Five College Associate Professor, Richard T. Chu met with three Asian American community leaders at Springfield on February 3, 2018 from 11 am to 1 p.m.
Among them, Bhuwan Gautam from Bhutanese community, Olivia Melaya from Pilipino Community and Hung Pham from Vietnamese community.
Vira Douangmany-Cage Vice Chair of the Asian American Commission was also present.
Ms. Vira mentioned that Asian American Commission is seeking to hold its next annual meeting in Western Massachusetts instead of Boston. For more information on the Commission can be obtained at http://www.aacommission.org/
Bhuwan Gautam provided an overview of past activities/achievements, such as successfully applying for 501c3 status for Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts; fundraising for community needs and partnering up with Harvard University for health research and intervention.
He stated that the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese community is “invisible” to the city of Springfield. Incoming refugees do not know how to access Springfield services, let alone make use of them; and also many of them worry about dealing with law enforcers or government authorities due to past experience in Bhutan/Nepal. Therefore, there is need to educate the community members on how to approach/deal with city government, said Gautam.
Hung Pham from Vietnamese community stated that Vietnamese community is changing. The second and third generation is leaving the community; also, not engaged in the community.
Olive Melaya from Philipino community provided an overview of the goals of Bayanihan (started in 2012) who assist Filipinos and other non-Filipinos in need of financial, emotional, and other forms of assistance; and to also help the Philippines in times of great need. She also stressed the need for the community to access the resources available at the local level.
Richard Chu stated that he continues to coordinate with UMass, Smith College, MHC, and the Five Colleges Consortium on how to best create a long-term, sustainable collaboration with Asian American communities in the Valley.
Professor Chu is coordinating with Darryl Moss, mayoral aide of the City of Springfield to bring the Asian American community on February 14, 2018, at 10 am. Each community leader is expected to present to Mr. Moss an overview of each organization’s/community’s history, issues and challenges; and achievements, and find out what resources are available to Asian American communities and if there is any outreach officer/s.