Project Voice is a podcast series is spearheaded by the voices of womxn and nonbinary folx of the Asian diaspora. As the host of Project Voice, I hope that this series will act as a digital space where members of our community can go to for guidance and resources.
- Jessica Nguyen
Founder and Host of Project Voice
Episode 68: Civic Advocacy and Politics with Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright of Ballot Breakers, State Rep. Padma Kuppa of MI, State Rep. Patty Kim of PA
Jessica Nguyen sits down with Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright of Ballot Breakers, Representative Padma Kuppa of Michigan, and Representative Patty Kim of Pennsylvania to discuss civic advocacy and American politics. We start off the episode learning about the women’s relationship with politics, a field they all originally viewed as dirty business and were reluctant to partake in. They all share how their backgrounds and life experiences have influenced the work that they do in the political space, whether that is as a state representative amplifying and advocating for their communities or the founder of a platform that highlights the younger generation of politicians and celebrates their victories.
For State Representatives Patty and Padma, we hear more about their journey running for office, touching upon the causes they are passionate about and the importance of active listening. They talked about the challenges they faced as well as their proudest achievements as elected officials. Lacy shares the origin story of Ballot Breakers and the takeaways she has learned as being a voice for young, aspiring Democratic candidates. Realizing how often she would get cut off or dismissed in certain political spaces because of her identity, she realized the power of allies and communities who support and will help amplify your voice. Directly addressing what is going on in the world, they shared how they have been affected by and are responding to the COVID-19 epidemic and to the issue of police brutality in connection with systemic racism that exists in the US.
We end the interview with insights about the world of politics: things they wish people knew about this space as well as advice for those considering running for office. Thinking toward the future, they share their vision of hope and change as active participants in civic advocacy.
LACY LEW NGUYEN WRIGHT: Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright is the creator of Ballot Breakers, a website series interviewing young progressive candidates running for office and has featured over 50 candidates representing young people’s perspectives in government. She was previously an Editor-at-Large at Huffington Post. Her writings can also be found on Elite Daily, The Moviegoer, The Bottom Line, and HelloFlo. Lacy is based in whichever coffee shop has the best mocha.
BALLOT BREAKERS: We’re seeing young people running for office in droves, seizing the opportunity to take control of their futures and give voice to the people who aren’t being represented in today’s government. These candidates are breaking tradition, transforming what it means to be a candidate.
Ballot Breakers seeks to authentically showcase these energized young people, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and platforms. Ballot Breakers don’t just represent their generation -- they represent their constituents, communities and progressive values throughout the country.
INSTAGRAM: @ballotbreakers | @alwaysbewright
State Representative PATTY KIM, a former news anchor and reporter and Harrisburg City Councilwoman, was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012 and has been a leader in government reform and transparency. She returned her cost of living increase (COLA) and introduced a bill to eliminate the yearly pay increases. She is also one of the only members of the House to post all of her expenses on her legislative website for public review. Kim's priorities in the General Assembly include taking a solution-based approach to statewide issues, working in cooperation and collaboration with colleagues, and utilizing her record of service to support initiatives that stand to better the lives of the citizens she represents. Leading her caucus’s charge to provide a livable wage for all Pennsylvanians, Kim twice introduced bills to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. She continues her fight for a minimum wage increase to restore the midd
Episode 67: Overcoming Barriers while Pursuing a Career in Academia as an Asian American with the SEAAster Scholars
Jessica Nguyen sits down with a few members of the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) SEAAster Scholars Collective–Jacqueline Mac, Linda Pheng, Vanessa S. Na, Varaxy Yi–to hear more about their experiences as POC/SEAA in academia, the meaning of homemaking, and the origin story and mission of their collective. After running into each other at various conferences and acknowledging that there were not many SEAA that occupy the academic space, they made it a goal to create a support system that provided the exchange of knowledge and authentic voices/experiences of the SEA diaspora. Oftentimes feeling alienated and isolated in academia, which is a predominantly White space, some members have taken more creative approaches (like dyeing their hair blue) in order to stand out and fight against invisibilization. When speaking about the challenges they had to overcome, they realized they wanted to do more than just survive. They wanted to thrive.
Focusing on fostering a collaborative atmosphere, the SEAAster Scholars Collective was founded to help people feel whole and supported. Engaging with other scholars who are able to empathize with their cultural experiences and honor each other’s beliefs and values, they found empowerment. After sharing their favorite moments and takeaways from being a part of this group, they end the podcast by providing advice and resources to those interested in pursuing a career in academia.
The SOUTHEAST ASIAN AMERICAN (SEAA) SEEASTER SCHOLARS COLLECTIVE is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the postsecondary experiences of SEAA students, staff, and faculty. We met as graduate students through various social connections and higher education networks and were thrilled to learn that there were other Southeast Asian womxn in higher education. We hold individual and collective identities as Khmer American, Lao American, ethnic Chinese Vietnamese American, daughters of refugees, partners, friends, and sisters.
Varaxy Yi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, California State University, Fresno
Malaphone Phommasa, Ph.D., Director, Transfer Student Center, University of California, Santa Barbara
Latana J. Thaviseth, Ph. D. Student, University of California, Los Angeles
Linda Pheng, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Vanessa S. Na, Ph.D. Student, University of California, San Diego
Jacqueline Mac, Ph. D. Candidate, Indiana University, Bloomington
Episode 65: Learning about Life Coaching, Holistic Healing, Spirituality, and Self-Improvement with Seo Kelleher
Jessica Nguyen sits down with Seo Kelleher, the author of the newly released book “Don’t be a Bitch, be an Alpha,” to talk about her journey as an intuitive life and business coach and shamanic healer. With 20 years of marketing experience and an MBA under her belt, Seo used to define herself as a high performing career woman who focused on getting good grades and climbing the corporate ladder. Concerned with what other people will say and think about her, she realized that she was creating challenges in her head with the mindset that she had to live up to what the world had expected of her. When she transitioned into becoming an intuitive life and business coach, she realized that she had to dig deep within herself and face and heal her own traumas before she could help others with their transformations. Her approach in coaching focuses heavily on people relying on their own self for clarity in answers. Using her personal experience of transforming her own life, she wants to pass on these practices to a greater community of womxn who empower each other by first empowering themselves.
Touching upon her book “Don’t Be a Bitch, Be an Alpha,” Seo talks about redefining alpha womxn as womxn who are empowered by their own authentic being. She believes that a strong woman emerges when she can exist in space where she can truly be herself. To foster and continue to build this space, one needs to be a little selfish and take care of one's self. Once you reach the most thriving version of yourself, the core of what you do in this world stems from a place of abundance, joy, excitement, and creativity instead of guilt, duty, and obligation. We end the podcast with the advice to have more fun and to not fear rejection. Unlike what many of our Asian diasporic parents may say, good things do not always have to come with suffering.
SEO KELLEHER is an intuitive life and biz coach who empowers women to move outside their comfort zones, manifest transformation and play big. As a coach, she goes beyond strategy and embrace the WOO to help women change their lives so they can change the world on their own terms... and in their own way.
Website: Courage To Be
Facebook: Alpha Female Sisterhood
Summary by Joanne Nguyen
Episode 65: Starting Passion Projects and Dealing with Burnout with Tiffany Huang of Spill Stories
Jessica Nguyen sits down with Tiffany Huang, the founder of Spill Stories, to talk about how she is able to foster personal growth passion projects. Stifled by the fast-paced Hong Kong lifestyle, Tiffany wanted to build a platform that allows for people (particularly womxn of color) to be unrestrained in the way that they speak and share their stories. Having to juggle both her day job and her passion project, she realized that sometimes one has to throw organization out the window and just start executing when you realize what it is that you want to do. With time and experience, Tiffany has learned that authentic stories come about when one does not overthink and simply makes their passion and intentions clear.
Delving into more how Tiffany was able to develop Spill Stories to be what it is today, she touches upon she has become aware of the cues that precede burning out, prompting her to check in and make sure that her basic life needs are met. They talk about the importance of self love and how it is easy for people to pour so much love and passion in their projects but not into themselves. Even if it means taking a day for yourself where you can calm down and do nothing, they discuss how one’s productivity should not be a determinant of one’s worth. Tiffany ends the podcast with golden nuggets that include advice on how to approach passion projects: “Be very crystal clear on what is your purpose.”
Spill Stories is a storytelling platform to unite womxn of color, tackling social issues told through deeply personal perspectives. Spill Stories focuses on delivering high quality content via Instagram, while also offering monthly writers workshops in Hong Kong / Seoul, and larger bespoke events for the community.
TIFFANY HUANG is a Taiwanese American living in Hong Kong. She is a marketer in the hospitality industry by day and a writer by night. In 2018, she founded Spill Stories, a storytelling platform to unite womxn of color. She finds herself often caught between two worlds -- one focused on commercial success, and the other focused on personal passion projects. The desire to close this gap is what drives her to wake up in the morning everyday, as challenging as the journey may be.
Instagram: @spillstories, @hausoftiffany
Website: Spill Stories
Summary by Joanne Nguyen
Episode 64: Documenting Southeast Asian Narratives and Trending Community Issues with Project Yellow Dress
Julie McConnell sits down with Julia Ha and Tammy Tran from Project Yellow Dress (PYD) to talk about how underrepresented communities are gaining visibility through self-expressed artistic mediums. We start the podcast getting to know the two PYD founders who talk about their family history (fun fact: they are second cousins). Their family experienced a double diaspora having to escape China and Vietnam because of warfare, and as a result, have traveled to many different countries in search of a new place to call home.
We move on to hear about the lightbulb moment when a children's book on the Holocaust inspired them to start PYD. Recognizing how taking ownership of one's history is so crucial for communities who are often overlooked in history textbooks and mainstream media, they created PYD as a platform to encourage silenced individuals to share their stories through whatever medium they desire. This is a community of people who are flipping the script as they do advocacy in their own way. Yes, Asians can be artists. They can be whoever they want to be. It is so important for them to be able to feel like the protagonist of their story, to celebrate the fact that they are a refugee or a child of a refugee, especially in today's political climate.
We close out the podcast with takeaways that touch upon an increasing need for ethnic studies courses. Because learning about people’s history helps us understand one another and ourselves, it is so important to recognize how and where ethnic studies is being taught and improve on that. "Know history, know self. No history, no self."
Project Yellow Dress is a storytelling platform that is dedicated to sharing and highlighting the histories, experiences, and voices of the Southeast Asian diaspora.
JULIA HA is a Chinese-Vietnamese American from the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of Vietnamese Boat People refugees who immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1980s. She received her B.A. from University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she majored in History: War, Revolution, and Social Change with a special emphasis in Genocide Studies, and graduated with a M.A. Ed. degree in Equity and Social Justice in Education with a focus on Genocide Education from San Francisco State University (SFSU). She currently works as an EOP Advisor at San Francisco State University.
TAMMY TRAN, one of the co-founders of Project Yellow Dress, is a Chinese-Vietnamese American whose parents are Vietnamese Boat Refugees. Through Project Yellow Dress, she’s been able to reconnect with her family's history and get to know more about her parents and community. Aside from Project Yellow Dress, she studied Fine Arts & Art History during both her undergraduate and graduate careers and is currently getting an MILIS in Cultural Heritage Management. She truly enjoys seeking out new narratives that inanimate objects can tell us and believes that it's so important to find ways to preserve people's voices through visual representations.
Summary by Joanne Nguyen
Episode 63: Healing your Relationship with Your Parents with Ivy Kwong
Jessica Nguyen sits down with Ivy Kwong to talk about navigating the healing process individuals may have to go through with their family, particularly their parents. After talking about her own personal experience, Ivy shares tactics to help people heal and foster healthier relationships with their parents.
Ivy touches upon how growing up as a child of immigrants from China and Hong Kong, she felt that she constantly had to constantly switch back and forth between two cultures–home was China while school was America. Having to straddle between these two worlds, she often was shocked at how her experience with family was so different than that of her American friends. She struggled to seek validation, approval, and love from her parents who gave conditional love only when she was succeeding. She often had to walk on eggshells within a household that didn’t process and talk about emotions. Ivy comes to realize that this emotional repression leads her to turn the anger she feels toward her parents against herself.
As Ivy starts to unpack all of the trauma she experienced in her childhood, she talks about the importance of healing oneself first before any rebuilding of familial relationships can occur. Guilt and shame are powerful and manipulative tools that one needs to recognize and acknowledge, especially when formulating one’s boundaries. Ivy touches upon how to recognize when your boundaries have been violated and goes into talking about you have to be in touch with your own boundaries before you are able to enforce them. We teach people how to treat us and we get to choose how we respond to the way that people treat us.
The podcast rounds off with Ivy talking about how her work as a marriage and family therapist has allowed her to help address trauma that gets passed on from generation to generation. As individuals go through healing, they learn to trace the root of their trauma, helping older generations also go through the healing process. In a way, doing the work to help the older generations heal is a way of recognizing and paying back the sacrifice our elders have made for us to be in this position of privilege. It is important to remember that this healing process is ongoing and non-linear, and that a lot of time “you have to go through a lot of f**k yous before you get to forgive yous.”
Ivy Kwong, LMFT offers culturally sensitive psychotherapy and coaching services specializing in recovery from codependency, Asian and Asian-American mental health issues, and healing from intergenerational and ancestral trauma.
IVY KWONG is a first-generation Asian-American woman who was born to Chinese immigrant parents and raised in the Midwest. She is a survivor of childhood and adult sexual trauma, a codependent/people-pleaser in recovery, the founder of BareIvy.com, a workshop and retreat leader, and an author, speaker, and coach. She has over 14 years of experience as a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in recovery from codependency, Asian and Asian-American mental health issues, and healing from intergenerational and ancestral trauma.
She recently finished her first book featuring a little Asian-American girl as the main character entitled "The Little Girl, The Ocean, and The Moon." It is a children's book written for adults, encouraging you to remember and to honor your childhood dreams. Ivy is available for in-person therapy in Seattle WA, for online therapy sessions in WA and CA, and for online thera-coaching (a blend of treatment involving elements of both therapy and coaching) worldwide
Kickstarter: The Little Girl, The Ocean, and The Moon: A Children's Book
Summary by Joanne Nguyen
Where was Project Voice when I was younger?!
I'm a 32 year-old Asian American woman now and I'm so grateful that Project Voice exists today, especially for today's youth. The host and founder, Jessica Nguyen, approaches each topic with intelligence and respect. Download Project Voice now to learn something new or to review something from a different perspective from PV's wide array of diverse guest speakers.
As an Asian American male, I still found so much relatable material
Really amazing podcast! Although I am not an Asian American Woman, I still found myself relating to many of the topics covered in this podcast. As someone who has had Asian American friends struggle with mental health issues, Episode 2 really hit me hard from the beginning. Soon, I found myself listening to each episode in order of release, finding discussion topics that related to my own personal life. Growing up in a predominantly white community, I just kind of took my experiences as my own isolated instances, but I was surprised to hear that others have experienced similar struggles with identity and "fitting in" or "standing out" while attempting to maintain cultural pride. I ended up listening to every episode, and although there were some that didn't connect with me as much, each episode was really well edited and produced. The stories from the interviewees, especially episodes 19 and 20, were heavy hitting and really informative. I also found episodes 7 and 22 very powerful, and have shared them with friends who I think would also find value in them. Really well done, excited to see what's next for Project Voice!
I want to like it more
I’m struggling with how to rate/write this review. I listened to one episode and found the guest very interesting but was very distracted by the host’s voice. She sounded so sleepy and lethargic that it took away from the content. I may come back another time and give it one more shot as I’d like to like the podcasts. 🤷🏻♀️