Lan and Alvin have already did a great job of talking about the acts and personal anecdotes for the Rebuilding the Bridge event last Saturday. I’ve been meaning to write my own summary for the past week, but I’ve had very little downtime. Plus, I’m thoroughly, every-inch-of-my-body exhausted. I don’t think I ever felt exhaustion before, but it really sucks. This isn’t a complaint, merely an explanation why I’m so slow to respond to emails, txt msgs, Facebook, and just about everything else right now. Everything was worth it and I’ll get to why after you watch this montage.
Rebuilding the Bridge was a huge success in so many ways. There were a lot of things to take away from that night. It was personally one of the best nights of my life in terms of the people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made. First, some perspective: the reception part of the event officially started at 7:30pm. People started coming in at 6:30pm. The house was full at 7pm. The line for the performance part was all the way to the end of the street about half a mile long by 7pm.
Beau Sia, one of the artists performing at the event, is a personal hero of mine. He was the first Asian American artist I ever went to see live at some Asian student conference about 10 years ago. If you never heard him perform, he’s an absolute genius and one of the most talented people I know. A lot of the things I’ve done in life, Ningin being one of them, are because of that one performance I saw by Beau. A long time has passed since I was a frosh undergrad, but things seem to have come full circle. There are not enough stages, not enough platforms, for all the great Asian entertainment talent out there. It was immensely fulfilling to provide Beau with one such stage last Saturday and it’s my hope that Ningin becomes a platform for him and the many other deserving talents to reach the Asian community and beyond. It was the least I can do given how much he inspired me. There was an exec from HBO in attendance which we introduced Beau to; hopefully more good stories will came from Beau because of Rebuilding the Bridge.
Having a conversation with Phil Tayag of the Jabbawockeez was another highlight of mine. I expressed to how great it was for the Jabbwockeez to be there even after all the issues we had the week prior. Then Phil told me how happy he was to be there. Well, that’s the extremely abbreviated version of the conversation. It’s amazing how much easier they were to talk to when you don’t have to go through multiple parties, each with their own agenda. Funny story, they were about 45 minutes late because the car service we got them couldn’t find Pace University. So we had to get one of our interns, Mike, to run after them, get in the cab, and lead them to the event. In general, there was a lot of craziness like that during the night. Basically, if you were there and saw me run on or off the stage, something was wrong and needed to be fixed.
Being backstage with Nas and Ryan Leslie (at the same time) was a bit surreal. It was dark in certain areas back there and I accidentally bumped into a tall figure that turned out to be Ryan Leslie. After apologizing profusely, I then proceeded to thank him profusely for performing at our event. Ryan is an amazingly talented performer, but I’m much more in awe of his genius. He gradated from Harvard at the age of 19 for those who didn’t know. Nas wasn’t as talkative, mainly because he was surrounded by his “peers” and his managers. In case this was missed, the message that we were trying to deliver by having Nas there is racial unity and social responsibility. On a deeper level, the name Rebuilding the Bridge isn’t just about helping connecting to the Sichuan earthquake victims, but also making connections within our own local communities. It’s amazing the things that humans can do when they start working together. Our event last Saturday would be a great example of that.
Arguably, the greatest performance of the night came from our opening act, Andrew Choi. Talk about talent…just about everyone I talked to thought he completely brought the house down. Again, being able to give a stage to up-and-coming Asian artists is something very important to me. There are talks and discussion about more similar events, but ask me again in a couple of weeks. I’m not fully ready to think about such things at the moment.
Out of all the great things to happen to me that night, the best thing probably happened after the event was over. A bunch of the organizers and friends went to some hotel bar & lounge to decompress. Ken Leung was there and we spent a lot of time talking about a lot of different things, Ningin included. We’re pretty good friends now. He’s a fan of the site and now gives me little advice for Ningin. It’s weird to make an impression on someone who made an impression on you. This kind of stuff is priceless to me.
Thanks again to the army of people who donated their time and energy to make this happen. There’s too many to list, but you know who you are. Let me know if there’s a way for me to help you.
Lastly, I feel I should mention something about fake charities. Unfortunately people do this kind of stuff more often than not. It’s pretty easy to verify the authenticity of a charity via the following websites: charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org. If for some reason you can’t find the charity you’re looking for there, then it’s a pretty obscure charity. However, every US-based non-profit has to register with the IRS and so you can look it up via this database. If it’s not there either, I would strongly hesitate donating your money to that charity.