Write Up By Tina Chan, Reference/Instruction Librarian @ SUNY Oswego
During the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, APALA sponsored a bus tour and luncheon at Versailles Village, the Vietnamese American community of New Orleans East. The tour leader was Minh Nguyen, executive director of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA) of New Orleans. He is also one of the main organizers who rallied to prevent toxic debris from Hurricane Katrina to be disposed at Chef Menteur Landfill near Versailles Village.
The bus tour included driving by the East New Orleans branch of the New Orleans Public Library, and visiting Chef Menteur Landfill, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVN CDC), and VAYLA. Tap Bui, MQVN’s health outreach coordinator and community organizer, spoke about the organization’s community development through conducting community meetings, focus groups, and surveys. Staff from VAYLA spoke about the various educational and cultural programs offered, as well as giving a tour of their facility. Lunch was at Dong Phuong Restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant where tour members got to know more about each other while enjoying a tasty meal.
This daylong event was well worth attending and learning about the events that took shape with the Vietnamese American community during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. The Vietnamese American community’s initiative and perseverance to organize and win is a monumental victory to secure their home in Versailles Village.