Spotlight on Mimi Duong

Young Vietnamese Asian person with short red hair wears a cream sweater over a white button up and sits in front of a large foliage plant.

Pronouns: she/they

Hometown: St. Johnsbury, VT

Years in VT: 22

Occupation: Outreach and Member Coordinator at VT PoC

Social Handle: @mimi.duong

Our member spotlight this month is on our new Outreach and Member Coordinator, Mimi Duong! Mimi was born in raised in St. Johnsbury, and recently completed their degree in Public Communications and Japanese Language Studies at UVM. While growing up in VT was rough, but they’ve grown to love it thanks to the vibrant community around them. They’re super excited to be working with y’all and we are so excited for y’all to learn more about Mimi! Click here for their full interview!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a second-generation Vietnamese American immigrant, born and raised in St. Johnsbury, Vermont! I recently graduated in May from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Science in Public Communication. I consider myself a public communicator and community developer committed to amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color—especially in the state of Vermont (which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is 94.0% white).

Why did you choose to work with VT PoC?

What was it like growing up in Vermont as a Vietnamese American person?

Full disclosure: it was tough! Growing up in Vermont as a Vietnamese American was isolating. I didn’t have the opportunity to fully explore my culture and delve deeper into my identity because I was encouraged to assimilate. I often experienced being “othered,” but that isolation ultimately helped me develop a stronger sense of self. I became enthusiastic about engaging with my culture, as well as other cultures, and connecting with other people of color.

Why did you choose to work with VT PoC?

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I attended Jenny Yang’s show at the Vermont Comedy Club. I recognized some of VT PoC’s board members sitting at a table and having the absolute night of their lives together—that was the moment I realized that it was possible for me to have that kind of community here in Burlington. It’s funny; I remember insistently telling myself throughout college, “I’m leaving Vermont as soon as I graduate.” Surprise! I’m still here—it turns out that I’ve grown to love where I live. The vibrant BIPOC community in Burlington played a significant role in shaping me and my identity and I came to the realization that this was a community that I wanted to continue being a part of, grow with, and serve. As I am passionate about advancing the visibility of BIPOC in Vermont, taking on this position as a public communicator and a community builder was the natural next step for me.

What are you most looking forward to as the new Outreach and Member Coordinator for VT PoC?

As the new Outreach and Member Coordinator for VT PoC, I am most excited to connect and engage with the greater BIPOC community in Vermont!

In what ways would you like VT PoC to show up for the BIPOC community outside of Chittenden County?

While VT PoC has the easiest access to Chittenden County, there are numerous BIPOC throughout the state who could benefit from our resources. I would be thrilled to see VT PoC organizing community events beyond Chittenden County, aiming to attract and involve individuals from other areas.

What advice do you have for young BIPOC people living in VT?

If you find yourself struggling to find a sense of belonging with your identity, I advise you to seek community and support. You may have to go out of your way, but remember that there are fellow BIPOC living in Vermont, and taking this step can make a significant difference. Building strong relationships with those who share similar experiences can provide holistic support and help you feel grounded in your identity and heritage. (Seriously—talking to someone who “gets” it feels like scratching an itch you didn’t even know you had!)

In my case, I didn’t have access to this kind of support until I started attending the University of Vermont. I became involved with the University’s Asian Student Union and served on its executive board for all four years. This experience not only enhanced my sense of self, but also deepened my bond with my cultural roots. I also made lifelong connections and memories I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

One more thing: you create your own path. Don’t allow yourself be confined by stereotypes and societal expectations. You got this!

What is something special about VT that you want to share with the community?

Vermont may be known for its picturesque landscapes, but it also boasts a growing and diverse population that contributes to the state’s rich cultural tapestry. There are events, festivals, initiatives, organizations and community groups across the state that actively work to provide spaces for dialogue, understanding, and an appreciation for different cultures. Is it 94% white? Yes, but we’re totally working with it!

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