Independence monument of Cambodia, Phnom Penh

Cambodian Dignitary Kicks Off Buffalo State's 2023 Southeast Asia Week


For more than 10 years, Buffalo State University has celebrated Southeast Asia Week with free presentations open to the public that explore timely economic, social, cultural, and geopolitical topics.

Head shot of Siphana Sok
Siphana Sok

The 12th annual Southeast Asia Week, “Politics, Regional Blocs, and Sustainability,” begins Monday, March 20, with the keynote address “Cambodia Chairmanship of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) 2022: Engaging with the Major Powers in the Context of an Unstable World,” presented by His Excellency Siphana Sok at 7:30 p.m. over Zoom. Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner will introduce Sok, and Vida Vanchan, professor of geography and planning, will serve as moderator. Interested participants must register in advance; registration provides access to the Zoom link.

“Southeast Asia week is unique to our campus and supports Buffalo State’s mission of providing cultural enrichment in a diverse and inclusive environment,” said Vanchan, who founded the university’s celebration in 2012 and continues to organize it every year. “In addition to educating our audiences, Southeast Asia Week aims to foster interactions and connections with Southeast Asian people and countries.”

Sok is a senior adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia. He is also an attorney and founding partner at a law and consulting firm specializing in international trade and corporate and banking law, located in Phnom Penh. In 2009, he was appointed as an adviser to the government of Cambodia, and in 2009 and 2011, he began stints as an adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC) and the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC), respectively. Both positions lasted until 2018. Sok also served as secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce from 1999 to 2005, where he worked on issues related to trade policies and development, commercial legalities, and economic integration.

“We are honored and thrilled to have a speaker of Dr. Sok’s caliber sharing his knowledge and expertise,” Vanchan said. “I was fortunate to be one of his students during my early undergraduate years in Cambodia at the Faculty of Business, which is now known as National University of Management. He is brilliant, and has done so much as a professional, politician, and educator.”

Other talks taking place during the week are as follows:

  • “The Middle East and Southeast Asia,” presented by York Norman, professor of history and social studies education, on Tuesday, March 21, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. in Technology Building 160. Participants must register online.
  • “America’s Role in East Asia: Three Lens,” presented by Adamu Shauku, assistant professor of political science and public administration, on Wednesday, March 22, from 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. in Rockwell Hall 301. Participants must register online.
  • “Food Securities of Countries in Southeast Asia,” presented by students in GEG 360: Geography of Asia, on Thursday, March 23, from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. in Technology Building 358.
  • “Sustainability: For What and Whom?” presented by Vanchan and Susan McCartney, special adviser to the provost for economic development and director of Buffalo State’s Small Business Development Center, on Friday, March 24, from 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. in Rockwell Hall 301. Participants must register online.

Sponsored by Buffalo State's Geography and Planning Department, Political Science and Public Administration Department, History and Social Studies Education Department, Equity and Campus Diversity Office, and Small Business Development Center; and Cornell University's Southeast Asia Program, Southeast Asia Week talks are free and open to the campus community and the public.

“The week provides an innovative way for students, faculty, and staff members from across campus and beyond to learn from our distinguished guest speakers, professors, and students about topics that reflect what is happening in the world, which are not only beneficial to our community but also to the wider community locally and internationally,” Vanchan said. “It further enhances our knowledge and understanding of the connectedness of people, places, cultures, politics, and economies. It also enables us to appreciate diversity and richness of our global community at home and abroad. Sound policies, peaceful diplomacy, and a prosperous world derive from well-informed and educated citizens.”

Individuals interested in attending any of the talks for Southeast Asia Week must register by Sunday, March 19.

Top photo: Independence Monument of Cambodia, Phnom Penh; photo by Roth Chanvirak.