SEAD Project provides COVID-19 resources for Southeast Asian communities in Minnesota

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Minneapolis-based Southeast Asian Diaspora (SEAD) Project provided hand sanitizers and face masks to Minnesota’s Southeast Asian communities.

“There’s a lot of talented people who have so many amazing skillsets, and so we’ve been tapping into that,” said Chanida Phaengdara Potter, the executive director of The SEAD Project.

The SEAD Project does more than COVID-19 relief. It has been engaging and empowering Southeast Asian diaspora communities since it started in 2011.

“One of the key things that makes us SEAD is that we are able to center our Southeast Asian narratives and voices and experiences; and we know and understand the cultural nuances as well to know exactly how we need to communicate,” Phaengdara Potter said.

During the pandemic, The SEAD Project has created multiple health messages in several Southeast Asian languages.

“With messaging, you can’t just do a translation. You have to do a cultural translation, so there’s the literal and the cultural translation that has to happen,” Phaengdara Potter said.

Last summer, SEAD found itself active in the fight against dual pandemics, COVID-19 and systemic racism.

“When George Floyd happened, then we found ourselves in a dual pandemic having to really think about how do we really engage our communities with everything that they’re dealing with,” Phaengdara Potter said.

The SEAD Project offers Southeast Asian diaspora communities healing and hope, even in these hard times.

“That’s pretty much what we’ve been grappling with – addressing the dual pandemics and finding ourselves in a position where we’re becoming the middle communicator,” Phaengdara Potter said.

Evan Odegard, a junior at Nova Classical Academy this fall, produced this story earlier this month during ThreeSixty Journalism’s 2020 Digital Media Arts Camp, in partnership with the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota  and Padilla. Health equity was the theme, with a focus on racism as a public health issue.


Over the course of ThreeSixty’s Digital Media Arts Camp, I had the opportunity to create a video story about Minneapolis-based organization The SEAD (Southeast Asian Diaspora) Project.

SEAD is an organization committed to uplifting and empowering Southeast Asian Diaspora communities through storytelling.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SEAD has done a tremendous amount of work to support Southeast Asian communities in the Twin Cities, from distributing face masks and hand sanitizer to creating colorfully illustrated health messages in several languages.

The SEAD Project’s work also acknowledges the role of racism as a public health issue, which has been brought to light recently by the pandemic. SEAD has helped serve as a resource for Southeast Asians during the recent spike in racism against Asian Americans, and even more recently distributed translations of social justice terms during the Black Lives Matter protests.

While creating this story, I not only learned about the great work SEAD is doing, but also about the ability of one group to help a community in so many different ways.

SEAD’s work is important because it highlights and uplifts a unique and powerful set of voices, telling the story of the Southeast Asian diaspora up until the present day.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know about SEAD, and I hope my story does a good job presenting what I learned.