Chinese American, Exhibitions, HomeSpun, Staff Update

NewsChannel 8 Interview

NewsChannel 8 Interview

NewsChannel 8 Interview with Noriko Sanefuji and Sameen Piracha

Click here to watch the interview, it begins 29 minutes into the video.

APA Program staff members Noriko Sanefuji and Sameen Piracha appeared on NewsChannel 8 to discuss the Sweet & Sour display at the National Museum of American History and to raise awareness for the HomeSpun: Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project.

Noriko Sanefuji is the APA Program Curatorial Assistant, National Museum of American History.
Sameen Piracha is the APA Program Development Specialist.

Staff Update

APA Staff Updates on Attending AAM

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American (APA) Program staff along with over 4,000 attendees from across the nation and forty-three different countries convened at the American Association of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting and Museum Expo on May 22-25, 2011, in Houston, TX. Conference headquarters was located in the urban center of downtown at the Georgia R. Brown Convention Center that hosted countless conversations, educational sessions, and speakers for building a foundation of new ideas, skills, and collaborations. Evening events and tours highlighted the city of Houston’s cultural, visual, and performing arts.

The Museum of Tomorrow marked this year’s theme:

Often we think of the future as a destination. A journey is required to reach it, fueled by a need or instinct to control our own destiny, to make discoveries, unravel mysteries, adapt to the unexpected in order to survive and prosper. But in a universe of infinite possibility—the universe that museums represent—the future is an aspiration, and not always a destination. And taking meaningful action in the present will help to shape the future.

Smithsonian APA Program staff enjoyed a variety of experiences (click photos to enlarge):

Dinner in Little Saigon, Houston
Dinner at Houston’s Little Saigon. From left: Jun Francisco (Director of Collections Management at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum), Gina Inocencio (APA Program), An Duong (Houston-based Lawyer), Sandra Vuong (APA Program), and Steve Y. Wong (Curator for the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles).

“I have been attending the AAM Conference for the last eight years and I have always enjoyed helping to organize the annual meeting and reception for the Asian Pacific American Professional Interest Committee (APAPIC). I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones and discussing museum work and opportunities for collaboration. I’ve been seeing more APA faces at the last conferences and it’s always heartening to see young APAs entering the field of museum.”
— Gina Inocencio, Program Specialist

Convention Center
Krista by a Portable On Demand Storage (PODS) container, a unique public art exhibition designed especially for AAM at Houston’s Discovery Green.
Convention Center
Krista outside of the Georgia R. Brown Convention Center.

“AAM Houston was a remarkable experience—I had the opportunity to attend a variety of sessions on museum education and programming; collecting and interpreting visitor data; museum diversity; and managing internship and volunteer programs. In addition to training and professional development, I had the chance to network with museum professionals from across the country and to exchange ideas for best practices. Tours and evening events featured experiential learning opportunities at the city’s main attractions. From Space Center Houston to The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the inviting and exciting atmosphere of this city will be one that I will always remember!”
— Krista Aniel, Program Assistant (Outreach)

Fine Arts Museum Reception Dinner
Fine Arts Museum dinner reception. From left: Krista Aniel, Krishna Aniel, and Pawan Dhingra.

“At AAAS I shared the HomeSpun initiative and connected with scholars whose research expertise involves Indian Americans. Such connections are central to the academic integrity of the project. In a similar vein, it was helpful in learning also the latest books in the field. At AAM I attended panels on curating exhibitions and reaching out to immigrant communities. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore the details of museums and exhibition planning.”
— Pawan Dhingra, HomeSpun Curator

AAM Exhibition Hall
Conference exhibitor’s hall.

“The big focus at AAM Houston this year centered on the ‘Museum of Tomorrow’ and how people from all over the world can utilize technology and social media to broaden their educational reach. I attended panel sessions hosted by museum leaders who told stories and recalled experiences about the challenges and opportunities involved with implementing technology to increase museum awareness.”
— Sandra Vuong, Multimedia Producer

Staff Update

Konrad Ng Named Director of the APA Program

Konrad Ng

We are happy to announce that Konrad Ng will be joining the APA Program as the new Director this spring.

Konrad Ng is Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center.  As Director, Ng is responsible for setting the mission and vision of the organization, leading the development of exhibitions, public programs and digital initiatives about Asian Pacific American history, art and culture, and coordinating the Center’s fundraising and budget advancement.  Since joining the Smithsonian, the Center has launched several groundbreaking museum projects, including the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Asian Pacific Americans Program, Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation I Want the Wide American Earth, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, Young Historians, Living Histories, and the Smithsonian Asian-Latino Project.  Prior to joining the Smithsonian Institution, Ng was a professor in the University of Hawaii’s Academy for Creative Media and the curator of film and video at the Honolulu Museum of Art.  Ng earned his doctorate in political science from the University of Hawaii, his master’s degree in cultural, social and political thought from the University of Victoria, and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and ethnic studies from McGill University.

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Staff Update

Introducing Sameen Piracha, Development Specialist

Sameen PirachaAPA Program Welcomes Sameen Piracha

Sameen Piracha is the newest member of the APAC. As Development Specialist, Sameen will take the lead on all fundraising activities at the Center and will support development goals for the Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project, an initiative focusing on South Asian American history, art, and culture. Sameen brings new energy and experience to the Center and we are excited to have her on board.

An introduction from Sameen:

I am delighted to join the Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian Institution as the development specialist. I look forward to supporting the development goals for IAHP and APA Center Initiatives. Before coming to the Smithsonian I was working with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. I was responsible for their development efforts and coordinated the Embassy Concert Series for Global Classrooms D.C.

The series provides local elementary and middle school students with the opportunity to learn about other cultures and global issues through cultural exhibition and musical diplomacy. I hold a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida.

General APA, Staff Update

APA Program News

The following is an excerpt from the APA Program’s End of the Year Letter written by Richard Kurin, the APA Program’s Acting Director.  To read the full letter, click here to download the PDF.

Click to download the End of the Year Letter (PDF)

Click to download the End of the Year Letter (PDF)

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings!

This past year has brought many changes as well as accomplishments for the Asian Pacific American Program (APAP). Among our achievements, we collaborated with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to present Asian Pacific America as one of the featured communities at the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Also in 2010, we presented to the National Portrait Gallery an APAP-commissioned portrait of the Honorable Norman Mineta; the portrait is now on display for the public. Throughout the past year, we continued to offer a variety of public programs on topics such as the internment of Japanese Americans; the Vietnamese American diaspora; the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station; the history of Chinese food in America; the practice of Filipino martial arts; and South Asian film and literature.

Click here to download the complete letter

Staff Update

Introducing Sandra Vuong, Multimedia Producer

Multimedia Producer Sandra Vuong APA Program Welcomes New Multimedia Producer

Sandra Vuong, multimedia producer, joined the staff of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program at the beginning of the year. She will take the lead in maintaining an online presence for the APA Program through websites and social media by providing frontline digital, media, technological, and communications support. Sandra’s skills and talents in multimedia production are a most welcome addition to the APA Program.

The following is an introduction from Sandra:

It is my pleasure to join the APA Program as the new multimedia producer.  I am eager to expand our online presence, produce new content, and meet everyone in the community.  I have new ideas and exciting plans in using multimedia as a powerful tool to expand the Program’s outreach.  My immediate tasks include strategizing new designs for the APA Program websites and blogs to have a stronger brand identity and enhancing our collection of videos and photographs.

I graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Visual Communications and certificate in East Asian Studies. As a student, I worked on campus as a graphic designer for the Department of Resident Life and the Asian American Studies Program.  After graduating, I worked for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage as a web designer. Working alongside the technology director, I maintained the front-end design and development for three websites, two of which include the Folklife Festival and Folkways Recordings.

HomeSpun, Indian American, Staff Update

HomeSpun Update: Introducing Curator Pawan Dhingra

Dr. Pawan Dhingra

Photo by Jenn Manna

Welcome to Dr. Pawan Dhingra, Curator for the HomeSpun: Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program is proud to bring on board Dr. Pawan Dhingra who will take the lead in presenting the story of Indian Americans to the Smithsonian and to Americans of all backgrounds and generations. He brings a wealth of scholarship with him to the APA Program’s HomeSpun Project. To download the official announcement, click here.

Message from Dr. Dhingra:

I am excited to join the Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian Institution and to serve as curator for the HomeSpun Project. Hiring a curator has been a long–awaited task for the project, and this is one more step towards its fruition. I come to the Smithsonian from Oberlin College, in Oberlin, OH, where I have been an associate professor of sociology and comparative American studies. I have published and taught on the experiences of Asian Americans, with a focus on Indian Americans. This includes my book, Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities (Stanford University Press, 2007), which won an award from the Association for Asian American Studies.

More than is possible within academic spaces, HomeSpun will help the public recognize the history, struggles, and creative contributions of Indian Americans. The current plan is to have the exhibition debut at the Smithsonian by late 2012 and then travel to cities across the country. In addition to the exhibition, there will be public programs, a website, and a middle school curriculum guide.

HomeSpun depends on the contributions and energy of community members. If you know of any objects or recordings you consider significant to the Indian American story, please let us know. We hope to collect an archive of materials that can be preserved and incorporated into the Smithsonian for decades to come. And, please consider making a tax-deductable donation to HomeSpun. This initiative depends greatly on resources from individuals!

The work of so many people has laid the foundation of the project. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities lying ahead. If you have suggestions for or questions about the project, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Event, General APA, Staff Update

Dr. Franklin Odo to be honored with Distinguished Service Award

Asian American Justice Center presented the 14th Annual American Courage Awards on October 7th, 2010.

Dr. Franklin and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

Event Emcee: Actor Maulik Pancholy of NBC’s 30 Rock and Showtime’s Weeds

Since 1997, the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) has recognized and awarded individuals, companies, and organizations of merit in its annual American Courage Awards. Dr. Franklin Odo was one of this year’s honored recipients. The Distinguished Service Award acknowledges an individual, group, corporation, or institution who has worked successfully to give voice to the aspirations and challenges facing the Asian Pacific American community and has exhibited extraordinary commitment to advocating on behalf of those most vulnerable in their community.

When the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American (APA) Program began in 1997, the Smithsonian Institution appointed Dr. Odo to lead the new effort as its founding director. After 13 successful years, Dr. Odo retired in January 2010. The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program proudly congratulates Dr. Odo for his achievements and thanks him for his continued support.

Other award recipients at the event included:
Lt. Dan Choi - American Courage Award
State Farm Insurance CompaniesBridge Builder Award

Staff Update

You Can Take a Girl Out of the APA Program…

… but you can’t ever really take the APA Program out of the girl! Even when they’ve become old and decrepit! Believe me… my spectre will always be haunting this office!

But alas, it’s time to grow up instead of just growing old… so after eight rollicking, memorable years, I took my farewell bow at the APA office last week. While I will continue to maintain BookDragon for the time being (can’t pry those books out of my hands, and I’m never short of opinions), my days as the APA Program’s media arts consultant are officially finished …

I’m trying out some new adventures and will take the summer to figure out which ones I’ll pursue next… plus I have to start training to somehow get this old bag of bones to the Leadville 100 before I get halfway to 100 myself – or keel over trying, anyway! You’re never too old to have impossible dreams!

So I don’t get TOOO lonely, do come visit me at BookDragon anytime!

Thanks to everyone for everything!

— Terry Hong
former Media Arts Consultant

General APA, Staff Update

Dr. Konrad Ng joins as Acting Director for APA Program

Konrad Ng

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program welcomes Dr. Konrad Ng as Acting Director. Dr. Ng, the Program’s scholar-in-residence in Fall 2009, is well-acquainted with — and already much appreciated throughout — the Smithsonian Institution. He is a professor of creative media at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and a scholar of Asian American cinema and digital media with a decade-long history of working in Asian and Asian American cultural institutions, programs, and organizations.

Message from the Acting Director:

Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as Acting Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American (APA) Program. As we know, the APA Program is vital to the mission of the Smithsonian and plays an important role in telling the American story. I am absolutely committed to strengthening the program and celebrating the APA experience during my tenure.

I thank Dr. Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, for overseeing the APA Program over the past several months. Though Dr. Kurin supervises some 19 museums and programs as well as a number of the Smithsonian’s major initiatives, he still found time to be a champion of the APA Program within the Smithsonian’s senior leadership.

Since my appointment, I have learned that the caliber of the APA Program is incumbent upon the commitment and generosity of people who believe in the Program’s importance and can envision its possibilities. As you will discover in our monthly newsletter, we have a number of terrific events and projects scheduled for the summer. I invite you to attend these events — there is no doubt that you will have fun — but there is an additional invitation that I must extend: Please join me in supporting our valuable APA Program; its future is up to us.


Konrad Ng