Culture-specific communication for Asian Americans underscored

SANTA CLARA Leadership Forum speakers include Dr. Xiaoyan Zhangm, Santa Clara Councilmember Kathy Watanabe, Milpitas Unified School District Board President Chris Norwood and Philippine News Today Publisher-President Francis Espiritu

By Elpidio R. Estioko

SANTA CLARA, California – A culture-specific communication for Asian Americans should be employed to build the Collective American Dream.

This was the gist of the keynote speech of Dr. Xiaoyan Zhang on “How social media divides us and how AAPI leaders leverage their cultural strengths to work together,” during the Civic Leadership Forum Silicon Valley over Ding Ding TV Studio in Santa Clara.

Dr. Zhang emphasized that Asian Americans should leverage ethnic media to champion the cause of the AAPI community.

He advocated ethnic media as a special tool for uplifting the Asian community in its role in bridging bridges: “We need to fight for justice and against Asian hate and racial discrimination. Let us help the AAPI community to understand and achieve the American identity through our culture and heritage.”

Dr. Zhang said building the Collective American Dream is in pursuit of our constitutional right advanced by our forefathers that “everybody is created equal”, so we can realize the dictum that America is the land of the free and home of the brave.

A 40-minute dialog between Asian American communities followed with six Asian American leaders of various backgrounds composing the panelists with National Asian American United (NAAU) President Joel Wong as moderator.

Santa Clara City Councilmember Kathy Watanabe emphasized the importance of diversity. She said: “We learn so much from each other… We all belong together, so we continue to share that message… and keep it alive.” She said she brought to America the value of respect as a gift… so, we need to listen in order to grow.

Milpitas Unified School District Board President Chris Norwood said he is from Milpitas which is a very diverse city which allowed him to learn so many cultures. “We have different lots of struggles, but we had the ability to bond together, not in isolation, but as a collective group. No one culture has the right of the best… The more we are, the more the world would be… the best for all…” He said he brought in to America the gift of creativity.

As for Francis Espiritu, president and publisher of the weekly newspaper Philippine News Today (PNT), “As a Filipino immigrant, we are family-oriented people, compassionate, and learned struggles of others… and we fully understand each other. We love to learn various cultures to understand each other.” He brought in the gift of respect because Filipinos are respectful… and compassion as illustrated in most Filipinos in the health industry as nurses and care givers.

Christine Von Raesfeld, a CEO for a non-profit organization whose mom is from the Philippines was born in Stockton. She understood and loved the city she was raised and born. Diversity definitely played a big role in her life in the diversified city of Stockton.

Tran Vu, a Vietnamese journalist who said he came to the US by accident as a result of the war, learned various cultures, including the French culture. Love of freedom and the rejection of totalitarianism was, to him, his gifts to America.

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, president of Fremont Union High School, said she embraced diversity and valued it. A 3rd generation Japanese- American, she said she learned to integrate and value diversity. Community and interdependence were the gifts she brought in to America.