yang, I really began to understand his personal story underneath all this and what the main purpose of this book is. Mainly, Chink-ee was the one who caught my attention based on his unmitigated, stereotypical, and impudent Asian being. In fact, I was surprised and curious of to why an Asian-American author would create a character that was racist to his own culture because it just did not make sense as to why.
    When he explained how many Asian Americans who move here that still speak in native tongue and they still eat many of the same foods that are common in China, including how they were made fun of because of that, they would try to fit in, as did Jin and the Monkey King. I also began to put together the pieces he talked about racial stereotypes and how he experienced some when he was small and that the joke was directed at someone else because you thought of yourself as someone who was on the other end. I will remember all the great topics you have brought to my knowledge at my age that I would have normally acquired later.

  19. After Skyping with Mr. Yang, I finally fully understood the book. The symbolism in this book, like the idea of transformation had really gripped my attention. I’ve never read a book that had the format where three distinct characters all came together at the end. I liked the fact that he made both of the girls names sound alike, so the reader would have some clue that all of the characters in this book were actually alike, this was maybe a little foreshadowing. I also thought that it was interesting how the author told us that he got many of the ideas for the book from the stories that his mother told him when he was young. In addition some stories were based on his own stories in high school. The characters he wrote about were based on some people that he knew in high school. I learned that Mr. Yang put the YouTube video in the back of the book of Jin and Wei-Chen, and how it was like the back dorm boys making fun of American culture. The red stamps at the top of the pages grabbed my attention too. Mr. Yang explained that each stamp was made for each story in the book, because he wanted a visual indication that you are moving on to the different story. I liked the fact that he made both of the girls names sound alike, so the reader would have some clue that all of the characters in this book were actually alike, this was maybe a little foreshadowing. Over all I really enjoyed the Skype with Mr. Yang and learning more about his book.

  20. Gene Yang Skype

    Yesterday the 8th graders Skyped with Gene Yang, The author of American Born Chinese, an American boy with a Chinese background. This book has multiple themes such as accept who you are, the affect of racial jokes, and treat other the way you would like to be treated. During our Skype, Mr. Yang always answers the 8th grade student’s questions in a positive way. He also showed he was having a great time on Skype with students who took such an interest in his book. Mr. Yang was very aware and impressed how intently we read the book. I really enjoyed how he told us about his childhood, and how it influenced his writing. It was very interesting that he related almost all the characters to real life examples such as the boys who criticized Jin. He explained how these boys went to junior high with him. They would do illegal things such s smoke and drugs. He explained how these boys were the bullies in ABC.
    In conclusion I had a great time Skyping with Gene Yang and would recommend it for next year.

    Payton VDH

  21. After the skype with Mr. Yang, I understood much more about the book American Born Chinese. He answered many of my questions about the allusions and his own life. This helped me to understand why he wrote what he did in the book. The character Jin Wang was supposed to represent him when he was a kid. There were various people who he modelled after groups of people in his own life. For example, Timmy represents the stoners, a group at his school in junior high. Also, the way that Wei-Chen becomes a rebel was typical for kids who came to America later, in fifth or sixth grade. A lot of my ideas were confirmed, such as what I thought about the character Chin-Kee. He is supposed to represent all of the bad Asian stereotypes in one. When Danny finally realizes who he truly is, Chin-Kee does not bother him anymore. Jin realizes his impudence. The one main idea in the book is to be who you truly are. This theme is carried through the monkey king story as well.
    Many parts of the book were modelled after stories that Mr. Yang heard as a child. Many were told by his father, who Mr. Yang said was an avid storyteller. He would tell exaggerated stories of his childhood, including a story of his parents making him clean up a cow pat with a pair of chopsticks. One of Mr. Yang’s favorite stories was of the monkey king. This was an ancient Chinese folk tale. There are many versions of the tale of the monkey king, and Mr. Yang wanted to write his own take on it.
    The skype with Mr. Yang answered many of my questions about the book, American Born Chinese. I understand the allusions and the stories in the book much better now.

  22. Excited, I stepped into the room waiting for our questions to be answered by the one and only Gene Yang. The anticipation for him to respond to our questions was unbearable. I really enjoyed the time we spent skyping Gene. The amount of thought he put into his novel was amazing. The way everything tied together with his life was really creative. I was amazed at how much time and effort he put into this novel that I would’ve never known without skyping with him. In the end, it was a great experience talking to him and learning how he came up with the ideas that are in the novel. I appreciate Gene skyping with us and hope he keeps up the good work.

  23. I learned a lot about American Born Chinese in our Skype with Gene Yang. It was exciting to be able to talk with him because there’s no one better to answer our questions than the author himself. The first thing we talked about was his inspirations, his parents. His dad told him stories of a Taiwanese village boy named Ah-Tong. The book is dedicated to his dad for his stories of Ah-Tong. His parents were huge inspirations to him. Another question he answered was about the format and why is the Chin-Kee plot is in a sitcom form. This is because when many Asian Americans moved to America, they didn’t know the American lifestyle. Because of this, they based their lives off of sitcoms. Gene Yang tried to reference this in this section. Lastly, we talked about how he came up his characters. I learned that a lot of Jin’s life is based on Gene Yang. He hung out with a group of Asian Americans and was made fun of by other students. Gene answered my questions and explained a even more.

  24. In our skype conference with Mr. Yang I learned a lot of things. The information I found most interesting was how much the story related to his life and childhood. I found it interesting how the little village boy was based on the stories that his dad told him in his childhood. Another thing I found cool was Chin-Kee and the story behind him, and how he wanted to have a character fitting all of the Chinese stereotypes. I have gotten so much more out of the book having read it two times and having a skype conference with the author of the book. I would have thought nothing of some parts of the book. For example the youtube video on the back. When I read it at my house over the summer I just flipped through that page. I thought that is was cool that it was an actual video too and that the people in the real videos were kinda like celebrities. This is what I learned in the skype conference with Mr. Yang.


  25. Dear: Mr. Yang

    It was a privilege discussing American Born Chinese and having the opportunity to ask you questions on the books many ideas. I was interested in learning how these stereotypes affected subconsciously at a very young age. I was also interested to learn that you used Chin- kee as a way to talk about stereotypes in a direct way. By using Chenkee you were able to show all of the negative Asian and Asian American stereotypes that you could think of and make a story out of them. While looking back at your experiences as a 2nd or 3rd grader, this stereotype pushed you to want to identify with the blonde child instead of the Asian child. Furthermore, these stereotypes influenced many Asian American families to try to model or reflect the life of what they saw on TV. I want to thank you for your honesty and for your courage to address an issue that is rarely talked about. In conclusion I would like to give a personal thank you and to tell you I will be sure to read your other books “Boxers”, and “Saints”. I can’t wait to hear more about you possibly coming out with a new book.


    Justin Thomas

  26. During our amusing Skype with Gene Yang, I learned a lot about how he writes his books, and about how much thought he puts into them. It seemed as though he put a lot of himself disguised into different character in American Born Chinese. I really liked how he hid all of the stories themes to make them seem like they were different, but ended up all being a part of the same story with misleading events. It took me two times to really comprehend the story. He gave me something to think about, I would have never thought of any of the stories coming together. He put a lot of emotional thought into this book by putting himself into it; for example, kids used to bully him about who he was, it makes me wonder if he ever wanted to change himself just like Jin. The illustrations in American Born Chinese went perfectly with the story. Without the pictures there would have been a lot of unanswered questions and new missing themes that we observed. Gene had great ideas in American Born Chinese like, the red stamps on the cover and giving hints to show that Jin was Danny. His story was really captivating to me and I thought it was a great read. Thanks Gene for all of your wonderful time you spent with us.

  27. Yesterday, I walked down the hallways towards Mellowes hall, heart beating fast, excited to see and talk to a world renowned author face to face — or face to computer… I sat down with my 4th period English class and talked, the sound from 80-some students echoed off the walls of the huge room. The beeping of the Skype call silenced the unmitigated mayhem within. As Gene’s smile appeared on the large projector screen, my heartbeat slowed and Ms. Walczak lifted her leg with excitement. We began by having Milton and Hailey introduce our grade and talk about what the next 40 minutes would hold. The questions we asked and Gene’s answers really made me think about how racially segregated todays society is. With this being said, Yang didn’t only use his writing to show that people associate things with people of different ethnicities, such as food they eat, how they dress, and talk. Even though the only difference between us is the way we look. Hearing Gene Yang talk about this made me re-evaluate how I look at people and what I think when I do. I thought to myself that everyone has the same kind of feelings and how we must consider them. I thought it was very interesting that he used characters and memories from his childhood and mixed them in with the story of the monkey king. Such as the cartoon he found in his bedroom of the slant eyed character saying “me chinese, me play joke, me go pee pee in your coke”. The three different stories created a very intricate book that was very interesting.

  28. Thomas Wilkinson
    Section 2

    I think that the Skype session with Mr. Yang was very helpful and fun to watch and listen to. He explained some of the little things in the book like the reason why he named the schools Jin attended after people he admired, Pat Oliphant or John Hughes. He also explained how he chose characters names, such as why he named Wei-Chen because he was named after his Junior High friend, Wei-E. He also told us about experiences that influenced the book such as the stories that his parents had told him. His dad told him stories about horrible chores he had done as a child to make him feel grateful. He told him that when he was a boy, he had to take chopsticks and a rice bowl and pick up cow manure. Mr. Yang inspired everyone to ignore racial slurs and to move on. I loved how Mr. Yang told had a picture of Wei-Chen and Jin doing a music video just like a popular video on YouTube. I thought that was pretty funny. The most important thing I took away was the powerful negative affect that racial slurs have.

  29. I learned a lot during our Skype interview that I would not have learned by either reading the book or even reading a biography, because of his fervent examples and memories, his deep and thoughtful symbolism, and the fact that most of the book was based off of his life. This is because of the detailed and informative answers that he gave the eighth grade in our Skype interview. Gene Yang’s memories were one of the more vivid moments of the Skype that stood out to me. The best one in my opinion was his answer to the Ah-Tong question, to which he answered, “I’m the son of two immigrants, and both of my parents were great story tellers. My dad would make up stories of this little Taiwanese village boy named Ah-tong. Later in my life, I realized that Ah-Tong was probably my father’s stand-in for himself.” The symbolism in the book was very deep and related a lot to stereotypes. An example is the part of the book where Chink-ee is made to be the pinnacle of Chinese stereotypes, with his slanted eyes, yellow toned skin, and his clothing. When Gene said that most of the characters were made from his experiences with Chinese stereotypes, I realized that what Gene was really doing was trying to let kids know that stereotypes are usually wrong, and he was letting them know how it felt to be called a name, or having your background made fun of. In the American Born Chinese novel, Gene shows Jin transforming into an American boy to avoid getting ridiculed, where Wei-Chen stands proud with his heritage of being Chinese. All of these things combined made into a great Skype interview with an amazing author, and a great learning experience.

    • I learned from the Skype with Gene Yang that books hold many secrets. He told us about things in the book that we had no idea existed or didn’t know why they did. But when we had the author of the book come in and speak it made a big difference. One specific thing that I learned is that making a comic is not as easy as it looks. I also learned that he once got an offer for a movie. I loved the book and his Skype in with us at school.

  30. Dear, Mr. Yang
    Thank you so much for coming. Your opinions on the book were insightful and interesting. I liked how you through and told us things about your self even though we didn’t know you personally. You’re story really helped me understand where the ideas came from and what it’s like to be in a less accepted environment. I also felt like I got to know the characters better and where they are coming from.

    Thank you for coming,
    Carolyn E.

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