Skip to main content

Through Women's Eyes: Southeast Asian American Women's Stories records

Identifier: C0509

Scope and Content

Through Women’s Eyes: Southeast Asian American Women's Stories records consists mainly of interview cassette tapes and transcripts, contact sheets, photographs, photo negatives, and photo slides. The collection is arranged into 3 series.

Series 1: Project Files contains information about the Dual Identities/Multiple Roles project into the Through Women’s Eyes Oral History Project in the 1990s. It consists of two sub-series. Sub-series 1: Planning and exhibition files which contains materials of the project itself and Sub-series 2: Research materials which contains sources that assisted in interviewing the Southeast Asian women and provided the researcher more background information of each country.

Series 2: Interview Subjects is arranged by the Southeast Asian country each woman originated from. It includes interview records and transcripts, correspondence, biographical information, and other personal materials from the interviewees. The subsections are ordered alphabetically, starting with Sub-series 1: Cambodia, Sub-series 2: Laos, Sub-series 3: Thailand, and Sub-series 4: Vietnam. Individuals are arranged alphabetically under their country.

Series 3: Photographs hold all images taken throughout the project. It is arranged alphabetically by country, then by individual. This series contains contact sheets, photographs, photo negatives, and photo slides.


  • 1980s-2016


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

Use Restrictions

The copyright and related rights status of this collection have not been evaluated ( See )

Biographical Information

Through Women’s Eyes: Southeast Asian American Women’s Stories was an Oral History project originally titled Dual Identities/Multiple Roles conducted by Lisa Falk and Uaporn Ang Robinson in the early 1990s in which they interviewed and photographed eighteen Southeast Asian American women who were born in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam, and migrated to the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area in their young adult years during the 1960s-1990s.

Individuals from Cambodia:

Sisopha Mai Chavez and Bopha Mai Ram migrated to the United States in the early 1980s. The two sisters were separated from one another and their family during the Pol Pot regime. As they separately migrated west, they rediscovered one another and stuck together in a refugee camp. At the camp, they found their brother, Somet, and Bopha got married. The sisters were able to migrate to the United States through Somet’s connections with foreign journalists. Once in the country, Bopha gave birth to a daughter and the sisters, Somet, and Bopha’s daughter and husband all lived in a small apartment. Sisopha found employment at a multitude of restaurants, in which she met her now husband, Francisco Chavez. The pair had two kids together. In 1988, the sisters and their families raised enough money to open a grocery store in Arlington Virginia called Asian Grocery Market.

Thida C. Khus migrated to the United States with her children in 1979, shortly after Cambodia fell to the communist regime. Reunited with her husband four months later, Thida worked as a social worker for the United Catholic Conference until 1985, when she established the Khmer Cambodian Society of San Antonio. In 1989, Khus moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as the executive director of the Cambodian Network Council.

Lany Tan Lang arrived in the United States in 1964 through a student exchange program. She was unable to return to Cambodia after the country cut ties with the United States and she was sent to live in Hawaii. There, she married and gave birth to a girl. She and her family moved to the D.C. area shortly after and she found employment as a Khmer instructor at the Foreign Service Institute. In 1987, she received her master’s degree in social work and became the first Cambodian woman to work in Maryland’s Mental Health Department where she assisted Cambodian and Thai refugees.

Sam-Oeun (Rady) Tes arrived in the United States in 1971 when she was 20 years old. Her uncle worked as a US ambassador and decided to bring her along to the country. Tes met her husband in person shortly after arriving in the states and got married in the embassy. She learned English by attending night school and worked as a hairdresser during the day. Prior to arriving in the states, Tes was a dancer who performed traditionally for the royal family in Cambodia. She began teaching dance in her home in 1976, creating the Cambodian-American Heritage Group, completely free of charge in hope of bringing Cambodian culture to the United States.

Individuals from Laos:

Phourasmy Naughton arrived in the United States as a student but returned back to Laos to work at the United States Information Agency. She decided to come back to the states and found work at the Lao section of Voice of America as a radio broadcaster. Alongside this, Naughton dedicated much of her time at the Laos refugee resettlement community and also helped establish Wat Lao Buddhavong, a Lao Buddhist temple, in Manassas, Virginia. Naughton became a Buddhist nun and aided in resettling Thai refugees in the D.C. area.

Suparak Pathammavong family escaped to the United States in the late 1970s after her father was taken to a concentration camp by the communist government. Fortunately, her father was reunited with them in the states. Despite having difficulty with speaking in English, Pathammavong completed her highschool education and pursued her Bachelor’s in Engineering from Capital College in Maryland. Pathammavong later found a job as a system engineer and technician trainer at Sprint International. She got married in 1996 and had two children.

Kathy Prasith’s family is made up of immigrants. She practiced Lao traditional dances at the Wat Lao Buddhavong temple and she was the youngest of all the interviewees. At the time of the interview, Kathy was only just beginning 7th grade.

Bounsou Sananikone migrated to the United States in 1975, when Laos faced a communist takeover. Prior to leaving, Sananikone was an accomplished artist and director of the Social Services Lao Public Health. When she arrived in the United States, Sananikone dedicated herself to helping the Lao community in the northern Virginia area.

Tomkham Somphanh came to the United States as a student, after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Peabody University in Tennessee. During the 1960s, her husband worked for the Lao government, which required her family to travel between Moscow and New York. In 1975, Somphanh and her family lived in New York when the Lao government fell under control of the communist party, leaving Somphanh’s family stranded. Somphanh felt it was too unsafe to return to Laos and applied for asylum in the states. With their savings, Somphanh and her family were able to stay financially afloat. They opened a laundromat and upgraded to running a printing company.

Individuals from Thailand:

Suwattana (Toi) H.A. arrived in the United States as a student in 1971. She attended Marymount College obtaining her degree in business. In 1978, she and her husband bought a restaurant that served both American and Thai food. It was one of the first to do so. In 1988, they opened their own restaurant called “Star of Siam” in downtown Washington, D.C. Since then they have opened up 2 more “Star of Siam” in the Washington D.C./Virginia area.

Dr. Anchalee Musikabhumma came to the United States as a medical student in 1971. Prior to living in the States, Dr. Musikabhumma studied dance alongside her medical degree in Thailand. Alongside working as a pediatrician, Dr. Musikabhumma regularly attended the Wat Thai temple where she helps arrange dances for the temple.

Artree (Audrey) Panichakoon arrived in the United States when she was 8 years old. At the time of the interview, Artree was a 22 year old college student. She studied graphic design in college and eventually worked for A Magazine in New York City.

Panida Puccinelli arrived in the United States in 1974, after being accepted at Ohio University. She graduated with a master’s degree and met her husband during her years at school. In 1976, Puccinelli went back to Thailand and had a traditional wedding, before moving back to the states, where she began working at an American First bank.

Individuals from Vietnam:

Nguyen Nguyet Anh and her family migrated to the United States in 1975, a week after the Vietnam government fell under communist control. Before reaching the states, Anh wondered how she could best help her country and felt she could do it best through music. She has written and recorded over 200 songs that she performs at refugee camps around the world.

Kim Chi Crittenden migrated to the United States after marrying her husband the month before Vietnam fell under control of communism. Her and her husband temporarily lived in the South before moving to northern Virginia where she obtained her master’s degree in teaching and had three girls. She taught ESL at Abington Elementary in Arlington, VA and learned Spanish after noticing the rising number of latine refugee students. She prides herself on her hard work and dedication to her goals.

Khuc Minh Tho arrived in the United States in the mid 1970s. She worked for the Vietnamese Embassy in the Philippines until the Vietnamese government fell under control of the communists. She and her three children were granted asylum to move to the United States. She began working as Records Assistant for the Arlington County government and was the first Vietnamese worker in their Department of Human Services. Shortly after, she founded the Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA), an origination dedicated to help represent the rights of Vietnamese political prisoners and aid in reunification with their families.

Anh-Huong Thi Tu arrived in the United States in 1969, after receiving a scholarship through the United States Agency for International Development. After studying journalism, Thi Tu went back to Vietnam, and worked as an assistant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1975, Thi Tu left Vietnam, after the government fell under communism. She lived temporarily in California before moving to the D.C. area. She went back to school for law and began working for Volunteers for the Elderly, a paralegal advocacy group which provided legal services to low-income, older minoritized people.


6 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials


Central Khmer





Through Women’s Eyes: Southeast Asian American Women’s Stories contains materials that tell the stories of Southeast Asian American women who were born in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam and migrated to the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area in their young adult years during the 1970s-1990s. This oral history project, conducted in the early 1990s, aims to describe what caused these women to move and their transition into American culture and life while keeping their native customs alive in their homes. The project was made into an temportary independent exhibit for the Smithsonian in 2016.


This colleciton is arranged in 3 series.


  1. Series 1: Project Files
  2. Series 2: Interview Subjects
  3. Series 3: Photographs

Physical Location

R 72, C 3, S 6 - S 7

R 72, C 4, R 1

Acquisition Information

Donated to SCRC by Lisa Falk of the Arizona State Museum in February 2022.

Related Materials

The Special Collections Research Center also holds other oral history collections, as well as collections focusing on Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam and the Vietnam War.

The University of California - Irvine is the repository for the Southeast Asian Archive, which holds oral history collections.

Processing Information

Processing completed by Vilma Chicas Garcia from June-August 2023. Finding aid completed by Vilma Chicas Garcia in August 2023.

Guide to Through Women's Eyes: Southeast Asian American Women's Stories records
Through Women’s Eyes: Southeast Asian American Women’s Stories records
Vilma Chicas Garcia
August 17, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections Research Center Repository

Fenwick Library, MS2FL
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax Virginia 22030 United States
703-993-8911 (Fax)