Asian American Community Portraits

Asian American Community Portraits is a series of nine stories which seeks to increase visibility and understanding of the diverse Asian American communities in the Philadelphia region and their strengths, challenges and histories. Now more than ever, we must ensure Asian voices have a platform to speak out against the issues impacting our communities.

This series is developed by New Mainstream Press in partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation and in consultation with Sojourner Consulting, with generous funding support from the Independence Media.

Articles are published across Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and English language news and social media platforms

Story 1 | The past of refugees in Southeast Asia, the inspiration for Afghans to settle in Philadelphia

January 22, 2022 — Le-Quyen Vu is the Executive Director of the Indochinese American Council. She is also a refugee from Vietnam who arrived in Philadelphia in 1983 after fleeing Saigon in April 1975.

Her husband’s family worked for the US Embassy and were among the few who escaped on U.S. helicopters, gripping tightly to it as it lifted off the ground. The scene can be compared to visuals seen on the news in August 2021 as the U.S. flew their final planes out of Kabul while Afghans clung to aircraft landing gear, some falling to their deaths, desperate to escape the Taliban’s return to power. Read More (Chinese) (Korean) (Vietnamese)


Story 2 | Lessons in Cultural Appreciation and Diversity Not Enough to Stop Anti-Asian Hate in Philly Schools

February 26, 2022 — Sara, a Central High School student, says anti-Asian bullying is nothing new to her. From a young age Sara would receive verbal microaggressions from her friends and peers about the shape of her eyes and the food her Chinese parents would pack her for lunch, which was vastly different from the hoagies and chicken patties her friends would get from the cafeteria.

At the time, these comments were written off as gentle teasing or genuine curiosity. It didn’t occur to her until years later that these experiences were her first experiences of anti-Asian racism. With the rise of anti-Asian bias incidents…Read More (Chinese) (Korean) (Vietnamese)


Series 3 | In the post-epidemic era, struggling Asian-American small businesses urgently need to revive

March 3, 2022 — Closing down her small Chinatown restaurant, T.T Skewer, was not an easy decision for owner Sunny. With little business due to the pandemic and soaring costs on meat like lamb and chicken, like many others, Sunny struggled to keep up with the changing climate of being a small business owner in Philadelphia throughout the shifting health mandates, COVID-19 caseload surges, and false starts of 2020 and beginning of 2021.

Staff shortages also contributed to the shutdown of her beloved business, even after recruiting people from different backgrounds where skewers are not a traditional dish. Read More(Chinese) (Korean) (Vietnamese)


Series 4 | With the renovation of Roosevelt Park imminent, will the Southeast Asian market, which has existed for 35 years, disappear?

Saijai Sabayjit grew up in Bangkok, Thailand watching her mom cook up to 20 different curry dishes a day. Saijai’s love of cooking expanded from family tutorials to her own restaurant in Thailand, and she is now in the works of opening a food truck which will serve authentic Thai flavors in Philadelphia. Until it opens, on weekends from April to November, you can find Saijai’s Thai Food with her grill and wok bowl at the Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park. As one of the only Thai vendors at the market, Sanjai enjoys sharing her meals and Thai iced tea with a diverse demographic of customers who come by her booth. She cheerfully acknowledges that for now, the work is not highly profitable, but it is satisfying…Read More  (Chinese) (Korean) (Vietnamese)

Stay tuned for upcoming articles!