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What’s the Asian American experience like in Vermont?

A woman with a hot pink bag and a black hat looks at a package of rice cakes in front of a sign for "Always Full Asian Market." A collage of food products border the image.
Photo: Myra Flynn, Vermont Public
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Graphic: Mae Nagusky, Vermont Public
Hiroka Nakahira shops at South Burlington's Always Full Asian Market. In this episode of Brave Little State, we connect with Vermont's Asian and Asian American community.

On Anna Costello’s first visit to Vermont, she was surprised by the large number of Chinese restaurants compared to the seemingly small number of Asian Americans.

Brave Little State is Vermont Public's show that answers questions about Vermont that have been asked and voted on by you, our audience — because we think our journalism is better when you're a part of it.

In this episode, Myra Flynn learns to make bao, tours an Asian market, and talks to some of the leaders within this quiet but booming community here in Vermont.

Note: A heads up that there's some swearing in this episode. Also, our show is produced for the ear. We recommend listening to the audio; for accessibility, click here to find a written episode transcript.

Subscribe to Brave Little State for free, so you never miss an episode:

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A woman wearing a hood poses with a man in front of a large, white building with a gold dome.
Anna Costello
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Courtesy
Winning question-asker, Anna Costello, and her husband live in Massachusetts. While driving through Vermont once, she was surprised by the large number of Chinese restaurants compared to the seemingly small number of Asian Americans.
A woman in a black hate and glasses stands in the aisle of a market with a pink bag slung over her arm.
Myra Flynn
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Vermont Public
Japanese Vermonter Hiroka Nakahira stands the aisle of Always Full Asian Market in South Burlington. Nakahira grew up in Harajuku, Japan, a place that is often described as the street-fashion capital of the world.
A woman wearing a black hat sits in a booth at a restaurant. Edamame and sushi dishes are on the table in front of her.
Myra Flynn
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Vermont Public
Hiroka Nakahira eats edamame and sushi at Asiana Noodle Shop in Burlington Oct. 13, 2022.

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A bald man in a gray t-shirt leans on a counter and smiles.
Myra Flynn
/
Vermont Public
Chinese American Sam Lai first opened Cafe Dim Sum in October 2021 in Burlington. He reopened in October 2022 with 38 additional seats and 54 additional hot pots, at which guests can cook their own shabu shabu.
Two rows of dumplings rest on a sheet pan.
Anna Ste. Marie
/
Vermont Public
Sam Lai, owner of Cafe Dim Sum in Burlington, gave Brave Little State's Myra Flynn a lesson in making dumpling dough. It's harder than it looks!
Two people wearing rubber gloves stand in a kitchen add dumpling filling to the dough.
Anna Ste. Marie
/
Vermont Public
Two workers at Cafe Dim Sum help chef and owner, Sam Lai, stuff pork bao. Sam always makes the dough himself.
A man spoons a young child some food at a table filled with different dishes. The young child stares at the camera, mouth agape. An old man watches.
Weiwei Wang
/
Courtesy
Young Weiwei Wang with her cousin and grandfather in Beijing. Weiwei grew up in South Burlington and co-founded the Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VTPOC) in 2019.

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A collage of portraits: A man poses next to a woman holding up "peace signs," a man poses in a uniform, a woman holds up a jar and looks at it, a husband and wife pose with their kids and dog, a woman takes a selfie on a mountain.
Courtesy: Weiwei Wang, Paul Yoon, Cynthia Reyes
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Myra Flynn: Vermont Public
Vermont's Asian American community is quiet but booming. (Clockwise from upper left: Chinese American Weiwei Wang poses with her dad; Korean American Paul Suk-Hyun Yoon poses wearing a traditional Korean hanbok; Japanese Vermonter Hiroka Nakahira examines a jar in an international market; Filipino American Cynthia Reyes takes a selfie on a hike near Lake Willoughby; Korean American Paul Suk-Hyun Yoon poses with his family on a hike to Moss Glen Falls.)
Five people smile on a computer screen during a Zoom call.
Myra Flynn
/
Vermont Public
Some members of affinity groups APIDA ("Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans") for Black Lives and the Asian Cultural Group of Vermont meet with Brave Little State's Myra Flynn on Zoom.

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Credits

Myra Flynn reported this episode and did the mix and sound design. Engineering support from Peter Engisch. Editing and additional production from the rest of the Brave Little State team: Angela Evancie, Josh Crane and Mae Nagusky. Music from Blue Dot Sessions.

Special thanks to Mae Nagusky, Marlon Hyde, Ita Meno and Anna Ste. Marie.

As always, our journalism is better when you’re a part of it:

Brave Little State is a production of Vermont Public.

Myra Flynn joined Vermont Public as an engagement producer in March 2021. Raised in Vermont, Myra Flynn is an accomplished musician who has come to know the lay of dirt-road land that much more intimately through touring both well-known and obscure stages all around the state and beyond. She also has experience as a teaching artist and wore many hats at the Burlington Free Press, including features reporter and correspondent, before her pursuits took her deep into the arts world. Prior to joining Vermont Public, Myra spent eight years in the Los Angeles music industry.