An Interview with American Bazaar

by Punita Rice Career

American Bazaar interviewed Dr. Punita Rice about research on South Asian American student experiences, and ISAASE. (Dr. Punita Rice interview with American Bazaar.)

About a month ago, I chatted with Jayshal Sood of American Bazaar Magazine about the work of ISAASE. In the interview, we talked about my research findings, including the reality that South Asian American students are diverse, may have less-than-ideal experiences in school, and don’t always get support they need from teachers. We also chatted about low teacher cultural proficiency, bias, discrimination, and various challenges South Asian American kids may face in schools. Plus: common issues South Asian American kids encounter, ISAASE’s ongoing projects and initiatives, the prevalence of stereotypes, the role of government policy in student experiences (and perceptions of South Asian American kids), how ISAASE is trying to address these issues, and what families can do to support their kids. The interview just went up this week – if you’re interested, here’s a link to read the full interview.

P.S. – Here’s some information about the ISAASE Be Inspired Project, and you can learn more about ISAASE here.

Teachers, How Are You Teaching About Charlottesville?

by Punita Rice Teaching

Equality and Diversity in Charlottesville

Teachers, how are you teaching about Charlottesville? I’ve been thinking about this since teachers and students are heading back to school in the coming weeks. Teachers are going to need to engage with students about the recent events in Charlottesville, and the intense mood of the country. And, teachers will have to be prepared to have meaningful discussions about tolerance, hatred, and the increasingly brazen racism in our country.

The events of Charlottesville were particularly hard to swallow because I have such positive memories and feelings when I think of that city. A few years ago, I got to spend a lovely summer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in a summer institute. Teachers and researchers from around the country came together to study philosophy, collaborate, and develop resources for students in diverse education settings, built on philosophical concepts and rooted in philosophical reasoning skills. I touched base with some of the lovely women I became friends with in the program after the events of last week to get their takes. Here, I’m sharing what some friends from my time at UVA had to say, plus, some resources for teaching about Charlottesville…

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A Chat with Shaun Jayachandran

by Punita Rice Culture

Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy - Interview with Shaun Jayachandran

If you’re familiar with my outreach organization ISAASE (pronounced “iss-ah-say”), have you seen the “Be Inspired” project yet? The project is all about inspiring the next generation of young South Asian American students, by sharing profiles on diverse role models and diverse stories of success. For our first interview for the project, I connected with Shaun Jayachandran. Shaun Jayachandran is a former basketball player, former teacher, and former administrator, and the director of international nonprofit Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy India, which brings student athletes from the U.S. to a program in India “aimed at encouraging students to stay in school through teaching pillars of growth through athleticism and basketball.” The organization also brings amazing young people together for this great cause, and fosters relationships between all of them.

Shaun and I chatted about how his work has helped him and his volunteers see India in a new way, the importance of representation in the media, what he wished he’d had growing up, and the challenges facing young South Asian American students (and the teachers who work with them) today. Here are a few highlights from our conversation, if you’d like to read them…

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Cultural Appropriation and Aladdin

by Punita Rice Culture

Cultural Appropriation and Aladdin

I have a confession to make: I’m excited about the live action Aladdin. Even though it’s problematic, racist, etc., and even though I do (mostly) accept the “responsibility” of calling out that which is unnecessarily and inappropriately offensive, I’m also sometimes exhausted by the weight of conversations around cultural appropriation and the desire to just… like, enjoy a movie sometimes. Read on for some partly-baked, but weighty thoughts on cultural appropriation, Aladdin, and the question of whether happiness and wokeness are necessarily in conflict…

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Loyola Alumni Story

by Punita Rice Career

Loyola Alumni Punita Rice

I recently did a Q&A for the Loyola University Maryland Alumni Association’s Alumni Stories (I did my Masters in teaching there). In it, I got to share just a little bit about the work ISAASE is doing to support South Asian American students.

You can learn more about ISAASE here, or if you’re interested, you can read the interview / alumni feature here.

Travel Ban

by Punita Rice Culture


I got an opportunity to share my thoughts on the travel ban in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun. It was published over the weekend in their online edition, and went out this morning in the print edition. I wrote about my toddler’s love of firetrucks, what it means to be a good neighbor, and what I see as fading American values.

…While the justices implemented some limitations on the original travel ban executive order, they also allowed for a partial implementation, which will deny visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority nations, as well as ban entry of refugees from around the world. What this really means though, since most of the people from the six visa-banned countries aren’t likely to be coming for a tour through the American countryside, is that we are refusing entry to those who need it most. And it has gotten me thinking about firefighters, good neighbors and what it means to be American.

If you’re interested, here’s the link.

(Featured image is of a PDF of the print edition).

P.S. – An old post, in which I ask: How Should Teachers Discuss the 2016 Election?

Teachers and South Asian American Students

by Punita Rice Teaching

The Aerogram - Why Research On South Asian American Students Matters

I wrote another article for The Aerogram on some of the key findings of my research on teachers and South Asian American students. Specifically, the article provides a (brief) overview of South Asian American students’ experiences in schools. Here’s the gist:

Teachers don’t know much about South Asian American students. Teachers lack cultural proficiency as related to their South Asian American students (cultural proficiency means having cultural knowledge, personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, and skills that enable teachers to effectively teach in multicultural environments).

If you’d like to read the whole thing, you can do so here.

P.S. – Here’s the first article I wrote for The Aerogram, on why research on South Asian Americans matters, and here’s the data from my outreach organization, ISAASE. (And you can click here to learn more about ISAASE.)

Why Research on South Asian American Students Matters

by Punita Rice Career

The Aerogram - Teachers Don’t Know Much About South Asian American Students

I wrote an article for The Aerogram on why research on South Asian American students matters. Here’s an excerpt:

There is a lack of distinction made between different kinds of Asians in existing literature, and a particular dearth of existing literature on South Asian American students. This means teachers can’t really understand these students’ cultures, and thus can’t provide culturally responsive instruction to these students.

Worse, they may not even try to — since many teachers believe the model minority stereotype about Asian students, they might be especially likely to overlook their South Asian American students’ needs, figuring they don’t need extra help or support.

If you’d like to read the whole thing, you can do so here.

P.S. – Information about my outreach organization, ISAASE.

Thanks for the Memories, Johns Hopkins

by Punita Rice Career

Thanks Hopkins! Dr. Punita Rice JHU

I can’t believe my doctoral program at Johns Hopkins University has come to an end. It’s the end of an era. This past couple of weeks after graduating from have been surreal. (Especially as it’s begun to sink in that from now on, there will be no more homework in my life. Well no more of my own homework anyway.) Thanks for the memories, Hopkins.

Hopkins wrote about the work of ISAASE during AAPI heritage month over on their Instagram (at @jhueducation) and on their Facebook page.

Punita Chhabra Rice is a recent graduate of the Doctor of Education program at the Johns Hopkins School of Education. Her research focuses on the perceptions that South Asian American students have of their K-12 experiences, especially in the context of teacher cultural competence. Her findings suggest that low teacher cultural proficiency and a belief in the model minority myth contribute to less support of South Asian American students. These findings inspired her to establish an organization dedicated to improving the experiences of South Asian American students’ experiences through research, community outreach and the promotion of cultural proficiency among educators. Rice is writing a book based on her dissertation work. You can learn more about it at and #AsianPacific #diversity #JHUSOE

A post shared by JHU School Of Education (@jhueducation) on

Thank you to JHU for using their social media platform to amplify the work of ISAASE. You can learn more about ISAASE here.

The ISAASE Be Inspired Project

by Punita Rice Culture

ISAASE Be Inspired

Are you familiar with my outreach and advocacy organization ISAASE (pronounced “iss-ah-say”)? We recently launched the ISAASE Be Inspired project. The point of the project is to collect and share profiles on diverse South Asian role models and their diverse stories of success. The goal is to inspire the next generation of young South Asian American students. Here’s a bit more, from the main page for the project:

“We believe role models who look like you matter. We believe diverse stories of success matter. And we want to show them to you. #ISAASEinspired is an effort to collect and share profiles and vignettes of South Asian American success stories, including those that break the mold, in order to inspire the next generation.”

The first interview will be releasing in a couple of weeks, and it’s with the director of Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy India, Shaun Jayachandran. In the coming months, we’ll also be interviewing and featuring profiles of artists, writers, musicians, poets, business owners, and other leaders.

If you’d like to recommend someone to be featured in the ISAASE Be Inspired project — or, to get involved with ISAASE and volunteer to actually conduct some interviews or develop profiles, you can contact us here, or just tweet to @ISAASEtweets! (We’re also on Instagram at @southasianamericanstudents). Also, if you’re interested, the ISAASE Be Inspired project is part of ISAASE’s Diversity & Representation Initiative, which you can learn more about here.

P.S. – Here’s an old post about how teachers should teach about the 2016 election, if you’re interested.