Do you know what the best part of a diaspora is? Rough question, maybe. Never fear—I’ve got a great answer. At least, enough to be forgiven for asking such a crazy question, I think. It’s when the displaced try to reconnect with their roots! There’s lots of avenues this can take. Let’s discuss a very direct one—the gift of communication. In a world that relies more and more on not just being able to communicate—but to do it well, it’s time we figured out a way to do this with our own family members, right?!
Say it with me, “Sabaidee Pa-ta! Kanoi sih pah Pa-ta bpai gin khao!” Cause, food. What’s a better example than our national favorite topic? Unofficial, but I dare the person to correct me on this.
Never mind all the reasons your Lao is iffy. Some of us didn’t have the opportunity to use it—so we lost a lot of it. Some of us never learned to read/write because, gosh darnit, why didn’t our parents bring the Lao language learning books with them during the midnight rush to get away from the war? Some of us tried so hard to assimilate that we inadvertently forgot. Some of us understand and don’t speak. Nearly all of us, speak some form of “street Lao” aka “Englao” or “Laolish” (for those keeping track). Still, there are more reasons than that for the rest of our misplaced folks to not have a full grasp on the mother tongue. Regardless, you’re reading this because you realize it’s time.
It’s time to turn that “Laolish” to a respectable Lao level and really impress the ancestors! Or, at least your mom because she keeps telling everyone how terrible your Lao is and that she can’t understand you. Hey mom, “Pa mi-thae khaochai kanoi” and maybe that’s why we get along better. BAM! All kidding aside, Little Laos on the Prairie’s parent organization, The SEAD Project holds some incredible Lao, Khmer, and Hmong classes. Information is provided, below. If you aren’t ready to admit your street Lao is just “meh”—maybe enroll your child so that the next generation really does keep improving.
What is the SEAD Project?
“The SEAD Project started with the vision of Chanida Phaengdara Potter and a group of Southeast Asian young professionals who wanted to not only connect with their roots and heritage, but to think bigger and beyond preservation. To rethink and reimagine and reshape what’s possible in sustainable development and growth for a thriving community with a pivoted focus on empowering emerging Southeast Asian leaders, women and youth.” Does the name Chanida sound familiar? It should. She started this blog, too, as an offshoot of The SEAD Project.
Mission Statement: Started in 2010, The SEAD Project (Southeast Asian Diaspora Development) is a creative social organization on a mission to be an accessible community hub that provides streamlined cross cultural workshops, exchanges and knowledge-sharing for Khmer, Hmong, Lao and Vietnamese diaspora communities. Through safe and welcoming spaces, we hope to drive empowerment to plant the seeds of hope and possibility, locally and globally. Since 2015, SEAD is a legally recognized 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Vientiane, Laos (Ban Phon Village, Phone Hong District).
WHAT: Lao language, culture, history lessons in an 8 week format. Please note that space is limited.
WHO: 18+ with heritage from Laos and/or basic speaking knowledge
WHEN: Saturdays from March 31st through May 19th from 9:45am-1:00pm
FEE: $150 early registration (scholarships available for limited income students)
REGISTRATION and DETAILS: bit.ly/SEASpring2018
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-460-5559
Let us know how the lessons went! Kopchai, der!
—Saysomphorn Sisavatdy, email@example.com