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Asian and Asian Pacific American Alumni Network

2022 AAPI Advancement Award Ceremony Speakers

We are excited to be joined by several wonderful speakers at this year’s AAPI Advancement Award Ceremony.

Throughout the event, each speaker presented a TED-Talk-style presentation. To learn more about each speaker and their presentation, please read the descriptions below:

Wendy Shang Headshot

Name of Lecture: In an Unlikely Place, a Very American Girl Story

Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Law ’94) is an award-winning middle-grade and picture book author who focuses on the many experiences of Chinese-Americans with humor, heart and a sense of history. In addition to writing the Corinne series for American Girl, Wendy is also the author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, The Way Home Looks Now, This is Just a Test, Not Your All-American Girl, and The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round. She also wrote the novel adaptation of the Netflix original Over the Moon.

Wendy is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Megaphone Board of Shout Mouse Press, a nonprofit writing and publishing program dedicated to amplifying underheard voices. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, children, a cat and a dog. To learn more about Wendy Wan-Long Shang, visit her website at

Shilpa Davé Headshot

Name of Lecture: Graphic Narratives and Representations for Young Adult Asian American Girls

Shilpa Davé is an Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film (2013) and is co-editor of Global Asian American Popular Cultures (2016) and East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture (2005). She has been published widely and been interviewed about the history of representations of race and gender in the media on film and television with a focus on Asian Americans and South Asian Americans, and comparative race relations. Some of her classes at UVA include Asian American Media Cultures, Racial Borders and American Film, Race, Protest, and Media, Origin Stories: Identity, Migration, and Homeland and Action Women: Gender and Graphic Narratives.

Charles A. Laughlin Headshot

Name of Lecture: The Challenge of Getting Real in Modern Chinese Culture: Writing, Film and What People Care About.

Charles A. Laughlin is Weedon Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Chinese Reportage: The Aesthetics of Historical Experience (Duke, 2002) and The Literature of Leisure and Chinese Modernity (Hawai’i, 2008). He also co-edited and contributed an introduction and translations to By the River: Seven Contemporary Chinese Novellas (Oklahoma UP, 2016). He is currently working on projects on Desire in Chinese Revolutionary Literature and Film and on Images of Aging in Chinese Film.

Name of Lecture: Why our Identities Change and Why it Matters

Syaru Shirley Lin is Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program of Brookings Institution. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where she teaches for the Master of Global Political Economy Programme and the CUHK-Tsinghua FMBA Programme in Shenzhen and Beijing. Her research and teaching focus on cross-Strait relations, international and comparative political economy, as well as challenges facing the high-income societies in East Asia.

She is the author of Taiwan’s China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Economic Policy (Stanford University Press, 2016) which was also published in Chinese in 2019. Her book highlights the linkage between national identity and foreign economic policy and analyzes the implications for Taiwan’s future relationship with China. She is now writing a book on five East Asian economies caught in the high-income trap, all of which are facing problems including inequality, demographic decline, financialization, outdated education systems, and the need for further technological innovation. Her analysis and commentary frequently appear in English and Chinese media. She graduated cum laude from Harvard College and earned her masters in international public affairs and Ph.D. in politics and public administration from the University of Hong Kong. To learn more about Prof. Syaru Shirley Lin, visit her website at

We will also honor the 2022 AAPI Advancement Award Recipient, Professor Shu-Chen Chen:

Headshot of 2022's inaugural AAPI Advancement Award winner: Professor Shu-Chen Chen

Chen Laoshi (The Chinese word for “teacher” as she is known to her many students) has been teaching Chinese at UVA since 2005. She is currently an Associate Professor of Chinese. A native of Taiwan, and double Hoo, she has enjoyed extensive involvement in Chinese language instruction, such as serving as Director of the Chinese Summer Language Institute, as well as offering innovative courses like Professional Chinese with Community Engagement and Chinese Calligraphy. Her courses allow Chinese language students to connect with the broader University through their interdisciplinary interests. In addition, following the zeitgeist of Jefferson’s Academical Village, she has been an active participant in events hosted by the Institute of World Languages and the Lorna Sundberg International Center, where she has encouraged students and colleagues, especially those not studying Chinese, to learn more about Chinese language, history, and culture. She is beloved and respected by her students both for her teaching and countless contributions to the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and University community.

She originally came to UVA to pursue her graduate studies in Buddhism. Through her training, she explored unique opportunities to immerse herself in readings and practices of Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese Pure Land Buddhism, which comprised the central topic of her dissertation. In her courses, not only does she teach students to communicate in Chinese, but she also exposes students to cultural nuances and markers of etiquette emphasized in the realization of different situational contexts and exchanges. She also readily incorporates different perspectives in the classroom by inviting guest speakers to share their experiences learning Mandarin, while traveling throughout different regions of China and Taiwan. The most popular guest event that she organized involved the arrival of professional chefs, who provided hands-on demonstrations of how to cook dumplings, tomatoes, and eggs. When not in the classroom, her favorite hobby is gardening, and she always enjoys sharing fresh fruits and vegetables with students and colleagues from her backyard garden.