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Asian Americans Pacific Island Heritgage Month: Advancing leaders through purpose-driven service

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

VIDEO & DISCUSSION: And Then They Came for Us

Discussion led by Satsuki Ina, Ph.D., California State University, Sacramento

Seventy-eight years ago, Executive Order 9066 paved the way to the profound violation of constitutional rights that resulted in the forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans.  Featuring George Takei and many others who were incarcerated, as well as newly rediscovered photographs of Dorothea Lange, And Then They Came for Us brings history into the present, retelling this difficult story and following Japanese American activists as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.  Knowing our history is the first step to ensuring we do not repeat it.  And Then They Came for Us is a cautionary and inspiring tale for these dark times.

Satsuki Ina, Ph.D., was born in the Tule Lake concentration camp during WWII. She is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento and currently has a psychotherapy private practice in Berkeley, California where she specializes in the treatment of community-based, historical trauma. She has produced two documentary films on the subject of the Japanese American incarceration, CHILDREN OF THE CAMPS and FROM A SILK COCOON. Her soon to be released book, THE POET AND THE SILK GIRL: LOVE & PROTEST IN AN AMERICAN CONCENTRATION CAMP is based on letters written between her parents while held in two separate prison camps.

Performance & Discussion: Riyaaz Qawwali

Riyaaz Qawwali performs the gripping music style called qawwali, or sufi music. The qawwali singers represent the diversity and plurality of South Asia. The ensemble’s musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and represent multiple religious and spiritual backgrounds. Trained in eastern and western classical music, the members have been professionally performing qawwali for the past twelve years. Riyaaz Qawwali has performed across the continental U.S., in Panama and debuted in Europe in 2017.
Riyaaz Qawwali’s mission is to expose qawwali to new audiences, while still paying homage to traditional qawwali that has been in existence for 700+ years. The founding members of Riyaaz Qawwali chose the qawwali genre of music because it houses unique musical elements in its repertoire that are not found in any other form of South Asian music. Riyaaz Qawwali combines this with poetry from famous South Asian poets of multiple linguistic and religious backgrounds to create a universal message of oneness (Riyaaz Qawwali incorporates works from poetic giants like Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusrow, Bulleh Shah, Mir Taqi Mir, Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak, and in doing so, hopes to expose these poets’ works to new audiences and younger generations). Riyaaz Qawwali also uses numerous languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Gujarati and Hindi to represent the linguistic and cultural diversity that exists in South Asia.

Leadership Challenges and Opportunities as an Indian-American Woman

Roopa Rawjee EdD, Assistant Vice President, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Rawjee addresses the cultural behavioral challenges and purpose driven leadership opportunities faced as an Indian-American woman. She reflects on working hard to change her behaviors to accommodate cultural expectations and credits opportunities as a child and young woman in Mumbai, India, that shaped her success as an American leader

Roopa is the Assistant Vice President, Office of Global Services at Northeastern University in Boston. Previously, she was the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO), Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO), and Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Roopa’s experiences include teaching high school English and History in India, English as a Second Language to international students and serving as foreign student advisor at CSU, Northridge and Director of ISSS at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in MA. She is an educator at heart and believes that all interactions are learning experiences. She has given numerous presentations at NAFSA Regional Conferences and diversity conferences at BSU, and served on the executive board of the MA Council on International Education (MaCIE). Roopa's leadership roles include serving as past President of MaCIE, BSU's Diversity and Social Justice Implementation Committee and Coach for the NAFSA Academy for International Education in 2016 and 2017. She served as Chair of the NAFSA Academy in 2019-20. Her current volunteer leadership roles include membership of the NAFSA Leadership Development Committee and Workshop Dean for the NAFSA Core Education Program (CEP).

Youtube link: Leadership Challenges and Opportunities as an Indian-American Woman

The Future of Race Relations in America

Angela E. Oh, attorney, lecturer, teacher of Zen mediation

 Oh serves as the Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advances peaceful resolution of conflict. In addition to her job with the WJC, she remains Of Counsel to the Century City law firm of Bird Marella Boxer Wolpert Nessim Drooks & Lincenberg, where her law practice involved monitoring consent decrees, providing mediation services, and training about the laws related to discrimination in the workplace. She continues to be engaged in matters that involve parties interested in resolving their disputes outside of litigation.

In 1992, Oh gained national prominence as a spokesperson and mediating force for the Asian American community during the Los Angeles riots. Thereafter, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as one of seven Advisory Board Members to the President’s Initiative on Race, which was charged with engaging the nation in a dialogue on race relations in the United States of America.

Angela Oh has served in leadership positions on numerous commissions and boards, including as Chairperson of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s Federal Judicial Nominations Committee for the Central District of California; a Member of the L.A. City Commission on Human Relations; a Lawyer Delegate to the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference; and Commissioner on the ABA Commission on Women in the Legal Profession.

Oh is a founding member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and a recipient of its Trailblazer Award. She also was a founder of the Multi-Cultural Bar Alliance in Los Angeles. She has received much recognition over the years, including the UCLA Alumni Award for Community Service, the UCLA School of Public Health Alumni Award for Community Leadership, and the UC Davis School of Law’s Alumni of the Year Award.

Oh’s public lectures and writings reflect the opportunities and challenges that diversity presents. Her lectures have taken her to China, Korea, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Her teaching appointments have been at UCLA School of Law, UCLA Asian American Studies Department, and UC Irvine School of Social Sciences and Political Science. Oh is also an ordained Priest, Zen Buddhist - Rinzai Sect.

Film & Discussion: Karen Refugees: Fleeing Burma’s Forgotten War

discussion led by: manger baw, community advocate

A courageous band of "backpack medics" slips through the jungle, avoiding army checkpoints, to deliver medical supplies and care to their people, the Karen minority of Burma. The limited services they provide are the only medical care available in this war-torn region.

The Karen are a Christian ethnic group who have been persecuted for years by the army of Myanmar, the name used by the ruling military junta. There are an estimated 100-150,000 Karen refugees who have fled the country and are now living in camps across the border in Thailand; some have been there for more than 20 years.

This documentary looks at the situation inside Burma and Thailand, before following one Karen woman and her family as they leave behind their refugee camp, and embark on the journey from Burma to North America. In addition to the backpack medics, the film also highlights the courageous work of young Karens who risk death to sneak their video cameras across the border into Burma, to document human rights abuses against their people.

Participation for all programs is free and open to the public.
Contact or 531-622-2253 for more information.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Audience members requiring accommodations due to a disability must contact Barbara Velazquez,, 531-622-2253 at least two weeks prior to the program.