All posts tagged: Refugee

Letter to My Daughter for International Womens Day

Dear Nakanya Dao, It’s van mae ying hang saht. International Women’s Day. I named you after a dragon princess because you breathed fire since being in my womb. There’s a reason why Laos celebrates its women and America shrugs it as another day. Our pain still lingers in the skies. Our freedom is still floating between the Mekong and the Mississippi. They say we’ll feel human again when we are free, but you must know the heavy stories we carry in our tong ma lai bags. These stories disintegrate between the blood-soaked pages of your school’s alternative history books. Before I felt American as a naturalized citizen, I was a Resident Alien. Holding onto a fragile green card through my teen years. Before I felt home on the prairie, I was a 2-year-old displaced refugee, in a faded pink petal dress gifted by the Filipinos at the Bataan camp. Before I felt human, I was born on the frigid floor of a crumbling Viengxai cave. Before I could feel, I was in your grandmother’s pa jia sling. Sinking …

#WorldRefugeeDay: The first year in America

Mae is one of the most captivating storytellers I know. Every morning, we would have a cup of coffee together and I’d pick her brain for the fragmented memories that I know she’ll soon forget with every passing day. For this year’s #WorldRefugeeDay, I asked mae what she remembers from the first day we arrived in America. She recalled the time as dai meu, dai theen. When we could grow our own hands and feet– to walk and to eat. On the way to America We were riding on the bus to the airport in the Philippines. As we got off, I forgot my water bottle on the bus. I kept saying “water, water, water”. I learned English in primary school but I only remembered survival words. Your baby brother kept tugging at my sinh. He wanted Pepsi and you screamed for candy. Both of you were driving me crazy. I remember when dad wanted to go to the bathroom on the plane, but he held it in during the whole flight because he was scared of how …