Lao Haiku of the Week: Presidents Day Edition

So, it’s Presidents Day this weekend and many of us are asking, how soon will it be before we see a Lao American president. Will we see one from our generation? What would it be like? Would the Lamvong become a national dance craze? Would jaew become the official condiment? Hot dogs replaced with Lao sausage or beef jerky? The first lady wears a sinh? (Or the first man, if the first Lao American president is a lady…) So many possibilities. But in the meantime, here’s this week’s Lao Haiku of the Week:

 

Whether apple pies, mae,
Cherry trees,  log cabins, or moon shots:
OUR STORIES CHANGE US.

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Happening Event: Asian Pacific Minnesotan Town Hall

The Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and Hmong American Partnership invites you to the 2012 Asian Pacific Minnesotan Town Hall to listen and be heard!

When and where?

Saturday, February 18th, 2012, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Hosted at Hmong American Partnership, Community Room

1075 Arcade Street, St. Paul, MN 55106

Additional details at: http://townhall2012.eventbrite.com/

This event is free and open to the public.

*** Light Breakfast and Refreshments will be available ***

Agenda

·         Registration, light breakfast, and networking (9:30-10:00 am)

·         Welcome and introductions

·         2010 US Census Presentation

·         Panel discussion on the significance and implications of the US Census data

·         Town hall meeting with MN State Legislators

Confirmed Special Guests

Senator Roger Chamberlain (R) District 53, (North Oaks, White Bear Lake, Lino Lakes)

Senator John Harrington (D) District 67, (St. Paul, Battle Creek, Highwood)

Why attend?

1.       Get updated on the latest US Census figures on Asian Pacific populations in Minnesota, including education, economic, and other demographic data.

2.       Network with community leaders from the Asian Pacific community and with leaders that work with the Asian Pacific community.

3.       Participate in a community-wide discussion on addressing a range of issues, such as jobs, education, housing, health, civil rights, and pending state legislation.

4.       Speak to legislators from both Republican and Democratic parties. Advocate on issues you care about!

Who should come?

The event is free and open to the public.

·         Community members concerned about civic issues

·         Decision and policy makers

·         Individuals and organizations that work with the Asian Pacific community

·         Individuals and organizations interested in US Census data on the Asian Pacific populations in Minnesota

Seats are limited, RSVP soon at http://townhall2012.eventbrite.com/.

For questions or comments, contact Brian Kao at brian.kao@state.mn.us(651) 757-1742 or Kham Moua at khamm@hmong.org(651) 495-1567.

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Let’s meet at the table: closing the generational gap between young and old

Imagine a meeting room filled with 20 elders and then being the only young person in attendance and you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with this picture? I found myself asking that this past weekend when community leaders (the majority being elders) packed a room at Harrison Education Center. It was the first time that over 13 organizations and associations decided to finally move forward in collaborating together for a Lao New Year event. The timing couldn’t be more necessary as it was momentous.

As I was scanning these quickly aging faces, it was clear they held years of tirelessness  but a sense of hope to see that a young professional was present at the table. We went around introducing ourselves, and each and every one of the elders expressed their gratitude in finally seeing leaders come together to revive our community for an annual celebration.

After a year-long hiatus over temple debacles that tore at the very core of the Lao community, many were left wondering, well, where do we go to practice and celebrate our cultural traditions? We had nowhere to go. It was a crisis year and it was unfortunate that personal politics and poor leadership left our community without the space and place to worship and participate. That big blow proved to be debilitating when the annual Lao New Year celebrations that were typically held in April and Boun Pravet in June passed by in pure silence. What once was a community expectation every year since I was a kid, had stopped and became stagnant in my memory. This was one of the saddest and most unfortunate moments for Lao Minnesotans last year.

So I sat at the table listening and wondering: where are the rest of the young Lao professionals here? There are plenty of us in the state. Are we too busy trying to meet our own personal goals? Every year we let a cultural tradition pass is another year’s worth of heritage we erase from our history. We need to be in the conversation. Our elders and the vibrant culture they hold is right next door to us. It’s apparent our elders are appreciating our emerging role in the community and they’re asking for us to work with them. It’s a torch that they don’t want left burning with no one from the next generation to pass it to.

After the meeting, one of the elders came up to me and expressed, “Well, well, I remember  when you were just a baby. Your parents must be so proud to see their daughter contributing to a community that most your age don’t care about!” I felt the tinge inside. I realized it’s one big torch that the few of us can’t carry on our own, because every day our community is threatened by the fact that with every passing year, we may lose an elder from the table that they’ve been waiting for us to come to for so long.

If you’re a young professional interested in helping plan this year’s annual new year celebration, contact me at chanida.potter@gmail.com!

-CPP

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