About Multi Entry
Multi Entry is named after the Multiple Entry visa; since 2014, US citizens can now obtain a 10-year multiple entry visa to China (and vice versa). This new agreement has made it easier than ever to visit China frequently, but simply going there isn’t the same as really getting to see it. For that, you need entry points into the culture, and that's exactly what I hope to provide.
From September to November of 2015, I’ll be living in various cities in mainland China: exploring subcultures, falling down internet rabbit holes, and making friends with strangers. Through it all, I’ll be documenting the stories of intriguing young Chinese people you’d want to befriend, exploring their world(s), and eventually sharing what I observe, hear, and learn with YOU!
The exact content of Multi Entry will depend on who I meet and where they take me. However, some topics I'd love to cover include:
Multi Entry will mostly exist online, but I’m also collecting and making some physical stuff as part of the project, all of which I'm offering as rewards. The main thing is the Multi Entry Travel Companion, a 32-page zine that will cover all of my most important tips and recommendations for traveling in China—the dead tree form is sure to avoid even the most comprehensive GFW ban!
As a first-generation Chinese-American, I'm making this collection because it's what I've always wanted to read about China. I'm dedicated to making sure that Multi Entry tells stories that: respectfully center the experiences of Chinese people, don't fall into lazy tropes, and never, ever use Engrish as the butt of a joke. If this resonates with you, please back the campaign and/or share it with your friends!
My family moved from Fuzhou, China to the United States when I was 7 years old. Like many other first-generation immigrant children, I often wonder how my life would have turned out if we hadn’t left. Luckily, I have a pretty good reference: my cousin Min. It was hard to stay in touch when I moved to the US, but every few years I returned for a visit and we would learn about each other's lives, interests, and hobbies, marveling at the similarities and curious about the differences. It was amazing to realize that though we grew up across the world from each other, we were always still more similar than not.
In the last few years, I've been going to China as an adult—which is to say, for work and play and unaccompanied by parents—and it's granted me the opportunity to befriend even more amazing young people. These engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, and designers show me a side of Chinese culture I rarely see in the news: one that’s creative, funny, and vibrant.
During my last few visits to China, I started sharing my observations and experiences in photos accompanied by field notes. I was surprised by how enthusiastically these were received, especially by other Chinese-Americans who craved a fresh perspective on Chinese culture. So I started doing even more—writing about WeChat and QR codes and tea ceremony on Medium, figuring out what Chinese fans call Nicki Minaj on Weibo, making a fashion face mask collection on Pinterest, reposting viral videos from WeChat to Vine—and the interest kept building. A few months ago, I realized that this was important enough to me that I needed to go back to China again so that I could keep learning and sharing these stories.
Who are you exactly?
I've always being interested in the intersection between subcultures, independent creators, and technology. In the past, that's meant doing things like:
- ROFLCon, an internet culture conference/convention I co-founded back in 2008.
- Entrepreneurial Design, a class/reality show I co-teach in SVA's Interaction Design program.
- the Awesome Foundation, a global group of guerilla microphilanthropists I kitten-herded during its formative years.
- Breadpig, a company that offers sidekick services like logistics and crowdfunding production for creators, which I ran for 3 years.
- This reggaeton remix of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, because life is too short to not throw a dembow loop on everything you love.
Almost everything I've done has required identifying and supporting people doing interesting things, and I'm excited to apply those skills in China!
The exact itinerary for my two month trip to China will depend on the availability of my interviewees and collaborators, but it’ll look something like this:
I'm already tapping my existing network there (family, friends, and a few professional contacts) to find people to hang out with. Once there, I'll spend all of my days loitering observantly, meeting up with people, and documenting everything in sight.
After returning to the U.S., I’ll immediately get to work turning my notes, photos, and audio files from traveling into pieces for Multi Entry, prioritizing the pieces that will be included in the Travel Companion. I hope to finish everything by the end of December 2015. After a round of polish and design, the Travel Companion (and other rewards) will be off to the printers by early January 2016 so that everything can be turned around and shipped by February 2016.
Risks and challenges
I'm fluent in spoken Chinese and pretty good at texting in WeChat, even if I'm not fully literate. I'll hire a part-time translator for all the important, complex stuff.
My luggage carrying the rewards could get lost in transit! If that happens, I'm prepared to use my (cousin's) Taobao ninja skills to get replacements.
Anything can happen with printing, but I have a lot of experience keeping this stuff on the rails from my time at Breadpig working on some massive publishing Kickstarters.
Regular updates may be difficult while in China due to the GFW, but I should have at least slow access and, if all else fails, I'll just post everything once I get home.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)