Personal Essay: A Visit to the Jook Breakfast
As part of our efforts to encourage Penn students to be active in the local community and foster a new generation of culturally competent researchers and health care leaders, the Penn Asian Health Initiatives has opened our work to students.
Below is an excerpt from a reflective journal entry from our student intern, Miraya Jun.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Miraya Jun is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Psychology major.Miraya is currently working to help us manage data and other tasks related to the project.
A VISIT TO SEAMAAC
I arrived at SEAMAAC in South Philly for my first visit to the elders' Jook breakfast at 9:30 AM last Tuesday, November 11.
Today's breakfast was actually not Jook, a hot rice porridge, but Vietnamese noodles, with a spicy and not spicy sauce which Hannah, one of SEAMAAC's Vietnamese outreach workers, had prepared the night before. There was also tea, and coffee as well as Chinese Chess (also known as Xiangqi or co tuong) game that some elder men chose to play while waiting for the rest of the elders to come. During this time, the dining room was filled with sound and elders slowly trickled in, greeted and caught up with each other. There was one woman I recognized from my bus ride over. She was a dignified woman with a bright red coat. She had looked serious and even defensive while sitting on the bus seat, but I noticed a huge difference as she was vibrant, smiling, and chatting with her friends at SEAMAAC.
I realized that each and every elder that chooses to make the morning commute (some of which take longer than 20 minutes) to take part of the Jook breakfast. They do so because eating jook at SEAMAAC is not just getting a hot morning meal, but is also a more valuable opportunity to form a sense of community for themselves.
As the elders got situated, the SEAMAAC Staff made some announcements about activities they would hold later that day, such as an immigration assistance workshop. Men were still enjoying the game of chess and occasionally interrupted the speaker with their loud outbursts, but they were quickly hushed by the elderly women sitting next to them. The staff then introduced Ethan, my advisor who is also from Penn, and I to the elders. That day was coincidentally also my birthday, and so when they heard this news, they announced it too! The elders all clapped and some shouted "Happy Birthday!" After the announcements, the food was served.
I took this time to converse with some of the elders. One man told me of his daughters that are in college here in Philadelphia, and also of his story as a "boat person" during his family's escape from Vietnam. I learned that he had to wait in the Philippines to get immigration clearance and was separated from his family in the move to the United States. He seemed quite happy that day, a tough looking, well-built elderly man enjoying noodles with his friends. I realized then that each of these elders has a unique and incredible story to tell and that it is all the more important to make sure this community is given the opportunity to be heard.I closed the day by speaking to a group of women who inquired what my background was and were excited to share their Kimchi recipes with me when they heard that I was Korean. I left SEAMAAC feeling happy because I was so warmly welcomed and excited for future trips out. One of the things that the New Routes project is trying to do is help the Southeast Asian elders communicate their health concerns amongst their own community, and medical professional in the area through a public broadcasting video project. My visit to SEAMAAC emphasized how great this need for communication really is and brings me hope that I will be able to be part of the New Routes project.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.