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Hastings Alumni Mag-Spring 2013

54 spring 2013 bot tom: co u r t e s y o f v y d c .o r g { THen and now } (SEACC). These organizations helped immigrants acquire language skills, attain citizenship, find jobs, further their education, and start businesses. “We are very comfortable saying that most of the Southeast Asian-owned businesses in the Tenderloin were established with our help,” says Philip Nguyen, executive director of SEACC, who came to the United States from a refugee camp in Indonesia in 1984 and has lived in the Tenderloin since 1997. Among these businesses are a number of Vietnamese restaurants notable for serving pho, spring rolls, and banh mi sandwiches (delicious dishes that are affordably priced, making them perfect for those on a tight budget—like many students at nearby UC Hastings). But as the immigrant community established itself, new problems arose, particularly for the second-generation kids born in the United States. The community’s focus shifted to keeping kids in school, and away from drugs and gangs, while also helping them get vocational training and jobs. “Now, you’re talking about a new generation who are integrated into American life natively,” says Steve Ngo ’04. “Their needs aren’t that different from any other urban American teen’s in a challenging environment.” Ngo’s parents met in a refugee camp. He was born in Kentucky and raised in New Orleans and Southern California. During his years at UC Hastings, he was student body president and founded the Vietnamese American Law Society. He has also Vietnamese Youth Development Center Upon settling in the Tenderloin, many youth who had fled Southeast Asia faced multiple challenges, including assimilation, language barriers, isolation, and depression. In 1978, a group of Vietnamese refugees founded the Vietnamese Youth Development Center in the heart of Little Saigon to provide this population with much-needed support and practical assistance. Among the services that this vital and nationally recognized organization provides are vocational classes; translation services; English classes; and assistance with school enrollment, public benefits, and housing. Steve Ngo ’04 enjoys dining on classic Vietnamese dishes in Little Saigon.


Hastings Alumni Mag-Spring 2013
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