The name “StirFry” was meant to represent that, as in Chinese stir fry cooking, no one flavor dominates, but rather all work together to create one that is unique. In addition, we help individuals and workplaces deal with cross-cultural differences and conflicts, so that they will achieve harmonious, understanding, and compassionate relationships with each other. That process can be intense, intimate, andemotional – much like the heating process of stir fry cooking.
Lee Mun Wah founded the company in 1986 after realizing that many diversity companies did not address the issues of conflict, anger and hurt. He also wanted to teach communication skills and awareness from a more eastern and Buddhist approach. In addition, he also felt that his community documentaries could be of tremendous impact in promoting the need for compassion and understanding when dealing with diversity issues such as race, gender, sexual preferences and heterosexism.
Lee Mun Wah received a Masters Degree in Education, as well as an M.S. Degree in Counseling. He also has a B.A. Degree in Child Psychology, History and Political Science from San Francisco State University. He taught for 25 years as a Special Education Resource Specialist in the San Francisco Unified School District. Later, he became a curriculum specialist and consultant for private schools. He also facilitated the only Asian Men’s Group and Multicultural Men’s Group in the United States dealing with leadership, racism, and anger for over ten years in Berkeley, California.
Lee Mun Wah has facilitated diversity workshops and trainings for thousands of participants in the past 15 years all over the United States in the corporate, governmental, and educational sectors. He is also the director and producer of over seven nationally- and internationally-acclaimed films on a variety of diversity issues. Oprah Winfrey honored his life and his film, The Color of Fear, in 1995, which was seen by over 30 million viewers from around the world. He is an author, poet, and Asian folkteller, as well as the proud father of an adopted Guatemalan son, Joaquim David Rodas Lee.
Lee Mun Wah strongly believes that it is the sum of these experiences that has prepared him for the demands and challenges of working with diversity issues. He feels that much of what he has learned and been able to accomplish has come from those who have given so much in the name of dignity and equality. He is forever grateful for what they have sacrificed and stood up for. He only hopes that he can give back as much as he has been granted.
Perhaps you already answered the question. Yes, the United States represents one of the most diverse populations in the world in terms of the number of different cultures living here. What is still lacking is a meaningful and honest relationship between these cultures as well as an equal distribution of power and representation in all sectors of the American social, educational, governmental, and political landscape. The Constitution of the United States, when it was originally written, did not include equal rights for women and people of color, and even in the year 2008 the disparate benefits from that inequality still make for two very separate Americas. We still have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in every facet of our country and, until we begin to talk about some of the problems that divide us, we will never be able to work toward a solution or to heal and to grow as a nation, as a community and as brothers and sisters. To begin that healing, we must be willing to engage each other in conversation and in relationship. Simply being aware or holding occasional celebrations is not enough. Change and dialogue are integral pieces of that engagement. StirFry Seminars offers trainings and workshops to help support and create community and dialogue in the workplace and other institutions.
Booking an Event: Common Questions
We have a variety of diversity programs as well as those that we customize to meet your needs.
Our most popular workshops are our Film Presentations. Each of these is quite stimulating and educational. We encourage you, however, to also plan for follow-up seminars/trainings to allow for continued dialogue and sharing. Also, if you have any facilitators, managers, or administrators that would like to enhance or practice their communication/diversity skills, this is a great opportunity for your staff to take our Intensive Training Programs dealing with diversity conflicts and issues.
We have a catalogue of all our seminars and trainings; if interested, please ask the Director of Seminars to send you one.
Most companies have not participated in our type of workshops, so you have company. We customize our workshops to begin at the level of your agency and employees. We will never sell you any programs that you don’t need or want.
Our Director of Seminars will walk you through each step. We also have a checklist, audience assessment, and publicity materials that will help you have a successful diversity experience.
Our Trainers have countless exercises to meet the changing needs of each agency and audience. We have a diverse pool of trainers that represent a cross section of issues and ethnic groups.
In addition, our Director of Seminars will guide you through the contractual, travel, and technical supports that will be needed. The Director, Lee Mun Wah, and our other facilitators are available to answer any of your questions both before and after the event.
This is a very common concern amongst many companies that have a limited budget. StirFry Seminars makes every attempt to customize our workshops and trainings to meet the budgetary concerns and limitations of our clients. We are very receptive to working with you and your agency to be sure that our product and services are available and accessible to everyone.
What we recommend is perhaps combining a seminar or training with other agencies so you can share expenses and planning. If you look on our website’s Calendar page, you can synchronize your schedule to coincide with the dates in which we are scheduled to be in your area to save on transportation and accommodation costs. In addition, when we present a workshop and/or training, we offer a 50% discount on all of our films and products.
We try very hard at StirFry Seminars to work within your budget and to help customize the exact kind of workshop that will meet your budgetary needs and restraints. We strongly encourage you to call our Berkeley office if you are financially restrained in purchasing our films, products, and workshops.
We also often recommend our Trainer of Trainers series, which teaches trainers and potential facilitators the skills that they will need to lead groups, mediate conflicts, and help others with basic skills such as listening and responsive techniques for effective communication.
If you have just completed a workshop on racism using The Color of Fear, then we recommend our film on sexism, Last Chance for Eden – Part 2. Last Chance for Eden – Part 1 (on racism) is also an excellent follow-up after The Color of Fear because it includes men and women talking together about racism and sexism.
Our Film Guides (available to supplement Last Chance for Eden 1 and Color of Fear 1) are available through our Film Department. The Film Guides provide process questions that coincide with particular scenes in our films. These questions help stimulate group discussions and are framed within a broader cultural perspective. The process questions and exercises were written by Lee Mun Wah and a team of diversity trainers.
The StirFry Seminars Seminar Catalog is also available, and lists all of our seminars and types of trainings, in addition to descriptions of our Berkeley, California, workshops and trainings on Unlearning Racism, Unlearning Sexism, Film Facilitation, and Mindful Facilitation.
We have facilitators that specifically work with youth on diversity issues. We also find that high school students are quite prepared to sit through our films and feel engaged. The Color of Fear 2: Walking Each Other Home, was created for high school students. The pace is faster and the dialogue is enhanced with more contemporary music. It is also a shorter than the original film – about 50 minutes in length.
We believe that teaching skills to our audiences is essential to practicing diversity work. We teach participants ways of listening, responding and noticing what is spoken and what is not. Throughout the seminar we point out different communication techniques and ask the audience to practice them throughout the session. In that way, when the participants finish our seminars, they have a vast array of skills that will apply to their particular work and employee environments. We also provide our popular “Nine Healthy Ways to Communicate” cards to all the participants upon request.
Lee Mun Wah has written countless manuals on communication and facilitation techniques. One of his most famous writings is “The Art of Listening”. StirFry Seminars offers trainings on facilitation and film techniques as well as a 3-Day Intensive Trainings Program for Managers, Facilitators, and Trainers.
Each of our films is appropriate for learning about diversity issues and provides different insights and unique cultural and social perspectives.
Stolen Ground offers audiences insight into the experiences and perceptions of Asian Americans. It demystifies the “model minority” stereotypes and replaces it with a more realistic and personal cultural portrayal. People of all ethnicities find Stolen Ground illuminating because of the remarkable similarities to their own racial experiences.
The Color of Fear is the most well known of our films. It is an intimate portrayal of what many people of color go through on a daily basis. It is confrontational, intimate and contains extremely honest dialogue. This film provides great stimulus for audience discussion. For many EuroAmericans, this film is their Racism 101 course. For many people of color this film is a perfect opening to talk about their personal experiences and the effect that racism has had on their families and communities.
The Color of Fear 2: Walking Each Other Home is the sequel. It helps answer the questions about how the men responded emotionally to each other, as well as what EuroAmericans in general can do to in their struggle against racism. The format was adapted for high school students. It moves at a faster pace and has more music to keep the energy flowing. It is a good primer for those unaccustomed to talking about racism.
The Color of Fear 3: Four Little Beds features eight men from the original cast talking frankly about the painful struggle of growing up gay in a heterosexually oriented society. In addition, a ten year retrospect is included with Roberto Almanzan and David Lee talking about gay marriages and other issues that are facing our communities, as we struggle to deal with this extremely important and relevant issue.
Last Chance for Eden Part 1, is about nine men and women talking about racism in two weekend sessions. What makes this film different from our previous films, is the inclusion of women, more examples of facilitation interventions, video diaries from each participant, withhold sessions, and a question & answer period between whites and people of color that is revealing and deeply moving.
Last Chance for Eden Part 2 is an illuminating and educational film, which describes issues of sexism in intimate, family, workplace, and societal contexts. This is a must-see film for men and women both; for women who doubt the validity of their feelings and responses to their treatment by and experiences with men; and for men regarding their issues of control and the acceptability of emotional expression.
Last Chance for Eden Part 3: For those of you who have viewed Last Chance for Eden Parts 1 & 2, this film is a perfect follow-up to the whole series. It is focused on the biographies of each of the cast members – as they struggled to understand what had happened to them in their families and eventually, their journey towards finding a healthy life as an adult.
The Four Hour Seminar is useful for those agencies that have a limited time schedule. The Four Hour Seminar includes the showing of one of the above films, time for dyad discussions, and a group processing time. What the Seven Hour Seminar offers is more time for questions, answesr, team building exercises, the closing circle, and next steps declarations. Our experience has been that the Seven Hour session is more effective and allows the most time for debriefing and dealing with underlying issues. Also, the Seven Hour session allows for adequate facilitation of any conflicts that might arise.
We believe that getting upset about discrimination is not only healthy, but also important for healing and understanding. Our trainers are experienced in dealing with a wide range of emotions such as anger, hurt, grief, and shame.
We work with audiences not only to hear the pain and struggles of those who have experienced being discrimination, but also to listen and respond to such pain. It is our belief that conflict is a natural and inevitable part of any intimate relationship.
To build healthy relationships, we need to work though, and not avoid, conflict and power issues. The question is not whether it will happen, but rather if we are willing to stay in the room and come to a place where we can understand and accept each other’s differences.
Yes, there certainly are. We have identified these two issues, as well as many others. The reason we focus on these two is because they are often the most pervasive issues dividing the country and in the workplace. Many times when we don’t want to talk about racism, we switch over to sexism. When we don’t want to talk about sexism, we switch over to racism or any other ism. Our company tries to focus on one ism at a time so that a consistent dialogue can take place and questions can be asked and answered by those who are victimized by that particular issue.
Denial often has a lot to do with fear. In our workshops we create an environment where participants can develop authentic and trusting relationships with each other. Someone once said, “The truth is always there, saying it out loud – that’s the hard part.”
We work to to dispel the myth that silence and avoidance make for safer work environments. On the contrary, they usually promote fear and are often the roots for many lawsuits and EEO complaints.
Our exercises are designed to allow participants to feel safe, yet intimate enough to have an authentic and honest dialogue. Safety is created by being more open and working through our differences and fears. The lack of safety comes when we are unwilling to listen. Issues of difference do not go away because we stay quiet. They dissipate and are resolved when we are willing stay in the room and to listen to each other.
One of the ways we stimulate meaningful and personal conversation is by having the participants engage in dyad and small discussion groups. We also teach the basics in communication, rather than have participants debate and compete over the “rightness” of each other’s opinions.
Another method is letting people talk about their resistances. Letting them vent about past workshops and the effect it had on them. Someone once said that the best way to tame a wild bull is to let it have a wider field. Interesting and effective. The more we resist, the greater the resistance. The more we listen, the greater possibilities for an open dialogue in which learning and change can take place.
No one is the founder of racism or sexism. What we are responsible for is the cure: looking at ourselves and our own stereotypes. We often feel that racism and sexism are not about hate, but rather about fear. Lee Mun Wah often says, “I am a recovering racist and sexist. That doesn’t mean that I’m a horrible person; what it does mean is that I’ve been acculturated since I was very young to see particular groups in stereotypical ways. My work is to realize how that permeates how I see others and how I treat them on a daily basis both at work, in my community, and in my relationships.” What pertains to all of us is that we may not directly engage in racist or sexist behaviors, but we may still indirectly benefit from the oppression of others.
Too often we assume because someone is emotional, that they are out of control. Showing emotion is a natural and healthy part of all relationships. When we allow people to share their personal stories and experiences, what we find is that they feel relieved. Not necessarily because a solution has been found, but because they can finally share with someone who believes them and is open to understanding what they have gone through. That is the secret of closure, starting from the beginning – acknowledging what they have experienced and the effect that it has had on them. Through believing them and supporting their reality and needs, the journey towards closure begins. If we are ever going to heal from racism and sexism and all the other isms, we need to be willing to hear the stories- all the stories, however hard, because they, too, are a part of the healing and learning.
Quite often, people don’t want to talk in front of a large group, but will do so with one other person. That is why we have the audience break up into dyads (groups of 2) by choosing someone who is different from themselves. That way they can have the privacy and the attention of one other person who they don’t know and of their own choosing.
The film is used as a stimulus for participants to relive some of their past experiences. This enables them to recount what happened to them and the effect that it had on who they are today. For a meaningful dialogue to take place about a traumatic experience, a context of their experience(s) needs to take place. We often call this a “return to the scene of the crime.”
Our films are usually less than two hours long, which leaves sufficient time for personal stories and other interactive exercises. Our seven hour workshop is often recommended because it allows for more group process time, alliance groups, and question/answer exercises.
That is a very good question. Each agency has their reasons for making it voluntary or mandatory, staff or administration, students, teachers and/or administration. The decision should consider issues of safety, confidentiality, fear of reprisals, etc.
If we are too cautious, the people that need to be there will be conspicuously absent. Diversity issues are never easy to talk about; however, being too comfortable often means very little change because there is no sense of a crisis. Being uncomfortable is a part of growing; it can also be used as a stimulus for change.
We recommend two facilitators for audiences of 50 or more. Generally, a pair that mirrors the audiences’ representation is best. We also recommend having a gender balance whenever possible. In the case of Last Chance for Eden, a gender balance would best mirror the film’s participants and issues.
When deciding how large a group, an agency should consider the size of the room, how many can stay for the entire session, and the type of seminar. For our Four Hour Film & Discussion Seminar we have had as many 2,000. Having such a large group does limit the level intimacy and time for more sharing and skill building. On the other hand, our Seven Hour Film & Discussion Seminar provides more time for alliance groups and group exercises. Two Facilitators are recommended if the Seven Hour Seminar is a larger group. This allows for adequate facilitating and observation of the audience’s needs.
Our Four Hour Film & Discussion workshop has a 10-15 minute break, which is built into the 4 hours. Our Seven Hour Film & Discussion usually has two 10 minute breaks and a 30-60 minute lunch/dinner break, which can be included or exclusive to the workshop time. We leave this option open depending on the needs of the Facilitators and schedule limitations of the agency.
Generally, participants want to know who the Facilitators are, who else have they worked for, and what were their reactions. Our website can answer many of these questions. Our Seminar Coordinator can provide letters of recommendation from our former clients upon request.
Our Facilitators are highly trained using our Mindful Facilitation techniques. For this reason, we seldom used an agency’s trainers, except for small group discussions where a Facilitator might be needed. We offer trainings for Facilitators at our Berkeley, California, Training Center. Look on the StirFry Seminars Calendar on our website for available training dates. We offer trainings and workshops every month. We also provide trainings at your site upon request.
Most of the time breakout rooms are not needed. However, in our Unlearning Racism & Unlearning Sexism seminars, breakout rooms would be more conducive to small group discussions.
We use microphones so that participants who are softer-spoken or emotional can speak with their normal voice, rather than having to speak louder for the sake of the audience. We do this so participants can feel more comfortable and maintain their level of intimacy. We also prefer cordless microphones so that we can move freely throughout the audience.
Yes. We have a Seminar Discount of 50% on all our films and diversity products, good for 2 weeks after the seminar/training has taken place.
We have a diverse group of trainers representing many ethnic backgrounds, as well as a balance of men and women who often facilitate together. Many of our trainers are also therapists. Some have many years of diversity training experience in a variety of work settings from corporate, educational and governmental, to social, non-profit and religious settings. On the “About Us” page of our website is a listing of the names, professional, and educational backgrounds of our trainers.
Our trainers are often assigned according to their specific fields of expertise. Each is trained to customize our programs to meet the needs and budget of each client.