Southern Mix: Collecting Asian-American Stories In The South

Jun 7, 2018

Rhesa Versola, the founder of Southern Mix, is an active member of the UNC Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.
Credit Courtesy of Sara Wood / Southern Mix

The Asian-American population in North Carolina has exploded in the past few decades. A 2016 study shows that from 2000-2010, the Asian-American population in the state grew by 85 percent, which was the third-fastest growth rate in the country. But who exactly makes up this growing population? What are their stories and traditions, and how are they changing the face of North Carolina?

The way oral history narratives let us hear something different than what might appear on the page. When you hear her [Rhesa Versola] laugh a little, but you also hear the anger in her voice at the exact same time. Having the oral histories available in our collection is a gift. - Rachel Seidman

A new project from the Southern Oral History Program aims to answer some of these questions through the new oral history project Southern Mix. The effort was the brainchild of Asian-American alumni at UNC-Chapel Hill who wanted to increase the number of Asian-American stories in the Southern Oral History Program archive.

Host Frank Stasio talks about the project with Rachel Seidman, director of the Southern Oral History Program and adjunct assistant professor of history and women’s and gender studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. Project collaborator and UNC-Chapel Hill English Professor Jennifer Ho joins the conversation to talk about the importance of collecting diverse narratives about Asian-American life in the South. And UNC-Chapel Hill student Harrison Lee shares clips from the oral history interview he recorded with his Korean-American father, which is now archived in the Southern Mix collection.

I know that growing up as someone that looks different you have to examine yourself, look at yourself in the mirror and figure out why is it that people are treating me different from how I see myself. - Harrison Lee on recording an interview with his father.