Hispanic population rises in Washington County
Census shows more racial, ethnic diversity
Gathered for their weekly "Girls Night In" and sharing a laugh while playing dominoes, are Hagerstown residents, from left, Natalie Polanco, Yajayra Perez, her daughter Jesenia Jaquez, and Diana C Reyes. (By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer)
In addition to the Hispanic population, Washington county has a growing Asian population, which went from 1,050 residents in 2000 to 2,056 in 2010.
The Rev. Chin has been with the Hagerstown Korean Church for eight years, after spending 20 years in California.
The church serves a small Korean-American group that initially was made up mostly of interracial families, Chin said.
Chin said he believes many of the church's original parishioners had come to the area because of Fort Ritchie in Cascade. That military base closed in 1998, but other family members and other Korean families have moved to the Hagerstown area.
Chin said that when he left South Korea in 1984 the country wasn't very accepting of interracial marriages. That attitude has improved, he said.
The census data released in February gives a basic racial breakdown with more detailed information to be made available this summer. But the count is not an exact science.
How people's race or ethnicity was counted depends on how people filling out the forms saw themselves, Census Bureau spokesman Robert Bernstein said.
For instance, while some people see Russian as an ancestry, some Russian residents might have checked the Asian box on the census form.
Washington County has a Russian population, including 29 students in the county public school system's English Language Learners program, according to an e-mail from Will Roberts, ELL curriculum and instruction specialist.
Many of them arrived in Washington County through a refugee resettlement program and are Turkish Russians so they speak Turkish at home, were taught in Russian and are learning English, Roberts said.
South Hagerstown High has served many students of varying cultures in the past decade, some of whom came to the county through church-sponsored programs, Principal Rick Akers said.
South High's student body is a good reflection of American society, Akers said.
"You have to be able to communicate and get along with folks of every culture and people that have different experiences than you do. You have to be able to get along and communicate and work together, and you have that opportunity to do that every day in the classroom," Akers said.