Mai Nguyen Do
My name is Mai Nguyen Do. I work as a researcher for AAPI Data and am a PhD student in the political science department. I'm particularly interested in migration, Southeast Asian refugees in the United States, and Asian American politics more generally. On campus at UC Riverside, I serve as a departmental representative to the Graduate Student Council and as a head steward for UAW 2865’s Riverside unit.
As a child of Vietnamese refugees growing up in the majority-white suburbs of Santa Clarita, I turned to books for a sense of belonging. I started with Little House on the Prairie, which reminded me of my mother's stories of growing up in rural Vietnam, and progressed to finishing my high school classwork early so I could read sociology papers and nonprofit reports on Southeast Asian youth maladaptation. There have been very few moments in my life that I haven't been thinking of all that I've inherited: loss, creation, violence, resilience. Although I've always been quite attentive to politics, the moment I started teaching Vietnamese to very young children was when I shifted my aspirations and sense of responsibility. The children, some as young as 6, often bluntly inquired as to why we can’t go “back," among other questions about resettlement and diaspora. Until then, I'd aspired to be a secretary or a scheduler. I shifted gears and interned for various candidates and organizations, which led me to my position as Courage California's first political fellow and, later, first research and policy associate. There, I assisted on legislative bill campaigns and organizing efforts. The newfound sense of support I found from my colleagues, in addition to witnessing assorted catastrophes and joys within Southeast Asian American communities, led me to apply for graduate school. I'm hoping that, through my research and related work, I'll be better equipped to answer my former students' questions.
I'm a researcher on the AAPI Data team. Currently, we're working on a report on the state of AAPI philanthropy, and we're sponsoring the #GiveInMay campaign for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Since I'm somewhat new, I've been slowly getting more involved in both of these, and I'm glad to be able to learn as I assist with various projects. For example, I've been conducting interviews for the AAPI philanthropy report and providing support for the #GiveInMay campaign.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring parts of being a part of CSI is that I get to hear about the struggles, resilience, and growth of the Inland Empire and Southern California at large. The geography and demographics of the Inland Empire makes efforts like Census outreach even more challenging, yet the organizations that CSI has worked with have been working diligently to ensure everyone gets counted.