As we get closer to the new year, we've been looking back and celebrating the ways Alhambra Source has grown in 2013. With the support of readers like you and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, we are growing as a source for local news in Alhambra and the San Gabriel Valley.
We started the year providing journalism training for young reporters in Alhambra through our Reporter Corps program. Five young journalists from Alhambra published stories on Alhambra Source and participated in multimedia training and support from professional journalists and researchers.
"Although Alhambra is a small community, we have great potential for great stories," said Reporter Corps participant Jane Fernandez. "Reporter Corps brought life to many hidden gems of the city and it inspired me to take part in the community and teach others about the cultures and history of the city."
Reporter Corps participants and Alhambra Source staff hosted in March a multilingual forum that brought together community members and leaders to discuss youth-related issues, especially those related to immigrant families. More than 70 Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and English speakers discussed dating, bullying, health, civic participation, and being tied to two countries. Participants also included local teachers, police officers, nonprofit organizations, and media.
Although many of the participants at each table couldn't speak English, with the help of translators, all were able to understand and participate. "It turned out there were four different languages being spoken at my table: Spanish, English, Chinese, and Vietnamese. And for some bizarre reason the conversation flowed easily," said Reporter Corps participant Irma Uc, who led a discussion about nutrition in Alhambra schools. "I think what made the difference was that the parents really enjoyed the conversation and they also enjoyed listening to other people’s stories. And this is where the language barrier faded."
Sam and Jackie Wong-Alhambra Source Scholarship
Our youth development continued through the summer, when a San Gabriel Valley real estate developer, Sam Wong, contacted the Alhambra Source about using the site as a platform to give back to high school and college students from Alhambra. Together, we created an essay and scholarship contest centered around the immigrant experience. Winners with roots in Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and France shared stories of adapting to life in the San Gabriel Valley. In addition to a monetary reward, each student shared his or her story at a forum and was published on Alhambra Source.
"I didn’t feel as though I looked 'American,'" wrote Sam and Jackie Wong-Alhambra Source Scholarship winner Shannon Ho in her essay submission. "I, like almost every other girl who was born in the early 90s, was a huge fan of Britney Spears and the Olsen twins. Heartbroken, I realized that I didn’t look like them, nor would I ever. Being an American-born Chinese girl wasn’t ever too big of a deal for me before this. I was born in Monterey Park and lived in Alhambra with my family, went to a Chinese church, and lived my life surrounded by Chinese people and Chinese culture. But now, I wished for blonde hair, blue eyes, and long legs because I wanted to be an 'American' girl."
Alhambra Police creates first Weibo (Chinese Twitter) account
Alhambra Source also published this summer a story about how to improve outreach to the Chinese community by contributor Walter Ma. The story resulted in a collaboration with the Alhambra Police Department and an immigrant integration initiative using Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging platform similar to Twitter. In less than 10 days, Alhambra Police Department's account grew to more than 5,000 followers. As the first police department in the United States to launch an account, Alhambra PD has received questions from immigrants in the San Gabriel Valley and across the country as well as residents from China.
Other cities are taking notice. San Francisco, Seattle, San Leandro, San Jose, and Monterey Park police departments have all contacted Police Chief Mark Yokoyma with questions about how to set up a Weibo account and translation strategies. And Chinese residents from across the country have written to say they wish their cities would create an account. Feedback has included questions about how old a child must be to be left home alone, how to dispose of a dead cat, or what to do when involved in a hit and run. A tip about a suspect even arrived.
Ma created the agency’s Weibo account and is now volunteering as Alhambra Police Community Engagement Coordinator. Ma is excited for the project to grow and credits Alhambra Source for its seed. “Alhambra Source prepared me to understand the dynamics of the community and their backgrounds and interests," Ma said.
Three years strong!
Alhambra Source turned 3 this fall, celebrating with a birthday party that included dozens of community contributors, residents, and local officials. We were excited to look back on all our growth and progress since the site launched in 2010.
"I think there is nothing in the area that is comparable in terms of depth, the range of articles on your site, and the number of people you interview — and really going into controversial issues that many don’t do, or can’t do," said Mike Eng, former San Gabriel Valley assemblyman and mayor of Monterey Park. "Now it’s your third anniversary, and I believe soon it will be your 30th and we’ll wonder how did we ever get along without you."
And moving forward!
We are looking forward to more exciting work in 2014, including another Reporter Corps Alhambra class and a community forum with the Alhambra Police Department! We need your help to continue to grow. We invite you to get involved with Alhambra Source by becoming a community contributor, donating to the site, helping us develop a sponsorship strategy with local businesses, or sending us a story idea!