The People Behind PAACH

PAACH Staff

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Peter Van Do

Director | pvan@upenn.edu

Peter Van Do is the Director for the Pan-Asian American Community House (resource center) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). As a University Administrator, he works with a community of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff,alumni, allies, and local community members to discuss overall community development solutions while overseeing programs and initiatives that expands,empowers, and educates issues concerning identity, race, and racism at Penn. He specializes in the following: Community Outreach; Organizational and Program Development; Event Planning; and Student Affairs (Mentorship, Diversity Training, Strategic Planning, Leadership and Team Building, Fundraising). He has worked in higher education for over 10 years at institutions like Harvard, Cornell, and now, Penn.

 

Peter has a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in History (minor in Asian American Studies) at the University of Maryland, has a Master's of Arts Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, and is pursuing a Master's of Arts Degree in Asian Studies from Cornell University. Peter's primary research areas include the Vietnam War/South Vietnamese veteran experience, and Vietnamese American immigration story. Other intellectual interests follow the topic of race, class, gender, social citizenship,psychological oppression, and popular culture. Peter has taught in Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.

 

In his spare time, he dedicates time to help non-profit organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area. He serves as a Co-Chair of the Asian Mosaic Fund (AMF) Giving Circle, a diverse group of multi-generational donors committed to advancing the well-being of the Greater Philadelphia Asian American Community. He is also an Community Advisory Board Member of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia (AACCGP) and Asian Arts Initiative(AAI).

 

Peter was born and raised in Connecticut, and is a descendent of Vietnamese refugee "boat people." Peter enjoys dining out, festivals,karaoke, traveling, and making positive and meaningful connections.

Viraj Patel

Viraj Patel

Associate Director | pviraj@upenn.edu

Viraj Patel is a social justice advocate, educator, and dialogue facilitator as well as an active blogger, consultant, and engaged community member. Born and raised in Downers Grove, IL, Viraj completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in English with a minor in Asian American Studies. As an undergraduate student, her two senior theses focused on ethnic identity development of South Asian American students in competitive performance groups and media narratives around so-called "honor" killings in the United States, respectively. She was involved with the Indian Students Association, multicultural intergroup dialogue programs, AAPI coalition-building organizations, and interned for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), and OCA National, an organization committed to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.

She then earned her Master of Education at the University of Vermont, where her comprehensive exam thesis focused on the intersections of horizontal oppression and allyship around race and went on to work in student affairs at Georgetown and The George Washington University. Viraj has also served on a Board for the DC Chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum as well as the Board of Directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership. She is an organizer with the Philadelphia South Asian Collective and Radical Asian American Women's Collective, and has also organized with East Coast Solidarity Summer, a grassroots organization that works with South Asian youth. Professionally, Viraj has worked with the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP), whose mission it is to advance minoritized communities in higher education administration as a faculty member at the Dungy Leadership Institute and as a member of the organizing team for the NASPA Undergraduate Student Conference. In her free time, Viraj is probably watching the latest Bollywood movie, cooking a fun new recipe, dancing, running, checking out an exhibit at a museum, or reading at a coffee shop.

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Kusum Soin

Office Coordinator | kusums@upenn.edu

Kusum was born in India and is the oldest child in her family. She graduated from a three-year architecture college in 1972 and then worked as an interior designer and architectural assistant for fifteen years. From 1980 to 1990 she lived in Kuwait and then came to the United States with her husband and two daughters. Her husband, Devinder S. Soin, is a landscape architect. They experienced life during the Iraq-Kuwait War in the early 90s. Her family moved to the United States because her husband decided to go to graduate school at Penn after pondering over the decision for 18 years. He completed his Master's degree in Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. Kusum's eldest daughter, Komal Soin, and youngest daughter, Ketki Soin, completed their undergraduate from Penn and medical school at Jefferson. Komal is currently working as a family doctor in Honolulu. Ketki is doing her fellowship in cornea surgery in Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. Her son Gaugin Soin is now attending law school at Villanova University. Kusum enjoys cooking exotic food. Kusum's entire family loves to travel. They have visited over seventeen countries. One day they would like to add China and Indonesia to their list. Kusum is excited to continue her passion in supporting students and the PAACH community at large. 
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Olivia Zha

Graphic Design & Marketing Assistant

olz@sas.upenn.edu

Olivia is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is born and raised in the suburbs near Dallas, Texas. Olivia is currently in the process of applying to clubs, but she is interested in international relations and business-related organizations! In her free time, she enjoys painting and meeting new people. Olivia also loves watching kdramas and cdramas, drinking milk, karaoking with friends, and traveling to foreign countries.

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Jashee Yang

jasheey@sas.upenn.edu


Jashee (pronounced Josh-ee) is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences from the Bay Area in California. She's undecided, but is currently planning on majoring in International Relations and minoring in East Asian Area Studies or Asian American Studies. Outside of PAACH, she's also involved in CSA and ALPS. She loves (needs) to do lists, boba and food in general, and listens to a lot of kpop. She also loves getting to know people, so please talk to her!


Raisa is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is originally from Bangladesh, but moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when she was nine years old. She is currently planning on majoring in International Relations. Outside of PAACH, Raisa is involved with the Community Outreach and Engagement committee of the International Affairs Association; ACTION, which tutors elementary school kids in Spanish; and ASAP, which is an after school music program for kids. Her passions include foreign languages, learning about different cultures, singing, and dancing.