by Natalie Truong

Prepping for the start of the school year when I was a teacher (photo credit: Natalie Truong)

For as long as I can remember, the end of July has always filled me with cautious optimism. While school is still a good month away, I am already populating my calendar with classes, projects, and hopes for this upcoming fall. And what a return it will be. Across the country, our population of over 50 million students will prepare to come back to campus after learning remotely for a year and a half. For Asian American and Pacific Islander American (AAPI) families, increased anxiety over safety during the pandemic deterred students from opting back into in-person…

by Anna Dang, SEARAC Communications Intern

Pride Month is coming to a close, but at SEARAC, we are not done celebrating! We continue our commitment to honor LGBTQ+ Southeast Asian Americans, this month and every month. In this special Pride Month newsletter, we spotlight two community leaders: Tracy Nguyen and David Bouttavong. In these brand new interviews, Tracy and David share insights on what Pride Month means to them.

Tracy Nguyen:

What does Pride Month mean to you? Living in the Bay Area my whole life, I am so privileged to be around queer and trans folks all the time…

Jenna (back row, second from left) tabling with SAGE staff and volunteers at Harlem Pride in 2018.

by Jenna McDavid

In SEARAC’s Our Voices archive, we have incredible first-person accounts of what LGBTQ+ heritage means to our staff and partners. My colleague Kham S. Moua wrote in 2020 about the importance of solidarity among movements and communities. “I choose to fight alongside the LGBTQ community and Black Lives Matter because I know that the Southeast Asian American community cannot free ourselves alone,” he shared in his Pride Month piece. We are also proud to feature interviews with LGBTQ+ SEAA community leaders, like these brief but powerful conversations with Kevin Lam, Xay Yang, Jonathan Vorasane, and Zon Moua…

by Souvan Lee

Families all over Laos disintegrated after the Vietnam War and Secret War ended in 1975. They were unsure of what to do next. Those who fought with the US feared for their lives. But they disagreed on whether to stay in Laos or to leave for the refugee camps in Thailand. Each path provided an uncertain future. For those who chose to flee, the journey was perilous. And it had to be done in secret. The escape into the jungle, hiding from the soldiers hunting them, crossing the Mekong River, and reaching the refugee camps. Those who…

by Eric La Nguyen

If any of you know my dad well, you’ll know that being silly, lighthearted, and goofy are just in his nature, whether he’s trying to be or not. There was this one time where we were all at the dinner table and my sister sneezed.

My dad then said Achee.

My sister looked at my dad puzzled and said, “Wait, what did you say?

I said ‘Achee,’ he replied in Vietnamese. We all looked at him confused, so he persisted: Achee! You know! It’s what white people say when someone sneezes!

And then it dawned on…

by Sarah Kith

I am who I am because of my heroines: my late grandmother who passed away last summer at 96 years old, my aunts and my mother. Thank you for being strong and resilient!

I am Sarah Kith, a child refugee from Cambodia. Today, approaching my 50th birthday celebration, I am truly grateful. It is beyond my wildest imagination to live the American dream. I earned multiple degrees, working now as a sought-after conflict resolution practitioner, organization development consultant, and coach. My husband and I are blessed with three sons who are thriving. …

by Vichet Chhuon

Brothers and sisters have unique bonds. We play together and against each other. We compete for attention from our parents. We also take each other for granted. Our siblings shape us in profound ways. Consider how different we would be without them.

For immigrant children, our brothers and sisters take on additional roles, like helping to raise us while our parents work and acting as cultural brokers in a new place.

Growing up, my big sister, Sopheaktra “Pat,” helped to keep me out of trouble… well, she did the best she could. Pat was four years older…

As a child of refugees and the first person in her family to be born in the United States, Julia felt the weight of immense pressure to ‘do something amazing’ in order to fit a certain mold of success.

“On top of that, I never developed coping skills for stress and anxiety,” she said. “When I was younger, I was always told to persevere and push through, so I never really developed any skills to recognize when I was going through too much stress and anxiety, and I normalized all of that.”

Although she didn’t realize it at the time…

Since she left Cambodia, Thary Sok has resided for six years in the city of Santa Ana, CA, with a population of around 7,000 Cambodian Americans, according to the 2010 Census. Like many Cambodians, Thary’s household is a multigenerational one, with her husband, daughter, and two grandchildren living under one roof. And like 38% of Cambodian Americans, Thary is limited English proficient (LEP), which made it difficult for her to communicate her health needs with healthcare professionals.

Local community-based organizations like The Cambodian Family Community Center, of Santa Ana, have been a lifeline for community members like Thary and have…

by Elaine Sanchez Wilson

(pictured from top right, clockwise) Elaine Sanchez Wilson, Kim Song Chhim, Sokol Roeun, David Bunna, Thary Sok.

In Cebuano, the Filipino dialect my family speaks, the term for someone with mental illness is buang, which translates to “crazy.” At the same time, buang is used as a cuss word, something one would say in a derogatory manner when angry. Or it can be used in a more playful way to express silly thinking or foolishness, akin to “that’s nonsense.”

Mental illness is also referred to as sakit sa utok, which translates to “pain in the brain.”

Unsurprisingly, there persists a huge stigma in Filipinx communities around mental health treatment. People don’t want to…


A national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society.

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