Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winter Festival

So what else has been going on at CISC? On December 5, over 75 people attended the Winter Festival talent show at the International Family Center-Seattle.

Potluck dinner and entertainment by CISC Afterschool Program students, some of whom had been practicing for months.

There was a wide variety of talent displayed, including both vocal and instrumental musical acts.

For a grand finale, parents went up on stage to have a group singing performance, much to the delight of their kids.

The night ended with a raffle drawing in appreciation of the students and their families for their support and participation in our program.

Immigrant Integration, Part II

Long time, no blog. That's because we were busy in Europe wrapping up the US-Belgium Cultural Crossing exchange program this month, and then dealing with snow in Seattle.

Earlier this month, all US and Belgian participants of the program returned to Liege to discuss findings and experiences from our various trips across the US and Belgium.

Of particular interest was the European Union's official policy on immigrant integration, which surprisingly, the majority of Belgian practitioners of integration services were unaware of. As in the US, there seems to be a long way to go to get from the reality on the ground (what we see every day) and the goals of the policies. But it was heartening to hear from the primary author of the document, Iwona Piorko, on the last day in Brussels, the work that continues to be done to bridge the gap.

These principles, which had to be approved by all 27 member nations (a significant feat in itself), may provide a useful framework for our own discussions on immigration reform here in the US. Also useful may be the Handbook on Integration for Policy-makers and Practitioners which addresses services, civic participation as well as evaluation.

As we all struggle with the global economic downturn, trying to protect those immigrant services and programs we already have, we can use this time and the relationships built with our colleagues across the US and in Belgium to strategize how we may reconfigure or improve our programs to better meet the needs of immigrants in the future. Creating opportunities for immigrant success - that's what CISC is all about.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Family Caregiver Appreciation

Last week, to close out National Family Caregiver Month, CISC held a health education seminar and appreciation party for our caregivers.

Over 35 caregivers listened to a physician from Nan Cheong Medical College in China explain how to maintain and improve one's health after age 55. He also demonstrated special massage techniques on participants.

Starting January, two new support groups will be held for Chinese caregivers - in Seattle at the International Family Center and on the Eastside at the North Bellevue Community Center. Many caregivers signed up on the spot.

For more information on these groups or to learn more about this program, please contact Theresa Lam at or 206.624.5633 x 4137.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving at IFC-Seattle

Last week while the rest of us were stuffing ourselves with turkey and pie, the International Family Center-Seattle staff were teaching some of our youngest friends and neighbors just what Thanksgiving is all about.

Over 100 people joined us for a Thanksgiving celebration for kids that included stories about the first Thanksgiving, arts and crafts, fun and games, and of course food!

We at CISC are thankful for all the support we have received this year from our donors, funders, clients and friends. Without you, we couldn't do the work we do, helping ease the transition to a new culture for over 8,000 immigrants and their families. For that, we are truly thankful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

This year, we give thanks to Catherine Wong for 10 years of service in building and running our Eastside Senior Outreach program. This will be her last Thanksgiving here as she and her husband will be returning to Hong Kong to care for elderly parents.

This program started here at the North Bellevue Community Center in 1999 and now has expanded to 9 different sites across the Eastside and South King County.

One of the most positive things about this program (and there are many) is the interaction between our Chinese seniors and the mainstream community. Because the activities are integrated into the local Parks & Rec Departments, participants and community members have many opportunities to make new friends and learn about new cultures and traditions.

We are so grateful to Catherine for all her passion and dedication. We're sad to see you go, but wish you the very best in the next phase of your life!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We Appreciate our Donors!

Last week, we thanked some of our most loyal supporters with a small get together at the home of Omar and Christine Lee. Also with us that night was the Seattle Youth Symphony's Ragazzi String Quartet, adding to the atmosphere with some beautiful chamber music.

We depend on all our individual and corporate donors to support our work helping Chinese and other immigrants make the transition to a new life, while keeping later generations in touch with their rich heritage. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kids' Activities

October was a busy month for kids at CISC. Our preschoolers went trick-or-treating through our offices, collecting candy and treats, many for the first time.

Free candy?! What a concept!!

The seniors particularly get a kick out of the kids, and just love handing out goodies. Moms and caregivers had a good time putting together costumes for their little ones.
And over in Redmond, we've started our 7th play and learn group this month. After literally months of waiting for the city to finish construction on the new facility, we are now happy to be able to bring play and learn to family, friend and neighbor caregivers in Redmond at Grass Lawn Park.

Many Microsoft families, grandmothers and young children utilize this park on 148th Ave NE. And with the newly refurbished play area (with a really cool rock and water feature), it's going to be awesome on sunny summer days!

Please help us spread the word about this new resource on the Eastside!

Lots Going On @ CISC

Haven't had a chance to blog lately, but that doesn't mean we haven't been doing anything!

In the last couple of weeks we have held an auto maintenance seminar, a workshop on energy conservation, and a family health fair attended by over 120 people!

A big thanks to all of our community partners, including Cornerstone Automotive Services, Seattle City Light, Public Health, International Community Health Services, and many more! We couldn't do it without you.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

More Resources

Continuing our efforts to educate the community on disaster preparedness, yesterday we recorded a disaster preparedness DVD into Mandarin with the help of our friends at the Office of Emergency Management.

We already have a Cantonese version, but since so many of our newer immigrant families are Mandarin speaking, we felt it is critical to have the information in both dialects. They will be posted to our web site.

Next up, Vietnamese!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunshine Garden Gets Out the Vote

Last week, members of Sunshine Garden Senior Day Care Center performed at a Get Out the Vote luncheon hosted by several Chinatown community groups.

Over 400 people were in attendance.

The lunch was followed up this week with a voting workshop and visit to the new King County elections office.

Seniors learned how to fill out their ballots (but not what to fill out) and what happens to the ballots once they are mailed in.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

America from a Flemish Perspective

One of our Belgian friends recently shared this with us: "Looking for America" Flemish photographers' views of the essence of America.

To read the descriptions of the photos and why the artist chose the picture, go to Flanders Today. Don't you love the expression on the Costco lady's face?

And just in case you didn't know, Flanders is the name for the northern, Dutch speaking part of Belgium, distinct from Wallonia, the southern, French speaking part of the country.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall Cleaning

It's that time of year again, and time to clean our building. We can't believe it's already been 2 years since we moved into our new building! And now it's time to clean 2 years' worth of accumulated grit and grime.

Don't know if you've noticed, but the seagulls seem to have a proclivity for bombing our windows. We still can't figure out how they do it, but we're glad they're finally getting cleaned!

A big thanks to the workers who have been pressure washing the building with anti-graffiti solution for the past two days. It looks great!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lifelong Giving

You've heard of lifelong learning? Well at CISC, we also have lifelong giving.

Long time supporter and former board member Katty Chow now volunteers at CISC after having retiremee from a long career in the banking industry. She works with the SHIBA program (State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) and teaches others how to navigate the vast, confusing system of health insurance.

Here, she is conducting a seminar one Saturday afternoon on the changes to Medicare Part D in 2009. Over 20 people took advantage of this opportunity and were grateful to learn about Medicare changes in a language and dialect that they could understand.

Thank you Katty for all you do!

In-home Care Providers

More than 30 In-home Care Providers were recognized recently by CISC at an event celebrating their contributions in keeping seniors and disabled persons living in their own homes as long as possible.

The Home Care Referral Registry sponsored the event, and program manager Judy Flynn was on hand to pull the lucky raffle ticket.

Caregivers were able to share their experiences and challenges with each other, get support, and create a sense of community in what can often be a very lonely job.

Thanks for all your hard work!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Did you know that Seattle has one of the highest rates of CPR training in the nation? Lucky for us. According to the American Heart Association, in cities such as Seattle, where CPR training is widespread and EMS response time is short, survival rates are about 30%.

Contrast that to New York City, where few victims receive bystander CPR, and time to EMS response time is longer. Survival rates there average only 1–2%.

But is bystander CPR as common in our limited English speaking immigrant communities? Do individuals in these communities have the same survival rates as the general population?

In order to increase our odds of survival, CISC's International Family Center-Seattle offers free CPR training to the community
. Last Saturday we had a number of individuals take advantage of this opportunity.

And just for your information if you're going to have a heart attack, CISC is not a bad place to be. All staff receive regular training in CPR and first aid.

In Other News...

Thanks to board member Steve Price for finding another CISC (besides the Canadian Indonesian Social Club).

This one's the Culinary Institute of Smoke Cooking. Check them out!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Friday, we spent the morning discussing fundraising (after having watched the Dow fall 850 points in the first 45 minutes of trading), trends and challenges we have been seeing and experiencing in our respective communities. Sharing experiences and best practices not only in service provision but financial stability is crucial, especially in these challenging and uncertain times.

Learning from one another, and looking to our colleagues from around the world for support is a key benefit to CISANI membership. It truly is a special group of individuals, who run an extraordinary collection of agencies to benefit Chinese and other immigrants in communities around the world.Our hats of to these dedicated individuals and organizations, and a big thanks to our friends in Houston for a wonderful and enriching experience in the Lone Star State!

For more information on CISANI, please visit our website: Looking forward to next year's meeting hosted by the Chinese American Planning Council in New York, NY!

Alaric & friend

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Today's schedule was lighter than than yesterday. We spent the morning touring our host agency, the Chinese Community Center and learning about all the programs they offer. They moved into a 55,000 square foot facility 2 years ago, and just completed their gymnasium/auditorium, which takes up about 1/3 of the space. No, that's not really Yao Ming there, just his life sized picture on the wall.

With all their space, they were able to host an international ping pong tournament this year. And with their 5 acres of land, they hold a lunar new year festival that draws some 12,000 people from all across Houston and points beyond!

They've got their own kitchen where they prepare lunch for their 6 day care classes, as well as a dance studio and in-house fitness center where staff are able to work out and relieve some stress. With all this space, what must their air conditioning bill be like, you wonder? Well, in the summer, it can be as much $20,000 per month!

We spent the afternoon touring the Chinatown area. Houston's Chinatown is a whopping 16 miles long! That's 2-1/2 miles longer than the island of Manhattan! When they say that everything's bigger in Texas, they really mean it!

One thing we've noticed about Houston: the food here is really good! Who would have thought that there would be such good Chinese food in Texas? That and the low cost of housing (an average home is only about $150,000) makes it easy to see why it is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.
This one comes with a pool!