Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT 2014) - Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT 2014)

Last summer, one our Executive Committee members, Rasy Mar, Co-Chair of the Awareness and Outreach Program, was selected to attend a national advocacy training program focused on Southeast Asian communities. Below is her account of this powerful experience.

Stacey L. Brown, Chair


Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT 2014)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) is based in Washington D.C.  SEARAC is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially and equitable society.  SEARAC promotes Southeast Asian Americans as decision makers of their communities within the United States.  They help strengthen a national network with over 180 community-based organizations managed primarily by and for Southeast Asian Americans.  SEARAC also supports Southeast Asian American organizations to become stronger by providing technical assistance and comprehensive leadership training.  Each year, SEARAC selects approximately 40 community leaders to participate in the Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT). The program involves 4 intense days of discussions on Southeast Asian communities, strategies for legislative advocacy and meetings with Members of Congress or the Senate in an effort to educate them about important issues impacting Southeast Asian Americans.

In July of 2014, I was selected and had the honor to participate in SEARAC’s 15th annual Leadership & Advocacy Training program.  The LAT 2014 focused on three sessions: education, immigration, and health.  Each trainee selected their priority issues and areas of interest.  I selected the health session as my concentration.  I feel that Southeast Asians have a well-established presence in Connecticut; however, they still continue to face ongoing issues.  These groups face many barriers including, but not limited to: workforce challenges, psychological stressors and Limited English Proficiency. All of these obstacles can impede access to quality healthcare and public assistance programs.  LAT has significantly influenced my thinking and is going to help me shape my personal and professional goals. It will improve my contribution and involvement in health education, as well as my knowledge in advocacy and policy making, which I can put into practice in the Southeast Asian communities, particularly in the Cambodian community.  While in DC, I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Christopher Murphy and Senior Policy Advisor, Joe Dunn.   The goal of this session was to learn more about the political system, and how to be effective in advocating for Asian communities.  My session was specifically designed to inform legislators on issues pertaining to Southeast Asian communities in Connecticut.  During the session, we discussed the following:

  • Southeast Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing populations in Connecticut (65% from 2000-2010)
  • Funding is needed in the community based organizations, there is a lack of resources in the communities
  • Raising awareness and knowledge of the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards is needed in Connecticut
  • Increase awareness and campaign to inform Southeast Asian Americans about their rights and benefits under the Affordable Care Act  (translate information into different languages)
  • Southeast Asian Americans experience enormous health disparities and various barriers in accessing to health care

Through the LAT, I was pleased to learn that many young Southeast Asian Americans in all age groups are interested in learning about their heritage, background, and want to help their communities. Advocating for their communities to institute changes – whether in education, immigration, health, or to help troubled youth would be extremely beneficial to our society.

It was wonderful to learn and meet other individuals from all over the country with similar aspirations. We shared a passion to work with and advocate for communities and to participate on research projects. I give my warm appreciation to SEARAC for their commitment and dedication to helping Southeast Asian American community leaders to understand and actively participate in advocacy. As a result of this training, I better understand and appreciate advocacy on an individual, community, and societal level.

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2015

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