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Lao-Diaspora-of-the-Week: Joanne Thomasen

As part of our #BeLaod campaign, LLOTP is introducing you to the creatives and organizers of the Lao American Writers Summit 2016. Meet Joanne Thomasen, a Lao Lue American. Joanne is part of the local team in San Diego, coordinating the upcoming Lao American Writers Summit, this May 27-28, 2016.

Who are you?

My name is Joanne Layotte Thomasen (Americanized from Thammasiene) and I’m a first generation American born and raised in the Southeast San Diego neighborhood, where the majority of the city’s Lao/Lue community lived. My desire is to pay homage to my roots through my professional work.

I work for a non-profit called the California Health Collaborative. My program is called the ‘Every Woman Counts’ program. We assist low-income women with accessible and free local breast and cervical screenings, and educate women about the importance of early detection and regular screenings in order to reduce cancer rates and cancer mortality rates.

Describe in detail your favorite Lao dish.

Fresh khao soi noodles! To me, nothing can beat the flavor and the nostalgia. My grandmother used to wake up at the crack of dawn and make the khao soi. She would mix the rice flour and water with a wooden paint stick in a 5-gallon Home Depot paint bucket. She would then pour the khao soi liquid into a disposable aluminum pan and place it in a steam chamber to cook. It was amazing and delicious. Shortly after removing the cooked khao soi, she quickly folded it and handed it to me for my walk to school. When I got home she had the rest folded and cut up for khao soi noodles with spicy meat sauce and vegetables. Hold the bean sprouts!

When you tell someone your ethnic background, what’s their first reaction?

Lao-Shen? They usually repeat it a few times and ask where lay-os is.

In three words, why people should attend the Lao American Writers Summit in San Diego?

Define your narrative.


Want to be part of the movement? Register, spread the word, and help us make the summit free and accessible to the community by contributing here.

-Chanida Phaengdara Potter, 


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