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the BRIDGE Community Center
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Take Me Home jail scene clip · Apr 21

Jail Scene clip

The BRIDGE · Sep 20

605 Chicago Ave.
Modesto, CA 95351
(209) 571-8430 or (209) 571-0349 (Interpreter Services)

The BRIDGE mission is to build bridges of understanding and friendship between individuals and families from different backgrounds; help them to learn about and from each other; and assist them in developing strong help networks in their neighborhood and a sense of pride and unity in their community.

Services (All BRIDGE services are free):

Interpreter and Social Service Assistance:

Cambodian language
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Hmong and Laotian languages
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Homework Assistance, Tutoring, After-school Activities:

2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

English as a Second Language Class:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cambodian Music Lessons:

Wednesday-Thursday4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Hmong kheng Lessons:

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Please call for appointments or for times for other services.

Southeast Asian dance classes · Sep 20

By Tom Sek

The BRIDGE Community Center has a variety of activities. One is the classical Laotian dance class led by Kongseng Dengmanara.

Some of the students in the dance lessons.

Many people in the Central Valley don’t know how special dancing is to others. This is a beautiful thing that takes many years to learn and perfect. To some people this is just a regular old dance lesson but for others this reminds them of their home and brings back memories about their cultural background.

If you want to learn some Southeast Asian dances, stop by the Bridge Community Center and sign up for free lessons.


The Bridge Community Center is open for after-school activities from 3:00-5:00 Monday through Friday. Children and teens are welcome to come and participate in the various activities. The Bridge Community Center has tutors to help with homework every afternoon, so please bring your work and let us help.

Other activities include participating in the filming and production of videos, arts and crafts activities, tumbling and break dancing, informal discussions about college and careers, occasional slide and video programs on a variety of topics.

Watch the upcoming Bridge newsletter for announcement of special programs, and come join us for homework help or for our afternoon activities.

Come join the fun!!

The BRIDGE Community Center film projects. · Sep 20

By Ousa Khun

Lights! Camera! Hey, Please, quiet on the set! Ahh…wait microphone is in the shot! Tell Tom his head is in the shot. Now Action!

In 2001 The BRIDGE Community Center shot their first short film titled “Take Me Home” which was about the dangers of drinking and driving. It was a video targeted towards high school teens about the importance of being responsible.

Later that year, the BRIDGE produced a documentary called “The Rhythm of Elder Treasures”. It was a documentary about South East Asian musicians here in the central Valley that was aired on PBS.

The trailer of “Mein Bai?”, translated into “Got Rice?”, is a fictional feature based loosely on real events of a Cambodian youth trying to overcome the tragedies of his homeland Cambodia to adjust to life in America.

BRIDGE ALUMNI: Ryan Khem Sok · Sep 20

By Mary Nay

Ryan Khem Sok started attending The BRIDGE in 1992 out of curiosity. After seeing many people milling in and out around the apartment, he started attending as well. His work-study program through MJC, where he studied electronic technology, allowed him to earn money for school coaching soccer, tutoring and teaching computer to children, as well as translating Cambodian. Ryan was recently in Modesto visiting family and friends, and dropped by The BRIDGE briefly to update us on his life.

Ryan now lives in Rhode Island and commutes to Boston to work as a technician for a medical device company. He is married with one daughter, a rambunctious four year old.

In his free time, Ryan likes to research computer technology, always up to the challenge to learn more.

BRIDGE ALUMNI: Marady Nay · Sep 20

By Mary Nay

Marady is an enthusiastic member of The BRIDGE family. She started attending the community center in 1989 before it was even open to the public, when it was still under construction by the co-directors and now-retired site coordinator, Dr. Ida Bowers, Cammie Lear, and Carla Emig, respectively. Marady attended The BRIDGE regularly for the many art and crafts activities as well as gymnastics. When she was old enough to work, she was hired as the children’s activities coordinator at The BRIDGE and contributed greatly to providing a fun atmosphere for children.

Marady received her undergraduate degree in biology from CSU Stanislaus. At present, Marady is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. She is currently doing her internship in a psychiatric ward in Napa State Hospital. In her free time (rarely does she have any), Marady enjoys hanging out with her family in west Modesto.

Lemon Grass · Sep 20

By Marge Leopold

Since moving to the new “BRIDGE” three years ago, we have planted many clumps of Lemon Grass. Lemon Grass has a very pungent lemon scent and is used in many S.E. Asian dishes. Many of the Latino neighbors have told us that they use the leaves for a tea that soothes stomach upset, Latinos use only the leaves and not the bulbous area above the root hairs that is used in many Asian foods.

Lemon Grass does not do well in cold temperatures and often is cut and covered in the winters in this valley. Sometimes if the Lemon Grass is sheltered or is along a South facing wall it will live through the winter. It is easier though to put the lemon grass in large pots and bring them into a warm area in the winter.

I wanted to pass on to you this lemon grass recipe that I found to be delicious.

Lemon Grass Pork

Chili and Lemon grass flavor this stir-fry and peanuts add a crunch (peanuts can be left out if people are allergic to them)

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds pork (boneless)
2 lemon grass stalks (with bottom)
4 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp oil
2 fresh red chilies (seeded and chopped)
Brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 oz roasted peanuts
Cilantro for garnish
Rice noodles to serve

  1. Cut pork into strips and put into dish with lemon grass, onions, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix well and marinate for at least 30 minutes
  3. Then heat wok, add oil and then add the pork mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes
  4. Add garlic and chilies and stir-fry for 5-8 minutes or until pork is no longer pink
  5. Add sugar, fish sauce and peanuts and toss to mix
  6. Serve on a bed of rice noodles and garnish with torn cilantro leaves

Help for the Village of Prakeap, Cambodia · Sep 20

By Ida Bowers

Mao Roth, BRIDGE Cambodian Senior Cultural Advisor and Interpreter, has been returning to Cambodia every 3-4 years since 1992 to help the village of Prakeap in northwest Cambodia. Mao and his family fled Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge reign of terror and genocide was ended by the invasion of Vietnamese troops in 1979. Although Mao and his family were challenged daily as they struggled to build a new life in this strange new land, the United States, he has never forgotten his homeland or the people of his village.

Mao works through the Paradise Road Buddhist Temple and his west Modesto community to raise funds before each journey home to Cambodia. He purchases the supplies that will be needed for whatever project is planned for that visit, and also buys food, blankets, clothes, mosquito nets and other necessities for the village as well. He works with the villagers to plan and complete each project.

Prakeap is located in a drought-prone area, so Mao helped the villagers dig four deep water wells. He taught people the importance of using that well water rather than water from rivers and ponds which is often polluted and causes illnesses such as typhoid and cholera.

Another project was to build and maintain an elementary school. The school presently has four classrooms and includes grades 1-5. With funds collected, Mao purchased tables and chairs for the classrooms. He also personally built restrooms for the school.

In addition, Mao has taught people how to compost organic matter to improve the very poor soils of the village. He has brought seeds to improve the range of vegetables and fruits available for gardens, and taught intensive gardening techniques. He has also warned villagers about pollution dangers from old kerosene and oil dumped on the ground, and from chemical pesticides and fertilizers which are readily available in the markets.

The school is always in need of funds to pay the teachers (their pay from the government of Cambodia is very little and sometimes is several months late), buy books and school supplies, and purchase blackboards. They also plan to develop school gardens where children can learn science lessons, good gardening, lessons in nutrition, and can actually grow food for their families.

To help with the village school and other projects in Prakeap, The BRIDGE has a “loose change” drive. People can drop their loose change in the Prakeap box at The BRIDGE, or if they happen to be on the CSU Stanislaus campus, there is a Prakeap “loose change” box in the Anthropology/Geography Department, room C215E. Come join Mao Roth in making a real difference in the world!

Why it is Important for Children to Maintain Their Mother Tongue in the United States · Sep 20

By Pao Lee, Ed. D.

Language is a system of communication used by a nation, people, or other distinct community; it is the principle medium of expressing and communicating thought and feelings. Albeit a nation composed of many different peoples and communities, the United States only speaks one principal language—English. In order to communicate effectively in mainstream American society, then, one must know the English language.

Though it is important for people to know English in America, it is just as important that people maintain their mother tongue. “Mother tongue” refers to “native language,” or “one’s parents’ language.” A person’s mother tongue serves as an effective mode of communication with his/her ethnic community. Moreover, a person’s mother’s tongue is an indicator of his/her culture and history.

The preoccupation with learning English in the United States has, in many instances, displaced mother tongues, especially among children of immigrants and refugees. Children of immigrants/refugees, who grow up in America today, are oriented with the English language daily in school, with their peers, siblings, and by watching television. Because the bulk of their days are consumed with the English language, these children psychologically think that English is more important than their mother tongue. Thus, they take their native language for granted, often neglecting to learn it and/or speak it unless absolutely necessary. In time, these children only maintain the most basic components of their native language and intricacies of the mother tongue are lost. With the loss of the mother tongue comes a deterioration of cultural identity and communication.

Language is derived from the history and culture of the people who speak it. Often times, information about a specific culture, which is expressed by complex terminology and language structure, can only be understood in that culture’s language. For example, many words and concepts in the Hmong language do not exist in English. To illustrate, the closest English translation for the Hmong phrase plig looj koov is: the sickness of a person is caused by the leaving of his/her soul because someone in the family has done something to offend the soul. If children of immigrants progressively shed their mother tongue, then, they will lose an important aspect of their family’s history and culture.

Children who do not maintain their mother tongue do not only lose a crucial element of their culture and history, they also have a harder time communicating with and for their monolingual parents or elders. When children lose their mother tongue, they can only converse with their non-English speaking parents and elders at a superficial level. This leads to a communication barrier between generations. Also, when asked to be translators for their non-English speaking parents or elders, these children often translate with uncertainty, or are unable to do it accurately. This is a major cause of miscommunication between non-English speakers and English speakers.

Because of the real need to know English in the United States, many immigrants only encourage their children to learn English while neglecting to realize the importance of maintaining a mother tongue. Children start losing their mother tongue when parents and elders do not take the time to correct improper utterances or teach complex vocabulary and concepts. As parents and educators, we must encourage our children to maintain our language in order that they will have a sense of cultural identity and be able to communicate freely among different peoples.