New Programs for Hmong Teens in Oroville

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Teen study area at the Hmong Community Cultural Center of Butte County. (Photo: Rachelle Parker)

Teen study area at the Hmong Community Cultural Center of Butte County. (Photo: Rachelle Parker)

The Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County is settling into its new location. Located on Feather River Boulevard in Oroville, the Center houses programs for both youth and, as previously reported, elders.

The new location features a study area complete with four computer stations.  A large number of Hmong families cannot afford computers, Center director Seng Yang explained. His goal is to provide a safe place for Hmong students ranging from middle school to junior college to get help with their school work. Even though the program is only three weeks old, Yang says 10-15 students have already made use of the after-school program. He hopes those numbers will grow.

The Center also houses the Hmong Talk Line, a mental health call-in line for the entire Hmong community. The line is staffed five hours a day by staffer Jze Yang (He is not related to Seng Yang). Anyone in the Hmong community can call and talk about mental health problems or other issues requiring assistance. People may leave a message if calling outside of staffed hours. Jze Yang's goal is to return calls within 24 hours. Yang also refers callers to other resources when necessary and then follows-up with them to ensure that they have received the services they need.

The Hmong are farmers by tradition, and Seng Yang feels that having some land to farm would go a long way toward helping the elders to adjust to their life in America. One of Yang's long-term goals is to launch a community garden. He envisions donated land, enough for both the community garden and for individual families to have their own space to grow what they want. In his mind's eye, he sees a place where Hmong youth and elders can come together to share information about the world they came from and the place they are now. Plus, says Yang with a smile, it will give the children some hard work to do which will keep them out of trouble.

The Center hopes to submit a grant proposal to the District Attorney for program funding to keep Hmong youth from joining gangs. There are a number of young people currently on probation. Yang sees a role for Center staff to turn that around with the help of elders.

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About Rachelle Parker

Rachelle Parker was born in Oakland, California and raised in the Bay Area. Her grandmother moved to Oroville in 1960, resulting in Rachelle spending many summers and holidays in the area. Rachelle moved to Oroville in 2003. A graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Sociology, Rachelle is a winner of the Judith Stronach Prize for prose, and contributed a story to The New City magazine in 1999 under the tutelage of Clay Felker. Rachelle has worked off and on as both a print and broadcast journalist since 1980, and is happy to bring her love of writing and her concern for her community to the task of being a citizen correspondent for KQED’s Health Dialogues.

Comments (1)

  1. Karen Downey says:

    I can’t even imagine being in a country and expected to fit in without knowing the language and the ins and outs of government agencies and health facilities. It is comforting to know that there are people that do care and are trying to make a place for all to come and learn and offer help to go about there day to day life.