Thais in Los Angeles (Images of America Series)
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Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. With a relatively recent history of immigration to the United States dating to 1965, reports estimate that 80,000 Thais make their home in Southern California. In spite of its brief history in the United States, the Thai community in Los Angeles has already left its mark on the city. While the proliferation of Thai-owned businesses and shops has converted East Hollywood and some San Fernando Valley neighborhoods to destinations for cultural tourism, the Thai community in Los Angeles County reverberates still from global attention over the 1995 El Monte human trafficking case. The great popularity of Thai cuisine, textiles, and cultural festivals continues to preserve, enrich, and showcase one of Asia's most distinctive cultures.
Inc., which helps immigrants develop health advocacy skills in an effort to promote personal health responsibility. Much needs to be done still to build and strengthen these institutions and organizations. Thai CDC purchased the c. 1923 Halifax Apartments in 1997 together with the Organization for Neighborhood Empowerment and completed a $5 million historic rehabilitation of the building that converted 72 single units into 46 multifamily units for low and very low income individuals and
characteristics, in their initial motivations for migration, and in their distribution within the Los Angeles area. The attraction of better opportunities and the desire to join relatives already established here were the primary reasons for immigrating to the United States. Therefore, Thais are considered economic immigrants. Unlike other Southeast Asians, Thais are not political refugees fleeing persecution or civil strife back home. Buddhism and Buddhists play a key role in Thai culture.
community institution, Wat Thai of Los Angeles has not only become a social gathering center, but also emphasizes education of the new generations of Thais and non-Thais about Thai beliefs, values, and culture. Open to the public, the Wat Thai of Los Angeles is well known for its Thai language program, created in 1974 for second-generation Thais and non-Thais. It also hosts courses on traditional painting, dancing, and music, in which Thai parents enroll their children, and which attracts diverse
Wat Thai attended a cultural exposition in Vancouver, Canada, where he saw some magnificent monuments on display. He decided to ask the exposition if he could have them, and those statues were subsequently donated to Wat Thai of Los Angeles where they stand today, guarding the entrance to the temple. The uniformed Wat Thai of LA schoolchildren bow down on the ground in reverence during opening exercises before class. (Courtesy of Wanda Pathomrit.) The abbot of Wat Thai of LA is posing inside
their alms. Thai monks and the less traditional nuns receive alms from Thai worshippers as a form of merit making. These alms serve as the monk’s meal for the day or provide personal supplies for the monks to use in their daily life. The abbot and his monks receive alms from the Thai consul general of Los Angeles, Isintorn Sornvai, and his family at the Thai New Year’s Day Songkran Festival in Thai Town in the early 2000s. Young novices are being ordained into the monkhood for 10 days or up to