Student-run clinic UC Irvine Outreach Clinics (UCIOC) is raising awareness and funds for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community through a two-week “Together, We Unite” campaign from April 5-16. This campaign is an extension of their 2020 Black Lives Matter campaign, “Together, We Rise,” which raised $14,006 in donation funds.
UCIOC was established in 2006, with Medical Director and Family Medicine Specialist Dr. Baotran Vo as the primary health professional leading the clinic. The student-run clinic offers healthcare services to the underserved population of Orange County weekly on Saturdays; their main clinic is based in Orange and they provide patient-care to numerous nearby cities that include Santa Ana and Tustin. As an all-student run clinic, UCIOC is managed by UCI undergraduate volunteers, medical students and volunteer physicians.
Spearheading the two-week campaign are UCIOC’s “Together, We Unite” Co-Chairs Trina Nguyen and Melissa Ta. With the “Together, We Unite” campaign, the clinic strives to advocate for the AAPI community during week two and sexual assault during week three through collaboration with other UCI organizations, including the Free Clinic Project and MEDLIFE at UC Irvine. In an effort to mobilize beyond the UCI community, Nguyen and Ta compiled two documents that centralize 210 Asian American Resources and Sexual Assault Resources in one location.
“We hope to bring more awareness to the current hate crimes Asian Americans have faced and to advocate, educate, and fundraise to support the AAPI community,” Co-Chairs of the “Together, We Unite” campaign said. “To recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we have also incorporated sexual assault into our campaign. More specifically, we focused on the hypersexualization and fetishization of women’s bodies, and addressed the ‘not all men’ expression, which is commonly used as rebuttal to generalized statements and prejudice.”
All donations made through UCIOC’s Venmo will be entirely allocated to two AAPI Organizations: Asian American Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and the Center For the Pacific Asian Family. These organizations are committed to civil rights representation and domestic violence support for AAPI communities, respectively. Along with the campaign, UCIOC will be collaborating with Sunroots Co., an Asian-American small business sticker shop co-owned by UCI alumna Trang Truong and Vivian Tran, to sell AAPI-inspired sticker packs. Half of these funds will be donated to the campaign’s fundraising efforts while the other half will be donated to support the small business.
Recent attacks against the Asian-American community have been on the rise, seen in incidents such as a man falling unconscious after being attacked on the subway in New York and an elderly woman being assaulted in San Francisco. In 2020 alone, Asian hate crimes were reported to increase by 149% in America’s 16 largest cities. Less than a month ago, the Atlanta-area mass shootings killed seven Asian women: Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue. Due to these targeted events, UCIOC began to actively use their platform as a means to address anti-Asian rhetoric and provide greater awareness for the AAPI community.
“Pre-health students going into medicine … should be willing to serve any patient. [Pre-health students] take an oath that [we] will serve any patient regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion [and] color,” Ta said.
Last year, UCIOC organized a campaign, “Together, We Rise,” that called for collective action to combat systematic oppression alongside the Black Lives Matter movement. UCIOC collaborated with six UCI student organizations — Student Healthcare in Practice (SHIP), Flying Samaritans at UCI, An Lành Free Clinic Project (Free Clinic Project), MEDLIFE at UC Irvine, CampMed at UCI, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, UCI Chapter (AED) — to raise a total of $14,006 in funds. The entirety of these funds was donated to the BLM movement and other related organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Equal Justice Initiative and the National Police Accountability Project.
“We wanted to adjust the campaign into [‘Together We] Unite’ [because] we don’t want to separate ourselves from the Black Lives Matter campaign that we did last year (Together, We Rise). We’re building upon that. We want to keep fighting for a society where hate isn’t a thing,” Nguyen said.
For students interested in participating in the campaign, Ta states that offering encouraging words and simply defending AAPIs in their community as an ally can be significant. Nguyen and Ta implore students to spread the word through social media, donate to AAPI organizations and anonymously share personal experiences of hate crimes or sexual assault.
While Ta and Nguyen are leading the campaign, they remarked their appreciation for their UCIOC student volunteers. Volunteers researched pertinent topics related to AAPI and created graphics for social media. They also organized donations and secured support from other businesses and organizations.
“Thank you to our team, our collaborating organizations (Free Clinic Project and MEDLIFE), but also everyone who participated by sharing our resource documents and/or donated. We truly appreciate not only the UCI community but also family and friends who have contributed to the ‘Together, We Unite’ campaign. We hope to have made a positive impact in our AAPI community, our UCI community and to have inspired other organizations at UCI to continue to advocate for justice and equality for all,” UCIOC said.
According to Nguyen and Ta, through the “Together, We Unite” campaign, UCIOC and its collaborators strive to continue the conversations around race and violence that challenge deeply rooted systemic oppression among minority groups.
“We hope to continue to advocate for Asians making waves in communities where last names like ours are not written. During this time, it has been extremely difficult to be an Asian, feeling safe and proud of who we are. Through this campaign, we wish to be a small part of the big change that is to come for Asian Americans to feel proud and safe of who they are,” Sunroots Co. said.
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