Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mien Family and Opium Trafficking

Guest Entry: Khae Saetern
2nd year undergrad at UC Berkeley; Researched on Opium Use in the Mien community; Member of the Mien Student Union of Berkeley; Co-Internal Relations of the Southeast Asian Student Coalition

Hi all,

This has been running through my mind lately. It's made me think a lot
about my research project, and how current issues of opium use still
arise, and the health of families are affected serverely.

On March 12th, 2009, a Mien mother, her two daughters (ages 18 and 20),
and her son (age 3) were murdered in their own home in North Carolina
while their father was at work. They moved from California 10 years ago,
and still have many family members that reside in the Bay Area and Central
Valley, CA. A short clip was played on America's Most Wanted last weekend
that resulted in many leads.

The suspects were found dead at the scene after a police chase.
Investigators are looking into the case, and linking it to a possible
drug-trafficking case with the father of the murdered family. The father
may face charges.

I just wanted to share with you how disheartening it is. It makes me
question, "What can I do to prevent lives at stake in my community without
risking my own life?" In my opinion, drug-trafficking is a result of
mental, physical, emotional, and financial instability.

Here is the most recent article:,2933,509780,00.html


Friday, April 17, 2009

Community Advocacy & Training on Cancer & Health (CATCH)LEADERSHIP TRAINING

This 2½ day training offers Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander(AA & NHPI) community-based organizations, faith-based organizations,community members, and health advocates the opportunity to learn how to:
• To provide individuals, groups and communities with the necessary training,tools and skills to be competent, confident, and effective spokespersons,advocates and leaders with regard to AA & NHPI communities.
• To enhance personal and community capacities for advocacy and leadershipon cancer control issues across the cancer care continuum.

Friday, May 1, 2009
8am – 4:30pm
1. Intro to Cancer 101 in AA & NHPI Communities
2. Data Advocacy Training

Saturday, May 2, 2009
8:30am – 4:30pm
3. Communications on Cancer and AA & NHPI Communities
4. Policy & Legislative Advocacy Training

Sunday, May 3, 2009
8:30am – 12noon
5. Training to Establish Ethnic-Specific and Language-Specific AA & NHPI Cancer Support Groups

There is no registration fee for this training.
Breakfast will be provided on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Lunch will be provided on Friday and Saturday.

Location:Yu-Ai KaiJapanese American Community Senior Service
588 North 4th StreetSan Jose, CA 95112

Space is limited, so please RSVP by contacting Mavis at (415) 568-3311 or The deadline to RSVP is April 27, 2009.

API Policy Summit

6th Annual California

Asian Pacific Islander Policy Summit

“Connecting the Dots: The Catalyst for a Stronger Community Voice”

Be Part of a Long-Term Strategic Planning Effort to Strengthen and Build API Advocacy Capacity

In partnership with: Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE), Asian and Pacific Islanders’ California Action Network (APIsCAN), Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Institute, Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs (CAPIAA)

May 26th – May 27th, 2009

Sacramento Convention Center - 1400 “J” Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Register On-line:

Web Special Rate Ends 4/31/09

At This Empowering Two Day Summit:

• Demonstrate the collective power of APIs and increase our visibility at the State Capitol

• Connect with key state agencies and non-profits at the APISummit Resource Expo

• Empower your staff and volunteers, improve your organization’s advocacy operation, learn how to play a role in the state legislative and budget process, and discuss new API community issues and research data

• Meet with elected officials to build long-term working relationships and advocate on API issues

• Develop legislative proposals with other stakeholders at APISummit issues tracks

For more information, please contact:

Andrew T. Medina

API Joint Legislative Caucus

(916) 319-3686 or

Diane Ujiiye

Asian and Pacific Islanders California Action Network

(310) 532-6111 or

Leilani Aguinaldo Yee

Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality

(916) 321-9001 or

STEER Program: Short Term Educational Experiences for Research in environmental health sciences for undergraduate students

Interested in how the environment affects human health?

Spend ten weeks this summer (June 15th through August 7th) working with a University of California researcher in a paid summer internship program. Gain valuable research experience working on federally funded projects. Join other students who are interested in careers in science working on projects that could be important for future academic and career opportunities.

Topics for research projects could include, as examples, one of the following:
• The relationship between socioeconomic status, air pollution and asthma
• Early life exposure to particulate matter and development of respiratory symptoms
• Exposure to ambient air pollution and bioaerosols and long-term asthma illness
• Respiratory effects of exposure to polycyclic hydrocarbons from traffic
• How environmental exposure to pollutants contribute to declining health
• Chronic respiratory effects of early life exposure to particulate matter
• Biomarkers of chemical exposure and leukemia risk

Application due April 30, 2009
Submit application to:Marion Gillen
University of CaliforniaCOEH, School of Public Health Berkeley, CA 94720-7360
Campus Mailbox: Suite 760 University Hall
Phone: 510-642-8365, Fax: 510-642-5815

Nail Salon Worker Safety Research Convening

"Creating a Research Agenda to Advance Worker Health and Safety in the Nail Salon and Cosmetology Communities"

The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative invites you to join us in developing an environmental health research agenda for the nail and cosmetology communities on April 27-28, 2009 in Oakland, California.
* MEET nail salon and cosmetology workers and owners, environmental and reproductive justice advocates, community and academic researchers, green business leaders & policy makers.
* LEARN about the nail salon and cosmetology workforce, what toxins and chemicals workers are being exposed to, and how they impact worker health and safety.
* SHARE & DEVELOP ideas for future research to support worker health and safety and a healthy salon industry

REGISTRATION is $25-50 after APRIL 1, 2009.
HOSTED BY The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
CO-SPONSORED BY Women's Voices for the Earth and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum]

If you have any questions, contact:
Lisa Fu
CA Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative Coordinator

Thursday, April 16, 2009

song: "the bay" by zion i

I used to listen to this song once a day, no joke. It's probably the handclaps that do it for me. For those of you not from the area/California, the Bay refers to a part of northern California, “Oakland to Vallejo, Vallejo to the Zay [San Jose], the Zay to the Sko [San Francisco]”.

The song highlights “the crack epidemic that'll turn you blue/and an AIDS epidemic that could end you too.” It's interesting that my hometown, DC, actually holds the dubious honor of having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS per capita.

Finally, a bunch of different groups are mentioned:

“Filipinos and Blacks
Latinos from all over the map
Chinese and Vietnamese...
Samoans Indians Tongans Thais”

A pretty sweet way of disaggregating APIs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

health issues in music

Willa and I had this idea to blog about songs related to health. I'll start with Vienna Teng's "Shasta (Carrie's Song)," which tells the fictional story of a woman in the aftermath of an abortion.

Here are the lyrics:

so far so good
you're coming to the bend at the end of the road
you put a hand to the belly that's foreign more
with every day like an oversize load

and you're thinking about clouds the color of fire
and the scent of an orange peel
the way Mt. Shasta explodes into windshield view
and your hands steady on the wheel

so far so good
coffee motel coffee diner coffee go on
styrofoam is drying like the tears that once did flow
starting 10 o'clock and ending at dawn

and you can't go back but you're going back
and you don't know what you'll say
you've got half-formed sentences
explanations for a life half-broken away
and they just may
they'll take you in their arms and then take out their knives
so you drive on thinking

so far so good
but you can't go on much longer like this you know
you're all alone in this world no that's not true
the nice Christian lady told you so

she was handing out pamphlets by the clinic door
saying "Jesus knows what you've been through
take the Savior into your heart my child
there's love waiting for the both of you"

well you don't believe but you have to believe
it's still crumpled there in your back seat
were you the hero or the worst kind of coward back there
putting pavement back under your feet
couldn't stand the heat
couldn't stand the thought of ghosts with a negative age
turn the page

so far so good
you try to sing along to the radio
but it's not your language not your song
it's from some other time ago

and you're thinking about how someone died that day
the you that was so carefully planned
but then again maybe this life is like a sleeping mountain
waking up to shape the land

calm calm let it come let it come back to you
calm calm breathe on out you know you know what to do

(Lyrics taken from Vienna Teng's website.)

The 3 S's

Someone once told me that in college, you can only have 2 out of 3 S's: sleep, study, social. Do you think it's true?

Monday, April 13, 2009

cesar chavez day: a brief history and overview of farm worker health issues (only two weeks late)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the White House Garden and hinted at the politics of food. Given that Cesar Chavez Day was 2 weeks ago, I would like to highlight issues around farmworker health. Today, there are approximately 26,000 people of Asian descent (not specified if this includes Pacific Islanders) employed in agriculture/forestry/fishing/hunting, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [1]. APIs have played an interesting role in America's labor history. But “interesting” doesn't always mean acknowledged. In my high school classes, the topics of API and labor have mostly been discussed in the context of Chinese railroad workers, but not in the story of the United Farm Workers.

The 1965 Delano Strike, out of which arose the United Farm Workers, was actually initiated by Pilipino workers, instead of Chavez and the Mexican farm workers. According to John Delloro,

“[e]arlier, Cesar Chavez of the mostly Mexican National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) had refused the request of Larry Itliong of the predominantly Pilipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to join the strike. A week after the strike began, Larry approached Cesar again and this time Cesar relented, with pushing from Dolores Huerta and his wife Helen Chavez, and the Mexican workers overwhelmingly voted to join the Pilipino farm workers. Both unions merged to form the UFW.”

Additionally, Itliong and others from AWOC were prominent leaders within the new union. Itliong was the second in command of the UFW, and Philip Vera Cruz, Andy Imutan, and Pete Velasco all held top leadership positions [2].

Over the years, the UFW has won several major victories, many of them health-related, such as:
  • Union contracts requiring rest periods, toilets in the fields, hand washing facilities, and limiting pesticide exposure
  • Safety and sanitation regulations in farm labor camps
  • the first comprehensive union health insurance plan [3]

However, worker health remains a significant problem today. According to the National Center for Farmworker Health, agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. In addition to a high fatality rate (second only to construction), farm workers also face “exposure to pesticides, skin disorders, infectious diseases, lung problems, hearing and vision disorders, and strained muscles and bones.” Working conditions, such as long hours, hot air and humidity, the lack of potable water, and noncompliance with safety regulations often exacerbate these health problems. Additionally, frequent migration decreases access to many basic health services. [4]

Because most of us are not engaged in the agricultural industry, the situation of farm workers is often invisible. However, the recent passage of California's Prop 2, which prohibits animals from being confined to cages where they cannot turn around, signals that we as a society do think about the conditions under which our food is produced. [5] I sincerely hope, though, that we extend this consciousness to the people who allow us to eat.

For more information on farm worker health, please visit the National Center for Farm Worker Health, Inc.

For another perspective on the politics of food and class check out these articles from Grist, a blog about environmental issues:

Using Food as a Tool for Development, not Extraction

Food and Class


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics
[2] The LA Progressive
[3] United Farm Workers
[4] National Center for Farm Worker Health, Inc.
[5] Ballotpedia

colorectal cancer

This is very difficult for me to deal with, both because I'm not ready to come to terms with it and because I know so little.

My father was recently diagnosed with advanced rectal cancer, a form of colon cancer that (obviously) spreads to the rectum. What this means is over the next ten months, he will undergo a series of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, which will leave him weakened and unable to work, due to his physical state, his lack of technical skills, and his age (53). My grandmother and great-grandfather both died of colon cancer, at increasingly younger ages -- my great-grandfather in his 70s, my grandmother in his 60s, and now I'm facing the very real possibility that my father might not even live that long. What this means, since the risk of colon cancer is strongly influenced by family history, is that I need to be extremely careful about my diet and health, which is easier said than done: I've been consciously trying to cut down on red meat but haven't managed to consume more fiber yet, and I want to quit smoking but always tell myself one more pack.

I want to look at this at another angle, though, which is the ways in which family health issues have been retold and reinvented. I only found out a month ago that my grandmother died of colon cancer; I vividly remember my mother telling me that she had died from a heart attack, a memory that has fueled much of my reflection on my relationship with my grandmother. In retrospect, I think she died because her heart was weakened by chemotherapy, a fact I must have forgotten. How much easier and less complicated to disregard those complications when I reimagine my grandmother's death. Having grown up on the other side of the world, I never had a chance to really know my grandmother. Of course I'd heard some things about her and I'd visited her once in Beijing, and she stayed with my family in America for a while, but that was all when I was very young, not quite old enough to understand that many of my friends visited their grandparents every year, every month, every week. So when my mother told me about my grandmother's death--I think a few days before Halloween--how could I understand the significance of that, of a death in the family, when I had only been with her for maybe six months of my entire life?

My father left my family when I was around 8 or 9. In the early years I visited him every summer, but as time went on and he remarried, I began to speak to him less and less frequently. The last time I talked to him, he called me to ask why my mother wasn't answering the phone. That must be when he told her about his diagnosis. She kept it a secret from me, too; I had to learn from my brother, and even then he didn't know what was wrong, just that something was bad. When she finally told me, two or three weeks after the diagnosis, and explained the plan for treatment, I was obviously upset, but also angry that she wouldn't tell me straight up, but instead said, "Don't you want to know what's wrong," as if I had to ask to find out; angry that she didn't think it was her responsibility to tell me but rather that she needed to wait for me to ask her first, even though I had no idea how serious it was or even how to ask. I was angry that she wouldn't tell me anything the first time, and didn't want to tell me this time.

But mostly, I'm angry that I still don't have the courage to call my dad.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hope Initiative Scholarship




Since its inception, the Hope Initiative Scholarship Program has upheld the aspiration to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential. Year after year, Hope Initiative awards $1,000 scholarships to qualified, full-time attending high school, college, or graduate students in the United States. As a charitable organization, we wish to recognize students with a demonstrated commitment to leadership and assist them in continuing their education. The recipients must be upstanding citizens, role-models for other students, and active members or leaders within their community.

This year, we are proud to announce that Hope Initiative, Inc. will award ten scholarships, $1000 each, to ten high school or college students. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to apply. Please visit our website at for more information regarding instructions for the application process.


1. Download all documents from our website:

2. Read all instructions and requirements on our website carefully

3. Fill out the application forms and submit them online

4. Have letter of recommendation emailed directly by your recommender.

5. Make sure HI will receive all the application materials by May 31st, 2009.

A Brain Tumor

Yesterday, I met someone at a volunteer get-together. She wasn't a volunteer, but the older sister of someone there. She was a club promoter, and it made sense to me by her social nature and outgoing attitude. But people aren't always (or never) as simple as they seem.

She talked to me about her father had passed away a few years back from a brain tumor. It sucked because they didn't even know what was going on at the time. He was getting migraines, headaches, and then losing his memory. They did go to the doctors and they got regular tests, but they didn't see anything and by the time they finally tested carefully enough to find the tumor, it was too late. They cut off the surface part but it had spread to another part of his brain as well. Eventually, he couldn't remember his family members and was crawling around on the floor like a baby eating plants in the house. He didn't know any better. He couldn't remember what he had learned for 52 years of his life. The family had to give up the family restaurant so that someone could always watch him. He eventually passed away from the brain tumor.

Diseases are a scary thing. Get tested. However, we only know what tests tell us and we have to take the right tests to tell us the right things, but doctors are just humans after all...humans who are relying on what they learned to guess more accurately than we (non-health care providers) can.

This also taught me a lesson of not judging people by their cover. People are so much more complicated than we often give them credit for. I read in a Postsecrets book that "Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world."

Scholarship Opportunity


DEADLINE: MAY 30, 2009

APIQWTC (Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community) is a non-profit consortium of more than fifteen organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area providing support and community for nearly 500 queer Asian and Pacific Islander individuals. The APIQWTC Scholarship supports queer API women and transgender people in their pursuit of technical/professional training or higher education. The scholarship hopes to recognize those who are active in the community and encourage future leaders.

APIQWTC will be awarding scholarships of $400 to two Asian/Pacific Islander lesbian, bisexual, or queer women or transgender individuals pursuing technical/professional training or an undergraduate/ graduate degree. High school seniors pursuing further education or training in fall 2009 are also eligible to apply.

Applicants should demonstrate academic commitment as well as community involvement. Please submit a cover letter, resume or c.v., a two-page, double-spaced personal statement, an official transcript, and two letters of recommendation. The personal statement should address community involvement and future goals. How has your cultural heritage, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity influenced your life and any activities in which you have been involved? Discuss any relevant experiences up to the present and how you see yourself involved in the community in the future, either through your career or otherwise. Letters of reference should come from an instructor, employer, academic counselor, coach, community leader, or any other individual not related to you who is familiar with your personal, academic, or leadership qualities.

Please submit statements and resumes/c.v.รข€™ s electronically nolater than 7pm May 30, 2009. Letters and transcripts must be postmarked by May 30, 2009.

Send statement and resume/CV as electronic attachments to:

Send letters and transcripts to:

Amy Sueyoshi

1879 41st Avenue

San Francisco , CA 94122

Feel free to direct any questions to Amy Sueyoshi at

The selection committee reserves the right to not award the scholarships if an appropriate applicant can not be identified.