RICE (Reaching Immigrants with Care and Education)

RICE (Reaching Immigrants with Care and Education)

Years ago, the AAPI girls formed an advocacy group – “What About Us”. The mission was to change the community perceptions about gender inequalities and develop a youth network to address such issues as Pan Asian girls becoming runaways and victims of sexual violence and teen pregnancy. The WAU project sought to eradicate this demeaning treatment of women and girls by keeping the essence of the culture. For the first year they focused on sexual violence prevention. The second year, they focused on teen pregnancy prevention. Finally, in the third year, they worked to end gender inequality. In the spring of 2006, the 3-year WAU project was successfully capped off with a community celebration, along with the premier of the anti-sexual violence video, “No Means No”. The efforts of the girls and staff led to the design of the RICE project which has a great potential to grow into a driving force for a movement to better the life of AAPI girls.
GOAL #1: Assist AAPI refugee youth with innovative and comprehensive strategies to support their self-sufficiency
ACTIVITIES: The Youth Development Activities – The activities include: weekly youth planning meeting; leadership and communication training; advanced technology training such as multi-media production and web skills; budgeting, financial management, and other independent living skills training; and advocacy training for safety and equal rights
GOAL #2: Assist runaway Hmong girls to live independent, healthy, and substance-free life styles, to become productive citizens
ACTIVITIES: The Self-Sufficiency Activities – The activities include: weekly support group; individual counseling and case management; advanced technology training such as multi-media production and web skills; budgeting, financial management, and other independent living skills training; counseling regarding violence, prostitution, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy; and advocacy training for safety and equal rights
GOAL # 3: Increase awareness for dangers of runaway and violence toward girls/women, aim towards changing AAPI cultural norms to better support AAPI girls
ACTIVITIES – Civic Engagement Activities: The activities include producing educational materials to support community awareness of runaways; publicizing the materials on AMA’s Youth In Charge web site; hosting peer-to-peer educational sessions; hosting community outreach fairs to create in-depth discussion on sexism/racism associated with AAPI girls runaways; mentorship opportunities.


Administering Organization:
Asian Media Access (AMA)

Program Objectives:
Founded in 2000, RICE is a comprehensive, community advocacy program aimed at helping Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants/refugees. The program mobilizes parents and young people to engage in understanding and communicating Pan Asian issues. RICE provides a wide range of services aimed at cultural competency and self-sufficiency including case management, educational and life skills presentations, runaway/substance abuse prevention, job training, recreational activities, mentoring and much more. The activities include:Individual case management and counseling, support group for AAPI refugee youth Weekly financial life skills development, media/information technology job training Monthly hands-on media production with "Youth In Charge" cable/radio shows Quarterly AAPI community outreach activities and field trips Annual AAPI Youth Leadership Camp, with adult mentors The project calls a community-wide response to support refugee AAPI youth. The strategies include: a) Motivated and Caring AAPI Adults. Ongoing relationships with caring AAPI adults—whether they are parents, mentors, tutors or counselors – offer youth support, care and guidance. Therefore, the project provides caring adult guidance and mentorship to support runaway and refugee youth. b) Connecting Opportunities to Change AAPI Cultural Norms. Engaging refugee youth in community services enhances their self-esteem, boosts confidence, and heightens a sense of responsibility to the community.

Resource Materials:
RICE has developed following successful resources: 1) "No Means No" Animation DVD: This package is designed to help Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth understand what sexual violence and teenage pregnancy are and to prevent it in their own community. Using a culturally relevant approach, it features case studies based on actual accounts of AAPI youth and families, dealing with the personal and family impacts of sexual violence. 2) "Helping Youth Succeed- Bicultural Parenting for Southeast Asian Families," a Curriculum set, co-produced with University of MN. The set includes: Parenting Curriculum, Facilitator Guide, Family Stories and 6 Video cases. This manual is designed to guide those interested in using the Bicultural Parenting curriculum with groups of Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese parents and/or adolescents. Facilitators who are from these Southeast Asian communities and those who are not will find it useful, as will others interested in bicultural parenting issues. 3) Methamphetamine Prevention Public Education Campaign. The Initiative includes cultural/linguistically appropriated educational material, several regional training workshops and focus groups, national substance abuse prevention conferences, and localized action plans. Languages include: Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), English, Hindi, Hmong, Korean, and Laos.

Groups Served by Program:
RICE serves primarily Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) immigrant/refugee youth, with a special focus on the refugee and runaway Hmong girls. Almost 3 percent of Minnesotans are AAPIs, which comes to about 152,000 residents living in Minnesota according to the year 2000 Census. The great majority of AAPI members - 84 percent - live in the metro county Twin Cities area, and 42 percent live in either St. Paul or Minneapolis. The AAPI population is also a young one with almost 50% under the age of 20 according to the Office of the State Demographers. Many AAPI youth and parents face multiple barriers to achieving self-sufficiency including limited or no English language skills, little or no formal education, and, non-transferable job skills. Southeast Asian refugee parents tend to be culturally and linguistically unprepared to provide psychological, social and academic assistance to their children. Consequently, available data indicates increasing rates of problem behaviors in youth, such as substance abuse and mental health problems, violence and antisocial behaviors. Hmong runaway girls also experience many unique barriers such as gender inequality, polygamist practices, and forced silence. Gender roles are very clear and rigid within the AAPI cultures. Males dominate all decision-making, and control the mobility of the women and children. In addition, having multiple wives is an arrangement that has been historically widespread in the Hmong community. According to Dr. Blong Xiong, he estimated "between 270 and 450 men are practicing polygamy in Minnesota, each with an average of two wives and 14 children. Finally, according to the Minnesota Department of Justice, the AAPI community has the highest sexual violence crime rate among all ethnic groups—many crimes are never reported. Such limitations and unfair treatment often causes Hmong girls to runaway from home.

Program Funding:
The RICE project is born out of a 3-year grant form the Women's Foundation of MN.

Program Evaluation:
RICE defines success by effectively incorporating the Youth Development Concepts into the overall project, building a community-wide response, and implementing a youth led and adult guidance project.

Program Outcomes:
RICE project is designed to serve refugee AAPI youth, with a special focusing on Hmong runaway girls. These runaway girls are particularly ill equipped to achieve self-esteem and economic well being due to the upbringing and lack of family support. Many of our girl leaders come from the same community as those they intend to serve, and they understand the problems the runaways face inside out. In the years since RICE began, the program has helped many Hmong girls to become self-sufficient by getting them off the street and working to increase their self-esteem. RICE has also been succeeded in improving gender equality and violence prevention programs by involving community leaders and the media to create awareness of AAPI cultural norms. RICE has created a number of publically available resources to assist in this goal.

Program Contact:
Ange Hwang, Executive Director  angehwang@amamedia.org  www.amamedia.org

Program Dates:
This program began in 2002 and is still operating as of 2017.

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