Cathy Bao Bean

Ms. Bean is author of The Chopsticks-Fork Principle, A Memoir and Manual and co-author of The Chopsticks-Fork Principle x 2, A Bilingual Reader to promote translingual and transcultural competence in English and Chinese.

Formerly a philosophy teacher at Montclair State College, she has served on the boards of the Claremont Graduate University School of the Arts and Humanities, NJ Council for the Humanities, Society for Values in Higher Education, Ridge and Valley Conservancy. A co-host of the “Balancing Act 4 Women” on internet radio, Bao Bean is a member of The Star Ledger Scholarship Committee. In both her writing and public speaking, she crosses disciplines and mindsets to revel in the playgrounds and minefields of being at least bi-cultural (by ethnicity, gender, and generation). Addressing audiences at a diversity of venues—including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, KPMG, Hampton University, National Education Association, Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility and the World Tang Soo Do—she encourages people to take seriously the idea that only hermits are not at least bicultural and that understanding a culture requires understanding its humor. In doing so, she urges people and institutions to have the courage and curiosity to distinguish generalizing from stereotyping.

Bao Bean’s ideas have also appeared in a diversity of resources from Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom: Critical Educultural Approaches for Social Justice Activism, edited by Virginia Lea and Erma Jean Sims to “Thea, Thee, or Me?” in the Willa Cather Newsletter & Review, Spring 2008. The theme here and elsewhere is that we can “Americanize” by acting more like an immigrant, by being pleased to have several selves, by enjoying the freedom from having to choose only one way of being. Similar to the student who goes abroad to study and who is, thereby, experiencing the challenge, joy, exasperation, nervous attention, and triumph of being a member of the “minority” and trying to communicate in a different language or style, the gratifying outcome is not only the confidence but also the proficiency and flexibility to flourish in more than one way.

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