All posts filed under: Southeast Asian

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 …

AHHA Education: Teaching English is a Community Recycling Endeavor

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela When was the last time you thought to yourself, “I’m so grateful to be able to use and understand English.” If like me, probably never. Well, as Rocket Raccoon put it, not everyone “know talking good like me and you.” The inability to use English severely limits a person’s prospects in many areas of life. Imagine all the great stuff you’d miss out on: something as simple as googling an answer to a vapid question, at worse, and a pressing matter, at best. Forget writing that convoluted love letter to the cute host working at the Thai restaurant at National Harbor. Too specific? Anyhow, life would just be a little bit harder, don’t you think? So yes, English proficiency is an essential skill required to function in our modern world. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to learn and develop their English skills. Coming from Laos, growing up around the education business with my father owning and operating …