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


About Truc & Testimonials and Letters of Support

Howdy Folks,

This is currently under construction. I will be adding letters of support from key community members and also greatly encourage folks who know me to take a momment to write a tesitmonial in your comments under this session showing your support for this project!!

A TID BIT ABOUT ME

For my friends and family this is just seems plain silly… but I know its important for other folks who don’t know me to have a little context of who I am. My name is Truc Thanh Nguyen and I identify as a 1.5 generation Vietnamese American Queer. I was born in Saigon, Vietnam and fled with my parents as refugees. I have been living in Seattle , WA for over 10 years now and by day I am the Cultrual Competency Training Manager and lead trainer at the Minority Executive Directors Coalition (www.medcofkc.org ). I also do some community work with the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center and also volunteer at local grass roots organization called Home Alive where I have been teaching self defense for 7 years. My heart work is with community and at the intersections of the complexies of our identities. Thats it for now..i really don’t like to talk about myself…you know how that goes!

I can be contacted at stuck2rice@gmail.com 

Getting down and dirty in Biloxi Gett’n Down and dirty in East Biloxi!!

Letter of Support from NAVASA Fellow in Biloxi:

My name is Uyen Le and I am a community development fellow for the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies (NAVASA). I have been working in the Gulf Coast region, with focus on eastern Biloxi, MS, since October 2005. The need for linguistically and culturally competent services in this area is great. At least 20% of the residents on the East Biloxi peninsula (pop. 8,500) are of Vietnamese descent, and about 10% of the population (documented and undocumented) are of Latin American descent. Furthermore, in the Mississippi gulf coast region, Vietnamese Americans, Mexican Americans, and German Americans are the 3 largest foreign-born groups in the Biloxi-Metro Area, which includes surrounding cities. Please refer to our website, NAVASA.org to read a comprehensive one-year report of the status of the Vietnamese community in East Biloxi.

Most of the Vietnamese residents in East Biloxi are not fluent in English, which means even though they may be able to order food at restaurants, they do not understand complicated and technical English terms. Phrases like “advisory base flood elevations,” “land use variances,” “community-based planning,” and other complicated language that is crucial to the physical and cultural rebuilding of the Mississippi communities are hard to understand even for people who are fluent in English, let alone foreign-born populations. Because the recovery process in the post-Katrina period requires that each resident attend these public meetings and understand this complicated language, simultaneous translation machines are crucial to the recovery of communities such as the East Biloxi community. 

NAVASA has co-sponsored different community forums and public events where simultaneous translation services are critical. For example, when we sponsored an event with the mayor of Biloxi to address housing issues that the East Biloxi community is facing, about 30 Vietnamese residents attended alongside 100 non-Vietnamese residents. Because we did not have simultaneous translation machines, I organized the Vietnamese residents into a concentrated corner in the back of the room and actually translated loud enough for the residents to hear. This method is only partially effective because I am sure some residents were not able to hear me well, and the volume at which I had to speak created distracting noise in the meeting hall. 

Other groups that NAVASA works with in coalition, such as the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, the Mississippi Latin American Association, Boat People SOS, and many other governmental and non-governmental organizations, have all publicly announced in various forums that translations services are crucial to their abilities to serve the communities that they work with. Providing these groups with at least the physical infrastructure (translation machines) to be able to offer these services would both assuage their technological needs, as well as encourage and pressure them to better bridge the language and cultural gaps that are apparent in this recovery process.

                                          Sincerely,

                                          Uyen Le

                                          NAVASA, Community Development Fellow
Uyen & Truc
Uyen & Truc at Katrina Sunrise Memorial – no sleep all week folks, organize organize

Letter of support from Trang Tu Seattle, WA

As someone who spent 5 months working with the Vietnamese-American community in the Gulf Coast, I offer strong support to this project.

My involvement in post-Katrina rebuilding began with an initial response to help Vietnamese-American evacuees in Houston to register with FEMA and access other immediate relief services in the first days after hurricane Katrina hit. I then spent 4 months working with the Vietnamese-American community in New Orleans on a range of issues – from assisting in organizing distribution of relief supplies to beginning planning for long-term rebuilding. During this time, I also coordinate the field work of a team of bilingual Vietnamese-American leaders deployed for a year of service work in New Orleans, Biloxi and Houston.

Throughout these experiences, I witnessed the glaring need for bilingual and culturally competent services to ethnic communities, of which the largest foreign-born population in the region is the Vietnamese community. This gap is evidenced at all levels of government agencies as well as large and small non-profit and service agencies. As a result, the Vietnamese-American community has been excluded from a range of relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts.

There have been some Vietnamese-American volunteers and field workers from outside the Gulf Coast who have assisted with rebuilding work; however, the number of these individuals is far fewer than the need; and many families from the Gulf Coast are still overwhelmed with the task of rebuilding their lives, and have limited capacity for supporting community work.

In this context, any efforts to optimize the scarce bilingual staff available offers exponential benefits to the community. Interpreting machines are a tangible item that can vastly multiply the impact of the limited human resources that are available. Providing one interpreter with the ability to effectively communicate to several dozen community members would be a dramatic improvement over current resources. By enabling community members to more easily access vital information, this project will empower the Vietnamese-American community to have a voice and influence in the long-term rebuilding not only of the region and the community, but ultimately of their lives.

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Truc is an amazing community organizer, capable of incredible feats of courage (hello…she went to Biloxi barely knowing anybody!). However, she is an even better friend and it’s an honor to have her in my life and in my community.

Comment by Christine Guiao

Truc can do anything she puts her mind to, and this resource request of simultaneous translation equipment is coming from the people down there.
We’re all responsible and connected to the community of Biloxi. Don’t let this social/economic/environmental INjustice continue…Give your money to Truc NOW!!!!

Comment by Joyce Tseng

At our 2004 ACLF graduation, Truc spoke about community coming together in one place, the “power of place.” I suspect that at that time, my friend didn’t know she would venture out further from The Bush to bear witness to the injust events happening elsewhere in the world.
From The Bush, to Venezuela, to Biloxi, Truc’s ability to bring community together, to make known what others don’t, can’t or won’t see, is a true talent. Support people in Biloxi and make a donation now!

Comment by Julio Julio

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Comment by assisted living




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