Preparedness Instructor Sou-Cheng Choi Starts Chinese Outreach Initiative
By Vrinda Gupta, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
July 25, 2010
While graduate student Sou-Cheng Choi had already taken the steps to prepare herself in the event of a devastating earthquake in the Bay Area, she worried that her mother, who did not understand English, would not be as prepared.
Upon further research, Choi discovered that many other non-English speaking members of the Bay Area Asian American community felt as though there were not enough preparedness resources in Cantonese or Mandarin. Choi took her concern for the local members of her ethnic community to the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter where she met Blanca Cinco, who had initiated a strong Latino outreach through the chapter. With Cinco’s mentorship, Choi was encouraged to start a Chinese Outreach Initiative.
In order to begin the outreach, Choi recruited bilingual members of Asian American clubs on the Stanford University campus as well as members of the Asian Community Preparedness (ACP program) team to receive instructor training at the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter. Retired doctors, who were bilingual in English and Cantonese or Mandarin, generously volunteered to translate the Red Cross preparedness course materials using proper medical terms.
With the instructor training from the Bay Area Chapter and the translated course materials, the newly trained volunteers, along with Choi, made Choi’s vision for a Chinese Outreach Initiative through the Silicon Valley Chapter into a reality within just a few months. The Bay Area Asian-American community, including Choi’s mother, was well on its way to becoming Red Cross ready in the event of a major disaster.
Currently, Choi remains a volunteer instructor and co-leader of two joint programs held by the Red Cross and Oracle at the annual Oracle Global Volunteer Days. When asked why she donated $1,000 out of her first paycheck to the ACP program, she responded, “The type of kindness I saw in the youth volunteers and instructors touched my heart. What they are doing is worth that type of support and donating my time and resources is all I can do to help.”
Choi’s advice to anyone interested in making a change? “A lot can be accomplished with very few resources. Every opportunity, no matter how small, has a great potential to turn into a larger one later on.”