Biloxi Vietnamese say poor economy equals local population rise

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Some in the South Mississippi Vietnamese community say a shrinking national economy is helping our Vietnamese population grow. The number of Vietnamese living in Biloxi dropped significantly after Katrina when many families lost their homes and livelihood. Now people at the Buddhist Temple say the tide is turning.

During Buddha's 2,253rd birthday celebration, his followers reflected on his teachings of compassion, kindness and community service. Some Buddhists say after Hurricane Katrina they realized they needed to play a leading role in rebuilding Biloxi.

"We have a lot of the people out in different organizations now working to put their cliques together as a whole community," said Jack Nguyen, who attends services at the temple. "So it's in the process of uniting."

Nguyen and others say Biloxi's Vietnamese population is on the rise. They say former residents displaced by the hurricane are starting to move back, and there are a lot of brand new faces.

"I think Biloxi absolutely is growing due to the economy condition of like in California or Florida areas," said Nguyen. "I think here the housing cost is very decent, as well as a small community. There are a lot of people who have moved here for that reason."

Chris Vu say job opportunities and reasonably priced housing is why he and some friends recently moved from Oregon to South Mississippi. He expects more Vietnamese to head to Biloxi.

"A lot of potential for me to live in a new community, a lot of choice of what you can do around here," said Vu. "We try to get more people to come to the state and get a better job and new things to do. More people join together and build up the city."

The newcomers say they want to make their adopted city a better place to live by not just helping the Vietnamese community, but everyone.

Nguyen said, "Teach people about awakening. Be aware of your surroundings. Communicate with the other communities to make it a bigger Biloxi community, not only a Vietnamese community."

The Buddha birthday celebrations ended with prayers for the dead and a luncheon.

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