City coordinator hopes to bridge gaps among ethnic populations

Sometimes, policies meant to promote cultural sensitivity backfire.

When Edward Kimmi’s bilingual son was pulled out of his first-grade class to take an English proficiency test, the boy came home that night worried he’d been singled out because he was stupid. While the intent of the program was positive, the execution embarrassed him.

Sometimes, even a small amount of feedback can influence positive change.

“We need to voice our opinions,” said Kimmi, a Beaverton chiropractor who emigrated from Korea in high school.

He made a commitment to encourage other members of his community to speak up.

In a city where one in four residents is foreign-born, city leaders have identified cultural inclusion as a crucial step toward a healthy civic process. To help promote the idea, Daniel Vázquez, the city’s new cultural inclusion coordinator, will host a forum on Saturday to bring together culturally diverse residents to meet public officials and learn about ways to get involved with decision-making committees. The Multicultural Community Forum will be held from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Beaverton Community Center, 12350 S.W. Fifth CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Beaverton chiropractor Edward Kimmi, who emigrated from Korea in high school, said he's encouraged by diversity-enhancing networking opportunities such as the Multicultural Community Forum on Saturday at the Beaverton Community Center on Southwest Fifth Street.

Participants can learn how to influence decision-making, where to access information about city resources and services, and how to promote safety in their own neighborhoods. Refreshments will be served at the event, and attendees will be entered in a free drawing to win $25 gift cards.

While it’s a challenge to recruit volunteers, diversifying the makeup of public leaders — staff, elected officials and volunteers — can be even tougher with people from certain cultural traditions.

“I’ve been serving the Korean community for 10 years, and I’ve realized we’re pretty insulated,” Kimmi said.”That’s characteristic of Koreans. We don’t want help. We want to do it on our own.”

But a lack of engagement does nothing to dispel misunderstandings about how government functions, Vázquez notes.

For example, Kimmi said he’s spoken to community members who worry that registering to vote will have negative consequences.

Vázquez, who moved to Oregon from Mexico as a 10-year-old, said he understands how this miscommunication evolves.

“Sometimes we can’t even trust police (in our country of origin), so this concept of civic engagement is quite foreign,” he said. “We work hard to take care of our families, so sometimes community engagement isn’t at the top of the list.”

But as the face of the city changes, a diverse representation of voices is crucial, he noted. Within the Beaverton School District, half of the students are people of color, and among those students’ families, 96 languages are spoken in their homes, Vázquez said. Only 40 years ago, however, Beaverton’s population was 99 percent white.

In his cultural inclusion role, Vázquez is working with Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and other city leaders to promote an environment that encourages more ethnic minority members to sign up to serve on one of the city’s 15 boards and commissions, or one of its 11 neighborhood association committees.

Additional participation from a wider group of citizens is a key goal as the city moves forward in drafting a diversity and equity inclusion action plan.

At the forum, free childcare and translation services will be available to those who pre-register online at or by calling event coordinators at 971-217-6398 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

What: Multicultural Community Forum — An event geared toward bringing together Beaverton's culturally diverse residents who want to make a difference in their community

When: Saturday, June 1, from 1 to 5 p.m.; check in begins at 12:30 p.m.

Where: Beaverton Community Center, 12350 SW Fifth St.

Free reservations and more information: Visit

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