By Ling-Mei Wong and James Murray
The Asian American Civic Association (AACA) held a graduation on April 16 at Tufts Medical Center. More than 200 students, staff, family and friends packed the Wolff auditorium.
Sherry Dong, director of Community Health Improvement Programs at Tufts Medical Center, welcomed the attendees to Tufts, which hosted the event for free. “AACA and Tufts Medical Center have worked together on programs that serve the Chinatown community for over 20 years,” Dong said. “In 2007 AACA and Tufts collaborated on a workplace education program, in which AACA provided English and general education diploma (GED) classes for 240 of our medical center employees over a six-year period. This helped our employees develop personally and professionally, with improvements to their communication and interpersonal skills with supervisors, staff and patients.”
Alejandra St. Guillen, director of the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians said its work would not be possible without the help of community partners like AACA.
Students graduated from the Next Steps Transitional English Program (Next STEP), the Careers in Banking and Finance (CBF) program and the Building Energy Efficient Maintenance Skills (BEEMS) program.
“I don’t think I could get this kind of experience anywhere else,” said CBF graduate Chen Chen, who now works at Cathay Bank as a loan assistant. “AACA is like a big light when you’re lost at sea.”
Pei Xia “Peggie” Kuang spoke about coming to the United States from Taishan, China, 15 years ago. She supported herself and two sons through waitressing, until a serious accident put her in a coma for a week. When she woke up, she resolved to go back to school.
Today, Kuang has earned her GED and will attend Roxbury Community College to study accounting in the fall. Kuang thanked her “wonderful” teachers for all their support during her two years in the Next STEP program.
Other students expressed their gratitude. BEEMS graduate Naja Abdullah had trade experience but no formal training. She was hired full-time at Peabody Properties after completing an internship there with flying colors.
“The BEEMS program … is all-inclusive, all walks of life, all genders, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion,” Abdullah said. “I gained knowledge, I was empowered and I was employed.”
This post is also available in: Chinese