Pictured: Photo from our Hospitality Vocational Training Program Graduation in 2019

Since San Francisco’s shelter in place order has been implemented, CAA’s economic justice staff have remotely helped 130+ limited english proficient Chinese community members with accessing unemployment insurance and employment assistance. Looking forward to the eventual return to providing in person services at our Chinatown offices, we want to highlight the experiences of three of our clients who have been furloughed during this economic and health crises. 

Yuecai Xue

Before the downturn in the economy, Yuecai Xue decided to look for full time employment after her children became fully independent. Xue found CAA after deciding to look for a stable job with benefits and wanted to see what sort of job programs were available to limited english proficient immigrants. CAA’s staff worked with Xue to strengthen her resume and interview skills and was able to find her work at various hotels before landing at Huntington Hotel before the pandemic started.

“Even though I am currently furloughed due to the pandemic, I am really not concerned or afraid and if called, I will go back to Huntington Hotel to start work tomorrow. I believe the hotel will be careful and provide us with the proper safety equipment to work so that we will be safe. However, I am not sure how the economy will bounce back and it might take a while from the hotels reopening. I am hopeful however and look forward to going back to work and interacting with my colleagues.”

Xiaoling Yang

Xiaoling Yang immigrated to the United States from China and initially found difficulty applying to jobs due to inexperience with English and digital literacy. Yang started to receive help from CAA after a referral from a friend and was able to quickly navigate online application forms as well as develop a well-written resume. Through 1 on 1 practice, Yang became more and more acclimated with job interviews. While she is now confident in her ability to find work, she recognizes how COVID-19 is complicating her comfort with staying in the hospitality industry. Yang is worried about the health of her family and is willing to switch industries to reduce risk of exposure to herself and her loved ones. 

“Ever since the pandemic, there has been no work, but I have gotten a lot of assistance from CAA with my questions about employment opportunities, Unemployment Insurance, the FPUC, and the stimulus check. I feel really glad that I moved to the US where there are such safety nets for [people like me] when we really need it. Nevertheless, shelter-in-place has been hard for my whole family. I am staying at home, taking care of my kids and my parents, while my husband is working. I worry about my kids being on the phone and computer all day but there really isn’t anything else for them to do. We are constantly anxious because of the double concerns of getting our family sick and running out of money. I look at job listings all the time, but I am not sure if I should apply for fear that I could expose my family to COVID-19 if I were to work. I feel like I am forced to choose between safety and income.”

Meijing Wu

Up until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Meijing Wu worked as a housekeeper at the Palace Hotel. Wu was furloughed due to the hotel’s closure and is now struggling with the financial pressures of unemployment. Wu hopes to return to her job once the economy and tourism open back up and is motivated to grow her skills in the hospitality field. She started her hotel career in the U.S. with the Hospital Vocational Training Program and Employment Counseling offered in collaboration between CAA, CPA, and CCSF. As a working mother of two, Wu was able to expand her understanding of the hiring process to hospitality and beyond. Specifically, Wu shared how connecting to employers through job interviews and resume prep would help her in all fields of work.

“The most helpful method was going through the application process with the referral and support of a nonprofit like Chinese for Affirmative Action. I heard about these services through my classmate at the City College of San Francisco. I participated in the Hospitality Vocational Training program and employment counseling that the Chinese Progressive Association and Chinese for Affirmative Action provided in 2019-2020. The program helped me find more opportunities to enter the hospitality industry. I received hotel hiring information and gained a better understanding of how to find and interview for a job.”