Trinh Mai

Trinh MaiTrinh Mai, LCSW, MSW, serves as the University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) 2010-2011 Community Scholar in Residence. A member of the social work faculty at the University of Utah since 2006, Trinh has been working with Utah’s immigrant and refugee populations for four years to enrich the American experience - for both immigrants and citizens. At Hartland Partnership Center, a University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) program, she supervises the social work partnership. Within this partnership, social work students and faculty collaborate with community and other University partners to run programs and conduct research that aims to increase community access to education, healthcare, and housing, as well as promote integration of new Americans. As the 2010-2011 Community Scholar in Residence, Mai will have access to resources that will help the partnership further develop and to evaluate the Voices of New Americans program.
For more than a year, Mai has worked with Rai Farelly, a doctoral student in the U’s Department of Linguistics, and the UNP Hartland Resident Committee to develop and conduct cultural trainings for community organizations, focusing primarily on schools. The trainings - Voices of New Americans: Bridging Communities and Schools - allow the UNP Hartland Resident Committee, an ethnically diverse group of Utah residents, most with immigrant or refugee backgrounds, to share their knowledge and experiences with educators. Many of the presenters were teachers in their native countries of Afghanistan, Mexico, and Somalia. Now, in their new home, they enthusiastically work toward the goal of promoting education for all.

She explains the goal of her work is not assimilation, but rather, integration and mutual respect. She points out that by acknowledging, valuing, and integrating different beliefs or cultural traditions, whether they be in education or other disciplines, American systems and individuals develop their capacity and gain an international set of skills. “Cultural integration is richest when both newcomers and host cultures move toward each other, when both act as teachers and learners,” said Mai. “When people arrive to the U.S. as immigrants and refugees, they learn about mainstream cultures and how to integrate and adapt. Voices of New Americans recognizes and demonstrates that these communities also have a lot to teach.”

University of Utah President Michael K. Young awarded Mai the position of Community Scholar in Residence, acknowledging her ability to demonstrate “how teaching, research, and community engagement can be brought together into a valuable scholarly contribution.”