Nang & Thao Songkhan
A new kind of New Year pageant.
Every Lao New Year is a tradition held at almost every celebration called Nang Songkhan (ນາງ ສົງກຣານ), a procession of 7 young women dressed in traditional Lao attire representing the daughters of King Kabinlaphom of Lao mythological folklore and whom also represent the days of the week. The leader of the group gets to hold the head of the King, and in doing so this act of protecting it ensures a happy, healthy, and prosperous coming year for Laos. How the leader is chosen varies upon who is doing the celebration; sometimes it’s done by lottery drawing, other times it’s simply who is representing the actual day Lao New Year falls on. And other times it’s a pageant in which the contestants are judged on beauty, dress, speaking, and whatever else is deemed important. This year for Laos In The House’s annual LNY #BLESSED event we decided to hold our own pageant, featuring 7 of our volunteers - and made it equally competitive to both genders - we’re calling it “Nang & Thao Songkhan”.
Each of our Nangs & Thaos will make their speaking debut on May 4th and will be dressed with the help of artist Sompaseuth Chounlamany, who will be lending us his Lao silks. In addition to their appearance, our contestants will also be judged by all of our #BLESSED guests on their helpfulness as volunteers of the Laos In The House organization and stewards of the community.
Lastly, each contestant will also be raising money towards a goal they’d like to see come true through Laos In The House. Although they’ll each have seven honorable and exciting ideas, only one can be chosen (and all of the funds raised from each contestant will be combined to go towards the winner’s project). Check out their profiles below and get to know our Nang & Thao Songkhan - see if you’re moved to make a donation in their name, come join us at #BLESSED on May 4th with special guests artist & publisher Nor Sanavongsay of Sahtu Press, Ohio State Senator Tina Maharath, and Chef Bobby Pradachith and vote for your favorite in person - or do both!
Contestant #1 - Derick Sengsavanh Sananikone
Hello everyone! Or shall I say, Sabaidee! My name is Derick Sengsavanh Sananikone and I am a 24 years old Lao-American born and raised in South Philadelphia. I have recently graduated at Temple U with a Bachelors degree in Marketing. I’ve been volunteering with Laos In The House for a bit over 2 years now and absolutely believe in our mission to spread the stories of our people and culture through different art mediums.
For my campaign, I’d like to continue our mission by raising money to showcase an ALL-LAO pop-up art installation right here in Philadelphia. The exhibit would house all forms of art by Lao people in all different genres from all over the world. Back during the Vietnam War, all forms of art and music were banned from our people. The world has been missing what Lao art is like! I’d like to create a space for all Lao artists and creators to have representation and a showcase to light up their work and their untold stories for the rest of us to see with open eyes, learn with open hearts, and grow together as one community.
I hope you too believe in what we have to say, as an non-profit organization for our people, and choose to help fund our creations and ideas by donating. Laos In The House has created so many opportunities for our community, including myself, to join together and spread our stories. I am truly #BLESSED. Thank you for your time!
GOAL: $2,000 | RAISED: $110
Contestant #2 - Anthony Seaneouthay
Hello, my name is Anthony Seaneouthay. I am currently 22 years old, a Cambodian/Laotian-American born and raised in Philadelphia. I currently attend Temple University to study Entrepreneurship & Innovative Management and currently graduating in the Fall of 2019. I am also Break-dancer that has been dancing for over 8 years; I dance because I use it as a way of art therapy and to inspire the youth to be their best selves. I am the newest volunteer for Laos In the House and the reason why I joined is to learn more about my Lao heritage because for the longest time I have been more focused on the Cambodian side of me.
For my campaign, I would to raise money to help improve the water quality of the Mekong River. There is a dam-building in Laos that is running the water downstream causing the water to be no longer drinkable due to it being contaminated, full of mud, and filled with trash. Many villagers use the Mekong River as a natural resource to live. I feel as a volunteer, it is my duty to think forward and think about the lives of the future generations.
I hope many of you believe in my cause because I want the living quality of our home country to be clean and sustainable. I no longer want to see trash floating in the waters in which we drink, contaminates and mud filling our rivers that kill the fishes and other species that live in waters. I want the country of Laos to look even more beautiful, filled with nature, happiness, and health. Thank you for your support.
GOAL: $1000 | RAISED: $170
Contestant #3 - Khamkone Jada Phommathep
Hello my name is Khamkone Jada Phommathep, I was born in Laos and came to the United States at the age of 1. I graduate from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelors degree in Finance. With a decade of experience in Accounting and Finance, I am able to help some community members understand the current tax laws and how to manage their finances. I’ve been volunteering for Laos in the House about 2yrs. I fell in love with the idea of preserving our Lao culture and also educating others in our culture as well.
For my campaign, I would like to raise money to enroll a young artist in our community to a summer workshop at Moore College of Arts. Creativity is important during a child's development because it helps them use their mind and imagination to express their own ideas, and through playing with their friends it also helps them to understand that all family's and cultures can be different. As a society, we cannot move forward unless we have creative people in place.
The youth of our community will carry the legacy of our culture into the future. Remember, kids learn by observing from what they see. Let’s build a stronger foundation for them than what we currently have now. I would like to thank all of you in advance, for your support on my campaign.
GOAL: $2,200 | RAISED: $200
Contestant #4 - Chanthaphone Soundara
My name is Chanthaphone Soundara. I have two amazing children who plays soccer and tennis. My passion is cosmetology and I've worked for a hair replacement organization for over ten years. Being able to help transform people’s lives and gain self-confidence through leveraging my artistic creativity and skills bring me great joy.
My objective for this project is to gather our children together of all ethnic diversity and have a youth sports program to promote and encourage high standards of sportsmanship and fair play. This will help our youths strive for excellence. It will also encourage building confidence, leadership, socialization skills, academics, and most importantly fitness. The goal for this sports enrichment program is to foster the mental, physical, and emotional growth of our youths. It will open doors for many opportunities and create long lasting friendships and memories.
Together, with your collaboration we can make a difference with commitment, dedication, and support. We may even discover true talents within our Laotian Community of Philadelphia.
GOAL: $2,500 | RAISED: $20
Contestant #4 - Xayasith Bo Vongnarath
Sabaidee everyone and Happy New Year! My name is Xayasith. Everyone calls me by my middle name, Bo. I am an avid lover of television and film. A personal goal for me this year is to be able to fully perform a Lao traditional lam through completion of Khaen lessons with the Lao Heritage Foundation. I'm also looking forward to continue to enhance my skills in photography and other mediums of content creation.
I discovered Laos in the House through Catzie Vilayphonh’s original poem of the same name, which had my heart as soon it began touching on her love of kow niew, or sticky rice. For so long, the intersections of my experiences growing up as Lao, American, only son, brother, gay – seemed so isolating. It was a rare occasion to feel such an instant connection hearing the words of shared experiences that few could understand.
For me, the most rewarding part of volunteering with Laos in the House for the past 4 years has been the realization that we are not alone. That our communities are small, but large at the same time. The honor and blessing of meeting so many talented Lao Americans across the country telling their stories, pursuing their passions, and living their best Lao American dreams continue to comfort and inspire me.
For my project campaign, I’d like to continue to promote awareness and pursue programming that will uplift our communities and future leaders. I’d like to implement a Lao American mentorship program aimed at creating connections and networks that will develop both mentees and mentors of varying age ranges from youth to adult. Awareness, community, support, and knowledge are power, and I know we are always stronger together. Kop jai la lai in advance for your support!
GOAL: $2,500 | RAISED: $130
Contestant #6 Donna Vilayluck Brown
Sabaidee!! Hello!!! My name is Donna. You can also call me by my birth name Vilayluck if you’d like. I’ve been with LITH going on 2 years now and gratefully continue to work with wonderful people for such a wonderful cause. As a first generation here in America, I’ve learned that diversity is very important for growth but appreciating your own culture is the first step. Anthony Bourdain once said “You can learn a lot from someone by sharing one meal”. Not only has my time with LITH proved this to be true, but it has also strengthened my passion for food and deepened my love for the Lao culture. Being the eldest of four sisters and a mother to five growing boys, the kitchen has always been a familiar space for me, in any house. Growing up, I would cook food for my sisters using what our mother taught us… 30 years later I’m still applying those same skills to feed my family - and I’ve just started making my own jaew bong sauce to sell!
For my campaign, I would like to raise money to send school supplies to kids in Laos. On my past trips back to the motherland, I noticed the school children didn’t bring much with them to class or have anything when they came home. We take it for granted here in America but children should have access to more than the bare necessities. Crayons, markers and color pencils should be available so that children can express their artistic abilities.
In the future, I would love to see LITH extend our reach not only through out the Lao community but within every community of people. It all starts with us.
GOAL: $1,000 | RAISED: $850 - WINNER!
Contestant #7 - Christina Luangrath
Hi everyone! My name is Christina Luangrath. I’m the first ever volunteer for Laos In The House but still the baby of our group! I’m 22 years old and have been studying art and working in community outreach and development programs targeted in the Asian communities in Philadelphia for 8+ years. I’m also a certified microblading artist and will be running an amazing promotion that will finally give you the brows of your dreams and also support me in this campaign and Laos In The House!
For my campaign, I’d like to raise money to design and create a mural that represents unity, understanding and the beauty that is our culture and our people. I’d like to make it so that any and everyone within our Lao community can be a part of the creation process. I came to be a volunteer with Laos In The House through the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia and have always loved the way working together for a bigger picture brings everyone together. I believe this can greatly help our older and younger generations learn how to better communicate, work with each other and create better solutions and conversations within our community. It would also leave a beautiful representation for our future generations. Thank you in advance for your support!
GOAL: $3,000 | RAISED: $60
Donated funds will not be automatically reflected in raised amounts, instead they’ll be manually added to each contestant’s profile after total tallies for the day have been calculated.