Author: Bryan Thao Worra

Missoula, 1976

By: Bryan Thao Worra At 3 years old in Montana, I became a citizen on Flag Day During the American bicentennial. That and a cup of coffee gets you A cup of coffee even if you write A thousand poems for a million elephants. I didn’t stay there, of course, But in that city I met my first ghosts And dinosaurs, gorgons and ancient gods. I played with a young girl named Dulcinea, Discovered the family pigs eaten by a bear, And saw my first neighbor die, Crushed beneath a fallen telephone pole. I wish I remembered his name. Our family dog Dutch, in his tragic jealousy, Tried to kill me a few times. I still have one scar from it after 40 years. But I miss him anyway, Because that’s the way refugee memory works. Author’s Note: Based on a true story. This week, June 14th is Flag Day, which celebrates the adoption of the US flag in 1777 by the resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Congress first established it in August, 1946, …

Good Communities Come From Data Disaggregation

Even though we’ve come a long way, as Southeast Asian American refugee communities getting ready for our 45th year in the US, there are still many hurdles for us. Recently, the Chinese have been actively mobilizing to undermine the strides we’ve made by making national efforts to eliminate the collection of statistics and data so necessary to understand which policies have been effective in narrowing the educational achievement gap, and which have not. It should be obvious just saying it aloud: Good communities come from good data. In an era when everyone is concerned about the abuse of our social safety nets and education systems, as well as fake news, we should all be committed to gathering the most accurate information about our success and challenges. We should be more than willing to invest in the collection of data that ensures we’re seeing the real picture of how some communities succeed and others do not. Lao Minnesotans are among the many who have a direct stake in this issue. The phrase most commonly associated with …