My Downtown Fresno experience was…surprising. I knew that it held history, but not such a vast array of it! It was an interesting trip, learning about all of its historical facts and monuments that stayed over many years, each piece with its own story behind it. See also this “I Believe in Downtown Fresno” video:
CBO’s (Community Benefit Organizations) can actually learn from Downtown Fresno. It had its ups and downs, but the people never gave up to preserve it and continued their efforts in rejuvenating the excitement that it once held (and technically still does for those that cherish it).
I think that CBO’s need to remember that there is always room for improvement and that creativity does not have any boundaries. By having countless ideas at your disposal, there are also countless ways for CBO’s to provide services to their target audiences. In doing so, like Downtown Fresno, they will be healthy and able to continue to service those that matter: people.
Poverty in Fresno
A few years back, when I took my first sociology class, I found out that of all the major cities in the united states Fresno has the highest concentration of poverty. Before when I thought of cities with high levels of poverty I thought of Detroit, El Paso, Houston. But now when I think about it I think of Fresno, though it has changed considerably and scholarships are readily available so getting a good education becomes more open to more people.
When I looked at the map of Fresno and looked at all twenty-two neighborhoods, I realized that I had lived in three of the twenty-two but I was glad I did some volunteer work at the Fresno Food Bank. That opened my eyes even further.
I use to think that every neighborhood north of Shaw would be above the poverty line, but now I realize that right outside of Fresno State in the El Dorado Park, neighborhood poverty is a huge issue. There are some great initiatives, though, like the ones set up by the Central Valley Quality of Life Foundation that draw lots of support, so let’s hope that will change for the better as well.
As a volunteer at the El Dorado boys and girls club, and later at the Fresno area food bank, I realized that many of the kids there actually don’t think that they will ever be able to go to college even though they could actually see the stadium lights right from the playground. On the other hand, recently ACEL charter school received the Civic Learning Award of Distinction. But considering it all makes you realize just how distant these people are from school.
Education equals cash
Mark Ford brought up some very interesting statistics when he came to lecture us one that blew my mind was the fact that only nineteen percent of Fresno residents had a college degree or higher which is surprising as one of our nations most interesting college educations is offered at the Fresno State Winery.
He then linked it to one of the reasons why Fresno has so high unemployment rates, and why or average income is so low. After heating about thus I went home and did a little research myself, and found out that in Palo Alto the percentage of people with college degrees was at a whopping seventy-two percent. That seventy-two percent translates to an average income of $70,200 per year.
This then led me to look up the statistics for Hmong Americans, of which everyone knows I am. I found out that only 14% of all Hmong Americans have a bachelors or higher, I also found out that the average income for a Hmong American was only about $18,900, much lower than that of Latinos and African Americans. I actually wrote to Fresno State’s own API Review about the states and got them to publish it. Check out also this post about the Big Fresno Fair Educational Programs.
For all of you who don’t know what Hmong Americans are, the following: Hmong Americans are an ethnic group with origins that go back some three thousand years in the Far East, predominantly China. In southwestern China, we still can find around 8 million Hmong people.
Some four million Hmong are living in countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Burma (Myanmar) where they live in rural areas, usually working as farmers. During the 19th century, these Chinese Hmong emigrated to these countries after century-long Chinese persecution. Check out also this post about Fresno’s rich cultural heritage. You’ll be surprised!
The first notable size migration of Hmong to America started in 1975 when Laos and the Vietnamese city of Saigon fell to Communist forces. Quite a few Hmong had cooperated with anti-Communist, pro-American forces during Vietnam and Laos conflicts and consequently, they were confronted with retribution and violence in Laos.
A great number of Hmong then escaped to Thailand to get incarcerated in Thai refugee camps. Now I’m a third generation Hmong, well-educated and very athletic so I feel just totally American and during my Fresno College years, I was very active in the school’s Athletics programs. To learn more about the Fresno City College Athletics Program, click here.