6abc’s Visions Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022
Mental health crisis in the AAPI community
Thirty-five percent of Asian Americans said their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic. Cali Tran from Fishtown is one of them.
She battled symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) when she was 14, washing her hands until they were red and raw.
Eventually, her mother, a nurse practitioner, realized what was happening. With the help of talk therapy and medication, Tran got his OCD symptoms under control.
Fast forward to the pandemic when we were advised to constantly wash our hands.
Tran says, “(It’s) no understatement to say it felt like my worst nightmare came true.”
Musician and Native American, Taizu, also struggled. The coronavirus had canceled all of its shows. Then in June of last year, during Pride month, he came out to his family on Instagram. It didn’t go well.
A new survey by The Trevor Project found that 42% of LGBTQ youth said they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
Taizu says he had passing suicidal thoughts, which led him to become the first person in his family to see a mental health professional.
Dr. Noel Ramirez was in his seventh year of private practice as a mental health professional when the pandemic hit and says he was completely inundated with AAPI referrals. When he tried to refer patients to other AAPI clinicians, they were also fully booked.
So he found Mango Tree Counseling & Consulting, a group practice for AAPI patients. The firm has a small physical office inside the William Way LGBT Community Center, but opened huge virtual doors in January 2021.
Mango Tree started with three therapists and grew to 10, now serving 200 patients.
His sessions are primarily telemediated and he offers counseling in six Asian languages – Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin, Conversational Korean, Filipino and Bengali. Mango Tree is hosting free virtual Zoom sessions open to anyone who wants to talk.
One is for all AAPIs, another specifically for South Asians, and a third is a safe space for gay, bi, and queer men.
It also offers a free support group for students.
The practice accepts most major health insurances and offers a sliding scale for those paying out of pocket.
Blasian Solidarity Connects Blacks and Asians in Philadelphia
After the murder of George Floyd, Blasian Solidarity, a grassroots effort for racial harmony began to blossom.
It all started with a small group of women meeting monthly at Black and Asian owned businesses to discuss the relationship between the two groups.
With good food as a connector, they had difficult conversations and confronted prejudices in their own communities.
Then last November, a video went viral of four black female students on SEPTA bullying a group of Asian teenage girls. When 18-year-old Christina Lu stood up for them, she was brutally beaten to the point of being hospitalized.
The black students, ages 13 to 16, have been accused of ethnic bullying.
And the Blasian Solidarity group realized it needed to take its efforts to the next level.
Last month, they held a sold-out event at REC Philly, a space with resources for creators.
Called All in Family, the event was a celebration of Blasian joy, with food, music and art as a platform to cultivate racial solidarity.
This was the philosophy of this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival.
Historically, it is a celebration of traditional Japanese culture behind the paywalls of Shofuso Japanese House and Garden.
This year, for the very first time, it was a celebration of Asian and Black culture.
The Japan American Society, which operates Shofuso, has also partnered with residents of the predominantly black community of Parkside.
They have expanded the programming to be more inclusive of the community that surrounds Shofuso. This includes offering free Taiko drumming workshops every Saturday afternoon.
With the group Blasian Solidarity, the emphasis was on seeking pleasure first, in the hope that difficult conversations could then more easily follow.
The group is planning their next big event, a barbecue this summer.
Blasian Solidarity Group | instagram
Saturday, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Center Horticole.
Lansdowne Dr & Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131
Chinatown Learning Center Connects Asian Immigrants to Their Culture
The director and owner of the Chinatown Learning Center, Carol Wong, founded an educational program nearly 30 years ago to teach English to Asian immigrant children.
Its classes have grown and its services have also extended to parents, who usually do not speak English either.
Her goal is to make the bilingual setting a comfortable place where immigrant families can learn the skills needed to succeed here in their new home in the United States.
1001 Vine Street, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
West Philly school helps cultivate cultural pride in Korean-American kids
Inside a long-established Korean church on the corner of 47th and Spruce Streets in West Philadelphia, the Emmanuel Korean School of Philadelphia hosts classes on Korean culture every Saturday morning.
The students are Korean-American children whose parents decided to send them there, in addition to their regular schooling, to further strengthen their connection to the Korean side of their heritage.
Lessons include Korean language, drums, music, art, etc.
Korean School Emmanuel of Philadelphia
(inside Korean Emmanuel Church)
4723 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139
Modero & Co. preserves Indonesian culture through the arts
In South Philadelphia, a dance troupe uses the art of traditional Indonesian dance and storytelling to support the Indonesian community.
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., Modero and Company practices at the Fleisher Art Memorial. Director Sinta Pemyami Storms says their mission is to preserve traditional Indonesian culture through dance, food and fashion.
The group performs locally and nationally, using dance and movement to tell stories from Indonesian heritage. Authentic costumes are intricately designed and come directly from Indonesia.
Storms founded Modero 10 years ago and his organization acts as a bridge for resources and social change.
Everyone is welcome to join Modero, and the company shows off all its hard work at the annual Indonesian Festival on August 6, Indonesia’s Independence Day, at the Fleisher Art Memorial.
You can also find them at the new Indonesian Community Center, Gapura Philadelphia on Broad Street.
6abc’s Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month Winners
Community Leaders Honored for 2022:
Philadelphia City Councilman — David Oh (R)
Philadelphia City Councilman – Helen Gym (D)
Governor’s Executive Director. From Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month — Stephanie Sun
Director, Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement — Romana Lee-Akiyama
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