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At Tet Celebration, Census Bureau Reaches Out To Vietnamese

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By David Schultz

The sound of fireworks permeates nearly every corner of the Eden Center in Falls Church, a Vietnamese enclave in Northern Virginia.

Nearly every storefront features the yellow and red flag of South Vietnam in its window and many older men are wearing their South Vietnamese military uniforms.

The Census Bureau has a tent at the Eden Center. Records show census participation rates among Vietnamese-Americans are well below average and the Bureau is trying to change that.

Genie Nguyen, with the group Vietnamese Voice of America, says there's a reason the rate is so low.

"Back in Vietnam, people are afraid of the government," says Nguyen. "They're afraid of being controlled and suppressed by the government. So they're not used to coming out and answering all the questions."

Nguyen says, when she meets someone who's uneasy about filling out Census forms, she explains to them how the Census determines representation in government and federal funding levels.

She also reminds them that the Census is strictly confidential.

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