Monthly Archives: December 2010

DONG SOO CHANG


Acupuncturist and herbalist Dong Soo Chang

“The real treatment begins from the moment the patient walks into the clinic.”

Dong Soo Chang, a former accountant who lives in Maspeth, had a very pragmatic reason for opening up his acupuncture and herbology practice on 43rd Avenue and 46th Street. The close proximity to the 7 line and to the city would allow people easy access to his services at rates far lower than those of his colleagues in Manhattan. After working with and learning from his father-in-law for several years, he and his wife opened up their Sunnyside clinic four years ago. It has since attracted clients not only from New York City, but also from Boston and Long Island, and even as far as California.

“The real treatment begins from the moment the patient walks into the clinic,” Chang quotes one of his old professors to explain the holistic approach. This, together with his knowledge and technique, is responsible for his success. (With 35 percent of his patients being Hispanic, it also helps that Chang, who used to live in Buenos Aires, is fluent in Spanish.)

Having studied in both the U.S. and Korea, Chang takes advantage of the benefits of both cultures. In his home country acupuncture and herbology stem back thousands of years and are considered the primary medical treatment options. Chang explains that while Korean acupuncturists know more techniques, the U.S. leads in terms of double-blind studies, proving and disproving alternative healing methods and showing the chemical process initiated by such things as herbs, minerals, roots, leaves and seeds. American scientists have also conducted magnetic resonance imaging during treatment to show the effect acupuncture has on a patient’s brain.

While the 80 percent of his patients who have been referred to him by relatives and friends are generally trusting, walk-ins often express doubt. “Does acupuncture really work?” some ask. Chang always takes the time to explain the benefits to them, most notably that acupuncture is natural and strengthens the immune system so the body can pick up from there and heal itself. “If I explain these positive aspects to them, they become hopeful,” he says, “and try acupuncture.”

Listen to Dong Soo Chang’s interview

MARY TERESA GIANCOLI

Mary in front of one of her photographs in her Sunnyside apartment
Festival of Mexican Artistic Expression, Tepeyac Association, Queens, NY

©Mary Teresa Giancoli

“I wanted to find out what is the root of these traditions.”

When Mary Teresa Giancoli began to immerse herself into Mexican culture in New York City it was a challenge. The patrons at the small Mexican church on 14th Street celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe were suspicious and did not want to be photographed.“I am not fluent in Spanish and I don’t look Mexican,” says Mary, who has photographed Mexican rituals for 17 years. But having had a Mexican grandfather, whom she has never met, was “a touching point” and “a mystery” that she was determined to unravel. “I really wanted to find out where the center of Mexican life is in New York and this was part of my search.”

One thing Mary found at the little church was her husband, Cristian Peña, a Mexican and fellow photographer. (Cristian even appears in some of her early photographs.) Eventually the couple had iced tea after one of the events. “That was when the grand love was born,” Mary says giggling. Mary, Cristian and their seven-year-old daughter Leila now often travel to Mexico to visit remote villages where the couple documents festivities and everyday life.

“I wanted to find out what is the root of these traditions,” Mary says. “What is it like in Mexico, how are they celebrated there? So there is this continual dialogue about what is happening in Mexico and what is happening in the United States. There is a lot of fusion because the traditions evolve in the United States and mix with the American traditions.”

To trace Mexican customs in the U.S. back to their origins, Mary visited Mexican tortilla factories in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and tortilla makers in Cuetzalan, Mexico. Her award-winning work documents Mexican celebrations in community centers and churches in New York and in Puebla, and market scenes in Atlixco, featuring protagonists whose relatives have left to work in America.

In the podcast Mary talks about the photo of the three little girls above and the origins of the traditional China Poblana costumes they are wearing.