An afternoon with Dr. Tsai

by Stefanie Warner, President

For many, writing is a leisure that is used to unwind from the daily woes; a dream of completing pieces such as a novel are hazed in a distant possible future. Then there are the few that make writing an appetite, a must to make it through the day. Dr. Tsai, Tina, is a dedicated individual that falls in the few.

My first introduction of Tina was at the Festival of Books. I was welcomed at her booth with her kind manner and a vibrant poster that hung behind her. (It was a poster that I later found to be of her novel The Legend of Phoenix Mountain.) I had engaged with a few questions of her purpose for the booth, coming to the understanding of what the Literacy Guild was, the whole time the friendly face had lured me to deeper inquires.

A weekend had passed where Eugene had stayed in contact with her and soon enough we had our meeting to talk with her early in the new week.

It was a quaint lunch meeting, a true Los Angeles tradition; and before the plates were cleaned, we had a few good laughs, of which I had felt like I had truly made a wonderful new friend – one who had a journey in her dreams that I could relate to.

As most 90’s dreamers, Tina, like myself, had expressed a background influence of Japanese Pop and Anime culture. We got a few laughs at the acknowledgment of being fellow fan fiction writers. Tina explained that her new novel, The Legend of Phoenix Mountain, was influenced by Anime, as well as her love for ‘Kung Fu’ films, and Traditional Chinese Script. The plot to her book, she mentioned, has a great balance of action and romance; which is a formula that made up classic anime titles. She also mentioned that her students at the Literacy Guild are influenced by Anime as well, a trend that both of us recognized as powerful and positive.

The Literacy Guild was created by Tina after she had completed her PhD in Education from the University of Southern California. She had begun her career as a public school teacher, where she longed to teach students on a more personal level.

photography by Kyle Niitsuma

Her inspiration was her mother, who taught Chinese School, where curriculum was based on real life application and personal growth within the student.

The Literacy Guild was founded on the unique principle that the students work to satisfy their needs and improve their skills rather than pleasing the teacher and rank on a scale system. It encourages their students to grow healthy writing skills that will inevitably prepare them to complete a published piece. Several of the students have already ventured into self-publishing, an achievement that Azure Lorica is proud to support.
In the upcoming summer season, Azure Lorica will be speaking with the students of the Literacy Guild on how to promote their pieces in a fast paced world. We are happy to share our experiences with the youth and help them on there way to create a stronger upcoming generation. We are fortunate to have Tina and The Literacy Guild as a partner to our cause, and we look forward to many more collaborations with her in the seasons to come.

Teacher, Writer, and Friend, please welcome the talented Dr. Tina Tsai. She is a true inspiration for me and several others that she has touched by doing what she does best.


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