|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2006)|
Dia Cha (1962? - ) is (2006) Associate Professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies at St. Cloud State University, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where she teaches courses in cultural anthropology, ethnic studies, Southeast Asian communities, Asian American studies, and Hmong studies. A Hmong American and a prolific author, she has written widely acclaimed books for children and adults, and is considered one of the world's leading authorities on Hmong cultural traditions and folkways, traveling widely to offer a variety of presentations on these and related topics.
In addition to scholarly articles and reports, Dia has written "Dia's Story Cloth", and, with Dr. Norma Livo, "Folk Stories of the Hmong" and "Teaching with Folk Stories of the Hmong: An Activity Book". Her poetry and short stories have appeared in "Bamboo Among the Oaks" as well as the "Paj Ntaub Voice" Hmong literary journal.
In 1975, Dia and the surviving members of her family, were forced to flee the advancing communist movement, Pathet Lao in their takeover of her home country of Laos. She soon found herself a refugee in Thailand.
She eventually settled in the United States in 1979, where she was able to begin formal studies in the ninth grade. She wasted little time in distinguishing herself, and made quick advances in mastering English. In 1983, she graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, in Denver, Colorado, ranking thirtieth in a class of 251 students. In 1987, she joined the Institute of Foreign Studies and spent a semester studying at the University of London.
In December 1989, Dia received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado. In December, 1992, she was awarded the degree of Master of Arts in applied anthropology from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. After additional studies, she was granted the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado.
Dr. Cha has worked extensively with both Asian and Native American youth in various support staff roles and with organizations furnishing preventive health and mental health services to a variety of populations in need. From January to August, 1992, she was a pioneer in conducting research with Lao and Hmong refugee women in Thailand and Laos for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
Dr. Cha has written articles, reports, and published several books all relating to the Hmong people or culture. She has received more than sixteen awards in recognition of her academic achievement, her leadership, and, above all, her professional commitment to helping others. A few of these are: the "Outstanding Woman Award", given by the Institute for Women's Studies and Services, Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado; the "TRIO Achievers Award" of the National Council of Educational Opportunity Associations, Chicago, Illinois; and the "Honoring Outstanding Refugee Women Award" of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children of New York. She has, in addition, had bestowed upon her academic and scholarship awards for special and extraordinarily meritorious study throughout a distinguished academic career.
Dr. Cha has been invited to present papers and to give talks on the national and international levels, as well as in her local community. In 1994, she was the first Hmong American woman to be invited to testify before congress on Hmong refugee issues. Her opinions, ideas, and insights are widely sought from California to New York in such venues as public schools, community service groups, and university environments. In 1996, she was a member of the Hmong women's delegation in attendance at the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China.
In addition to her many other achievements and commitments, Dr. Cha was, from 1993 to 1996, a Board Member of Hmong National Development, chairing its Education Committee and organizing its First Annual Hmong National Education Conference, an event which was held in 1995 in St. Paul, Minnesota. This Hmong National Education Conference is still held annually today, shifting its location across the country to a different Hmong community each year.
In May 2001, Dr. Cha was one among a small, select group of only thirty-eight scholars nationwide invited to participate in a Congressional Summit on the Status of Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans in Higher Education.
- "Dia Cha." Notable Asian Americans. Gale Research, 1995.