Las Vegas' Chinese-Americans Seek Political Visibility
Chinese culture is evident throughout Las Vegas.
We have the Asian Business District known as Chinatown. Chinese New Year is a huge holiday. And of course there are tons of Chinese tourists.
But what about the local population?
There are about 50,000 Chinese-Americans in Las Vegas, according to some estimates, and that number is growing.
Hui-Lim Ang is the current president of Chinese-American Citizens Alliance. She said the Las Vegas branch of the alliance was started 16 years ago but never did much beyond occasional dinners.
However, two years ago, Ang decided to change that and move the alliance to become more active in the community.
She said many Chinese who immigrated to the United States preferred not to get involved in politics and were generally more focused on prosperity.
Now, one of the main goals of the alliance is to educate the community about Chinese people and their culture.
Marc Matsuo is the incoming president of the alliance. He said explaining to people why certain dances are done or why certain foods are eaten is important to him.
“I think there is a lot of culture out there," he said. "People see dances and different things and they appreciate it, but they don’t know the meaning behind it."
Ang said the alliance held a special Chinese New Year dinner where she took the time to explain to the guests what certain dishes meant and why they were eaten specifically at New Years.
The alliance also created a program that is used by some Southern Nevada schools to teach kids about the Moon Festival. Students read about the legend surrounding the festival and then translated it into artwork.
As the incoming president, Matsuo wants to continue Ang's work of education with an eye on reminding people how similar we really are.
“We may look different, but our goals and our values may be similar to what you have,” he said.
Hui-Lim Ang, president, Chinese American Citizens Alliance; Marc Matsuo, incoming president, Chinese American Citizens Alliance