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Oregon State University
Special Collections and Archives
Research Center

Asian Family Center Oral History Collection, 2014-2016View associated digital content.

The Asian Family Center Oral History Collection consists of interviews conducted with board and staff members of the Asian Family Center (AFC), one of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization's five primary locations in Portland, Oregon. The Asian Family Center exists to serve the needs of the Portland area's growing Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Documented within the collection are descriptions of the interviewees' job duties and responsibilities; their thoughts on the value and future of the center; AFC history, programs, and services; and the interviewees' personal stories regarding their immigration to the United States.

Items from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

ID: OH 030
Extent: 42.2 gigabytes
More Extent Information
Scope and Content Notes
Biographical / Historical Notes
Preferred Citation: Asian Family Center Oral History Collection (OH 30), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Acquisition Note: All interviews were conducted by Natalia Fernández, the Oregon Multicultural Librarian and a staff member of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center.
Languages of Materials

Container List

Series 1: Interviews, 2014 Add to Shelf
5 interviews
Item 1: Hongsa Chanthavong, July 1, 2014 Add to Shelf
(0:58:26) To begin this interview, Chanthavong discusses his education ranging from Laos to the United States, where he attended college. How he came to live in the United States, first as a refugee, is then discussed in conjunction with the positions he has held at IRCO and the subsequent founding of the Asian Family Center and the development of its programs. The role of the AFC and the needs assessment alongside funding is then discussed. Because coordination is huge part of AFC, Chanthavong explains his role within that sphere. There are challenges associated with working with such a diverse community; Chanthavong lays out what some of these challenges are and then talks a little bit about the Coalition of Communities of Color project that he helped to start. In closing, this interview highlights general projects from the AFC and Chanthavong's recommendations for the Center.Interview video and transcript available online.
Item 2: Sophorn Cheang, September 11, 2014 Add to Shelf
(1:12:01)  To begin this interview, Cheang first discusses her family in Cambodia, going to college in Oregon, and the motivations for such a decision. She first became involved with IRCO through a class that the Asian Family Center (AFC) had held. She then discusses her involvement with Engage which is a diversity and civic leadership program and her previous time as a board member. The interview continues on this line of thought and touches upon what Cheang's current position entails, what services AFC provides its community, and what funding that requires. Programing related to the local community and the leadership roles therein is explained, setting the stage for information regarding outreach within the community and the recommendations she has for the future of the organization. Shifting away from the Asian Family Center, Cheang speaks about her work with the Golden Leaf Education Foundation, its establishment, the fundraising involved, how that money is being used in Cambodia to build schools, and her visits to said schools. To close, Cheang relays advice that was once given to her in order to be successful.Interview video and transcript available online.
Item 3: Danita Huynh, September 18, 2014 Add to Shelf
(0:59:46) Beginning this interview, Huynh discusses her personal life, including: her parents, where she has lived, and how she began at the Asian Family Center. She follows this by discussing the daily duties associated with her position at AFC. She also explains other programs that AFC offers, how people find out about said services, and the constant needs that are present in the Asian Pacific Islander community. The interview then changes to explain formal partnerships and funding. Shifting topics again, Huynh highlights the community itself when discussing home visits, language issues, and population shifts. She talks about how she became involved with the AFC and her background of early education. Her model of a strength-based approach when dealing with AFC's mission is discussed next, along with how needs are assessed in the community, what the Center lacks, and what skillset is needed for this line of work. On a more personal level, Huynh describes some personal achievements and mentors she has had. In concluding, she notes upon some logistics of the AFC, such as training and staff.Interview audio and transcript available online.
Item 4: Lee Po Cha, September 18, 2014 Add to Shelf
(1:09:48)  This interview begins with Lee Po Cha discussing personal information such as where he has lived, his time at Portland State University, how his family coped with being refugees in America, the duties of his father when he worked for the U.S. government during the Vietnam War, and his siblings. Transitioning, he recounts his beginnings at both IRCO and the Asian Family Center (AFC). He discusses the role that he had to play when he was the director of the AFC. He then expounds upon the needs of the community, outreach, his current role as the associate director of IRCO, and funding. More specifically, he discusses the research and outcomes of the Coalition of Communities of Color report. Also important in this interview, he highlights the similarities and differences of struggles within the community of color to whom they tailor their programs. Lee Po Cha concludes by expressing what he foresees as the future of AFC, how the immigrant and refugee population has shifted, and acknowledgments of those who influenced him.Interview video and transcript available online.
Item 5: Lyn Tan, October 7, 2014 Add to Shelf
(1:20:06) This interview begins with the personal information of Lyn Tan which includes her time spent at the University of Oregon, her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, her time working at an international airline, and her motivations for returning to Portland, Oregon. She then discusses her time spent at graduate school at Portland State University while volunteering at IRCO and her initial gateway into working for this organization. As her first official position at IRCO; Tan describes the SUN school programs and what her job specifically entailed. She addresses the ways in which this program tailors to the needs of the community before explaining the transition she made between that job as a site manager to her current position as program manager and the break in-between when she worked for the public school district and as the coordinator for the SSSES program at IRCO. Moving along, she discusses her personal vision of what direction the SUN schools are moving toward, mixed with the vision of IRCO and Multnomah County. To close, Tan discusses some achievements that she deems important, while highlighting the significance of all of their accomplishments.Interview video and transcript available online.
Series 2: Interviews, 2015 Add to Shelf
6 interviews
Item 1: Sivai Bennett, January 14, 2015 Add to Shelf
(1:33:42) Beginning this interview, Bennett discusses personal information as well as her decision to move from American Samoa to Oregon and her early studies at Eastern Oregon University and the University of Oregon. Bennett discusses her life after college when her newly formed family moved back to American Samoa and then El Centro, California, when her teaching career began. From there, she highlights several of her mentors, her naturalization process, and the language barrier when she immigrated to the United States. The interview is then transferred to the present when she discusses the high percentage of students of color at her current school, Harold Oliver Elementary, her work as an advisory board member of IRCO's Asian Family Center, the needs of the Pacific Islander community, the Sun programs, and her work with the Samoa Pacific Development Corporation. The theme of the language barrier that many immigrants and refugees face consistently resurfaces. To close, Bennett emphasizes the importance of making connections amongst groups of immigrants and utilizing the resources that so many of the organizations she discusses provide.Interview video and transcript available online.
Item 2: Ronault "Polo" Catalani, January 30, 2015 Add to Shelf
(1:25:49) This interview begins by chronicling Ronault Catalani's family background and structure and his early migrations and immigrations. Following this, he explains his time at the University of Oregon and his mentors there. After meeting his wife and having a baby girl, Catalani discusses his entrance into social work. He discusses the model he developed during his time with the Oregon Department of Human Resources that worked at solving social and familial problems within their own support structures, rather than involving expensive state systems. He explains his transition out of that work, his decision to receive his doctorate and post doctorate, and the traditional support system to which he adheres. Following this, he spends time discussing how his practice of community lawyering began, the programs he created, his move to Portland, and the formation of IRCO. He outlines his current work at IRCO and the Asian Family Center along with the racism and hardships felt by immigrants and refugees. Catalani mentions the pride he feels for the good work that the Davis Douglass school district is doing towards its international population. Briefly, he discusses the increasing demographics of immigrants and the heavier need of government cooperation. The interview ends with Catalani's thoughts on black and white tensions within America and the acknowledgement that his story is the story of thousands of immigrants.Interview video and transcript available online.
Item 3: Connie KY Nguyen-Truong, February 23, 2015 Add to Shelf
(1:36:34) This interview begins by outlining Connie Nguyen-Truong's education from high school to her post-doc. She discusses her interest in health occupations and extensively explains her work with the Vietnamese Women's Health Project at IRCO's AFC. With this, she chronicles her introduction to this organization, the Vietnamese community, her experiences and philosophy regarding community-based participatory research, and the reactions to her research findings. Nguyen-Truong explains the application process to become an advisory board member for AFC, her duties on that board, and the importance of collaboration between board members who have many different skills. This leads into a discussion of what she is able to bring to the board through her health and research background. The interview then chronicles APICLI's cohorts and the projects that Nguyen-Truong worked on in cohort one. She then highlights the future of IRCO and AFC, the different programs that use research methods within IRCO, and her involvement with the passing of House Bill 2134 in Oregon. In closing, Nguyen-Truong talks about her role as a nursing educator and her recommendations for furthering IRCO's AFC. Her last thoughts emphasize the importance of collaboration with community members to whom AFC programs directly affect.Interview video and transcript available online.
Item 4: Simeon Mamaril, July 9, 2015 Add to Shelf
(1:27:05) Mamaril begins the interview by discussing his childhood, his college application experience, and his job with the Philippine National Bank. He then describes his visit to the United States in 1952 specifically to Tillamook and Portland, Oregon. He also describes his continued educational and professional experiences including his 1963-64 year in Oregon to attend bank trainings and take economic classes at various state universities as well as his studies at the University of the Philippines. He then discusses his six children's lives, specially their professions and where they live. Post retirement, Mamaril explains that he moved to the United States in 1984. Since moving to Oregon, Mamaril has been involved in a variety of community and government organizations and he explains his work with each of them. In terms of his AFC service, Mamaril describes the role of the board as a liaison to the community, its important relationship with the local government, and the board as a policy maker and fundraiser. Mamaril describes the needs of Asian Pacific Islander communities and how the AFC has served them over the years via English classes, gang prevention and senior health services, community leadership opportunities and educational endeavors with local schools. He recommends that the AFC consider organizing more celebrations for its constituents for them gather and learn more about AFC services. To conclude, Mamaril explains his trips to the Philippines including his medical missions to support the local communities. In closing Mamaril states that he plans to continue being involved in community organizations for the rest of his life. Interview video available online; transcript forthcoming.
Item 5: Thuy Le, July 31, 2015 Add to Shelf
(1:04:30)  Le begins the interview by briefly describing her life in Vietnam with her parents and younger brother. She describes the process of the family being sponsored by her uncle to immigrate to the United States. Le discusses the challenges of being a teenager in Portland and how she and her family connected with the local Vietnamese community. She then talks about her decision to pursue a degree in sociology and her desire to support her community. Le describes the various positions she has held with the Asian Family Center since 2004 when she began volunteering with Parenting Department. Her work involved home visits and coordinating group activities for families who had children under the age of 5 years. The goals were to help them understand child development, prevent child abuse, and connect families with other beneficial services. Le describes the cultural differences, challenges, and successes of working with the families. As a Vietnamese Family Engagement Specialist, Le explains that she was stationed with elementary schools, which were SUN schools, to work as a parent/school liaison. As a Rental Assistant Case Manager, Le explains that she assists families in Multnomah County with short term rent as well as connecting them to other services such as employment opportunity connections. Le then talks about her personal life: the support system she had when her family moved to Oregon, the process of learning English, differences between her and her parents’ generations, and her love of living in Portland. Le then describes the AFC as the place that “brings families together” and talks about needs of the community and how the AFC can continue to serve families. She also discusses the challenges she has experienced and how she has overcome them, as well as her successes, with the Rental Assistance Program. Le concludes the interview by describing her love of working with children and teaching them about the Vietnamese culture. Interview video available online; transcript forthcoming.
Item 6: Linda Nguyen, July 31, 2015 Add to Shelf
(1:28:40) Nguyen begins the interview by describing her childhood, specifically the ordeals she and her family endured as part of the immigration process coming to the United States. She then describes her childhood experiences in Oregon including the racism she suffered, life in Halsey Square with other Vietnamese families, picking strawberries in the summers, the story behind her name change, and the closeness among the Vietnamese community. Nguyen explains that as a teenager she began interpreting of behalf of community members with doctors, lawyers, and at the courthouse. She goes on to discuss her thoughts on serving her fellow community members and the importance of remembering where you come from, however she also shares her reasons for not returning to Vietnam. Nguyen explains that as a teenager, in addition to picking strawberries, she assisted her mother with her janitorial work. After graduating from high school Nguyen attended community college and worked for a lawyer. She mentions the 1980s gang problems that existed in the city and that for her personal safety, she moved to California and did not return to Oregon until 1989; she then carried on her work as a court interpreter. Nguyen expresses her philosophy about her job which she considers her duty and a calling to give a voice to those who cannot speak. She describes her role and job duties as an Asian Family Center (AFC) Energy Assistant with the Anti-Poverty Program and how she is an advocate for her clients. Nguyen talks about the challenges to the position including the barriers community members face to using the services offered as well as how people attempt to abuse the system. She then reflects upon her work as a case manager and how immigrant services have changed and improved since the time her family immigrated to Oregon. Nguyen concludes the interview by reflecting upon the importance of the AFC within the community and gives the analogy of how the organization teaches immigrants to walk, talk, and learn new things again as parents teach their children.Interview audio available online; transcript forthcoming.
Series 3: Interviews, 2016 Add to Shelf
1 interview
Item 1: Sophorn Cheang, February 16, 2016 Add to Shelf
(0:41:25)  Interview video available online; transcript forthcoming.