October 2012 Patriot Award Winner: Loan Tran

Every month, BORDC honors an individual who has done outstanding work in support of civil liberties and the rule of law in his or her community. This month, the Patriot Award goes to Loan Tran from North Carolina for her courageous work defending civil rights and civil liberties.

Loan has emerged as a leading youth organizer, and a strong advocate for immigrant rights and migrant justice. Her passion and enthusiasm are endless, and visibly demonstrated across several social justice movements.

Loan is a Vietnamese-American high school student based in North Carolina, where she works with several organizations, including United 4 the Dream (U4TD), a youth-advocacy and community partnership focused on supporting immigrants who are DREAM Act eligible. She also launched a campaign called “Drop the I-word,” which advocates against the prevalent and misleading use in the media of “illegal” to describe undocumented migrants. Beyond her further work with “Familias Unidas”, an organization that strives to keep immigrant families united despite the threat of deportation, Loan also aspires to launch a tuition equity campaign.

Much of Loan’s passion for advocacy stems from her personal history, as a member of a Vietnamese immigrant family that lived through forced migration from their homeland. With intimate knowledge of the challenges that affect new immigrants, she began connecting with people from different migrant backgrounds, educating herself about their vastly different stories and experiences.

Personally familiar with the cultural and linguistic barriers that immigrants must overcome, Loan stresses the importance of building a sense of community among allies. She helps build a safe space, where immigrants are allowed to share their experiences without fear of negative repercussions. Loan emphasizes the intangible rewards of organizing, such as knowing that her efforts strengthen her community and others.

For individuals who may be interested in advocating for similar issues, Loan emphasizes the importance of discovering your own history and narrative. She says this is essential in effectively advocating for any issue. She also urges fellow activists to take advantage of available information resources, such as blogs (like the People’s Blog for the Constitution) and independent media, to gain information about their concerns and sharpen their advocacy.

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