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2018 Asian Reporter Foundation Scholars (left to right): Alexis Han, Catherine Le, Hannah Tan,
Megan Nellor, Chablue Wah, JJ Pen, Feeyee Zhen, Linh Ly, and Catherine Hu. (AR Photo)


20th Annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet

ENGAGING ENTERTAINMENT. Scott Miyako and Michelle Fujii of Unit Souzou entertain a crowd of 275 people at The Asian Reporter Foundation’s 20th Annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet held at Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant in southeast Portland. The gala event, held in advance of Asian Heritage Month, featured cultural entertainment and recognized the efforts and achievements of Asian-American elders, community organizations, and scholars. (AR Photo/Jin Huang)

CULTURAL CELEBRATION. Performers with the Filipino American Friendship Club of Oregon (top left photo) entertain the crowd at The Asian Reporter Foundation’s 20th Annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet. Also performing at the gala event was the Lee’s Association Dragon & Lion Dance Team (right photo). In addition to cultural entertainment, the evening featured a nine-course dinner, the 2018 Most Honored Elder awards, recognition of area Exemplary Community Volunteers, the issuing of Asian Reporter Foundation scholarships (bottom left photo), dinner, a silent auction, and more. (AR Photos/Jin Huang & Jan Landis)

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #10 (May 21, 2018).

20th awards gala celebrates elders, scholars, volunteers

The Asian Reporter Foundation recently held its annual scholarship and awards banquet at Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant in southeast Portland. The evening, celebrating the foundation’s 20th event, featured a nine-course dinner, cultural entertainment, awards, and a silent auction.

Approximately 275 people in attendance witnessed the recognition of the efforts and achievements of Oregon’s Asian-American community — by elders, community groups, and youth. This year’s banquet celebrated two valued community elders, 12 college-bound students, and three organizations.

While mingling with old friends and meeting new ones, attendees began bidding on numerous silent auction items — from gift cards and weekend getaways to artwork, bags, and backpacks — during the social hour. Banquet-goers also gathered near the photo booth to pose for the camera.

Kicking off the evening’s program was the Lee’s Association Dragon & Lion Dance Team. The colorful creatures started at the back of the room and danced their way through the tables before reaching the stage. Many attendees, dressed in traditional clothing as well their banquet finest, pulled out smartphones to capture a shot of the vivid red, gold, and white lions.

As the Triple Crown Platter, the night’s first course, arrived on the tables, master of ceremonies Zeke Smith and Jaime Lim, publisher of The Asian Reporter, welcomed everyone and thanked them for supporting the annual gala for the past two decades. During the evening, attendees dined on the restaurant’s special soup, hand-pulled chicken salad, salted pepper pork chops, scallops and prawns, steamed fish, king mushroom with vegetables, pan-fried noodles, and double pastries.

The first awards were bestowed on this year’s Most Honored Elders — Tai Duc Tu and Hongsa Chanthavong.

Tai Duc Tu, who spent nearly seven years in prisoner-of-war camps performing hard labor, immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1991. He now spends his days reading, writing, volunteering, and visiting with his grandchildren. Hongsa Chanthavong, who officially immigrated to the U.S. from Laos in 1983, has advocated for the Asian community during his 30-year career with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization and also in retirement. He currently travels, gardens, exercises, and advises younger community leaders.

The commitment and resilience of this year’s honored elders were recognized by the hundreds in attendance, who gave them an enthusiastic round of applause.

The next performance featured members of Unit Souzou — Michelle Fujii, Toru Watanabe, and Scott Miyako — who energized the crowd. The group engaged everyone in the room with their creative and imaginative pieces.

Awards were then given to this year’s scholars. The 2018 Asian Reporter Foundation scholarship recipients included Chablue Wah, Megan Nellor, Hannah Tan, JJ Pen, Alexis Han, Feeyee Zhen, Catherine Le, Linh Ly, and Catherine Hu, who each received awards ranging between $2,000 and $2,500.

The young people, who have been involved in sports, music, theater, student council, language classes, and more throughout their high school years, plan to begin studies majoring in finance, marketing, nursing, computer science, music, ministry, political science, and international relations in the fall.

Following the Asian Reporter Foundation awards were the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon (PACCO) scholars — Joni Cobarrubias, Ethan Dentler, and Faith Gaviola — who were each awarded $700 scholarships.

The final awards of the evening — recognition given for an Exemplary Community Volunteer Effort by an organization — were then handed out. The three groups — the Cambodian American Community of Oregon, the Muslim Educational Trust, and the Philippines Nurses Association of Oregon & Washington — have contributed to the local community for a combined 70 years.

From organizing celebrations, fundraisers, and food drives to holding community-service projects and language classes, each group has a unique story and a long history of volunteerism.

After the final auction tables closed, people claimed the items they had bid on throughout the evening. The night ended with long goodbyes and more photo booth pictures. The Asian Reporter Foundation extends many thanks to this year’s attendees and invites everyone to join the 21st banquet next April.

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ESTEEMED ELDERS. The Asian Reporter Foundation’s Most Honored Elders for
2018 are Tai Duc Tu (left) and Hongsa Chanthavong (right). (AR Photo/Jin Huang)

Most Honored Elders

Tai Duc Tu

Tai Duc Tu was born September 3, 1941 in the city of Phan Thiet, in the province of Binh Thuan, South Vietnam. In order to help support his large family, Tai Duc Tu left the fourth grade to work in a factory. He was later able to return to school to graduate, and thereafter taught mathematics, physics, and chemistry at several private high schools in Phan Thiet and Song Mao. In 1966, he joined the army of the former Republic of Vietnam. Mr. Tu graduated from the Military Academy as a second lieutenant and worked as an artillery officer, eventually achieving the rank of captain. After the Vietnam War, he was sent by the Vietnamese communist government to prisoner-of-war camps where he was forced to perform hard labor from June 1975 to 1982. He spent 1982 to 1984 under house arrest, and after being set free, worked for two companies that made sea salt and built homes. In 1991, Mr. Tu, along with his wife Chin Thi Le and their two sons — Thao Duc Tu and Tin Duc Tu — left Saigon and immigrated to the U.S. under a humanitarian program. They settled in Portland, where he learned English and worked for Vestal Elementary School as a teacher’s aid for a year. From 1993 to 1996, he worked for Foster Farms, then was employed at Nike as an air sole maker until his retirement in 2015. Mr. Tu is the team leader of the Former Artillery Officer Alumni Association of Course 22 (Former Republic of Vietnam). His interests include spending time with his four grandchildren, reading newspapers, writing essays and poems, taking walks, and volunteering for the Vietnamese Community of Oregon.

Hongsa Chanthavong

Hongsa Chanthavong was born October 1, 1934 in Savannakhet, Laos. Mr. Hongsa came to the United States in 1959 where he studied government and political science at the University of Miami on a U.S. government scholarship. After graduating in 1964, he worked for the U.S. State Department as an escort interpreter for three months, after which he returned to Laos to work for the Lao government until the country fell in 1975. Mr. Hongsa was captured by the communists and spent several years in a "re-education camp" during the new regime. In 1983, he immigrated to the United States with his wife, Khamphanh, and three sons — Khamsouk, Phonesavanh, and Viengsavanh. The following year, he began his nearly 30-year career at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) as a business specialist in the economic development project. Mr. Hongsa helped found the IRCO Asian Family Center in 1994 and served as its director from 1994 to 2004. He also was instrumental in founding the Wat Buddhathammaram, a Lao Buddhist temple. He serves on many boards, including the Wat Buddhathammaram, the Lao American Foundation, and the Lao Business Association, and is the president of the Lao American Foundation and the Lao Senior Association of Oregon. In addition, he is director emeritus and the community development/special projects department program coordinator of the Asian Family Center. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling, gardening, exercising, and advising younger community leaders.

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Exemplary Community Volunteers

Cambodian American Community of Oregon

The Cambodian American Community of Oregon (CACO) was formed in 1989 by Cambodian refugees and immigrants to unite people from Cambodia; preserve Khmer history, culture, language, and heritage; and empower present and future community members. Led by an active leadership of nearly 40 individuals, CACO’s membership encompasses a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Since its founding, the organization has been involved in organizing Cambodian Americans locally in Oregon and southwest Washington in community-based, volunteer activities while also supporting philanthropic activities in the Kingdom of Cambodia, which are focused on the self-empowerment of the people as well as development and education. The group’s current local activities include running a Khmer Language School for children and adults; hosting a summer picnic at Vancouver Lake and a camping event in Tillamook, Oregon; participating in the "New Year in the Park" celebration each spring; establishing a high school scholarship committee; connecting with other Asian and Pacific Islander communities; and more. To learn more, visit <>. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)


Muslim Educational Trust

The Muslim Educational Trust (MET) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 to enrich the public’s understanding of Islam and dispel common myths and stereotypes while serving the Muslim community’s educational, social, and spiritual needs. The group serves a diverse and growing community of 25,000 Muslims in the Portland metropolitan and southwest Washington area and operates two fully accredited schools — the Islamic School of MET and the Oregon Islamic Academy. In the past year, MET launched its Civic Engagement and Positive Integration Project to provide a national example of positive integration, civic engagement, and acceptance; held a college prep workshop at the International Youth Leadership Conference for students from Portland Public Schools; hosted the "Muslim Youth Voices Project," a weeklong filmmaking workshop for Muslim-American youth between 12 and 18 years old; presented monthly public forums; and more. In addition, MET’s Youth Ambassadors Club offered presentations about Islam and their experiences living in the U.S. to several area schools, collected non-perishable food items for Neighborhood House’s SW Hope Feed the Hungry campaign, and participated in a Habitat for Humanity home repair and painting project. To learn more, visit <>. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)


Philippines Nurses Association of Oregon & Washington

Founded in September 2002 by Filipino nurses from Providence, Southwest Washington Medical Center, and Oregon Health & Science University hospitals, the Philippines Nurses Association of Oregon & Washington (PNAOW) engages in charitable activities that promote unity among Filipino-American nurses in the area. The organization comprises 24 active regular members who are Registered Nurses with active licenses to practice in Oregon and Washington as well as auxiliary members who are unlicensed nurses, nursing students, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), and others from various professional and ethnic backgrounds who help the organization’s mission. In the past year, PNAOW hosted "PNAOW Healthy, Heart Healthy," an event featuring a Zumba workout and a talk by a cardiologist; organized a bowling fundraiser for Uplift Internationale, an organization that performs cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in the Philippines; volunteered with the Compassion Clinic to provide free health and dental care to underserved people in the Portland metropolitan area; helped with the local Faith Café Program, which feeds people in need; and more. In addition, members from the organization have also joined Operation Taghoy, a medical mission to Bicol, the Philippines, that provides care for children undergoing surgery for cleft lip and cleft palate. Members also have helped staff a first aid booth during the Portland Rose Festival. To learn more, visit <>. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

Nomination forms for the 2019 Exemplary Community Volunteer awards will be available January 1, 2019
and will cover volunteer efforts performed between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019.

For more information, visit <> or <>.


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AR Foundation Scholars

Chablue Wah

$2,000 sponsored by Comcast NBC Universal

Chablue Wah is a senior at Roosevelt High School, where she participates in Academic Allies, jazz band, and more. Since 2016, she has worked at Panda Express to help support her family. She also helps care for four of her younger siblings, who range in age from six to 13 years old. Her elder sibling is a freshman in college. Chablue plans to study political science at Portland State University.

Megan Nellor

$2,000 sponsored by United Way of the Columbia-Willamette

Megan Nellor is a senior at Fort Vancouver High School, where she has participated in Knowledge Bowl, basketball, tennis, theater club, National Honor Society, and more. Megan plans to attend Lewis & Clark College and her major is currently undecided.

Hannah Tan

$2,000 sponsored by the City of Portland

Hannah Tan is currently a senior at Franklin High School. Her volunteer activities include donating time to the Asian Health & Service Center, Randall Children’s Hospital, and other organizations. She has also participated in Upward Bound and spent time as a summer reading program mentor. Hannah plans to study pre-medicine or biology at Portland State University.

JJ Pen

$2,000 sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank

JJ Pen currently attends Alliance Charter Academy in Oregon City, where he volunteers as a teacher’s assistant, a concert stagehand, and more. He is very involved in music, including participation in his school’s choir, jazz choir, and other vocal ensembles. Since 2014, he has also taken on guitar lessons. JJ plans to study music & Christian ministry at Corban University.

Alexis Han

$2,000 sponsored by Travel Portland

Alexis Han is currently a senior at La Salle Prep, where she participates in tennis, speech & debate, theater, cross country, and student council. She has volunteered at local organizations such as the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization and has taken Vietnamese language classes since 2005 at the La Vang school. Alexis plans to major in international relations at the University of Oregon.

Feeyee Zhen

$2,000 sponsored by the Northwest Health Foundation

Feeyee Zhen is currently a senior at Franklin High School, where she is involved in Chinese Club, Vietnamese Club, Link Crew, Key Club, and more. She has volunteered her time with the Multnomah County Library’s summer reading program and has worked part-time at a Chinese restaurant since 2015. Feeyee and her family immigrated to the United States in 2010 from Fiji. She plans to study nursing at Portland State University.

Catherine Le

$2,000 sponsored by The Asian Reporter

Catherine Le is currently a senior at Parkrose High School, where she’s involved in her school’s newspaper — The Bronco Blaze — Asian Youth Society, peer tutoring, and more. She has volunteered her time at The Grotto and Key Club, and has also taken Vietnamese language classes since 2005 at the La Vang school. Catherine plans to study finance and marketing at the University of Oregon.

Linh Ly

$2,500 sponsored by the Oregon Lottery

Linh Ly is a senior at Madison High School, where she in involved with the Viet Group, the Viet Hung Jr. Lion group, the SUN school community food pantry, peer tutoring, and more. She has also spent about 20 hours per month volunteering at Adventist Medical Center. Linh plans to study nursing at the University of Portland.

Catherine Hu

$2,500 sponsored by the Oregon Lottery

Catherine Hu is currently a student at South Salem High School, where she is involved in German Club, Mock Trial, varsity tennis, and Key Club, and is also a Link leader. During her junior year, she was selected to participate in the Leadership Youth Program through the Salem Chamber of Commerce. Catherine will begin her college education studying computer science at Oregon State University.

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At the 2018 banquet, the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon (PACCO)
issued three scholarships. This year’s PACCO scholars are Faith Gaviola (left),
Ethan Dentler (center), and Joni Cobarrubias (right). (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

PACCO awards three scholarships

The Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon (PACCO) awarded three scholarships at this year’s Asian Reporter Foundation Scholarship & Awards Banquet. PACCO, now in its 15th year of giving awards, issued $700 scholarships to Joni Cobarrubias, Ethan Dentler, and Faith Gaviola.

High school seniors or current college students of Filipino descent who are legal residents of Oregon or southwest Washington are eligible to apply for PACCO scholarships. Awards must be utilized at an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or vocational/technical school in Oregon or Washington.

To learn more, call (503) 285-1994 or visit <>.


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To learn more about The Asian Reporter Foundation, visit <>.

Read the current issue of The Asian Reporter in its entirety!
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