Author: Jay Wong

Sexual Assault Survivor Speaks to Diman WAVE girls

In support of Sexual Assault Awareness month this passed April, my good friend Maude Gorman was generous enough to come down from Boston to speak to the WAVE girls to tell her story. Maude is currently a senior at Stonehill College. Maude and I met as AmeriCorps members in 2016. She is the former 2015-2016 Miss Massachusetts World, where she used her title to raise awareness for sexual assault and prevent victim-blaming. Maude also had the opportunity to work with MA Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, and former Vice President Joe Biden on enhancing measures to prevent sexual assault violence.

Maude was able to meet with the WAVE girls of Diman Vocational Regional School to tell her story of being gang-raped at the age of 13. She was able to provide an inclusive dialogue where the girls could ask her specific questions about her story and how she got to where she is today.

W.A.V.E (Women. Action. Voice. Empowerment) with Councilwoman Linda Pereira

On February 1,  the W.A.V.E girls of Diman Vocational Regional High School were fortunate enough to meet with Fall River Councilwoman Linda Pereira. Councilwoman Pereira discussed her early life growing up in Fall River as well as her decision to run for City Council. Pereira also discussed her full-time position as an investigator for child abuse cases for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.

The girls were able to get in some questions that they had for Councilwoman Pereira. We hope to have Pereira re-join our group to further discuss some of the issues that youth in Fall River are currently facing.  This could help continue building the bridge to connect the City Council and youth.

 

How to Prepare for a Protest March 

 


As an American, we are fortunate enough to live in a place with endless opportunities and a tremendous amount of freedom. Part of the reason why we have our civil liberties is because of protests, marches and sadly, war. People fought for equality, acceptance, and a better life. Today, that continues. In 2017, we are still fighting for equality for all and acceptance of all. We still have a lot of work to do.

Recently, I attended the United States’ largest protest march in history — The Women’s March. 7 continents, all 50 states, and 125,000 people in Boston — men, women, children were marching. Although, I did not have the means to fly down to D.C, I was able to attend a sister march in Boston. Here are a few things that I learned to help you guys prepare for a protest march.

  1. Do your research — Know what you’re marching for and why
    • Know what your values are, understand why it’s important to you, and do extensive research on why the march/protest is happening in the first place.
  2. Find the list of events for the day 
    • More often, there will be a line-up of speakers. Try to get a timeline of the speakers so you have an idea of when the march starts. Waiting can be agitating sometimes.
  3. Get a map of the event
    • Depending on the type of protest, the area will get extremely crowded. It’ll be difficult to move around. More than likely, you will not be able to move. Get a map of where the main stage will be and where the exits are. If you’re claustrophobic or get anxiety from crowded places, plan ahead and stay on the outside!
  4. Dress for the occasion
    • It depends on what you expect to get out of the protest whether it’s getting media coverage or being comfortable. I’ve seen people make bold statements on what they wore or didn’t wear. I’ve seen people dress comfortably and weather appropriate. You are going to do a lot of standing. At least, wear comfortable shoes!
  5. Your sign 
    • This is probably one of the coolest parts of protests. People get really bold and creative with their signs. Write what you feel. Be bold. Be funny. Get media coverage!
  6. Bring snacks/water
    • These things can be long events. You want to travel light but also bring a few snacks and a bottle of water with you!
  7. Protests can be unpredictable. Know your rights & Be Safe!
    • A peaceful protest can turn into a violent protest. Your intentions might be completely different than someone else’s intentions. Safety is number one.
  8. Be respectful at all times 
    • Being peaceful and exercising your right to free speech is more effective than insults, destroying communities, or resorting to any kind of violence.
  9. Know yourself
    • Depending on whether or not you want to civilly disobedient, that is YOUR choice. But understand that there are consequences to that, like getting arrested. Are you there to for peace or violence?
  10. Make it memorable
    • These marches go down in history. YOU are a part of history. You will be able to tell your kids and grandkids all about this. It’s an awesome thing to be a part of. Make it memorable.

School Community Partnership: Opioid Crisis

School Community Partnership (SCP) “meets monthly in an effort to connect various agency offerings to the youth of our schools and community, providing safe activities, healthy resources, and expanded learning opportunities.  There are regular trainings that address the prevalent and current needs of our youth.  The School Community Partnership has developed a strong network of providers who are dedicated to breaking down the obstacles young people in Fall River face while helping them grow into productive citizens.  We strive to support our youth, encouraging their development through positive opportunities, intervention and prevention, and empowerment to ensure success.”

Fall River Substance Abuse Prevention Grants Coordinator Michael Aguiar and Fall River Police Captain Joseph Cabral presented information about the on-going opioid crisis, both locally and nationwide, to a group of about forty professionals, including representatives of local schools, police, Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, Bristol County District Attorney and a number of other agencies. While the prescription drug abuse crisis has diminished somewhat over the past five years due to a number of prevention efforts, the opioid overdose rate has skyrocketed. “That’s when heroin started increasing,” stated Aguiar. There are now more than 800 overdoses a year, more than double the rate five years ago.

 

 

Empowering Women – Linda Rim

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Linda Rim is a Cambodian-American born to two Khmer refugees. Linda’s parents are survivors of the Cambodian Genocide where they found refuge in Thailand and were eventually sponsored to immigrate to the United States. Linda was born and raised in Fall River, MA where she received her diploma from B.M.C. Durfee High School. She further pursued her education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she was accepted into the Isenberg School of Management to major in Hospitality/Tourism and Management (HTM). During her years at UMass, Linda was active in the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, Sustainability Residential Academic Program, Asian American Student Association, and the Hip Hop Cultural Organization. Linda also participated in a month long study abroad trip to Europe where she was able to explore England, France, and Italy. Linda currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Occupationally, she is the Front Desk Manager at the Westin Copley Place. Linda is on a path of wanderlust, self-discovery and self-love. She is adamant about traveling the world, representing Asian American women in business leadership, and making her family proud.

What woman has been the biggest inspiration and what do you admire about her?

There are many women that I admire, but one of my biggest inspirations is my mother. She represents the strength in both my immediate family and my extended family. She has made me who I am today and is the reason why all of the women in our family are so strong. My mother is a genocide survivor, a refugee, and most importantly a fighter. Alongside my grandfather, she is the woman who led my family to safety during the Khmer Rouge. Blood, sweat, and tears were her process – literally. In her twenties, my mother took the lead and crossed endless barriers just to keep our family afloat. Despite the challenges and sacrifices she had to make at such a young age, my mother still maintained her strength, bright smile, and optimistic attitude. Even with current trials today, she remains just as resilient. My mother is the woman who inspires me to overcome the impossible and consistently encourages me to break standards. Her positivity, resiliency, and strength are the things that guide me and my decisions made today.

What has been the biggest struggle for you as a woman pursuing your current role? How did you overcome that and what do you want others to learn from that?

With most businesses, representations of women leaders are generally limited. In many companies, it is quite noticeable how the number of men outnumbers women in senior positions. Being a woman (and a woman of color), I frequently face gender (and sometimes racial) biases that have obstructed my development and journey as a young leader. These social stereotypes that are set often challenges whether or not I am competent or emotional stable enough to lead my team or the business I am in. To overcome this struggle, I personally have worked harder to prove my passion for a role and constantly present the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications for a leadership position. This is not a mindset I have developed overnight needless to say. I wear this sense of confidence every day and it is a something I strive to prove every time I come into work. To help promote a more gender diverse team, I do my best to lead and advocate other women in similar roles to do the same. In turn, this encourages the development of women in business I am in and challenges the gender stereotypes that have been set. I am thankful however, that I currently work with a team that does support and respect equal opportunity for minorities and women. I have worked with many talented individuals who have guided the way for younger women and I aspire to do the same.

 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

 Take chances, be proactive, and do not be afraid to do things alone. In my earlier years of college, I have missed out on multiple opportunities that would have support my personal growth and career because I was comfortable by my surroundings. I have learned that although it is very easy to get comfortable and follow your peers, sometimes the best way to learn is to just take a leap of faith. Taking chances often leads to positive changes and being comfortable is a good sign that you’re not challenging yourself. I would tell my younger self, even if you don’t know how things will turn out, be proactive anyways, and don’t be afraid to lead the way.

 What is your overall career goal?

 One day I aspire to be a general manager of a hotel. I have a lot to learn (and it may take years) but it is my dream to be an impactful leader within hospitality. I love connecting and sharing ideas with people from all walks of life, which Is why I wholeheartedly love my job and the industry. Working in hospitality allows me the opportunity to: make someone’s day brighter, travel, tap into my creativity, and explore different realms of art and culture worldwide. My life is richer because of it. I hope to one day have the opportunity to lead and surround myself around a bigger team with the same drive, goal, and passion.

 

 Why is it important for women to be in leadership roles?

 Simply put, women are so strong and capable of so much more. We deserve to live a life of equality. That being said, it is important for women to participate in leadership roles and set an example for future generations. Our participation is vital because it will pave the way to promote the progress we need. We cannot do it without contributing and we absolutely cannot make the necessary changes without the collaboration of men. Real equality in the workplace and home will only bring further enrichment and sustainability to our lives and society and it is something we need to make our reality today.

 What is your favorite thing to do? 

 I enjoy everything about traveling and food and beverage, which further explain why hospitality is a big part of my life. I spend most of time watching travel vlogs, planning future trips, and researching new places to grab a quick bite! I love art as well. I find it difficult to make time to draw and paint as much as I used to but I love visiting art museums and checking out street art when I can. Most of my creative outlets now involve writing, photography, and videography since it’s a bit more accessible to me.

 

 What are some of your future goals? 

 TRAVEL THE WORLD! On a more serious note though, I do hope to continue make my friends and family (especially my parents) proud and ensure they live a comfortable life. I owe them everything. My future goal is to live a happy and sustainable life that I can share with my friends and family.

 Anything else you want to add? 

Fun fact: I am planning a solo-backpacking trip in Southeast Asia in March. This will be my first time traveling alone internationally and I CANNOT wait!! I made it a goal of mine in the beginning of this year and I am still in disbelief that it is actually happening. I am excited to connect with my roots and see the countries my family calls home. March is a special month for me because I will also have the opportunity to honor my late grandfather in Cambodia on his annual anniversary. Traveling alone will be both a challenging and enriching life experience. I look forward to see what this trip will teach me about my heritage and myself.

IG: LindaLeadTheWay

Blog: ladiesleadtheway.com

Confronting Discrimination

One of the many hats that I wear as an AmeriCorps is to run the Confronting Discrimination sub-committee of the Fall River Youth Violence Prevention task force. The mission of the group is to develop a conversation that fosters peace, connection, and respect. This group is a mix of youth, community leaders, city councilors, and school committee members. The education format that I use is storytelling.  Monthly, I bring in a speaker that can speak on their personal experience pertaining to discrimination. Our past speakers include:

  • Ramon Torres (Senior at Durfee High)- LGBTQ+ issues
  • Sumaiyea Uddin (Freshman at Durfee High) – Islamophobia
  • Paul Coogan (Former Vice Principal of Durfee High/School Committee member) – Growing up in South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement and attending the first desegregated school in S.C
  • Sophia Hunt (Community activist and V.P of Cambodian American Rescue Organization, Inc.) – Escaping the Khmer Rouge
  • Trott Lee (Community Activist) – Acting “black” and acting “white”

The meetings have been very successful in having your voice heard, advancing public speaking skills, debating, hearing different perspectives, bringing diverse people to the table, educating group members on various cultures/history, and overall connecting as  one.

Twenty Four

 

My 24th birthday passed recently and it was dope. Here’s a few things that I learned throughout the passed couple of years —

1. Be kind, always 

Whether we choose to show it or not, everyone is going through something right now. Everyone has a story. Choose to be the person that makes their day a little better.

2. Check yourself before you check them 

Get those duckies in line and get those facts straight before you dare jump to conclusions about another individual. Truth be told, you probably got some skeletons in your closet too. Judge no one.

3. Emotion Regulation 

Too often, we act on emotion before we can calm down and think logically. Take a step back and THINK before acting.

4. Travel, travel, travel 

Enough said.

5. Love thyself 

Flaws and all. Love yourself. Your mental health and stability is crucial. Know yourself. Know your limits. Take care of yourself. Take a day for yourself — Don’t feel selfish for loving yourself.

6. Appreciate your mistakes 

Mistakes and failures do not stunt your growth. Refusing to learn and grow from those mistakes and failures stunt your growth. Do not keep yourself down. Use it as a fuel to keep climbing to the top.

7. Resiliency 

Life will ALWAYS kick you down. Learn and know how to bounce back from it. You’ve got 10 seconds to be upset about it. After that, shake it off and keep moving forward. Focus on your goals and your priorities.

8. Mental health and physical health

I went through something horrifying this year and it all came down to the decisions that you make that effect your mental development and physical being. Make good choices and take care of your body. That is your sacred ground.

9. You are always in control 

You may not always have control over a situation but you do have control over yourself. You can take yourself out of any situation. You have the power to control your thoughts and your actions. Hold yourself accountable for EVERYTHING you do. Call bullshit on anyone that says otherwise.

10. Listen more, talk less

Listen to learn more. You don’t always need to respond to everything being said to you. But do absorb everything that you are told.

11. Never speak ill of anyone and don’t mind the people that speak ill of you

Let’s face it, we’re going to encounter A LOT of crazy people throughout our lives. Not everyone is going to like you and you are not going to like everyone. AND THAT IS OK. People can say that they are entitled to their opinions and sure, by all means exercise that first amendment. BUT, you do not have to react to that. Anyone that has something negative to say about you is none of your damn business because it doesn’t matter what they think. Do you.

12. Master your career 

Your career is something that you will be doing for the rest of your life. It should be something that you’re passionate about and something you love. You should try to learn everything you can related to your field. Be the expert. Teach others what you know and what you’ve learned.

13. Question everything 

Need I say more? Never listen to only one side of a story. Some people have ulterior motives. Some things are too good to be true. You don’t want to make a fool of yourself without having all of the facts.

14. Love ALWAYS wins

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel pretty crappy if I let my negative emotions get the best of me during an altercation with someone. Mutual understandings, compassion, genuine conversation, and love are the way to go.

15. Never get too comfortable

I have to give credit to one of my best friends on this lesson. She’s been saying this since high school and I never really understood it until a few years ago. But I live by it religiously. Too often, I think a lot of people get comfort and happiness mixed up. Just because you’re comfortable doesn’t mean you’re happy. Comfort is a way to prevent self-growth. Whether it’s a place or a person, never get TOO comfortable. Don’t get stuck.

16. Optimism 

Bad stuff will happen and it’ll feel like end of the world. Best thing to do is to condition your mind to see the bright side and find the silver lining. More than often, things always end up being okay. Take a step back, take a deep breath, write down some positive things in your life.

17. Appreciate the effort

Sometimes the “best” you can do is not the same as someone else’s “best”. It goes back to the whole “expectations lead to disappointments” so appreciate when someone is putting in their effort. Appreciate the little things.

18. Financial responsibility

If there’s anything that’s more comforting as an adult, it’s being financially stable. To stay organized with your bills to budgeting appropriately to not spending money irresponsibly.

19. Spend time and money on experiences/memories, not material items

I’m not sure if this even needs an explanation..

20. Maintaining professionalism

As you begin to grow in your career, you will encounter conflicts/incidents in your line of work. In the moment, it will be difficult to get through. But you must see this as a learning opportunity. Especially, when it’s your career that you put your heart and soul into. It will hurt emotionally but it’s crucial to put emotions aside, mediate the situation, maintain your professional status, and find a resolution.

21. It’s ok to outgrow people 

Losing friends isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means that people change and eventually grow apart.. Some of us are not meant to be friends forever and that’s perfectly fine. The ‘right’ friends will be the ones to stay.

22. Acceptance and moving forward

When you have no control over a particular situation, the best thing to do is accept it and move on. You can’t change the past and wishing the situation was different is counterproductive. Keep your inner peace and move forward.

23. Keep a clean rep

Your reputation is everything. Do not damage your name by making poor decisions that will make people distrust you and do nothing for your future in a positive light. You need to keep progressing by doing the right thing.

24. Integrity 

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”