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Q & A with VAYLA-NO: electoral work in the Vietnamese American community

By November 1, 2010 No Comments
By NAKASEC staff
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We caught up with one of our Power Vote 2010 partners!

Meet Huong Nguyen, Program Coordinator, with the Vietnamese American Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO), who has been actively registering people to vote. She is also a first time voter.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans

A: The Vietnamese American community came to New Orleans in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon, and is approximately 5,000 people in the metro area. The barriers our community face include difficulty in navigating the system to register to vote due to the lack of access to public transportation and language. Even though the state recognizes the large population of Vietnamese Americans in the city, elections ballots are still only in English. Many Vietnamese Americans who arrived as refugees already have a hard time getting their citizenship and facing hurdles to vote adds another layer of  challenges.

Q: What has your experience been in reaching out to potential voters?

A: I have been encouraging young people to register to vote, as well as, translating for and assisting seniors since the voter registration forms are only available in English. This past weekend, I participated in door-to-door knocking to remind everyone to vote. On a more personal level, I have been encouraging my family, friends and peers to vote, and Facebook has been a great tool to do this.

Q: You are also a first time voter this year. What made you decide to be a part of the political process? Are you excited to be voting for the first time?

Ever since I got involved with VAYLA-NO in 2009, I was inspired to get involved in my community. I want to ensure that youth and young women’s voices are heard and wanted to help them make the connection that voting can equal better futures for all. As I got more involved with my community, I became familiar with why it was important to become part of the electoral process and decided to register to vote. For this upcoming election, I am very excited to voice my vote and become a part of the political process for the first time.

Q: What are some of the hopes you have for your community?

A: I hope to see more young people in my community to be involved in the election process because the youth are the future of the community.