The Struggle for Vietnamese in Biloxi-Language Access Project-staying connected at the grassroots

About the Language Access Project


I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in Biloxi, MS to support the Vietnamese community impacted by hurricane Katrina. My trip has been both eye-opening and at the same time unsurprising as to the lack of care/accountability that the government – federal & state level to help those in most need rebuild their lives. It is hard to imagine that a year has pasted and people are still living in trailers, houses, particularly in poorer neighborhoods are totally destroyed or just plain gone except for ruminants of a foundation, there is a lack of jobs, lack of infrastructure and capacity to effectively provide badly needed human services. East Biloxi, which is generally poorer and is considered the flood zone, is far from being rebuilt.

There is so much support needed here. I’ve felt overwhelmed, outraged, heart broken, humbled and driven to do more. During my time there I attended community meetings meant to include community input in the rebuild of Biloxi. Such meetings had almost little to no provisions for translation services in a place where Vietnamese people make up 20% of the demographics behind Mexican Americans. What was very clear in my volunteer work was that Mississippi rebuild is meant to serve those who have and those who had little before are now being victimized.


The battle for the Vietnamese community and other immigrant/refugees, communities of color, low income, disabled, seniors and renters is fighting for their rights to recovery. The issue is not a lack of resources, but rather equitable access to these resources.

I meet with some folks working on the ground with the Vietnamese to identify what WE ALL can do to support the recovery from the Pacific NW. An opportunity identified was the purchase of listening devices utilized for simultaneous translation.

The assisted listening devices used in simultaneous translation would greatly support not only organizations serving the Vietnamese Community but would also support other non-profits and faith based organizations in engaging communities that have already limited language access. The listening devices will serve a critical role in building the capacity for advocacy and community organizing greatly needed in Biloxi by:

• Creating a more equitable opportunity for immigrant and refugee communities to actively participate in community dialogue where they can learn to advocate for themselves;
• Providing language access to critical information about the process of recovery and resources that would otherwise not be made known
• Building capacity for organizations working with non-English speakers to engage the Vietnamese community;
• Allowing for more effective translation support for multiple participants


My goal is to fundraise $7000 in 4 weeks to purchases simultaneous headsets and receivers that would support servicing up to 4 different languages and service 20 participants at a time. I am also working to develop a user manual and deliver training to the non-profits that would be utilizing the listening devices. Your donation would greatly support the much need language access tools for organizing, advocacy, education and empowerment of the immigrant and refugee communities in Biloxi.


The reasoning for my short timeline is because Mississippi is beginging it legislative session in October. The ability for organizations to be able to engage, communicate,inform and mobilize marginalized communities as soon as possible, is key to empowering communities to a right to self determination in the rebuild of their lives.


For a tax deductable donation please make checks out to ACLF (my fiscal sponsor- check out their web site at, earmark as Biloxi Language Access Project, and mailed to 9429 Haraden Pl S, Seattle, WA 98118.

For more information or questions, please feel free to contact me at

Thank you for your support and humility,

Truc Thanh Nguyen


15 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Truc, I will bump my contribution up to $100 if someone else will match it. This is an important cause. Any takers??!

Comment by kate V.

How are you working with the other relief agencies? NAVASA? BPSOS? Father Bien?

Comment by Gem P Daus

Hello Gem P Daus,

The project was born out of conversation with the NAVASA fellow in Biloxi,UYEN LE who I worked with for 2 weeks and also in meeting with Thao Nguyen from the Boat People S.O.S. They identifed the need for this equiptment and my plan is to continue to be in contact with the NAVASA fellow, Boat People SOS and also the STEPS Coalition which is made up of local and national organizations and faith based orgs in Biloxi, MS.

Please read under Letters of Support of my Blog to get more information about why and how this project is happening. I hope this answers some of your questions. It is very important to me that this is being driven by the community locally in Biloxi, MS.

Thanks for ask’n – TT

Comment by Truc Thanh

Truc just delivered the equipment this morning to our center. We will act as “librarian” checking out the equipment to groups who need it. We are exploring ways to fund and train people for simultaneous translation, starting with Vietnamese and Spanish. Your support is welcome. For more information, contact the Steps Coalition at

Thank you Truc and your supporters.


Comment by Reily Morse

AAJC borrowed this equipment in order to provide simultaneous interpretation for approximately 20 fishermen at the Louisiana Recovery Authority Board meeting in Baton Rouge in December; it was fantastic; it helped us get the Governor’s office agree to some very important issues in the fisheries allocation. Thanks very much for your efforts on this!!! This equipment is invaluable!
Tuyet Duong
Staff Attorney
Language Access and Emergency Preparedness
Asian American Justice Center

Comment by Tuyet Duong

I’m often searching for brand-new blogposts in the WWW about this issue. Thanx!!

Comment by LydaykaskMask

.The issue is not a lack of resources, but rather equitable access to these resources?

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Comment by Immigration Solicitor Ashford

My mom sent me to this website and she was completely right
in every way keep up your fantastic work.

Comment by analyze competition

On behalf of SRA International, Headway Workforce Solutions is seeking Part –Time Bilingual Vietnamese-English Locators for a government sponsored research study in the Biloxi, MS area. Candidates must be self -motivated, able to travel, and willing to work with people from many different backgrounds.
Locators will follow-up with study participants who have completed a telephone enrollment survey, but have not responded to scheduling calls for an in-person study visit. Locators will attempt to reach these by participants by visiting their last known addresses, talking to their neighbors, and using other locating techniques. When participants are reached, Locators will schedule the in-person visit. Locators must keep accurate records, maintain frequent communication with supervisors, and adhere to strict confidentiality guidelines.
• Bilingual fluency in Vietnamese/English is a must
• Friendly, approachable, confident personality
• Comfortable working with people from many different backgrounds
• Must be willing to visit low-income housing units and neighborhoods
• Excellent time management and record-keeping skills
• Motivated and able to come up with creative approaches to problems
• Regular internet and email access
• Ability to communicate with supervisors on time-sensitive tasks
• Flexible schedule, including days, nights, and weekends
• Valid driver’s license, dependable car, and proof of auto insurance
• Ability to pass a criminal background check
• Previous experience in similar research position is preferred
• Bilingual fluency in Spanish/English is a plus (some areas)

This is a part time position, offering up to 30 hours week. Evening and weekend hours are required. Pay for this position will be an hourly rate of $14.00 per hour with travel reimbursed at $.55 per mile. Training for this position is TBA. Training will be delivered via conference calls and the internet. Data collection for this project is estimated to last until the end of March 2013 or until all data is collected.

For Immediate consideration and to schedule a phone interview with a Headway Recruiter please visit

Comment by Headway Workforce Solutions

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Comment by seo web page design

I am bilingual English/Vietnamese looking for a job as translator/interpreter in Biloxi and Gulfport, MS areas, if any of you know any opportunities out there please drop me a line at Greatly appreciated!

Comment by Minh Chau Nguyen

It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people
about this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

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Comment by sure

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Comment by short url

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