AAPI Refugee Solidarity

reposting from AAPI Refugee Solidarity Tumblr, to show support and solidarity for refugee children from Central America who were detained at the border.

Picture 2
I can’t remember Vietnam without my family’s voice guiding me; I can’t claim Vietnamese as my ethnic identity with the generations of Chinese blood running in my veins. Yet, I do remember it and I do identify with its history, culture, and our refugee communities. I write history into my memory banks, drawing from my parent’s quiet everyday survivals. Unlike my father I never had to give up my education and dreams to fight a war. Never had my helicopter shot down. Never had shrapnel blown into my leg so that I limped for the rest of my life. Never had my own country starve, intimidate, and imprison me for years in hard labor camps. Unlike my mother I will never raise a child without knowledge of whether her husband will survive to stand by her. Never had to eat yams for three years. Never had to leave my country for an uncertain, wavering hope for my children’s future. I am a United States citizen, with all the rights and privileges it includes. I know struggle but never have I struggled for my life. I stand with migrant children and mothers because you are part of my long lost refugee family. 

With Love,

Linh Chuong, staff member at Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

2014 Vietnam Advocacy Day

Excited to be on the team to help organize this again. Folks should go if they have a chance: 

“Dear fellow advocate,


We would like to invite you to return to the National Capital for the 2014 Vietnam Advocacy Day, to be held on March 26 and 27, 2014. The objectives of the third Vietnam Advocacy Day include:

(1)    To advocate for the passage of Vietnam Human Rights Act (S. 1649) by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

(2)    To call on both houses of Congress to include human rights conditions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations with Vietnam

(3)    To create opportunities for human rights champions and pro-democracy advocates in Vietnam to observe and participate in civil society activities outside of Vietnam

To generate sufficient influence on US policies, we aim for 1,000 – 1,500 participants coming from across the US and also from other countries, compared to 500 in 2012 and 800 in 2013.

The first day of the event, Wednesday March 26, will focus on the Senate.

  • 9:30 am – 11:30 am: Breakout sessions
  • 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm: Plenary session
  • 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm: Press conference

On the second day, the Vietnam Civil Society Conference will be held in the House of Representatives.

  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Plenary session  
  • 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s hearing on religious organizations
  • 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Breakout sessions on human rights and democracy

Via video live streaming, activities of the Vietnams Advocacy Day will be made accessible to all interested individuals, including those in Vietnam.

For those who participated in the Vietnam Advocacy Day in prior years, we hope you would again join us in 2014 because your prior experience would prove valuable to many first-time participants.

If you plan to participate, please register soon and beforeJanuary 31, 2014. Also please mark your calendar and start planning for the trip to the National Capital. We look forward to seeing you.

We will send you regular updates, which can also be found athttp://www.bpsos.org and http://machsong.org.


Nguyen Dinh Thang, PhD
CEO & President

Full Ao Dai Shot


Full Ao Dai Shot

I took over four hundred photos for the carnival, plus some videos, but right now I don’t feel comfortable posting a bunch of photos of other people on the unforgiving internet. This is a photo taken with one of many other ladies wearing ao dais that day who wanted a picture. There was a really strong Vietnamese presence at the carnival and because clothes displayed nationality so visibly, strangers were bonding, smiling, eating, bringing their kids along– it was a pretty nice day. Kind of makes you want to forget about dealing with all the problems for a moment.

I think the estimated attendance for the event was over a thousand people. It was held right by a lake and as we were leaving, there was a nice orange glow dancing over and above the water. I really wanted to get on one of the boats and enjoy the scenery but I also really wanted to get out of my shoes (I had to wear wedges because the ao dai was so long).

p.s. My friend asked for food adventure posts. I didn’t bring a camera so I haven’t been taking photos of what I’ve been eating. I’ll get around to it though since folks are so interested in food.

The Gift and Responsibility of Scholarship

(I realized that my “About” section is pretty nondescript. I really hate short bios because they sound like self-congratulatory pitches, but I’ll include personal posts in addition to my posts about my travels and work so you can get to know why I do what I do. Right now I am busy with an upcoming event with our Vietnamese Language Class students, a grant proposal, and work plans, but I’ll update y’all another time.)

By Linh Chuong, APIASF/GMS Scholar
Originally posted on APIASF re/present

When I won the Gates Millennium Scholarship, I thought they had the wrong person. Wrong name. Address. Something. I was elated, excited, ecstatic, but I also felt guilty and lonely. These mixed emotions still well up after four years.

I grew up Chinese urban poor. Grew up playing Chinese jump rope with elastic bands from our mothers’ garment factory excess materials. Grew up raised by my sisters because my parents were always working. Grew up calculating costs in the hours my father worked for it so that everything seemed unaffordable. All around me were reminders of labor and poverty, so my dreams of graduate school seemed impossible. Even so, I loved learning and reading so much that I made a pact with my father: he would not die until I held my doctorate degree in my hands. I decided then, in middle school, that I would pay for college myself. I would not burden them.

Growing up poor also means I grew up feeling inadequate, like a constant disappointment to society. I struggled against everything naysayers said young poor women of color were: sexually available, dependent, unmotivated, welfare queens. I was loud and abrasive, dressed conservatively, told guys that I was asexual, worked hard, and kept myself busy with a flurry of student activities. I seemed stubborn and strong, but internally I harbored a longstanding fear that no matter what I did one day my mask would slip and they would discover me for the fraud I was. I was afraid I would go to college to drop out.

I was afraid, but not as much as I was determined. When I chose Hendrix College, 1600 miles away from home, I had a friend going with me. We were so excited. However, over the summer, he dropped his plans, attending a local community college to stay home and support his family. He’s not alone. Going to an inner-city high school meant that I had to see students who were just as smart or smarter than me make “choices” that offered them lesser lives so they could take care of their younger siblings, work, or save money. If I wasn’t lucky, if my parents or sisters needed me, if any one of a million things went wrong, I would have done the same.

So when people tell me I deserve it, it’s hard to accept because I feel like I’m slapping my community in the face: “I deserve it but you didn’t.” When I go home for college breaks, my sister tells me my parents say I’ve changed. “You think you know everything.” I can’t form a response. I have become more and more privileged as I’ve drifted farther and farther from home. It is an uncomfortable reality that feels like I’ve been permanently exiled to live in the space between worlds. I wish that I could make them understand that my success as an individual is not a loss to theirs. I will never leave my community, or trade them in for a newer model.

My scholarship, my education literally opened up the world to me, but the red lines around my community are still closing in on them: gentrification, environmental racism, income inequality, segregation. So for me, my scholarship is many things: a gift, hope, opportunity, pain, and promise—a promise to use my abilities to make others understand and respect my communities’ worth and dignity.