Congratulations to Dr. Sophea Seng for being awarded the Early Career Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Society. Dr. Seng was recently featured on the CLA website. Original article can be found here.

“Dr. Sophea Seng was awarded an Early Career Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Society for her project, Tolerable Others: Buddhism and the Cambodian Diaspora in Italy. She was nominated by the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies and will be on leave August 2022 – May 2023 to work on her manuscript. 

Additionally, Sophea was awarded a South, Southeast, and Global Asias Seminar Grant from the Association for Asian Studies, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and part of the 2022-2023 Striving for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Asian Studies: Humanities Grants for Asian Studies Scholars Competition Award.”


Originally Published on June 6, 2022 by Richard Chang

CLICK HERE to view the original article.

Sophea Seng and her students are taking their studies to the streets. 

The assistant professor in Asian and Asian American Studies teaches the Cambodian American Experience. In April, most of her class volunteered with the annual Cambodian New Year’s parade in Cambodia Town, a specially designated district of Long Beach with a high Cambodian population. Two of the students dressed in traditional attire and participated in the parade. 

“It was good to be able to meet people in the community who were putting the parade together,” said Seng, who began teaching full-time at CSULB in fall 2021 and is the second tenure-track Cambodian professor in the Beach’s history. She obtained a master’s degree from CSULB in Asian American Studies a decade ago, studying with anthropology professor Karen Quintiliani, considered by Seng and others to be one of the foremost scholars over the past 30 years on Cambodians in Long Beach. 

“Volunteering for the parade really makes them think about the narrative and gives them a ground-up perspective,” said Seng (pictured above). “They learn about what makes this parade happen.” 

Long Beach is home to the largest Cambodian community outside of Southeast Asia. The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau estimated about 18,000 Cambodians living in Long Beach, while more recent estimates put the number between 19,440 and 20,000, or about 4% of Long Beach’s total population of 486,000.

Over the years, faculty, staff and students have been building bridges between The Beach and Long Beach’s Cambodian community, between students and their parents, all the while promoting healing and advancement for a group that has survived one of the most brutal and deadly regimes of the 20th century. 

Cambodians have been living in Long Beach and attending Cal State Long Beach since the 1950s, according to “Cambodians in Long Beach” (Arcadia Publishing) by Quintiliani and Susan Needham. The earliest students at CSULB were affluent, on a foreign exchange program and were the children of government officials and diplomats, according to The Washington Post.

More recently, over 579 Cambodians were enrolled at The Beach in spring 2022, according to university records. That represents about 7.8% of the AAPI student population.

Professor Leakhena Nou, who joined the CSULB faculty in fall 2005, has done extensive research and outreach with the survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, in which nearly 2 million people were killed between 1975 and 1979. Her organization, the Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia (ASRIC), has collected testimonies from hundreds of survivors living in the United States, including dozens from Long Beach. 

Those testimonies were submitted and used in a major war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, leading to the convictions of two key leaders from the Khmer Rouge regime. Nou’s efforts are depicted in the 2016 documentary “Daze of Justice,” directed by Michael Siv, and are included in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

“For me, as a Cambodian scholar, I can’t just publish the findings and let it sit on the bookshelf and collect dust,” said Nou, who also serves as co-advisor for the CSULB Cambodian Student Society, founded in 1984. “I had to do something. I couldn’t just let the data get lost in the academy. I had to speak on behalf of my community.”

Nou, a full professor in sociology, is the first Cambodian professor to obtain tenure on campus. Other Cambodian faculty at CSULB include Seng; Darith Ung, a lecturer who teaches the Khmer language; and Phatana Ith, a lecturer in Communication Studies.

Nou continues to work with survivors of the genocide in Long Beach and other communities. 

“It’s not just about finding justice for the Cambodian people,” she said. “It’s about helping them to find their voice, their inner power, that they feel has been stolen or taken away from them. Their power is still within them.” 

Journey to Success

Between 2011 and 2019, the Journey to Success (JTS) project brought hundreds of Cambodian American middle and high school students to campus, as well as parents and community members. They attended college fairs, met with faculty, staff, students and alumni, and got tours of the campus. The youths also watched a CSULB Homecoming basketball games.

During that period, workshops on college awareness and financial aid were also held in the Long Beach community, including sessions at the United Cambodian Community center, Khmer Girls in Action and the Khmer Arts Academy. Planning committee dinners were held annually at Long Beach Asian restaurants with President Jane Close Conoley in attendance, along with members of CSULB’s Asian American Pacific Islander Initiative Committee.

“That was a good way to introduce students to Cal State Long Beach,” said Ung, who has also taught the Khmer language at Wilson High School in Long Beach since 1997. 

“When that program was enforced, I always had 20-plus of my students attending the event. Not all of them attended CSULB, but they got exposed to the university way of life. It benefited them, absolutely. I had several students every year that graduated from Wilson and attended CSULB. Many of them went through that program.” 

Ung also cited the Long Beach College Promise as a vital program that has helped Cambodian youth get through high school, take a tuition-free year at Long Beach City College and eventually attend CSULB. 

A New Chapter

Charlene Chhom, a fifth year in Asian and Asian American Studies, was born and raised in Long Beach. She lived in Cambodia Town until her senior year at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. 

In spring 2022, Chhom took the Cambodian American Experience class with Professor Seng and participated in the New Year’s parade in April. 

“I really liked the class,” said Chhom, who can speak Khmer but can’t read or write the Sanskrit-influenced language. “Especially because Long Beach is such an important place for Cambodians.”

During her time at the Beach, Chhom has been involved with the Cambodian Student Society, and even raised funds for an expedition to Cambodia in 2019, just before the pandemic. The society bought school supplies and distributed them to Cambodian students. 

“It was definitely an eye-opener,” she said. “They can tell if you are an American.”

For many on campus, having Professor Seng teach the Cambodian American Experience fulfills a decades-long goal. 

“We wanted to be really authentic and bring in Cambodians to speak their stories, and students to go out into the community,” said Quintiliani, who has taught the course in the past. “I’m so thrilled to have Sophea teaching it. That was the dream.”

Through classes such as the Cambodian American Experience and Khmer language, groups such as the Cambodian Student Society, and outreach efforts like the New Year’s parade, CSULB’s Cambodian students are learning to venture past the legacies of the Khmer Rouge, genocide and the travails of being a refugee. 

“There are lessons learned with the new generation – they can imagine themselves to be proud of their heritage,” Nou said. “We want to inspire and motivate the young Cambodians, not only to be proud of their heritage, but to reclaim their identity and voice, become scholars, learn and grow as a mechanism to thrive.” 


Originally Published on April 4, 2022 by Richard Chang

CLICK HERE to view the original article.

Even though she was a toddler at the time, Kannica Lor remembers the scene vividly: She was playing with her brother at a local park, and her Cambodian grandmother, who didn’t speak English, suddenly became the target of a white woman who was screaming at her to “speak English!” That memory sticks with her to this day. 

Nowadays, Lor, a third-year Asian American Studies major at Cal State Long Beach, worries about her parents.  

“My worries are for them when they go out shopping,” said Lor, a Cambodian American who grew up in Long Beach. “I would not want them to go out on their own because I know there was a lot of hate and hateful action taken toward elders in our community.”

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-Asian hate speech and violence have continued to rise. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 339% last year, compared to the year before. From the city streets to the highest office in the country, Asians have been blamed for starting the pandemic and have been attacked for supposedly spreading the virus.

There are also socioeconomic and mental health issues that young Asian Americans have encountered, without a lot of resources or places to turn. 

Project Resilience, a new program kicking off this spring at CSULB, aims to address wellness and mental health issues among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, as well as provide academic, financial and career support. The four-part program also plans to provide peer mentors for students and workshops for faculty at The Beach, specifically addressing AAPI issues. 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprise about 20.8% of the Cal State Long Beach student body, according to campus data from spring 2022. The Beach has been recognized nationally as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI), one of 14 in the CSU system. That designation allows CSULB to compete for federal and private grants aimed at bolstering efforts to assist underserved communities and students. 

Dr. Barbara Kim, professor and chair of the Asian and Asian American Studies Department, and Associate Professor Varisa Patraporn of the Department of Sociology, are spearheading the project. The initiative was made possible by a five-year, $1.46 million AANAPISI grant provided by the U.S. Department of Education, and builds upon efforts that had been underway for several years on campus.  

AAPI “students were definitely affected by the pandemic,” Patraporn said. “It was challenging to take classes (online). It feels like their social skills are deteriorating. They haven’t had a chance to open up and talk about how they feel. They’ve become more insular as a result of the pandemic and being in quarantine.  


Students have been having so much stress from family members being sick, family members dying. Also, with all the anti-Asian speech and incidents, it has been very difficult.


Jenna Nguyen, a third-year electronic engineering student, said she believes Asians have become targets over the past few years, and she worries about anti-Asian hate hitting close to home. 

“I constantly fear for the well-being of my parents,” Nguyen said. “My parents are in their 50s and 60s and live by themselves. My mother works as a nail salon technician and often closes the nail salon by herself late at night. I constantly fear the moments that my parents go to grocery stores, take a walk, and close the nail salon because I live so far away and I am not there to protect them.” 

Nguyen said she has also experienced name calling and fetishization at various times during her 21 years. 

“I think (Project Resilience) would be very helpful for Asian American CSULB students because the conversation on mental health is especially important,” Lor said. “AAPI people are seen and impacted by the ‘model minority’ stereotype in more ways than just being seen as the ‘ideal’ minority, but also putting that pressure on young people to be perfect. When they aren’t, that really messes with their psyche and makes it difficult for them to continue to function or try to function well, even if they slip up and fall a little.  

“I also think having upper-division students helping out younger AAPI and give guidance would be very helpful, especially for those who are first-generation college students or otherwise.” 

As part of the scholarship/internship program, Professor May Lin of the Asian American Studies Department is working on an internship class to place 15 students in local AAPI organizations. The students will complete 90 hours during the fall semester and engage in career readiness services as well. 

Project Resilience is part of a campus-wide effort driven by AAPI faculty and staff for many years. It is the result of work initiated by Simon Kim, associate vice president for research and economic development; Mary Ann Takemoto, former AVP of Student Affairs who retired in 2021; and Karen Nakai, former chief of staff to President Jane Close Conoley who left CSULB to become chief of staff to the CSU chancellor in 2019. 

“This is a continuation, rather than something new and different,” Simon Kim said. “But given what’s going on in society, now our focus is on mental health. Academic issues are important to address, but there are social, psychological issues that need to be addressed as well – not just for AAPI students, but for all under-represented students.” 

AAAS Spring Scholarships Open! APPLY TODAY

All AAAS department scholarships are OPEN for applications through the BeachScholarships website. Each year, deserving AAAS students are not eligible for scholarships because they did not apply to BeachScholarships — so make sure you do, by March 13th!

Apply for the following AAAS Department scholarships:

Follow these steps to Apply:

  1. First, Access the BeachScholarships app through Single-Sign On
  2. Complete all the questions on the General Application. It is important to be as thorough as possible.
  3. Once you have completed your general application you will be able to search for individuals scholarships.
  4. You are all set! You can now start applying.

*Please keep in mind, the following scholarships are listed under the name Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS) Department Scholarships: Best Paper in Asian Studies, Best Paper in Asian American Studies, Lloyd T. Inui Prize, Taiwan Essay Contest.

The deadline to submit all scholarship applications is March 13, 2022.

If you have any questions about applying for these scholarships feel free to contact the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office by opening a ticket or calling (562) 985-5471, option #4.

Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program 2022

The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program is a six-week summer program designed to provide undergraduate students with a deeper appreciation of current issues and trends in international affairs, a greater understanding of career opportunities in international affairs, and the enhanced knowledge and skills to pursue such careers. The Program usually selects participants (known as “Rangel Scholars”) each year from universities throughout the United States. This program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women, and those with financial need. Students live at Howard University, attend classes, and participate in a variety of programs with foreign affairs professionals at Howard and at diverse locations around Washington, DC.

The Program has two major components. First, in order to enhance participants’ academic preparation to work in international affairs, the Program provides two courses and a seminar that focuses on enhancing knowledge and skills related to U.S. foreign policy, economics, and writing. In addition, in order to provide greater insight into the foreign policy-making process and international affairs careers, the Rangel Program introduces the participants to a wide range of government and non-government professionals who work on global issues and also arranges visits to various institutions involved in international affairs. The Program also helps students explore graduate school, scholarship, fellowship, internship, and professional options in international affairs.

The Program covers the costs for tuition, travel, housing, and two meals per day. It also provides a stipend of $3,300.

For more information and to apply click here.

In Memoriam: Remembering Dr. Tianwei (Tim) Xie and Prof. Lloyd Inui

With deep sadness, AAAS announces the passing of two Professors Emeriti who shaped the department with their teaching, scholarship, activism, and service. They are deeply missed and lovingly remembered by generations of students and colleagues for their brilliance, kindness, and generosity. 

Dr. Tianwei (Tim) Xie, Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies

Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies and former AAAS department chair Tianwei (Tim) Xie passed away on September 12, 2021.     

Professor Xie received his BA in Russian Language and Literature in 1967 and MA in Linguistics in 1980, both from Shanghai Foreign Language University (now Shanghai International Studies University – SISU). He graduated from the University of Pittsburg with a Ph.D. in Foreign Language Pedagogy in 1992. He joined the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS) at CSULB in 1999 after teaching Chinese at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of San Francisco, and the University of California at Davis. Dr. Xie retired in 2013.   

After he joined AAAS, he devoted his research to (online) teaching technology and published numerous papers and book chapters on how to apply modern computer aided teaching (CAT) technology to the learning/teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TCFL). In the process, he founded the popular website “Learning Chinese Online” that attracted millions of visitors. Upon retirement, he generously donated the website to our university and it is still managed by AAAS.

Dr. Xie was actively involved in various academic organizations and professional service.  He served as the Chair of SAT in Chinese, Chair of the Chinese Language Teachers’ Association of Southern California (CLTA-SC), and the Editor of the Newsletter of Chinese Language Teachers Association. He touched lives of many in Shanghai (China), in the Bay Area and here in Southern California with his joy and enthusiasm for lifelong learning. He cherished the well-being of his students and colleagues. 

Prof. Lloyd Inui, Professor Emeritus of Asian American Studies

Photo Credit: JANM

Professor Emeritus Lloyd Inui, the founding member and chair of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, passed away on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.  

Professor Inui came to CSULB in 1965 and retired in 1992. He and his family were incarcerated during WWII in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. He came to CSULB after studying Political Science with an emphasis on Asia-U.S. relations at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He served as a faculty advisor for student activists at CSULB following the Third World Strikes of 1968-1969 at San Francisco State College and UC Berkeley. Under Professor Inui’s mentorship, students taught the first Asian American Studies course at CSULB in Fall 1969. Professor Inui served as the first director of Asian American Studies, as the first department chair of AAAS, and in numerous Japanese/Asian American community organizations. After retiring, Professor Inui volunteered for several decades at the Japanese American National Museum and continued to support AAAS, Ethnic Studies, CLA, and CSULB. 

Professor Emerita Yoko Pusavat, who served as AAAS Vice Chair, undergraduate advisor, and was instrumental in creating the Japanese BA and credential programs remembered:

Sorrowfully we are a bit emptier today for the loss of Professor Emeritus Lloyd Inui. He was a great colleague and trusted friend nearly 40 years. Now the past has become foremost significant to me.  

The Department of Asian and Asian American Studies was created thanks to Professor Lloyd Inui. He laid a foundation of the Department and led to form the department which includes programs of Asian American Studies, Asian Studies, and Asian Languages. Language programs connected Asian Studies and Asian American Studies. No other higher institutes in USA had the department structured such as AAAS.   

Professor Inui was the one who has made a difference to the world around him and on campus community.”

Teacher, scholar, activist, and mentor extraordinaire, Professor Inui guided and shaped Asian American Studies in academia, public education, and community practice for over 50 years, as remembered by former students and colleagues in Rafu Shimpo. 

You can watch this Profile of Asian American Studies pioneer, Lloyd Inui, excerpted from the 2013 documentary, Unexpected Journeys: Remarkable Stories of Japanese in America, produced by the Japanese American National Museum.

Photo Credit: Rafu Shimpo
2015 CSULB Asian American Studies (AAS) Reunion

Photo Credit: Dr. San-Pao Li
In July 2020, Dr. San-Pao Li, Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies and Chinese Studies, drove to Professor Inui’s house the day after Governor Newsom signed the bill requiring ethnic studies requirement at the CSU. Dr. Li viewed this as a legacy of Dr. Inui’s struggle and lifelong support for Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies.

CSULB College of Liberal Arts Magazine, ASPIRE

The CSULB College of Liberal Arts just released the inaugural issue of its annual magazine, Aspire. This issue features several faculty and students from the Department of Asian & Asian American Studies, including: Dr. Barbara Kim discussing the development and importance of the new Ethnic Studies GE requirement; Dr. Haiping Wu receiving tenure and being promoted to Associate Professor; welcoming Dr. May Lin and Dr. Sophea Seng as new TT faculty, and highlighting graduate student Yedda Zhang as one of CLA’s new cohort of Equity Scholars.

Feel free to check out this issue of Aspire by clicking the link here!

Internship Opportunity: CAUSE Fall Internship Application Deadline 9/13

Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), a community-based, nonprofit organization with a mission to advance the political and civic empowerment of the Asian Pacific American community.

CAUSE is now accepting applications for our 10-week, paid, undergraduate internship opportunity this fall.


  • DURATION: 10 weeks (Preferred dates: Monday, September 20th – Friday, December 10th, 2021); 10 hours a week
  • STIPEND: ~$1,500 (upon satisfactory completion of program)
  • HOW TO APPLY: Applications due by Monday, September 13th. Submit a cover letter and resume to thalia@causeusa.org. Please include your name and “2021 Fall Internship Application” in the subject line.
  • INTERNSHIP DESCRIPTION: Link to full description
    • Key responsibilities would include developing and executing outreach plans and materials, drafting press releases and blogs, social media management, researching policies, and attending staff meetings.

You can find the full details of the opportunity on the CAUSE website.

Welcome Dr. Sophea Seng, Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies

The Department of Asian & Asian American Studies welcomes Dr. Sophea Seng, Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies!

A decade after beginning her master’s program at CSULB, Sophea Seng is returning to campus this fall to join the faculty in the Asian and Asian American Studies department. Seng, a first-generation student, got her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Italian Language at UC Santa Cruz. After graduating, she taught in Fukushima as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program before starting a master’s program at CSULB in Asian American Studies.

She has just completed her doctorate in Anthropology and master’s in South Eastern Asian studies at UC Riverside. She won an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2018, an honor determined by the vote of students. Seng is excited to return to Long Beach because the city has the largest Cambodian diaspora outside of Southeast Asia. While she was studying for her master’s at CSULB, Seng built relationships with various members of the community and taught English to senior citizens studying for their citizenship test. “I’m really excited to be able to be back at Long Beach and also to be able to continue to build those bridges and create opportunities for students,” Seng says.

From 2019 to 2020, Seng was a Fulbright scholar in Italy. She conducted research at the only Cambodian Buddhist temple in Italy, bringing together her studies of the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Unfortunately, the fellowship was cut short by the pandemic. Seng whose expertise is in Cambodian diaspora, South East Asian studies and critical refugee studies, hopes to bring her international experiences, as well as her life experiences, to the students of CSULB.

This fall semester, Seng will be teaching the new required ethnic studies course. She looks forward to connecting with her future students and “being able to use those experiences to help another generation.”

(Interview Source: CSULB College of Liberal Arts)

Welcome Dr. May Lin, Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies

The Department of Asian & Asian American Studies welcomes Dr. May Lin, Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies!

May is a community-rooted researcher and educator who supports transformative social change led by communities of color. She has worked with Long Beach and California-based Southeast Asian, other Asian American, Black and Latinx youth-led organizations such as Californians for Justice, Khmer Girls in Action, Gender and Sexualities Alliance Network, and Yo! Cali.  In over 15 collaborative research reports, she has helped capture the impact of youth-led campaigns on issues such as mental health needs of youth of color in schools; gender neutral restrooms in Long Beach Unified; intersectional aspects of Relationship Centered Schools; and police-free schools. Her scholarly work has focused on how Asian American, Black, and Latinx youth harness emotions to redefine and expansively enact social change, and future work will support local efforts around People’s Budgets. She has published research on Asian American, immigrant, and youth of color-led social change in in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Sociological Perspectives, and Health Affairs.  

Previously, May was a postdoctoral fellow at the Social Movement Support Lab at University of Denver’s Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (In)Equality, where she supported organizations that work to reallocate funding from criminalization towards positive social supports. There, she also worked on the project defunddata.org. She is also affiliated faculty with USC’s Equity Research Institute, where she worked as a graduate researcher. She received her PhD in Sociology, with a certificate in Public Policy, from the USC, and her MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA.  

At CSULB, she is excited to learn from students & collaborate with students and other faculty to support local racial justice campaigns, as well as to cultivate students’ diverse talents in ways that enrich their personal and community hopes & dreams. She is excited to teach Comparative Ethnic and Asian American Studies with an intersectional lens towards difference and coalition building. Her personal website is at www.mayhlin.com