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  • Music Arrangements | Bree Zhang

    Arrangements by Bree Zhang Pop Songs I Don't Wanna Live Forever Original Artist(s): Taylor Swift and Zayn Malik Rearranged into guzheng version Recorded on May 20th, 2018 ​ This guzheng cover is my way of merging eastern and western music together by intersecting two worlds and techniques in a single piece. Traditional Pieces My Home Country ​我的祖国 Original Composer: 刘炽 Rearranged by to fit a violin background music track. Huaxia Bridgewater Chinese School February 11th, 2018 Chinese New Year Festival 春节晚会 Dancer: Adrianna Liu The Dance of the Yao Tribe 瑶族舞曲 Original Composer: 刘铁山,茅 Rearranged into guzheng duet The Ellora Banquet Hall, Edison, NJ May 6th, 2018 ICEPN Television Mother's Day Concert Additional Performer: my mother, Hua Zhu For more info about me, check out: About Me Time Lapse Art Art Portfolio My Guzheng Story Music Compositions Other Performances Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more music updates! Follow me on Spotify! Spotify

  • Music Composition | Bree Zhang

    Guzheng Solo Guzheng with Vocals Orchestral Compositions Compositions by Bree Zhang Spotify Guzheng Solo Growing Up This song addresses the joy, sadness, and beauty of growing up. It begins with a prelude of introspection and then transitions to the main melody filled with fun and playfulness, representing the innocence and unreserved happiness of our childhood. The melody gets faster and faster, just as we barrel through life faster and faster from crawling to walking, to running, to sprinting, but then…⁣ ⁣ Suddenly, our childhood is shattered. Suspended in uncertainty, we glance around, realizing that the world as we know it isn’t the same. Moving forward, the song takes a deeper tune, one that may be filled with shades of sadness, guilt, heartbreak, anxiety, fear. Yet we still advance forward, step-by-step. We grow, finding strength in our weaknesses and fears, learning how to live with our own inner demons, creating beauty from shattered glass: that's what’s called maturation. And, sometimes, we may look back to our old childhood memories with a bittersweet yet hopeful smile. It’s never the same but we can reminisce and appreciate our old memories. Metamorphosis Just as a caterpillar transforms to a butterfly, this piece describes my metamorphosis from a fumbling young girl into a determined young woman. I used to have confidence issues and always felt like a secondary character. However, music, art, story-writing, and my interactions with my culture helped to provide stepping stones which I slowly climbed until I gathered enough “nutrients'' to crystallize and form a cocoon of confidence. In this song, my moment of “metamorphosis” begins (2:08 to 3:14) when I realize how far I’ve come. It’s like an awakening, building to a point where I break free from my chrysalis with newfound wings, flying through the world with speed, energy, and power (represented by the song’s sudden increase in tempo and excitement from 3:16 to 4:13). As I fly, I realize how vast the world is, how many infinite possibilities exist for me to explore. However, the most important part of my metamorphosis (represented by the song’s slower finish 4:38 to end) is remembering to rest my wings at the end of the day so that I have time for reflection and introspection. Thus, as I wrap up my song with a slower yet purposeful finish, I am filled with a satisfaction of how much I’ve grown. Returning Home When I was younger, my grandma came all the way from China to help raise me. Not only did she ensure I was healthy and happy growing up, she also taught me about my Chinese culture and heritage, instilling in me values of gratitude, patience, and resilience.When I was 10, however, my grandmother had to return to China due to her declining health, and she never came back to America again. I missed her very much for several years, wishing I could see her again and show her how much I’d grown since she left. And in 2017, I was given the perfect chance: I found out I was returning to China for a guzheng talent competition and that I would be able to reunite with my grandmother before the competition. I was so elated and excited that I decided to write a song dedicated to my grandmother called “Returning Home.” The first section of my song (0:00 to 2:39) symbolizes my longing for my grandma. The allegro portion (2:39-4:00), which features my technical skills, symbolizes my excitement and anticipation of meeting her after so many years of separation. I also paired artwork with this piece. The first three works in this sequence show key points of my relationship with her, whether it was feeding fish above a pond in my hometown, blowing candles during my birthday, or simply laughing together. The last work features my happy reunion with her. That day, I was able to perform the song for her in person, and the smile on her face was another moment that I wanted to capture in memory forever. Guzheng with Vocals Guzheng with Vocals Daydreams It was very difficult writing, singing, and making art for this song because it brings me back to a time filled with insecurities, fears, loneliness, and self-loathing, a time when I didn’t know who I was, when I pretended to be someone I wasn’t, floundering in search of an identity, surrounding myself with people but feeling quite lonely, chipping away at myself with sweet lies until I almost believed them. However, I’m really glad I finally finished it because now I’m able to look back and confront it. To the girl in this song (Me Of the Past), she would’ve never imagined herself living the life featured at the end of this song (artwork which I paint in saturated beautiful colors), so it’s just yet another “daydream,” a beautiful lie she repeats to herself in hopes of seeing change. But someday, it will come true, someday :) In Ten Years “In Ten Years” is about facing rejection, standing up from it, and moving forward with no regrets. I was inspired by the many college rejections I received over the course of December to early March my senior year (prior to getting into Brown, which I honestly never expected to get into given my college track record). Each result I received was a blow to my confidence, and I started to question whether I was really capable or talented or intelligent. However, I eventually knew I needed a change, and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to channel my feelings into an actual song and do something productive with it. This song, “In Ten Years,” was born as a result. It was my first time composing a song that included vocals, singing while playing the guzheng, and shooting and editing the film. In the end, I was able to learn many new things, and I will continue to move forward with my head held high. Orchestral Compositions Orchestral Compositions A Mother's Love 🥰This music composition and series of 12 art pieces (titled “A Mother’s Love”) is a tribute to my mother and all the other beautiful mothers in this world who have given us irreplaceable support, wisdom, care, and love since the day we were born, from changing our diapers, to teaching us how to walk, to comforting us when we are sad, to cheering on our successes, to supporting us even when we leave home to explore the world. No matter how old I become, I will always keep my mother in my heart and remember all the sacrifices and hardships she endured to provide me opportunities to grow, learn, and love. I love you 妈妈. Dancing in Snowflakes - Bree Zhang 00:00 / 00:00 A Journey in Retrospect - Bree Zhang 00:00 / 00:00 Dancing in Snowflakes “Dancing in Snowflakes” is written for my chinese orchestra, Music From China Youth Orchestra. It describes the care, grace, and empathy we must have to interact with snow without breaking its purity—whether we are in elation and power or in stillness and quietude. Although the song does have western elements, it takes on a predominantly ethnic theme from the pentatonic scale. Furthermore, it features several individual solos, from Hulusi to Erhu to Liuqin to Guzheng, and these instruments build on each other in layers and layers, accumulating in volume and power just as snowflakes quietly and seamlessly decorate a landscape in their beautiful coldness. A main melody is integrated 5 times throughout the song, but it is rendered differently each time, sometimes appearing as a solo, other times being played by the whole entire orchestra. Regardless, the last melody (m. 60) is played by all the instruments that complement and support each other as one unit—just as snow sticks together and embraces the world in a single color of white. ​ When I began this piece, I was also inspired by one of my favorite figure skaters, Evgenia Medvedeva, so I created an artwork that goes with it. See here for the time lapse drawing of the piece. A Journey in Retrospect “A Journey in Retrospect” was my first attempt at composition. I wrote it December 2016 for my orchestra (Music From China Youth Orchestra), and it was performed on June 3rd, 2017 at Drew University. Mixing elements of western and traditional pentatonic music, this song reflects the journey of a person’s life—and my own journey through composing. It begins with a prelude that introduces the central motif to set the mood and pace of the song, in the same manner an author would preface his story with some background. The prelude is followed by a jumpy innocent melody first played by plucked instruments—representing our shaky little steps at the beginning of a journey (m. 9). The melody is then repeated more richly and melodically by string instruments—representing out gradual maturation and development in our journeys (m. 17). Eventually, the song changes into a more powerful theme (m. 33) that is characterized by strength and willpower in the face of trial and tribulations- the melody builds in momentum until it reaches a climatic direct modulation key change (m. 44). Following the key change is a rich intersection of three different melody lines, and the song slowly falls in power until it repeats the prelude (m. 53), returning full circle, but this time, the prelude sounds different: it is deeper, more experienced, more reflective tone- just as we when we look back at the end of our journeys. For more info about me, check out: About Me Time Lapse Art Artwork My Guzheng Story Music Arrangements Other Performances Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more music updates! Follow me on Spotify! Spotify

  • Guzheng Performance | Bree Zhang

    Solo Duet and Ensemble Other Instruments Traditional Chinese Pieces Performed by Bree Zhang Guzheng Solo Spring Comes to the Snowy Mountain - Unknown Artist 00:00 / 00:00 Spring Comes to the Snowy Mountain ​雪山春晓 Composer: 格桑达吉,范上娥 Recorded on October 15th, 2017 The Peacock Flying Southeast ​孔雀东南飞 Composer: 郑德渊 Re-arranger : 邱大成 Drew University Concert Hall June 3rd, 2017 Music From China Youth Orchestra Rainbow Concert Spring Comes to Lhasa ​春到拉萨 Composer: 史兆元 Drew University Concert Hall May 31st, 2015 Music From China Youth Orchestra Rainbow Concert Gui Zhou Yao 贵州谣 Composer: 姚宁馨 The College of New Jersey Concert Hall November 8th, 2014 NJMTA Young Musician's Competition Winner's Recital ​ Xiang Shan She Gu 香山射鼓 Composer: 曲云 Hong Kong, China August 13th, 2013 The 3rd International Zheng Contest 11-14 Age Group Guzheng Duet and Ensemble Duet and Ensemble The Dance of the Amei Tribe ​阿美族舞曲 Composer: 台湾民谣 Rearranger: 顾冠仁 The Hindu Temple Society of Northern America in Flushing, NY February 25th, 2018 Chinese New Year Festival 春节晚会 Additional Performer: Emily Yang Hanging Red Lanterns 挂红灯 Composer: 周成龙 McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ February 8th, 2014 Chinese New Year Festival 春节晚会 Additional Performer(s): Grace Chen, Jennifer Zhang, Joyce Lu, Emily Yang, Angela Weng, Sabrina Ngan, Jiongnan Liu, Jacqueline Hua, Bonnie Hu. The Song of Spring 春节序曲 Composer: 李焕之 McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ February 8th, 2014 Chinese New Year Festival 春节晚会 Additional Performer(s): Grace Chen, Jennifer Zhang, Joyce Lu, Emily Yang, Angela Weng, Sabrina Ngan, Jiongnan Liu, Jacqueline Hua, Bonnie Hu. Guzheng with Other Instruments Other Instruments Fisherman's Song at Dusk 渔舟唱晚 Composer: 曹正,朱郁之 Huaxia Bridgewater Chinese School January 31, 2016 Chinese New Year Festival 春节晚会 Violin: Joyce Lu For more info about me, check out: About Me Time Lapse Art Art Portfolio My Guzheng Story Music Compositions Music Arrangements Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more music updates! Follow me on Spotify! Spotify

  • College Reflections | Bree Zhang

    Reflection 1 Reflection 2 Reflection 3 Reflection 4 Reflection 5 College Reflections I used to think Brown was a poopy💩 color, but you can only create that color by combining all colors of the rainbow. Brown has been my canvas. Each semester has been a wandering collection of dissonances and consonances. Read my 5 Main Takeaways Below: #1 The Best Teachers Are Bandages, and the Best Bandages Come From Our Friends. College can be a journey of figuring out how to patch myself up from falls and scrapes but oftentimes not even knowing where these scrapes and cuts are. Throughout college, I struggled with a combination of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, which triggered depressive episodes after binges and manic episodes when I starved myself in punishment. ​ There were moments when I felt invincible and so productive so no sleep and keep going because your creative juices are flowing and no--you can't stop--you can't sleep anyway--stomach empty--you're so light you could fly away-- Then, moments when I struggled to get out of bed and do basic things like wash my face. Moments when I didn’t want to wake up from sleep. Moments when I hated myself so much and felt so useless for hating myself and not being able to do the simplest daily things, then hating myself all over again and thinking I did not deserve people’s admiration. ​ The scary thing about falling is that it’s sometimes not the injury that hurts the most but the painstaking process of trying to get to your original pace. There’s an insidious voice that keeps comparing yourself to your best version and reminds you’re so much slower and wobbly and graceless. ​ But the beautiful thing about falling is that the journey of crawling up teaches you so much. It’s taught me that friends and loved ones have always been my best bandages. They give me shoulders to cry on and hands to hold when I don’t feel grounded. They remind me that I’m still Bree. ​ Sometimes, learning how to be vulnerable means allowing your friends and loved ones to see you under a spotlight when you haven’t put on your protective skin, so you feel flayed and disgusting and ashamed because this version of you will always exist in their memory. ​ But sometimes, learning to be vulnerable means that you have hands that can put bandages in places you can’t easily see or reach. And unlike your bandages, these bandages come without self-contempt and are so purely filled with love and care that you start to feel like everything’s going to be okay. ​ Because it will be <3 Reflection 2 #2 Inspiration is everywhere in the community, and everyone has a Mary Poppins Bag. I believe that I am a collection of the wisdom of each person I’ve met at Brown. ​ As they say, the beauty of the Open Curriculum is that no two people are taking the exact same track of courses, meaning that there is less room for competition/comparison and more room for vicarious learning, exploration, and super cool conversations. I don’t need to take 20 classes to obtain knowledge from 20 classes. By talking with peers, I get “TLDR” glimpses of the most thought-provoking topics in way more classes, and we exchange these glimpses across our real world reflections. ​ If what people are studying is cool, what they are doing is even cooler. Everyone I know seems to carry around a Mary Poppins bag: a bottomless pit of talents and accomplishments that they usually keep humbly hidden but pull out on special occasions, ceaselessly surprising me. ​ Like just when I thought this person couldn’t be cooler as a STEM icon, but wait—they also won an award for their cutting-edge research—but wait—they’re also a kickass dancer—but wait—and they’re also involved in acapella and have a voice of gold? In fact, my admiration for my peers solidified even more after seeing everyone's senior theses, capstones, and extracurricular final projects. The spark in someone’s eyes is most beautiful when they talk about something they love, something to which they’ve devoted so much time, tears, and energy. ​ The reason I am the way I am is because of this Brown community: they’re always inventing, deconstructing, designing, collecting, fighting, advocating, teaching, learning, providing—-and inspiring me to do better. #3 It’s never too late to start a hobby, or to revisit one that you’ve tucked away. Success is not always accomplishing something but enacting an intention to start something . As someone who has always been a checklist person who likes the feeling of "finishing" things I'm good at, I really had to learn how to reframe my mindset throughout college. I'm happy to say I finally got really comfortable with this by my last semester at Brown, where I was welcomed into the frisbee, ballroom dancing, and ice skating communities. ​ Feeling "comfortable" in unknown spaces cannot happen without empowering and nurturing people. Ballroom dancing was completely new to me. Even when I started out as one of the worst dancers, these people gave me a home and never judged me, only uplifted me. Frisbee and ice skating were sports I’d tried as a first-year (but then stopped for 3 years due to time commitment). The fact that I felt welcomed so warmly despite my hiatus showed me that it’s okay to step back from things, to leave for a few years, and it’s okay to join again when you’re ready. ​ When time is ticking, it’s easy to get caught up in the end. I only had 2-3 months to enjoy these communities before graduation. While sometimes I lamented how I should’ve joined/re-joined these sports earlier, the experience taught me how to savor each moment because it’s happening (and not because it’s disappearing), to be comfortable with not knowing things and asking for help—because help is always there. ​ Three of my most exciting moments were when I did the Bronzie Cha Cha group number at the Phoenix Ball, when I performed a solo at Brown Figure Skating Club’s Annual Ice Skating Show, and when I played in my first Frisbee Scrimmage with another college team. I am proud of these moments not because I was the best performer/player (in fact, in ice skating, I was the worst) but because I went out and tried my best. Reflection 3 #4 No battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy, so learn to have fun while the plan fails. Lots of us are perfectionists who try to avoid perfectionism but unwittingly stray towards perfectionism if left unchecked. Perfectionism is what makes us good at what we do because we hold ourselves to high expectations. However, it also makes us stressed out, especially if the work is not what we expect. This is why my involvement in CCB (Class Coordinating Board) was such an amazing learning experience for me because no matter how much you try to perfect your "battle plan," unexpected problems arise. ​ Perhaps the weather is freezing, and the crock pot you need to melt the caramel (for caramel covered apples) doesn’t heat up, so someone on your board needs to run to the Blue Room with a tub of Boiling hot water to get the caramel to melt. Perhaps there’s glitches with a platform you’re using, and you embarrassingly have to send out a classwide email again apologizing for good-old “technical difficulties.” Perhaps delivery costs increase. The power fails. A few staffers get sick. A vendor backs out. Equipment doesn’t work. ​ The question isn’t a matter of “if” but “when” and “what” will go wrong—whether it’s a mistake you made or an uncontrollable external factor. So an important lesson CCB taught me (and something I’m still striving towards) is how to adapt, go with the flow, laugh and bond over our failed battle plans, and accept that no one is going to ever be completely satisfied with your event, or you—and that’s okay. ​ After all, the enemy of a “battle plan” is just life, and life will always give you unexpected lemons and things to be salty over. But if you stop seeing life as an enemy, you can slice up the lemons, gather some salt, and have fun taking tequila shots. Reflection 4 #5 Don’t wait until you’re leaving to start making a bucket list. 4 years feels so short. So very very short. ​ Sometimes, I wonder “If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, would I have had a better college experience?” ​ Reasonably, a voice in my head says: “Yes, of course. You lost almost 2 years of college. You struggled during the virtual semesters without much social contact. You saw lives disappear in the blink of an eye, neighbors, family acquaintances, more.” ​ But I also see another side to COVID-19. ​ COVID-19 made me who I am in college. I learned how to be alone. I learned to navigate challenges and tensions with my family that emerged from the pandemic and politics. I learned to appreciate the moments I have with my loved ones. To never take anything for granted because even the most stable rocks can be shattered in an instant: a relationship, a friendship, an experience, an education. ​ It’s the same with college. ​ When I came back to in-person school my senior year, I made a Senior Bucket List, and I wrapped myself in a craze to complete all the items. But then it hit me. Why is it that we only make a real bucket list when we’re about to leave somewhere? Aren’t the experiences listed in our bucket list things we have always wanted to do? Why can't we cherish these experiences sooner? ​ How many times did I really explore downtown Providence? How many cuisines on college hill did I really try? How many challenges did I really complete? How many moments with friends did I pass up because I wanted to focus on studying? ​ We often don’t realize how much we appreciate something until it slips from our fingertips. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying “hold on tighter so it doesn’t slip.” We all have to let things slip away to move on—after all, our hands can only hold so much—but we should be more intentional while these experiences are around and easily graspable. ​ This way, we’re not simply just letting retrospection paint an experience in a positive light. We’re actually existing in that experience—appreciating it even if we can’t see the beauty yet. Reflection 5 ​ Senior Year Bucket List Green are completed items. Red are uncompleted items.​ Dance on pole Get on rooftop Participate in Jazz jams RISD Wintersesssion Polar Plunge with BOC Visit Newport Visit Block Island Witness Naked Donut Run Try an edible (make art while high) Visit RISD Museum Make at least 10 Brunoscapes Hammock somewhere on campus Get back into Ice skating Hiking somewhere NOT in Providence Attend a Gendo Taiko Workshop Join Frisbee again! Attend a Nelson fitness class (cardio core, body combat, 305 dance) Study in GCB (with laptops out) Join Ballroom dancing Ratty challenge Go to all you can eat hotpot with CSA Go to Beach SciLi challenge Go Rock Climbing Watch Dance Shows Mezcla Fusion Impulse Daebak SKINNY DIPPING Do something weird for Senior Talent Show Watch theatre productions RENT Sweeney Todd Company Louis challenge Sleep on 10+ locations on campus Watson​ Leung Andrews dining Emwool lounge Faunce fishbowl Sears Lounge Metcalf third floor Friedman Main Green Scili Scavenger HUnt Friend group ​senior Boston trip Drink wine in 10+ major buildings on campus. Faunce Rock The Hay Sayles Salomon University Hall Macmillan Sears Ratty Friedman Vdub Andrews Thesissssssss Watch Waterfire Sell prints of my artwork. Try aerial acrobatics workshop Perform at in-person concerts Lunar new year Underground Thursdays Sounds@Brown Senior Week​​ GRADUATE YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!! For more info about me, check out: Art Portfolio Time Lapse Art Music Compositions My Dental Journey Music Arrangements My Asian Identity Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more music updates! Follow me on Spotify! Spotify

  • Miss Chinese Pageant | Bree Zhang

    Miss Chinese Pageant Overview In summer 2018, I was selected as one of the 13 Finalists for Miss Chinese Pageant among hundreds of applicants. The pageant involved three months of training, a tour in San Fransisco, a talent show in Sand Castle, NY, a jewelry show in Flushing, NY, and the final show at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. My accomplishments in the Pageant include: ​ Winner of the Laihing Jewelry Show 2018: I won the best jewelry presentation award, which included: 14 karat gold necklace and the chance to wear and present the most expensive jewelry in the store, a Forever Mark diamond set more than 1 million dollars. ​ Miss Best Talent 2018: During the talent show, I made it into the Top Five Talent with guzheng and won the Group Talent Award with live acrylic painting. During the final show, I performed on the guzheng, a 21-stringed Chinese Harp, playing a self composition I wrote for my grandmother while featuring my digital art paintings on the large screen background. ​ Miss Second Runner-up 2018: I placed 3rd place overall at the Final Show in Mohegan Sun, which included several segments: evening gown, swimsuit and Q&A, Qipao walk, and the final five Q&A. ​ Pictures San Fransisco Tour Day 1: Napa Valley and Newton Vineyard Day 2: Palace of Fine Arts Day 3 and 4: City Hall and Golden Gate Bridge Talent Show Laihing Jewelry Show Final Show at Mohegan Sun Fashion Show Evening Gown Talent (Guzheng Performance) Qipao and Final Awards For more about Miss Chinese Pageant, you may follow them on social media! Website Facebook Instagram For more info about me, check out: About Me Time Lapse Art Artwork My Guzheng Story Music Compositions Other Performances Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more updates!

  • Buy Artwork | Bree Zhang

    Buy Artwork - Bree Zhang Time Lapsed Art Portfolio Commissions Brunoscapes are now for sale via Brown University Bookstore ! Order Your Artwork Here Please reference MY PORTFOLIO for the name of the artwork you want to order. If you want to buy multiple pieces, please fill out the form multiple times (once for each artwork)! Please note the discount option if you are a Columbia or Brown student/faculty ! First Name Last Name Email Name of Artwork Choose a Canvas Size Choose an option arrow&v Delivery method Choose an option arrow&v Special Requests Include Hand-Signed Signature Yes (Additional $6) No Address (if applicable) Order Your Artwork Thanks for submitting! You will receive an email in the upcoming days with more details More About Me My Publications Harvard Global Health Starter Kit co-author, 2nd author of bottle feeding case study My Infographics Advocacy infographics featured on Columbia and Harvard ASDA pages. My Asian Identity Reflections on what it means to be Asian American and my struggles with my identity Why Dentistry About me as an NHSC Scholar, TedX Speaker, Advocacy Award Recipient Dental Art & Music How I combine music therapy and art to heal and educate patients! College Reflections My five key takeaways + lessons from Brown University: the goods, bads, and funs! Music Compositions Performed in Carnegie Hall (5 times), Metropolitan Museum (2 times), McCarter Theatre (2 times) Pageantry Miss Chinese Pageant 2018 2nd Runner up, Miss Talent 2018, Laihing Jewelry Winner My Art Portfolio Sold by Brown Bookstore. Featured on Columbia Global Consortium of Climate Health ABOUT ME Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for more music updates! Follow me on Spotify! Spotify

  • Contact Me | Bree Zhang

    Contact Me - Bree Zhang Find me through any of the social media accounts listed below, or shoot me an email directly! E- Youtube : Bree Zhang Instagram : bubba_bree and breez_art Facebook: Bree Zhang Deviant Art: bubba-bree ​ Thanks! Message sent. Send

  • My Asian Identity | Bree Zhang

    Banana Bree Love & Hate Not Like Other Asians Why am I Lonely? Claiming Soil What's Next? Just Like Other Asians My Asian Identity Banana Bree Phase Growing up, many children want to be astronauts, teachers, doctors. I wanted to be a “banana.” Yellow on the outside by default of genetics, white on the inside by choice. My mother always told me, “You can’t change your skin, but you can decide how you act." Living in a very white town, I took that as encouragement to push away my Asianness away. Asians = nerdy? I pretended to be stupid. My Chinese food = smelled "weird"? I ate school lunches. Asians = "unathletic”? I made volleyball my life. ​ I called myself Bree Zang, the Americanized pronunciation of my last name “Zh āng” 张 (pronounced: J āhng). It never occurred to me to say it any differently. Why pronounce it correctly when people make a weird face then ask “why do you spell it Zhang when it’s not pronounced that way?” Funnily, the closest an American came to pronouncing my last name was when they asked “Did your parents drop pots and pans down the stairs and listen to the sounds to name you? Ding dong. Ching Chong. Bree Jong ?” I don’t name this experience to get pity for myself because this is a common Asian American experience. (“Oh, you got the slanted eye jokes?” “I got the jokes about eating dogs.” “Oh! You wanted to have blonde hair too?” “Blue eyes for me.”) I name this experience because I want to tell the story of how I tripped, fell, and found my way to my identity. It started with the 古筝 (guzheng). Love & Hate Love, Hate, Gaslight Up until highschool, I was always ashamed to let others know I was playing the guzheng, but things changed in 2014 when I began teaching guzheng at my Chinese School. There, I realized that if I wanted my students to be proud of themselves, I first had to first at least accept my Chinese background myself. So I started playing the guzheng in front of white friends, bringing it out during volleyball sleepovers as they recorded me on their snapchat stories. But instead of fully accepting my Asianness, I weaponized my Asianness. I used “I’m so Asian!” and as a way to be funny—a knife against myself. I acted in ways to jokingly confirm Asian stereotypes because at least I was getting attention from people, and didn’t attention mean that I wouldn’t be alone? ​ Instead of fully accepting my Asianness, I commodified my Asianness. During college application season, I wrote my common app essay about teaching my guzheng students and spreading my Chinese culture. I painted myself as a girl who celebrated herself and the Chinese heritage sung by her students’ guzheng strings. ​ I wasn’t lying. Everything written in the essay was true. But it’s funny how I could simultaneously love my Asianness yet be ashamed of it. I embraced my Chinese culture—calligraphy, music, history, language—but I was ashamed that my parents had accents or that I watched anime. I loved my guzheng, but still, I avoided performing solos in “Qipao” or traditional chinese wear because I thought Western gowns fit me better, made me look more beautiful. It was as if I selectively compartmentalized my Asianness into different drawers, rejecting, accepting, and hiding different slices of myself. "I'm Not Like Other Asians" This simultaneous self-love and shame led me to adopt a “I’m not like other Asians” attitude in college, similar to the “I’m not like other girls” attitude. Yes, I was proud of my Asianness, but no —I wasn’t like those other Asians who just hung out with their own Asian friends. I thought was different , I was “special.” I played the guzheng, not the piano or violin. I was heavily invested in arts and humanities, so not the typical Asian STEM pre-med (reflecting back, this fixation is extra r idiculous because almost every Brown pre-med I know is so multifaceted and eloquent in science and humanities). ​ To assert my Asian-but-not-Asianness, I talked often about my guzheng, but I avoided large Asian gatherings and parties. I gravitated towards friends who were either white or other people of color. I even told myself “I can't have more than 1/5 of my close friends as Asians, but I can’t have 0 or else I’m too blatantly white,” as if my identity was a calculation, rather than an existence. Perhaps this is why, as a first-year, I started to feel a bit alienated and distant from my fellow Asians. Not Like Other Asians "Wait, why am I lonely?" It took little steps. ​ It took reflecting on myself through art and music composition. Why I was lonely. Why I felt compulsions to avoid or seek out certain people. Recognizing these compulsions. Acknowledging that I was still on a journey to find peace with my identity, that I wasn’t the proud girl I wrote about in my common app essay. Why am I Lonely? Daydreams, 2020 It took meeting friends who were genuinely interested in not Bree Zang but Bree Zh āng. who were willing to venture beyond the tasty flavors of my culture but also the deeper grittier, darker parts. Who found pride in parts of me that I wasn’t proud of. ​ It took meeting inspiring peers who were unapologetically wearing their own skin and identity. Listening to their struggles. Their realizations. Claiming Soil That's Not Solid One of my proudest moments in college was sophomore year when I made an artwork . selected for Brown University Science Center’s Annual Art Exhibit. At the exhibition’s opening talk, I decided—for the first time in my life—to say my last name 张 “Zhang” the real way. ​ What does it mean to claim your name? To claim your space that—yes—you can belong here. Claiming Soil Sides of Me You Don't See , 2020 But what does it mean to return home every semester break and watch my mom trying to decide what food she can’t bring to work because 香菇 and 猪耳朵 “smell weird” to her American co-workers? What does it mean to still fight feelings of shame when my parents take too long pronouncing the words on a restaurant menu—and to remind myself that they’re not stupider because they have an accent. In fact, their accent makes them wiser and stronger. What does it mean being catcalled on the street and yelled at to “Go back to china?” and to be asked “do you eat bats?” while still feeling pressured to fit the model minority myth, which upholds a system that pits us against other people of color? What's Next? I still have a long journey ahead of me. While I fight for space, I must simultaneously recognize the space I take up . Being Asian, I have privileges that have been used to perpetuate racism and fabricate a racial hierarchy in America. Being East Asian, I have privileges that allow me to be represented and portrayed in the majority of the “Asian” experience, which tends to erase and marginalize other subgroups within the pan ethnic Asian narrative. I must continue to grapple with a history of colorism that persists in my own culture. I must continue to grapple with the concept of being Asian American not as a singular story but in a web of gender, sexuality, class, neurodiversity, generational trauma, and more. It’s a long journey ahead, but for now, I just want to focus on how far I’ve come. I no longer think “I’m not like other Asians .” ​ What's Next? Stop Asian Hate, 2020 I Want to Be Like Other Asians I want to be like every other Asian because we’re all so cool, different, talented, inspiring, unique--and none of us are the same, and we can be hurtful, and we can be cruel, but we should be appreciated as human beings who encompass all these intersecting qualities. ​ I know many of us are at different stages with our identity. I still struggle. Oftentimes, I feel the creeping fear as I slowly lose my language, as I forget certain words on my tongue because I haven’t used them in a while, and because I’m no longer speaking Mandarin with my parents as often. I try to remind myself to hold onto my words, to play the 古筝 more often, to savor my parents' cooking. ​ Sometimes, I realize that my beliefs do not always align with some of the traditional Chinese values of our parents' generation. I realize I cannot deny their traumas and struggles that solidified their beliefs about conflict, social mobility, and equity. I realize I also cannot easily change their beliefs about mental health, gender, and sexuality. But I continue to have conversations to unpack, communicate, and translate. To understand them and have them understand me. ​ It's an honor to be Chinese American, but it takes effort and intentionality to exist within both the "Chinese" and "American" without losing one or the other. ​ That's the beautiful part of it as well. Just Like Other Asians Leveled Up! 😊 For more info about me, check out: Art Portfolio Time Lapse Art Music Compositions My Dental Journey Music Arrangements Buy Artwork Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for art/music updates! Follow me on Spotify! Spotify

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