by Cha Vang, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hmong Innovating Politics and a member of SEARAC’s Advisory Council for Moving Mountains 2019. This post originally appeared on the SEARAC blog.
The Southeast Asian American (SEAA) community has always had an abundance of resilient, strong, and powerful leaders. SEARAC’s Moving Mountains Equity Summit brought together these leaders in 2017, and it allowed me to see the enormous possibilities when generations of leaders are put in one room. My organization, Hmong Innovating Politics, led a workshop on building power with civic engagement, and it.... Read More
War, Trauma, and the Mental Health of Vietnam War-Era Older Adults
After the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, many Vietnamese people fled their war-torn country for the United States in search for a better life. Thousands of Vietnamese adults, children, and families crammed onto boats and traveled to the United States leaving their belongings, loved ones, and former lives behind. These people lost everything except for their memories of the fall of Saigon, the horrors of communist re-education camps, and the atrocities of the Vietnam War. For many Vietnamese individuals, these memories may transpire psychological trauma similar to the many Vietnam War-era U.S. veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a person experiences or observes.... Read More
Vietnamese immigrants care for parents with dementia, amidst stigma
It was August 24, 2017, one day before Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, hit Houston and dumped more water than any storm ever recorded in United States history. In just a few days, Houston saw as much rain as it usually saw in a year. My brother picked up our dad, who was 82, at his house, where he lived alone, and they evacuated to higher ground. They rode out the storm in the countryside. My brother’s in-laws had gotten 10 pounds of ground beef and made enough chili to last through the storm. This is.... Read More
For the last 20 years, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) has been mentoring advocates from Southeast Asian American (SEAA) and ally communities. Through SEARAC’s Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT) program, SEAA members and allies participate in three days of training to develop communication and advocacy skills. SEARAC’s LAT program enables participants to transform their community’s story into policy change with focuses on health policy, education policy, and immigration policy. The program ends with a day of advocacy where participants meet with their Congressional representatives and/or staff to address the issues in their respective communities. Last week I got to attend SEARAC’s LAT program and it was one of the most memorable experiences I have.... Read More
Hatefas’ Story: Public Assistance Allowed My Refugee Family to Dream for a Better Future
Born in Santa Ana, CA, to two Muslim refugee survivors of the Cambodian genocide, Hatefas Yop wasn’t aware of her family’s use of public services when she was a young girl. After all, her peers in her elementary school all hailed from the local neighborhood, where many immigrant and refugee families had to live in one-bedroom apartments subsidized by Section 8 housing. She didn’t understand the melancholy in an elder whom Hatefas referred to as “Grandma,” when she said her food stamps (paper at the time) weren’t ‘real money.’ “But you could use it.... Read More
What Is At Stake For Vietnamese Communities If The Affordable Care Act Is Struck Down?
Every year on April 30, many Vietnamese living across the globe commemorate what they term the end of the Vietnamese war (also known as the American war in Vietnam). Whatever side we were on, the war and its aftermath forever remain painful and frightening and continue to affect the health and wellbeing of the Vietnamese population.
After the war, my family and I joined over a million other Vietnamese immigrants who made the journey to reside in.... Read More
My memories from childhood are extremely hazy. Most of what I can recall are fleeting feelings: the bliss in skipping around my Kindergarten classroom as I sang about the days of the week, the joy in jumping up and down on my parents’ bed as I watched “David the Gnome,” the curiosity in having accidentally swallowed a piece of gum, the preceding anxiety and subsequent relief in remembering my steps for a dance recital. Practically all my childhood firsts are long forgotten; I cannot recollect the first book I ever read by myself, or the first tooth I lost, or.... Read More
Vietnamese Death Anniversaries Unite Young and Old
By Christine Nguyen, MD. This story originally appeared on KALW FM’s “Crosscurrents.”
In 2006, my Mom had a dream. Grandma sat above her, perched on a black stone wall so high her feet didn’t touch the floor. “Mother,” Mom called, “You’re up so high. You might fall to your death.”
A phone call interrupted Mom’s dream. It was her brother. Their mother was dead. “Sister,” he added, “I’ve made Mother a tombstone. Black. Granite from India.”
Ancestor worship is the most common religious practice in Vietnam. It’s called Đạo Ông Bà, or “belief in Grandfather and Grandmother.” When a Vietnamese parent dies, the children make an altar in their homes for the parent’s spirit to live. The practice is.... Read More
Five Inspirational Stories for Women’s History Month
In 1987, March was declared Women’s History Month, a time to commemorate the vital role of women in shaping history. Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women of all backgrounds, to acknowledge the importance of their roles in our lives, and to support their efforts to make the world a better place. Women have shaped history through their leadership, courage, strength, and compassion. Although many of the contributions of women have been recognized and celebrated, women still face inequality in many aspects of their lives, reminding us that we have more work to do. As we celebrate the countless achievements made by women across all aspects of life, we must also support their fight towards social justice. Women’s.... Read More
Harnessing the Power of Narrative for Positive Change: SEARAC’s Leadership and Advocacy Training
by Alyssa Tulabut, Training Manager, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).
Stories have been described as “the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt wrote, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.” These sentiments particularly seem to resonate under an administration that weaves tall tales and spreads misinformation tweet after tweet. Stories have the power to make people feel, and unfortunately for advocates of immigrant and refugee communities, the narratives being circulated have been carefully crafted to stoke fear and to label some communities as untrustworthy “others.” As we’ve witnessed over.... Read More
In a recent essay published in AAPI blog Reappropriate, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) executive director Quyen Dinh recounted what is what like for her to grow up poor and not know it.
In elementary school, my day started with getting breakfast from the cafeteria window, where I got to choose a cereal box along with a small carton of milk from our cafeteria lady, Angie. She had short curly silver hair and always happily provided us our breakfast, along with a great smile.
For lunch, I lined up with the rest of my classmates to get lunch from Angie, too. Each of us carried a small envelope with our names on it.