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Report Shows Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders Are OC's Fastest Growing Population

CSUF Hosts Discussion of Issues Faced by Diverse Community

July 8, 2014

Asian woman with short gray hair

Sora Park Tanjasiri, Cal State Fullerton professor of health science, discussed the health care needs of members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander population.

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Home to the third largest Asian American population in the United States, Orange County's Asian American and Pacific Islander populations are also its fastest growing community, according to a new report released by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Orange County) and the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA).

Cal State Fullerton played host as about 200 people gathered today at the University's Garden Grove Center to learn more details gleaned from the "2014 Report on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Orange County."

Among those welcoming participants was Danny C. Kim, vice president of administration and finance/chief financial officer.

"This is a very important report that sheds light on some of the issues facing this community," he said. "There is a stereotype of Asians being the model minority but with this data we see those who are disadvantaged as well. This data helps promote better understanding, especially as these communities continue to grow and become more diverse."

A panel featuring Sora Park Tanjasiri, professor of health science; Tam Nguyen '05 (MBA), president of Advance Beauty College, former president of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce and a former Titan Alumni Association president; and Michael Matsuda, superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District and a trustee of the North Orange County Community College District, focused on different aspects of the report.

"The numbers of Asian business owners are growing but it can be difficult to collaborate," Nguyen said. "For instance, as president of the Vietnamese American Chamber, I wanted to meet with the presidents of the Korean and Filipino chambers to discuss some of the barriers we encounter. We discovered that we all conduct our meetings in our respective languages, so that was one of the first barriers. We are a diverse community with multiple languages."

Matsuda talked about the impact of homelessness on students. In the AUHSD, there are about 31,000 students—4,200 are homeless.

"Many of the healthcare needs of our communities are invisible," said Tanjasiri. "The greatest health risks for this community are cancer and heart disease — both of which can often be prevented if diagnosed early. Yet, there are large numbers of this population that are uninsured. There are language barriers that prevent this population from accessing healthcare services. And, as the numbers show, homelessness is on the rise. You're not going to be concerned with heart disease when you're wondering where you're going to sleep that night.

"This report is a step in the right direction, but if there is no action as a result, that's the true tragedy."

So what actions should be taken?

Nguyen focused on education. "Many Vietnamese are involved in the nail care industry but they don't have the business skills needed to run a small business. We need to help provide education, build capacity and encourage members of our communities to work together to counter problems they face, such as stress and long working hours."

Matsuda focused on college and career readiness and hopes a new focus on Common Core State Standards, featuring problem solving and project-based learning will help.

"How do we partner with community-based organizations to achieve health equity?" asked Tanjasiri. "Without access, people will die of preventable diseases. Through the Affordable Care Act, we have enrolled more than half a million of the API (Asian/ Pacific Islander) population — now we have to educate them on how to use health insurance. Community organizations know how to educate groups so we need to work cooperatively with them.

"We also need more API members to serve on education boards, and be leaders, advisers and consultants, so they can address the specific needs of this community."

For more information and to access the report online, visit: advancingjustice-la.org or ocapica.org.

Tags:  CommunityEvents