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A True Hero: Xu Yajun's Mission to Support Rural Girls' Menstrual Health

A True Hero: Xu Yajun's Mission to Support Rural Girls' Menstrual Health

For those of you too busy to check in on the RADII website every day, we’ve got you every Tuesday with a summary of all we got on China’s youth culture from the last week. In this edition:

  • Not all heroes wear capes: Xu Yajun created the brand and charity Super Girl to provide free menstrual products to girls in rural parts of Southwest China’s Yunnan province.
  • Former designer turned food blogger Frankie Gaw explores his Taiwanese American heritage and identity in his debut cookbook ‘First Generation’.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant change in food consumption habits. However, this convenience has led to increased waste from food packaging.
  • The Chinese search giant has been working on its own AI technology for years and is reportedly preparing to launch its answer to ChatGPT this March.

Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.

Male Influencer Helps Rural Girls Meet Their Menstrual Needs

This month, RADII shines a light on the work of Xu Yajun, who launched the charity Super Girl to provide access to feminine hygiene products to girls in rural areas.

In April 2022, Xu Yajun launched a brand and charity called Super Girl (超力少女, chaoli shaonv) with a particular mission in mind: to empower schoolgirls in rural areas by providing them with access to sanitary pads.

One month later, Xu and his partner visited a school in the southwestern province of Yunnan and donated boxes of sanitary pads — enough for the school’s 478 girls to use for a whole year.

However, as a male influencer who mainly makes short documentaries on manufacturing in China, launching a feminine care product has brought Xu unwanted suspicion. Negative comments came pouring in, and many questioned his true intentions.

“Well, I understand it’s normal to be targeted online as an influencer,” he tells RADII. “It’s useless to explain; actually, the more you explain, the more negative comments will come at you. All I can do is persuade others through my actions.”

The Super Girl project originated from his best-known documentary series, Made in China. In the series, which has been running for the past six years, Xu works with factories across China to produce videos and help local manufacturers grow.

The Best Kind of Fat: Frankie Gaw Writes About Taiwanese American Food

A product designer turned food writer and photographer, Frankie Gaw published his debut cookbook, First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home, in October 2022. It is a cookbook with a lot of heart, celebrating immigrant heritage and identity.

Gaw grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is now based in Seattle. His family immigrated from Taiwan in the 1980s. He wrote:

“I grew up culturally American but was never white enough to feel like I belonged. Yet within my own culture, I was so Americanized that my Taiwanese roots never completely felt like my own.”

It set the cultural authenticity threshold very high. This threshold for authenticity prevents immigrants or Third Culture Kid from feeling at home no matter where they are.

Gaw’s cooking philosophy and vulnerability provide a new path to belonging for those who struggle to find an identity off-the-rack. Forget the labels. Gaw stands right in the middle of the identity Venn diagram and embraces the intersection as the destination.

His efforts started with, simply, cooking more. Then came the food blog called Little Fat Boy, which led to more photography. As Gaw explores his writing and photographic style, the blog has amassed a following and won Saveur’s 2019 Blog of the Year.

He’s not afraid to mix and match, with dishes like stir-fried rice cakes with bolognese and Cincinnati chili with hand-pulled noodles. His recipes are welcome celebrations of all aspects of his first-generation immigrant identity.

“I just want it to feel like you’re eating in my grandma’s kitchen and getting the best kind of fat with 10-year-old plump me,” Gaw wrote on his blog.

In food media, Gaw saw beautiful spreads presented with Euro-centric aesthetics, whereas Asian food was often photographed and written up by non-Asian creators. This superficial presentation made the food appear foreign, even to Gaw, who straddles both cultures. He tells RADII:

“It became a motivation for me. I have the skill set to take photos like that, but I’ve never seen the homestyle, grandma food [that] Asian American immigrants see in their homes expressed in a way that’s celebrated in food media.”

RADII’s original mini-documentary series A Sustainable Future Is Here is produced by RADII Studios in partnership with East West Bank, the three-episode series explores how humans seek solutions to environmental and social issues with technology in China, Southeast Asia, and the U.S.

Spanning from the impact of the food delivery industry on microplastic pollution, to how technologies bridge rural and urban realities, to the ways technology is addressing sustainability and regeneration issues, RADII’s series paints a picture of what is being done right now, and what is left to do to improve on big and small scales.

The first episode ‘The Hidden Price Behind Your Food Delivery Choices’ highlights how the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the single-use plastic waste crisis, and how individuals, innovative tech firms, and governments can join forces to solve the issue at hand. Featuring two Hong Kong-based tech companies, EcoInno and ClearBot, the mini-doc opens a discussion on how ocean pollution and the microplastics problem can be tackled through the use of innovative tech and responsible choices.

  • Looking like the steamy setting of a Wong Kar-wai film, The Red Pavilion (红馆) in Brooklyn, New York, was engulfed in smoke and flooded with sultry mood lighting on the night of its soft opening for family and friends on January 20, 2023.
  • Eighth-ranked bantamweight fighter Song Yadong will be eager to reassert himself in the Octagon after falling to Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 60.
  • A sign of the times: ‘World of Warcraft’ statues and displays were demolished at the NetEase office complex, and the destruction was livestreamed on China’s version of TikTok.
  • To be held from February 3 to 12 at the Emperor Cinemas in Lisboeta Macau, the inaugural Macao International Queer Film Festival will screen 17 international and local films.

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