Interview with Haiying Yang

Interview with Haiying Yang

I used to have bad insomnia back in my college days. Really bad. One of the few things besides melatonin gummies (they are magical) that could get me to sleep was ASMR videos. 
Back then the ASMR community was super small and nothing like it is today so it felt like I had found the lost city of Atlantis. That’s how I ran across Haiying. 
Even back then her videos were way different from what I was used to seeing on YouTube. So simple and relaxing but also informative. From travel to cooking to Chinese calligraphy, she had videos about nearly everything. I’ve been subbed for a little over 6 years now and I wanted to know about her. 
I reached out. And she said yes!
So I hope you enjoy one of the most relaxing interviews I’ve ever done haha. 
LeDonna: So to start out with, I like went way back. So like your first videos, and you’ve been on YouTube for 13 years. Which is like almost the beginning. So my first question is, how did you get started on YouTube? Like what made you want to start a YouTube channel?
Haiying: The very first is a private video. And that times YouTube started so I take picture, take make a video of my son. And I teach Chinese so I made a video of my son. And then there is a Yahoo group…people doing Chinese painting. And I see other people do painting I do not need to write so many. So I do a video. It’s a bamboo painting. Everything started from there from one subscriber to Yes.
LeDonna: Over time you’ve just kind of added more and more variety of videos so it might be hard to choose. But if you had to choose what are some of your favorite videos to make?
Haiying: I think something relaxing, or something, no goal. Just to put on the camera, you can see the cameras here. And everything ready, I do my things. It’s not stressed. This is something I like. Now I do not do cooking video, because every one stay at home. Kitchen is occupied. Sometimes when there’s nobody in the middle of the night, I do my things. And why not record it? There was not a particular goal to share something. No, no, it’s mostly for my own pleasure or health.
L: So as someone who kind of makes videos or made videos without like a real goal— you know, some people are like, “Oh, I want 50,000 subscribers. I want a silver plaque.” How has it been seeing so many people just like in love with your videos? Is that something you expected?
H: No. I I still do not understand. Because my family, they do not understand. My my children knows a bit. And if I tell my family back in China they will not understand. How can you be such a just not good looking so ordinary, so ordinary, nothing special.
And this one is something that I think maybe the cultural difference. My parents never say I look good. They have high expectation. And also, if you do not have things you strive to be better on other things. So if you have a good face, maybe you’ll get a good marriage or things. But if if you are short of things, you have to develop your own ability. So this is might be something behind—inside the cultural part.
So even now, people say “Oh, you’re married to your husband, you are lucky.” And I went back to China with my husband he’s French. When I go back to China, and raise my children people will say “…So you are the nanny of the kids.” So nobody could understand that something. So I feel I’m lucky in a lot of things from my parents, just they have done enough good karma. For me to just be lucky I. I am very grateful.
L: Personally, some of my favorite videos are the ones where you did the walks through the museums. So is it kind of like no, you don’t have a goal but do you just kind of decide ‘I’m going to start doing museum walks now’ or ‘I’m going to start doing some videos in French?’
H: Okay, so here is why I start making this video. So I start doing these randomly talking. It’s because I am stressed in class. There was one student talking about, yeah, I get that. I said, Today we do Zentangle or something quiet to do it. In art, there’s no mistake, so you do a lot of doodle. And then I start to doodle, doodle, each circle become a rose. So I say, when you calm down, anything you can make into art. So this is one of those videos. So by calming down myself. And also, ‘I am not good looking.’ ‘I am not talented, talented.’ Just to think. ‘I have nothing.’ The only thing what I can do is to do the better self. So I have a second life that I am the better self.
I do not curse, usually do not curse. So I have a second life that I am the better self. I do not curse, usually do not curse. So it’s usually I do not too bad words. That is one thing. And also, there is a chance you can be your dream person, why not be that dream person, and you want to be good. So I want to be good. And people also are very kind to me that encourage this good cycle of energy.
There was one lady she was she was homebound because of the health. So every time I make video, I think maybe I can let some people who do not travel to see it. So I have done a lot of those videos without gimbal, without anything. And it was very poor quality. Still people are interested because of just to see new place. So I started to be a little bit more serious. Gimbal I never bought, my husband bought [it]. Usually guys are more serious about the materials. Yeah. So that’s how I started.
woman wearing glasses and a purple mask in front of artwork at a museum
woman wearing glasses standing in front of a building and smiling
L: Some of my other favorite videos you’ve done are your travel ones. Like I know we can’t really travel much right now because of Corona. It’s just been very difficult for me. But, was there a specific inspiration for traveling because I know it’s not everyone’s thing. Did you have something that really inspires you when you travel?
H: I like to see different places. The big tourist attraction. It is interesting. But most interesting is the street. I have a habit: take a public bus from beginning to the end. It’s usually around the city, the more I traveled place. And put her camera just to see, without camera, myself seeing it, you see the people getting on off bus, talk. And it’s the most ordinary people. And in different country it’s different group of people. Because American’s mostly people have car. So different kinds of people in Europe, in China. And in places, public transportation is more developed. So you see all kinds of people you are in it. And it’s very real.
L: So you’ve got Chinese, of course, and you’ve got French. Are there any other languages that you know, or that you’ve thought about learning? Obviously, English.
H: I used to learn Portuguese because I lived in Brazil for six months. And it’s very interesting. I already started learning French, I already speak French. So it’s all in Latin language. There is something similar. So I understand a little bit.
As far as how many new language I want, I feel language is important in using it. So I use French, because I teach art class in one or two of the class in French. [That] is one of the motivation for me to learn French. And Chinese is my language. And other languages, Italian or or Spanish. It’s very musical. Interesting. But not yet. So as I teach language, I know how difficult it takes. And a lot of time you put so much energy, you just cannot get there. The result? The return in result? That’s significant, right?
L: I think my biggest question would be throughout all these videos that you make, what’s one thing that you want people to learn or take away about your culture? Chinese language, arts? What do you hope that people really kind of internalize from the videos that you give to us and show to us?
H: We are all people. You and I can be connected. Disregard of color. When the heart is connected, there is some universal truths, universal goodness. Not to be lazy, not to steal. Some very basic honesty. Some very basic value. No matter who you vote for, no matter which Bible you read, no matter which religion there is some universal truths. Humanity beyond everything. And another thing is about, be yourself.
Your weakness is your strengths. My white hair can become my strengths. And I’m not speaking perfect English with accent. There are people who likes it. You cannot be another person better be the best of yourself or be the most unique of yourself. If they want to see pretty lady they do not come to my channel. If they want to se a lady silly, and funny, and dance, cook everything together. So, do not try too hard. Just be yourself. When you be yourself and let other people see that everything is possible.
Even blind cat will not die of starvation. There is a way; heaven give every one of us a way. Just be yourself you will find your way and that is inspiration.
I had such a wonderful time talking with Haiying. I felt so calm but also really motivated afterward, haha.
If you’d like to see the full interview you can head over to her YouTube channel.  
Also support Haiying on Skillshare! She has multiple classes available on Chinese calligraphy, watercolor painting, and more. 

Happy Hangeul Day: Why You Should Learn Hangeul

This Tuesday, October 9th, was “한글날,” or Hangeul Day! In celebration, we’re going to talk about the awesomeness of Hangeul and why you should give learning it a try, even if you hadn’t thought about studying Korean!


It Has a Rich History


Hangeul has an amazing backstory.


Way back during the Joseon Dynasty, before Hangeul was created, the Korean language was written using classical Chinese characters. As you can imagine, this isolated knowledge to a select few, almost exclusively those of upper class. Now, aside from the task of learning the absolute plethora of Chinese characters (been there, done that, almost died), it just wasn’t reasonable to have Korean’s sounds represented by a Chinese writing system.


Enter the great King Sejong!


Full disclosure, I kinda stan for King Sejong. He’s pretty awesome. So is his badass statue/museum. Musetu? Stateum? Yeah, let’s go with that.


King Sejong believed that everyone, including commoners, should be able to read and write their own language. He had great concern for the struggles of the common class and their ability to convey them effectively to those of higher status. He created Hangeul as a solution and hoped that people would come to use Hangeul in their everyday lives!


Is that not the best thing you’ve ever heard? Seriously. He worked hard to create an entire writing system just to make sure his citizens were all able to have their voices heard.


I’m not tearing up, YOU are.


It Was Made to be Simple


Now, if you’re going to teach an entire community of people to use a new writing system it can’t be rocket science levels of difficult. I know most things seem simple in comparison to traditional Chinese characters but still. King Sejong really thought this one through. For extra, bonus cool points, each consonant is shaped to represent tongue placement in the mouth when making the sound. When will your faves? Never.




ㅏ ㅐ ㅑ ㅒ ㅓ ㅔ ㅕ ㅖ ㅗ ㅘ ㅙ ㅚ ㅛ ㅜ ㅝ ㅞ ㅟ ㅠ ㅡ ㅢ ㅣ




ㄱ ㄲ ㄴ ㄷ ㄸ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅃ ㅅ ㅆ ㅇ ㅈ ㅉ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ


Looks like a lot but it isn’t!


Instead of putting letters one after the other, they go into ‘syllable blocks’. There’s an awesome explanation of how to do that over at.


For instance, Sarang (love) would be writing with the letters ㅅ ㅏ ㄹ ㅏ ㅇ. Broken down into its two syllables gives you ㅅ ㅏ + ㄹ ㅏ ㅇ. The last step is to put them in the appropriate order and…사랑! Tada!


How easy is that?


If you want to learn more about Hangeul, and Korean in general, you can check out the King Sejong Institute website as well as the National Hangeul Museum website. You can also try out Eggbun. If you’re in Korea (or will be soon) I highly recommend visiting the Hangeul Museum. I had a great time learning about its history. And I got to play with stuff! 


Are you learning Korean? has Hangul been easy or hard for you?

Discovering Eats: Cooking With Sol

Pinterest Discovering Eats Sol



Meet the Chef

From the very first time I visited Sol’s On Sheridan, I knew immediately it would become one of my favorite places to hang out. The vibe is chill, the music is good, and the food is even better. Sol, the restaurant owner, is the epitome of welcoming. Her laugh is infectious and honestly, it’s not hard to see why people keep coming back.

Sol’s parents have been restaurant owners in Korea for over twenty years. Like a lot of kids who’ve grown up in restaurants, she’s helped out there ever since she was young (10). But initially, Sol never actually saw herself going into the restaurant business. After college, she planned on continuing to graduate school. But that all changed when she came here to the US to visit her brother.

As she traveled around (New York, DC, Chicago) she noticed that there were plenty of Chinese and Japanese restaurants, but hardly any Korean ones. “It made me really sad to see,” she told a friend and I while we chatted after our meal. When Sol got back to Korea she decided to work to save up enough money and open her own place. Although her first restaurant was in Wisconsin, lucky for us she loved Chicago so much during her visit that she decided to set up shop here! Sol’s on Sheridan celebrated its first anniversary this year in April.


Meet the food

We got both the Honey Soy and the Sweet & Spicy Garlic. If you’ve never had Korean Fried Chicken you’re truly missing out. The double frying keeps it juicy on the inside but crispy and delicious on the outside. It’s one of my favorite things to order when I’m out at Korean restaurants.

But nothing compares to Sol’s bingsu.

You can find bingsu (usually patbingsu) at other places around Chicago, but none as good as at Sol’s. Having brought her bingsu machine all the way from Korea, the taste is much more authentic; like snow instead of shaved ice. Right now she offers four flavors: traditional Patbingsu (red bean), Oreo Bingsu, Matcha Bingsu (Green Tea) and Mango Bingsu. Proper bingsu is soft, creamy, and sweet. The perfect summer treat!


A talk with Eunsol

At the end of the night, we got a chance to sit down with Sol and talk a little about running a Korean restaurant in Chicago.


What’s your favorite thing to cook?

Oh, favorite thing? Stews (찌개). Korean stews. I’m really good with stews actually. So this winter we’re gonna do a lot of stews. They’re so good in the winter right?

E.n: I’m disgustingly excited because I love jjigae.


For those who might be new to it, what do you want people to know about Korean food?

You know sometimes when you go to Chinese restaurants, you don’t really wanna try something new. I mean for me, I can’t handle the spices. But Korean food, I think it’s really easy to get into it.


The menu is delicious but also super simple.  How did you choose what to put on your menu?

I just wanted to have what I can do good. Some places have really huge menus, but I don’t think they can make everything good because it’s so huge. How do they keep everything fresh and [tasting] right? So I wanted to keep it really simple. I go to [the] grocery every single day. I prep everything every day.


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4715 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640


Sunday through Tuesday; 5 PM – 9 PM

What to try:

The KFC (Korean fried chicken) is amazing. Sticky sweet and crunchy, it’s hard not to like. Also, try the bingsu. You can go traditional and get the 팥빙수 (read: pat bingsu) complete with delicious red beans. Or maybe get fancy and try the Oreo bingsu!


Have you discovered any awesome eats lately?


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