Asian American Civic Association
Asian American Civic Association successes

Winter 2016
In This Issue
Sudha Bhandari

  Sudha Bhandari immigrated to the United States on her own without the support of nearby friends and family. 
Although she once worked at a bank in her home country of Nepal, she spent her first few years working at Subway, Dunkin Donuts and WholeFoods in Boston. She eventually decided that she wanted to return to banking.

"I enjoyed my banking career. 
in Nepal, that's why I was looking," she said. Sudha was determined to reenter banking and that's when she found AACA's Careers in Banking and Finance Program. 
At the end of the program, Sudha accepted a head teller role at TD Bank in Cambridge. 100% of her classmates also landed retail banking jobs.

Saraugh Fitah, Director of Job Training Programs at AACA,  said she and other staff were excited and proud to see a second class with 100% of graduates placed.

Saraugh said, "This is a testament to how we refined the program and utilized strong employer partnerships to help graduates succeed." 

She added, "Sudha has a really warm, outgoing personality. She's not afraid to take risks."

Sudha's favorite part of banking class was learning directly from bank branch managers who visited the class.

"Banking managers who came to teach us general knowledge helped us a lot. We felt like a family because I already met the bank." 

Sudha added that AACA was key to helping her to improve her language skills so she could make the leap back into the industry.

"My English was weak. AACA helped me a lot to improve my language skills to write a cover letter in professional language," she said. 
Sudha has already received multiple awards over the past five months and has been nominated for others in customer service. 

One of the awards was for best credit card producer.

Dear friend of AACA,

You have received AACA's winter newsletter. Check out our updates and success stories. As always, we thank you for your support. Please donate to AACA's 2015 Annual Appeal before it closes on 1/31.
AACA dedicates center to local philanthropist
The Stanley & Josephine Chen Center of Excellence for Immigrant Learning

AACA dedicated the Stanley & Josephine Chen Center of Excellence for Immigrant Learning on Dec. 18, 2015.

More than 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
State Rep. Donald Wong of Saugus presented a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives to Stanley Chen for his continued service to the community. "I am honored to celebration Stanley Chen's lifelong devotion to education and learning and helping to improves the lives of immigrants in America," Wong said.

Chen also received a citation for his service from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

"My wife and I are so happy AACA dedicated this center to us," Chen said. "I truly believe in the agency's work to educate, empower and employ immigrants in a practical way."
AACA adult learners Xiao He Ferguson and Sam Situ spoke about the agency's programming and how their teachers impacted their lives.
"Through a lifetime, sometimes you need help from others," Chen said. "Whenever you can help others, you should help. When you need help, then others will give help to you."

As one of Boston Chinatown's developers, Chen started his engineering career in Southeast Asia. He arrived in the United States in 1951 and worked for a construction firm in Chicago.

In Boston, Chen saw that there was no housing for Chinese seniors. He started his own company, Stanchen Construction Company, to develop housing in Boston in 1974. He built the Quincy Tower in 1978, the first affordable housing project for seniors in Chinatown, then developed South Cove Plaza East and West in 1982. Together, the two projects have provided 393 subsidized housing units for seniors.

Chen launched a scholarship program at the University of Massachusetts- Boston, the Students in Chinese Community Service scholarship. Recipients must volunteer 100 hours at local agencies to give back to the community.
By Ling-Mei Wong

From eviction to full-time job and housing  

Luis Garcia of BEEMS
Luis Garcia faced unemployment and ongoing eviction troubles last year in Jamaica Plain that displaced him from his wife and daughter.

He said, "Everything was falling apart. My family split. 
Sometimes I felt like crying and yelling."  

But Luis persisted in trying to better his situation. After visiting an unemployment agency to learn about available options, he heard about AACA's Building Energy Efficient Maintenance Skills program. Although he had previously worked as a cook and driver, he decided to enroll anyway. 
Luis said he made himself go to all of the classes at AACA because they distracted him from his troubles.
Luis recently completed the program and landed a full-time superintendent building maintenance job at an apartment complex in Roslindale. The job came with another perk: a two bedroom apartment. Luis, his wife, and daughter will be reunited when they all move into the new apartment later this month. 

"Now I am working. I never expected it. I am feeling good now," he said. 
He added, "I am so proud because everything I do now: change a pump, change a motor from a boiler, I never expected to do it. Everything is very good."

Luis said he hopes to give back to AACA. " They supported me all the time. They said, 'Just keep going, don't worry.'" 
The journey isn't over. A biographical book project called "Chronicles of Eviction" intended to help others overcome similar hurdles may be on the way.

Steps to Success conference highlights need for New Roots Program
Steps to Success

AACA saw city officials, professors, immigration specialists and researchers, as well as doctors and community leaders for a Steps to Success: Integrating Immigrant Professionals Event.  They shared their ideas on how we can support highly skilled immigrants and cut down on immigrant brain waste on November 5. 
A Boston report released by World Education Services and IMPRINT found that, "There are approximately 7.2 million college-educated immigrants in the U.S. An estimated 52% of these immigrants obtained their degrees in a foreign country. However, more than a quarter of these highly-skilled immigrants are either unemployed or working in jobs that do not make appropriate use of their knowledge and skills."  
  AACA was humbled to welcome so many guests for this event and to discuss the importance of the pilot New Roots program at AACA which targets this population and is now on its second cycle. The current class includes 19 students from 12 countries around the world. They include two accountants, a financial controller, an electrical engineer, a software engineer, two lawyers, a teacher, a forensic psychologist, and a travel agent. New Roots aims to help these students gain the skills necessary to find employment more suitable to their level of expertise.
Hats off to 58 Next STEP graduates

David Iris and Richard Goldberg
The Next Steps Transitional English Program (Next STEP) celebrated graduation with 58 students on Dec. 18 at Emerson College's Bill Bordy Theatre. The adult education program is offered by the Asian American Civic Association.

The graduation acknowledged the success of students moving up to higher levels of the program as well as those going to college, entering job training or securing better jobs.

AACA Director of Education Richard Goldberg congratulated the graduates on their persistence and hard work as they balanced family, work and school responsibilities. "The greatest gift which you can give us is your success, and we know you will have a bright future," he said.

Two student speakers, Gabriely Jabour from Brazil and David Iris from Haiti, thanked the Next STEP teachers and advisors for helping them to finish the program and reach their goals.

Of the students finishing Level 10 in December, the highest level class, 50% will enter college starting January or September and 40% started or will start job training programs.

AACA offers 10 levels of English language classes for adult learners from basic to higher intermediate. In Next STEP, or Levels 6 to 10, students learn the skills necessary to enter college or job training to prepare for better employment.
By the Sampan editorial team

Youth Players 

Director Victoria Marsh teaching theater at AACA
The Youth Council's theater company "AACA Players" is working hard and having fun!  Director in Residence Victoria Marsh (Company One) is thrilled with the talent and diversity of the 22 students ranging from 8 to 20-years-old. AACA is fortunate that Company One is partnering with AACA. It was voted Boston's Best Fringe Theatre in 2015 by Boston Magazine. In 2016, the Youth Players will be partnering with ArtsEmerson through their national project, "I Dream", where students will increase their abilities to express their feelings and imagination through words and movement. 

The AACA  Players will be performing their original work in May 2016 at their end of year recital so stay tuned!
Funders and other updates

Thank you to our latest funders
State Street Foundation: $100,000 for Adult Education & Workforce Development
Workforce Development Retention Center: $75,000
Susan Schiro and Peter Manus: $40,000 
Beatrice Fox Auerbach Fund at the HFPG: $25,000
Employment Retention Fund at the Boston Foundation: $10,000
BNY Mellon: $50,000 for the Youth Employment Center
Fish Family Foundation/Project Citizenship: $48,000 for Citizenship Initiative
Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund: $20,000 for the Workforce Development Center
Liberty Mutual Foundation: $15,000 for Next STEP
: $13,900 for Careers in Banking and Finance
Clipper Ship Foundation: $10,000 for ESOL 
Yanming Guo Memorial Grant: $10,000 for the Employment Center
East West Bank
: $5,000 for AACA's Endowment
Kinder Morgan Foundation: $1,000 for AACA Youth Players
Staples Foundation: $1,000 for Workforce Development
East Boston Savings Bank: $500 for Careers in Banking and Finance  
Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund: $500 for T passes


Our workplace education partnership with Piantedosi Baking Company starts this February. AACA teachers will provide ESOL and math instruction to limited English speaking workers at their factory in Malden. The program is funded by the Massachusetts DESE/ACLS (Department of Elementary and Second Education/Adult and Community Learning Services).

AACA was featured in the 1/26 Boston Globe article "Governor unveils $5m for job training programs."

Read the Job Training Alliance's recently released report on the effectiveness of job training programs: "Job Training Works, Pays, and Saves."

A multilingual staff will be available to help with your job search, online applications, resumes and professional development. There will also be monthly workshops on the last Monday of each month on job-related subjects. See the calendar for event information. To participate in these programs, become a friend of AACA.

Shop at AmazonSmile and choose AACA. Amazon will donate .5% of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases directly to AACA.  

We welcome our new staff:
Sara Brown (Sampan reporter), Scarlett Wu (MSC Counselor/Volunteer Coordinator), Justine Wang (Workplace Coordinator/Instructor), Lan Ying Peng (Infant Lead 1), Fanny Jiang (Infant Teacher Intern), Jennifer Grehan (Part-time Workplace Education Instructor).