Boon Vong, Atlanta, GA


One of our host families, we called Mr. and Mrs. D for short, with the inflection of dee, which in Lao, means good. Can’t really say enough about them and their kindness and generosity, people who sponsored and supported a family they’d never met before, and definitely took a gamble on how we would turn out.  We spent so many good days and summers there, at their house in front of the lake.  Mrs. D would call me her “Monday Grandson,” as she would take me to the local art center and restaurants while my mother was taking weaving classes or at the hospital.  Somewhat embarassing but true, she can still recall the difficulty of showing me as a little boy how to use the toilet, and not always sit Indian style everywhere.

She is an artist herself, with paintings covering her walls, and perhaps that simple gesture of taking care of a young boy set me on my way.

One summer she took me and my brothers out on the lake on the canoe.  In trying to teach us English through experience, she pointed out the tons of water lilies on the surface.  One of my brothers snatched one up and bit the stalk.  She was surprised that we had lilies back in Laos, and would eat them.  Sharing of culture, sharing of lives, I don’t know if those summers will ever come to pass again.

When we escaped Laos on the Mekong river, we had two families and two boats.  From what my parents tell me, the boat that I was on with my mother and brothers was leaking and it was amazing that we didn’t die right there.  We didn’t, and we continued to live.

An excerpt from "You Can’t Go Home Again" by Boon Vong, Atlanta, GA