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Weekly News Update: Portland School Systems, Portland Adult Education’s New Program, & a Successful Vigil for Asian-American Victims of Hate in Portland

By Ridwan Ali & Setareh Jalali
(Tarjumaadda Soomaalida halkan guji)

This week for our news show, we’re doing something a little different. Our host, Ridwan Ali, was sick this week, so we decided rather than not post any news, we would share a print version of our weekly news. Enjoy & tune in next week for a special episode featuring community members!  

PORTLAND — Let’s start with a COVID update for the day in Maine. The Maine CDC is reporting 283 new COVID-19 cases today and no new deaths. More than 20% of Mainers are fully vaccinated. 

On the topic of COVID, President Joe Biden and a top health official warned on Monday that too many Americans are loosening up COVID restrictions. They asked that states keep enforcing mask requirements and other restrictions to prevent a fourth surge of the virus.  

Cases of the virus are up about 10 percent over the past week from the previous week, to about 60,000 cases per day, with both hospitalizations and deaths ticking up as well. Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the national CDC warned that without immediate action the U.S. could follow European countries into another spike in cases and suffer needless deaths. 

Walensky pointed to an uptick in travel and loosening virus restrictions for the increase in cases.  

“People want to be done with this. I, too, want to be done with this,” she said. 

“Now is not the time to let down,” Biden said. “Now’s not the time to celebrate. It is time to do what we do best as a country: our duty, our jobs, take care of one another.” 

So, this is a friendly reminder from me and Boundless MEdia, for our community members who we love and support: Please keep wearing masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated, for your sake. 

Now for some news out of Portland… 

For the first time in history, a Maine school district has been recognized by the National School Boards Association with a Magna Award, which honors districts around the country for advancing equity and breaking down barriers for underserved students.  

The Portland school district is one of three winners who received the 2021 award recognizing its commitment to equity for its Make It Happen program, which started 14 years ago. Make It Happen which helps multilingual students in grades 9 through 12, providing them with academic support to ensure their success in school and help them prepare for college admission.  

I Made It Happen!

The prize includes a $5,000 grant that the district will use to establish a college scholarship fund for students who participate in Make It Happen! with more details expected to be announced this spring. 

Congratulations to Make It Happen and the Portland school district. If you would like to learn more about them, check out their website here

Also in Portland, Portland Adult Education has expanded its job training for new Mainers. PAE just finished its second session of their New Mainer Teller Training Program, a new initiative designed to help foreign-trained financial service professionals reenter their financial careers after moving to the US.  

The 12-week class is a collaboration between Portland Adult Education and eight local banks and credit unions during which students can learn from industry professionals about customer service, job search, personal finance and cash handling skills. 

Of the first 14 students, 11 are now employed full time, and eight work in banking.  

If you want to learn more about their programs, check out their website below (http://portlandadulted.org/).  

Now two weeks ago we told you about the Atlanta, Georgia shooting and the rise of anti-Asian violence and hate in America. On Tuesday in Portland, three organizations held a vigil in Payson Park to spread the message of unity following the violence. The vigil gathered a crowd of hundreds.  

Navi Chhay, the Asian-American woman who a couple weeks ago was inside her car with her daughter on Forest Ave when a man started harassing them, read a statement to the crowd about her experience.  

Other speakers included city councilor Tae Chong who is Korean-American, as well as several Asian Portland Public School students who held signs showing photographs of the Asian-Americans who have been killed or attacked in recent weeks. Each student read a brief profile of the victim and what happened to them.  

The vigil came days after a Stop Asian Hate rally held outside of Portland City Hall on Saturday. It was organized by Unified Asian Communities, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, and Portland Public Schools. 

The day before the vigil, another Asian American woman was attacked in New York City. On Monday afternoon, a 65-year-old woman was attacked by a man who repeatedly kicked her in front of witnesses who stood by.  

According to surveillance footage from the New York City Police Department, the woman was walking in Manhattan when a man came up and kicked her in the stomach, knocking her to the ground. The man then stomped on the woman’s face several times while hurling anti-Asian sentiments at her, police said. 

The woman was hospitalized with serious injuries.  

According to video footage, a man inside a building lobby stopped what he was doing to watch the assault. Later, two more men walked into the frame and one of them closed the door as the woman was on the ground.  

Early on Tuesday, the company that manages the condo, Bordsky Organization, announced that the staffers involved in the incident have been suspended. 

NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea previously said the agency would increase their outreach and patrols in predominantly Asian communities amid a national spike of anti-Asian hate crimes. Unfortunately, this strategy does not seem to be working.  

If you see racist incidents in your community, please say something or alert authorities. Let’s keep our brothers and sisters in the community safe.  

That wraps up our weekly news update for you all. Thanks so much for reading and supporting Boundless! If you want to get in touch with us, we would love your feedback, comments, or questions. Also let us know if there are any specific topics you would like for us to cover in the future. You can reach us on Instagram or Facebook at boundlessMEdia207 or on Twitter at boundlessME207. 

Thank you and we’ll see you next week with a regular video show, but with some special community guests… Stay tuned! 

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