“April 30, 1975 - In the early hours of the 30th, the last helicopter to evacuate US officials and some South Vietnamese allies pulled out, and not too longer after, Saigon fell to the Vietcong. So as we remember the US soldiers and the war that the US didn’t win, let’s not forget the Vietnamese refugees, the Hmong who were abandoned despite their assistance to the CIA, the rise of the Khmer Rouge because of the US bombings in Cambodia and its aftermath, etc. The Vietnam War has a huge grip on the American conscience, and what we learn in textbooks that does not do justice to the million of lives who have been impacted by war, both here and abroad.
This picture by Hubert Van Es captures a helicopter on an apartment building rooftop in downtown Saigon where CIA employees were housed. Though the setting has been mistaken to be the US Embassy in South Vietnam, it essentially gives the sense of desperation that was rampant among the South Vietnamese this time 38 years ago.”
SASC SI Mentee Applications are out & accessible online! Say whatttt?
SASC Summer Institute is a 5 day, all-expense paid summer program that provides a safe and constructive learning environment. Participants will be matched with a college mentor who can offer guidance specific to a student’s needs. This program provides an exciting experience for students who are interested in pursuing higher education as well as exploring their cultural background. SASC Summer Institute is seeking motivated high school students with diverse experiences and backgrounds. Academic performance is not a factor in the acceptance of participants, thus, all are encouraged to apply.
Access the online Mentee application here:
***Note: You willy have to download the file as a Microsoft Word by clicking on the top left.
Lao Language Initiative
I am part of a committee that is trying to get the Lao language taught
at a university, and it would benefit the committee if you could take
the survey. The committee is composed of masters students, Ph.D.
students, and professors around the nation, so this initiative is very
important. It would give us a sense of interest in the Lao language.
If any of you know anyone around the U.S. that is interested in
learning the language and is a student at a university or college,
please forward it to them. Here is the link to the survey
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6DXW9CH. Thanks in advance!
A Lineage of Athleticism and a History Shrouded in Mystery
I love it when my Mom goes off when she watches a basketball game. There’s so much about her that I don’t even know. Intramural basketball player, volleyball player, and even table tennis. I remember her saying that even though she has had three kids, not a single one became an athlete or got into sports. I find that a bit funny sometimes.
Growing up, I don’t even know very much about my own mother, except for some of the basics. She grew up in Laos, was poor, had multiple brothers and sisters, trained to become a nurse before the Communist regime came over. She likes flowers, works at an assembly job, and enjoys her Buddhist rituals. She’s a bit of a hoarder, but only because she feels that there will always be some use. Better to have than not, I suppose.
I’d ask her about her life, but I don’t even know how I would even phrase the question. I’m pretty sure we’ll be closer soon. The only moment I ever had a deep conversation about her life was when I had told her I was worried about my future and if whether or not a relationship would be a good decision. She had told me about how she had so many dudes on her, but she’d only put them in the friend-zone and enjoy their company. From badasses to bachelors to brainy kinds of guys, she’s seen a bunch of them but decided to pick my father. Why? I never found out (yet), but last I remembered, the one remark she said about my father was that out of all 11 siblings, he never yelled at his own mother.
The one thing that strikes me different about her is that she’s got a heart condition. It’s been getting worse, and I get hesitant about making my own decisions. There are some things that I do that she does not agree with to say the least, wanting to participate in a violent sport being one of them. Some of our decisions conflict each other, but we’ve been getting better at communicating our thoughts and ideas. She’s been more encouraging and more understanding lately. The fact that she’s got a weakening heart is the most frightening thing to me right now. All I ask is that I have enough time to make her the proudest of me she’s ever been, and every day the fear looms over me. Call me a Mama’s boy if you really want, but we truly only live once. The last thing I want is for her to leave unhappy.
It’ll feel like our days are limited together, but I’ll always make the most of what I still have. We’ve been through so much shit and have come so close to becoming a broken family. We’ve come so far alive. I’ll hate to leave it broken apart.
This Saturday March 24th, I will be heading to the first retreat of the Southeast Asian Restoring Community Hope (SEARCH) program.
As part of the retreat, everyone has to bring in one item that is reflective of what it means to be Southeast Asian and it can also be reflective of our hopes and aspirations.
What I’m bringing in is this bracelet with elephant charms on it. I received it as a gift from Dr. Manivone Thikeo. She heard about my achievements in my community. She is a highly successful doctor in Laos and she travels back and forth from the States to her home country to educate herself in her field. She went to the University of Rhode Island, Boston University, and she participated in the Harvard University Global Mental Health Program, selected as one of only 40 participants worldwide considered to be current or future international leaders in this arena.
She left me a message before heading back to Laos last year.
“I am proud of you for dreaming of your future in helping others. When you feel discourage, just remember that you are strong like an elephant. You can always talk to me when you need help or support. I will try my best to help you in your success.”
Laos is known as the land of a million elephants. A very symbolic animal in our country. I want to be a strong elephant. I want to be the elephant that leads the pack. I may get looked down upon because I may be the youngest and the smallest in the pack but I truly believe I have what it takes. I believe I can be as strong as an elephant. I want to be a big contribution to the Asian community and work closely with the Lao community.
I was actually having trouble with what I going to bring in for the retreat but I found it. I’m really looking forward to presenting this to a room full of Southeast Asian women in my community. Laotians and specifically Laotian women are very underrepresented and I want to inspire other Laotian women to chase their dreams, grasp it tight, and lead it. Make it a reality. You can do whatever you want if you truly believe in yourself. Be a strong elephant.
Okay, enough of this fortune cookie talk. :P