I’m Thai & Laotian, my family immigrated here when I was only 6 months old. I’m an American at heart, but all my life I’ve always wanted to know more about our culture. Like most of us here who grew up in the States we start to lose that piece of our heritage. That piece, language, that connects us with our elders, our past. The inability to express myself as well as being unable to understand our language is what made finding groups like The International Lao New Year Festival so meaningful.
For years I’ve been doing a lot of non-profit work for groups like the Asian American Donor Program. etc. So when I found the ILNYF site & group online I immediately jumped on the volunteer band wagon. It was at the 2nd ILNYF that I started working with Laotian Community groups like this. From there I met so many great and wonderful people who came from the same upbringing, who shared the same ideology of preserving our culture for the next generation. I use to think our people were too indifferent/ignorant to care about such things. That maybe there weren’t enough of us that felt this way to make a difference. Boy, I’m glad I was wrong. From that 2nd ILNYF on I met group after group whom inspired me even more than I was before.
I can’t begin to thank all the people who’ve lead the movement to bring Laotian-Americans to the forefront like the Chinese, Koreans, & Japanese before us. These leaders helped me see how much we can achieve as a community, and as a people when we come together. I’m 33 years, old my generation had to learn how to balance being Laotian at home, and being an American out in the world. To have our parents sacrifice so much. They left everything they knew to come to a country they know nothing of just to give their children a chance at a better life than they had. To honor that sacrifice we can do no less than succeed in this life. To break that cycle of poverty, and to remove that cloak of ignorance that shade us from growing as a people. To unite our brothers and sisters so that future generations will know who their people are, and where they come from. That to me, I find to be a noble cause. So whether or not if you agree or disagree with me remember this: “If you won’t help your people, who will”?
Have a Happy & Safe New Year my people!