Author: Savannah Rattanavong

Saymoukda Vongsay unpacks family, migration and identity in debut children’s book

When writer Saymoukda Vongsay first wrote “When Everything Was Everything,” a poem depicting the Lao refugee experience, she didn’t expect it to transform into what it is today. In her first children’s book of the same name, Vongsay reveals glimpses into her childhood as a young Lao girl navigating America with her displaced family. Touching on universal and present topics like refugee experiences, class, and family,  the story connects with children and adults of all ages. Although the book was just released this past month, its inception spans even farther. Vongsay said she wrote “When Everything Was Everything” around seven years ago at a writers workshop for women of color as a last-ditch “hurrah” before quitting her writing career. One prompt asked the group to think of a time in their lives that involved a lot of movement or migration and Vongsay said she thought back to her early years. “I just created this list of all the times I felt my family moved or migrated,” she said. “I was also looking up movement in other …

Exhibit explores Lao refugee experience, idea of home

A traveling exhibit documenting the experiences of multi-ethnic Lao refugees opens this weekend. “Between Two Worlds: Untold Stories of Refugees from Laos,” hosted by the Center for Lao Studies, opens Saturday at Turtle Bay Museum, 844 Sundial Bridge Drive in Redding, California. The exhibit will be open from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 13, 2019. According to the center’s website, the exhibit examines the idea of home and the stages of what home has meant for Lao refugees and multi-ethnic Lao Americans throughout history. It highlights life in four areas: Laos, captivity, refugee camps and America. It will make four more stops throughout California, including Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. “We have been in the U.S. for at least 40 years and if we don’t gather this information and stories they will forever be lost,” Vinya Saysamouth, project co-director and executive director of CLS, said in the exhibit’s trailer. “It’s a unique story in American history and it’s also universal in many different ways.” The project began in 2009 as an oral history …