All posts filed under: United States

Culture vs Converse: Shoo to All Shoes or are your Jimmy Choo’s Exempt?

Entering a house with bare feet is second nature to us Lao. We wouldn’t dare walk through someone’s abode with our street shoes on. But there are many Americans who disagree. In fact, it can be a controversial topic! Removing your shoes might ruin a carefully curated outfit, make you cold, or worse, expose your mismatched socks and smelly feet. And who can forget that Sex and the City episode where Carrie took off her Manolos and someone else went home with them?! Have you ever wondered why we take off our shoes? Or do you need some fuel for the “shoes off” side of the debate? Follow along. Removing shoes is a common practice in many parts of the world. You’ll find footwear by the front entry in Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea. And this isn’t just common in the East. Some people in Germany, Switzerland, Finland, and Turkey cringe at just the thought of hanging out inside with your shoes on. Here in Canada, most of us leave our shoes at the door, …

Living Iu-Mien and Khmu: The Route Forward, Back Through Time

This is the first in a series from Janit von Saechao about discovering her Iu-Mien and Khmu roots. I haven’t always been open about my identity as a Khmu and Mien person. I remember as an elementary school student, when teachers and peers asked what my ethnicity was, my instinctive reaction was immediate deflection. This was a conversation I hated having. The comments of, “what are you?” and “where are you from?” drew feelings from my child self that I wasn’t equipped to handle. The person asking never knew what they were getting themselves into and I was never really ready to explain. So I resorted to replying with saying I was Lao or Thai, even as I knew that these were not my truths. There were various reasons I chose to misidentify. In honesty, some of it was intentional. I wanted to belong to something that was already understood, something that others could conceptualize without me having to scramble in search for words to communicate the complexity of my peoples’ stories. After all, how …