To the Editor:
My name is Verlinda Vu. I am one of nine members of the Youth Action Team (YAT) in the CARE (Community Action Research Empowerment) project, which is organized by the Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA). Though we are not all fluent in Vietnamese nor are we experienced researchers, we share one hope: to help strengthen our community. I read the article in Northwest Asian Weekly about the Vietnamese forum we organized. I am writing to share with your readers what the event meant to us.
After months of training, we were excited and anxious when we finally had the opportunity to host our first CARE community forum, which was the first formal collection of data for our project. Since it was the very first time I had to facilitate at a community forum, I began to feel butterflies in my stomach. I was afraid that the language barrier between elders and youth would prevent me from getting the message across of what we were trying to accomplish. However, when I saw how many people showed up, I knew that I had to set those fears aside because what we are trying to accomplish is so much bigger than myself.
Honestly, before the community forum, I did not realize how serious or ground-breaking this CARE project is. After about 40 minutes of hearing input and suggestions from the participants, I began to realize that there are many Vietnamese people of all ages, religions, and statuses who are passionate and dedicated to building our community. Not only did they all care about the community, but they were unanimous in wanting to make a difference. As the discussion progressed, I started to feel very touched by the emphasis on the idea that youth truly are the future. This was expressed through the many requests for language schools in order for us youth to keep our culture and traditions alive. The interactions between the youth and the elders during the community forum were very positive and meaningful.
Over the next few months, members of the Youth Action Team expect to become big celebrities around the Vietnamese community! Just kidding! All jokes aside, in the next following months, the team will carry out surveys, interviews, and focus groups. My hope is that we continue to receive the support that we saw at the community forum in order for us to be successful in our endeavors. We, the YAT, don’t know how the Vietnamese community will be affected by this project, but we hope to be a big part in the dialogue.
I would like to leave you with a quote from an elder in my group from the forum that sums up the heart of this project. “When we realize that we are not just Vietnamese Catholics, Vietnamese Buddhists, Vietnamese youth, or Vietnamese elders, but instead we are one Vietnamese community, then we will prosper.”
— Verlinda Vu, Seattle