tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC October 20, 2019 5:30am-6:00am PDT
ser permanente, we believe that everyone deserves the right to thrive. ♪ robert handa: hello and welcome to "asian pacific america." i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. it's time to count and be counted. we start with the crucial census 2020. it's going to be one of the toughest counts every conducted. we'll tell you why it's so important for asian americans and pacific islanders to be numbered accurately. then we go online shopping with the largest online asian grocer in north america. the ceo and founder of weee! will join us. young students in the bay area are so fortunate, we have some of the best community colleges in the country here. and we'll look at the college career programs at one of them, san jose city college, programs uniquely designed to help the large asian-american population it serves. and we wrap up with a profile of legendary musician composer
hyo-shin na, who has a concert coming up in san francisco. you'll hear from her here first, all that on our show today. well, the census count for 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most important population counts ever, especially with 330 million people. but also for asian americans because it's the fastest growing ethnic group in the us, but the least likely to participate. and our next guests want people to know that hurts the community. in order to highlight that, we are going to focus on the challenges facing asian americans in the east bay. joining me now is alexander saingchin, the vice president of community investment and partnership for the east bay community foundation, helping to fund efforts to get the count done. and vivian huang, the deputy director for the asian pacific environmental network, an organization with deep roots in the state's asian, immigrant, and refugee communities. welcome to the show. alexander saingchin: thanks so much. vivian huang: thank you so much robert: vivian, give us an idea in terms of why the census count is so crucial this time. vivian: yeah, definitely. as you had mentioned, you know, asian americans are the fastest
growing racial group in the country. and in the bay area, there's two counties, alameda and santa clara, where asian americans are the largest racial group. but unfortunately, a lot of studies show that asian americans say that they're the least--they're the group least likely to participate in the 2020 census. robert: why do--why is that? is it a cultural kind of resistance? vivian: no, i mean, i think that what we see with working class asian, immigrant, and refugee communities is that many of them may not have a primary language of english, may lack stable housing, may not have consistent phone access. so, these are all factors that may actually serve as barriers to participating. we also know that for many asian americans, they're expressing a lot of concern for how the information in the census might be used. so, an astonishing 41% of our community members have a lot of concerns. and so--and i think in the context of where there's so many attacks happening against immigrant and refugee
communities, you know, these concerns are living in those conditions. robert: a lot of intangibles here, huh? yeah, of course, that makes it all the more necessary to have kind of a real operation going. of course, that takes money, it takes time, it takes people. how does your organization kind of deal with that? alexander: sure, well, at the east bay community foundation, we are committed to advancing a just east bay. what we consider a just east bay is that everyone has a place to call home. our kids can go to excellent schools, they can grow up and be part of an inclusive economy, and that ultimately we all have health, safety, and wellbeing. and as vivian mentioned, the census is critically important. it dictates our, you know, funding for roads, public safety, hospitals, parks, et cetera, and so many other basic critical needs that californians and people who living--who are living in the bay area fundamentally rely on. and so, it's for that reason why we're partnering with the asian
pacific environmental network and really moving about $3.3 million to over 130 local and community-based organizations that are stressing and educating to the public why it's so important to participate in the census, and also providing them with the support to actually fill it out accurately. robert: we're trying to cover as much ground as we can, but what can--where can people go to get more information and to figure out how they fit in to all of this? alexander: sure, well, first, i would totally check out apen's website, apen4ej.org. we are partnering with many community-based organizations across the bay area, not only api organizations, but latino, african american, et cetera, those types of organizations. and we actually recommend that folks plug into groups like apen or other organizations to really get involved not just with the census, but if you care about your schools, you care about your communities or what's going on in the national conversation, there's organizations out there that would love to plug you in to the work that they're doing.
and we will recommend that folks go to ebcf.org to find out more. robert: now, of course it's great if they reach out 'cause you're willing to help them, but do you have to go out into the community? do you have to go on outreach? vivian: yeah, definitely. you know, for a lot of people that we've been talking to, people may not know about the census, may not know about its purpose, don't know how the information's going to be used. and so, it's critically important that we are out in the communities actually talking to community members. so, this year, we plan on talking to thousands of people in the bay area about the importance of census, and making the connections between census and critical resources that support services our community needs. for example, in richmond, we are--apen members are going to be hosting house parties and door knocking within the laotian community and broader community to be able to tell people how they can participate. robert: okay, well, this is not going to be the last time that we talk about this, so thank you very much for keeping us updated. alexander: thanks so much, robert.
robert: weee! as in we're having fun, is the largest online asian grocer in north america, currently serving the bay area, seattle, and sacramento. and the success story behind it is equally impressive. with me now is larry liu, the ceo and founder of weee!, who started this concept with a service called wechat. and prior to that, he was a product development engineer at intel. welcome to the show. larry liu: thanks for having me. robert: so, tell me, how did weee! become the title or the name? larry: because my--i have three daughters, so when they slide down the slides, they would say, "wee!" robert: i knew it was a better story than mine. larry: that's kind of the experience we create for our customers, so. robert: sounds to me like this was an idea that kind of evolved, looking at some of the other things that you
were involved in before. what was sort of the original thought that you had, and how did it evolve to what it is now? larry: yeah, absolutely. so, i came to the us 16 years ago, so it had always been a problem for me to find the authentic asian food. and then i became a father, and my daughters, i cook for them, it's even harder for me to find those ingredients i grew up with. and in 2014, wechat became very popular. and i realized a lot of people were sharing the same problem, the same challenges i had for many, many years. so, i was inspired to create a solution to solve that problem. robert: yeah, and also too what's interesting is that it kind of has interest in the broader community, not just asian american families, even though they are very focused on it. but you've been able to kind of achieve kind of a broader appeal as well, huh? larry: yeah, because the asian products are becoming popular, asian food have become popular among the mainstream folks. robert: yeah, now, you have some of the products that you have displayed here that you offer. how difficult is it to find the products yourself?
how difficult was it to kind of set up the system? larry: so, the us supply chain is pretty advanced. there are millions of products that can be found, but most brick and mortar retailers, they used to sell just those products that they have been selling. so, they didn't offer or really know what the asian communities really like, and they didn't have the information. but we are very close to the communities, so our customers came to us and tell us what they wanted. and then our buyers, who are really good at sourcing great products, would find those products and offer to them. robert: now, a lot of times when you say online, people just sort of assume that you'll figure it out, but basically how does it work? how do people get to your products? larry: so, it's very easy. they can download our app, so the weee! app offers those hard to find asian food products and also fresh grocery staples. so, people can just place an order, they receive the products the next day delivered to their door, free delivery over $35, all at a price that's comparable
or even lower than brick and mortar stores. robert: really? well, how do you plan to expand, or do you want to? larry: so, we are right now operating in the bay area, seattle, and sacramento. we are expanding to la, that's our next destination. robert: wow, when you're going to expand into an area that big, how difficult of an undertaking is it? have you had to change your organizational structure or anything? larry: yeah, it's definitely a challenge, but we have done that for seattle. we launched seattle in january this year, and it's become really popular. and we--our operation worked really, really well. so, now we have the confidence to go to la and offer our products and services to people there. robert: how about expanding your products? do you know, do you plan to? you were talking about the fresh food and all the different things that bring about different logistical problems that you would probably get with doing that. how much do you want to kind of expand your product line? larry: so, today we offer more than 2,000 products
to our customers. and comparing a year ago, we were only offer a little over 1,000 products. so, now we're covering very broad categories like fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, even restaurant dishes. robert: wow. do you have to have like a lot of warehouses and a lot of--have you had to do a lot of that kind of infrastructure? larry: yeah, yeah. we have once central warehouse in union city for the bay area and one warehouse in seattle. robert: how about for you? is it quite rewarding to be doing this? i mean, you were with intel and doing a lot of other things in high-tech. how personally rewarding is this for you? larry: i mean, it's really solving my problem, right? so, my family-- robert: your food problem at least. larry: exactly. so, we don't--we don't go to these supermarkets anymore because even for me, it's a 20-minute drive to the closest asian supermarket. robert: yeah. larry: so, it's a hugely rewarding experience. our customers came to us and say, "hey, thank you for providing the products, and now we can have access to those, you know, trendy things in asia and all those really, really fresh asian fruits and vegetables."
robert: i'm curious, what's the--maybe the most popular product or products that you get demand for? larry: yeah, so i brought some-- robert: oh, these are some of them here. larry: some samples here today. for example, the kyoho grapes, we sold a few thousands cases per week. and the korean pear and the winter jujube. and also this is some examples of the trending snacks in leading--in asian countries. for example, from korea, china, hong kong, and japan, singapore. robert: and all basically--i was saying before that i noticed that you have quite a broad appeal. what is the--what's the kind of asian product that may be outside the asian american community that you see the most demand for? larry: because our freshness is unparalleled, so for example, a lot of the fruits are also very popular among mainstream folks. robert: it sure sounds convenient. anyway, great idea. nice job, congratulations.
but i've had interactions with many community colleges in the bay area. and we have some of the best programs in the country here. and i can say from personal experience community colleges can be a crucial step in a college career and a professional career. and one of the places making a difference is at san jose city college. joining me now is lena tran, vice president of strategic partnership and workforce innovation at sjcc, who has extensive experience with tech companies in silicon valley and new york, as well as other major colleges. also with us is minh-hoa ta, the dean of business and workforce development. she comes from 25 years of experience in higher education, and currently serves in many roles in the community, including chair at ucsf's vietnamese community health promotion project.
welcome to the show. lena tran: thank you. minh-hoa ta: thank you. robert: so, lena, give me an idea here in terms of how this career's program is worth in san jose city college. lena tran: great, so, at san jose city college, we offer many career program where student can actually have a choice in opportunity. for example, they can enroll in our certificate program that can be done in a year or two years. and they're also a program that student can say, "i can start at san jose city college and transfer to san jose state university or uc or csu." so, there's multiple pathway. we only like to believe at any point at san jose city college, a student can get on the pathway and get off the pathway with the emphasis of a workplace, whether it's internship, externship, or a full-time position. robert: yeah, hands-on experience as much as possible, huh? lena: yes. robert: yeah, have you seen quite a response, especially i notice the vietnamese-american community are very underserved first of all, right?
so, they must've been very anxious to see these kind of programs pop up. minh: sure, i think we play a very important role in san jose because san jose have the largest vietnamese population outside of vietnam and also in the us. so, 35% of our student population are asian pacific islander student population. and majority of that, 35%, are vietnamese-american student. so, our san jose city not only serving student coming from high school, but we're serving the vietnamese community, the immigrant community. the adult population, it's open access, so as long as they're 18 years old, they can come and join san jose city college. robert: how do you structure the program so that vietnamese americans and people who have not used to the system, how do they get involved and how do they make it, the transition? lena: yeah, and i'm glad you asked that because it truly is a wonderful open access system, open enrollment. but i think the vietnamese community generally because
of our culture, our background thinking, "oh, i have to apply, i have to get the sat score, i have to go through all this obstacles." and we realize that. so, most of our outreach is go directly into the community, we work with community organization, share about the admission process, share about our program. and i could share with you we just got a grant for to build apprenticeships. so the idea, you can go to school, get paid, and get working experience. but guess what? in computer programing. so, most folks don't think that, but we're very--i like to say we're in the gateway of silicon valley to offer training. and we hope that not only vietnamese, but all the asian community to really look at community colleges because you save a lot of money, the two years at the uc, csu. so, we do get into the community, we get into the high school, we work with the counselor. and slowly, we see the impacts, especially the vietnamese
community realizing, "oh wow, i don't really have the official application process." so, it's moving toward a positive direction for us. robert: because it gets rid of that fear factor of the very first step, which is sometimes the hardest one for them to take, right? lena: sure. robert: yeah, it is pretty affordable too, right? i mean compared to other public institutions as well. minh: yes, i will have to say that we are most affordable and we provide quality education, and accessible. so, that is something that the community need to know. and i think for our vietnamese-american community, education is number one. for majority of asian american community, education are number one. robert: can you give us an idea in terms of how you're doing? like how do you measure your success? how do you measure the quality that they're getting out of the program? lena: sure, so for ce program, career education is very easy. how do you measure success is the completion of the student, the employer that hire our student, and employees coming back and say--we actually have a
wonderful story, a gentleman graduated laser technology. he got to san jose airport, did a deal, landed a big contract, turned around, came to san jose city college, and say, "you know what? it worked." so, we really believe that the community college system do work for student. and we want for just take advantage of it because it's a wonderful--we have so much student support. we offer book loans program. we offer food voucher. we just opened a--market. and then we also have a career closet. so, student can come, get outfitted, go to an interview, a networking event. we even provide all the services like cpr that someone needs to take in order to get into the field to do internship. we offer that. so, a lot of student services that we do. so, we do get a lot i like to call repeat customer, where students come back, take more of our classes. we have a very robust advisory board, where we actually meet with the industry twice a year, once in the fall, one in the spring.
and they actually work with us through the curriculum and say, "this is what you do well, this is where we see the trend is going." and we work with them on that. robert: that's very good. that's why i have no trouble vouching for programs like this because i know that the community college is a real crucial link in the community. congratulations. we'll stay--keep us posted on how you're doing, okay? minh: sure, thank you very much. robert: all right. well, stay with us, we are going to give you a close up look at legendary musician and composer hyo-shin na. for award-winning sound coming up, don't miss it.
hyo-shin na is a composer and musician who grew up in korea and came to the us to do graduate work at the manhattan school of music. she moved to san francisco in 1988 and, with the help of other musicians, as well as return trips to korea, developed her style combining eastern and western styles without compromising the integrity of each. they interact, coexist, and conflict in her music. take a listen. ♪
♪ ♪ hyo-shin na: well, i'm hyo-shin na, the composer. i'm writing for both western and asian instruments. it matters to me that there are musicians who want to play my music and who want me to write new pieces, and the people who want to hear it. i don't think i would choose another city actually. for me, this is a really good place because a lot of people are familiar with asian culture here. and they are--they are curious about what i do.
so, you know, i see same faces in the audience, so i feel that my work is needed to some people, so. wooden fish actually is an object that is hanging at korean buddhist temple. each temple has such a thing, it's big, hollow, wooden fish. well, when i compose, i am focused on the character of that piece, that particular piece, each piece. so, i don't actually think of style of music, but what is the character i am dealing with. so, each piece is its own. ♪
♪ ♪ [audience applauding] robert: and the wooden fish ensemble celebrating the music of hyo-shin na will take place sunday, october 27 at 4 p.m. at the old first concerts at 1751 sacramento street in san francisco. and you can find out more about her and all of our guests and their projects by going to our website, nbcbayarea.com. and of course, we're also on social media, facebook, and twitter. you can follow me @rhandanbc. and that's it for our show today.