This week at Little Laos on the Prairie we had a chance to catch up with Tippi Lengsavath Goodwin from Savage, Minnesota. She currently works as an insurance agent with American Family Mutual. Fluent in English, Lao, and Thai, Tippi likes to volunteer with the Lao community.
She was a part of the inaugural cohort of the Lao Leadership Institute training of the Lao Assistance Center. The organization wanted to help emerging Lao community builders gain important skills that would help them help others in their academic, professional and civic lives to create greater community engagement.
She was gracious to spend some time with us to tell her about her journey and her advice to young Lao who want to be successful.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your family? When did you all make it to the United States? My parents, an older brother and a youngest sister are still in Laos. In 1992, after I graduated from Vientiane High School, my brother and I came to the US for more school. We ended up in Minnesota because we have an aunt and uncle here who were immigrants.
As life progressed, I graduated from the Minnesota School of Business and had the opportunity to call Minnesota my new home. As for my brother, he eventually moved back home to Laos. I also have a younger sister who was adopted by my aunt since she was little. My sister now calls Chicago her new home.
What are some of your favorite things about being a part of the Lao community? Our foods, our willingness to share and be open to others about our culture.
What attracted you to your current business as an insurance agent? I was attracted to the opportunity to own my own business, and be in charge of my destiny. Like my mom said, “If you don’t take the chance, how would you know what’s out there for you?”
What was your favorite subject in school? What was the most challenging for you? The language and culture that goes with it. English was challenging for me, so ESL and college was hard since I spoke very little when I first came. But I knew it could be learned because others had done it, too.
What inspires you? People. Both who make me happy or who make me sad. They all inspire me to be better. You can’t always forget but you can choose to forgive.
What do you see as your next big project for yourself? Grow my business so I can have the opportunity to give back.
What’s a Lao phrase you think people should know if they really want to understand Lao values? Ma kin ma kin. “Come eat, come eat.”
What’s you favorite Lao dish? Khao piak.
What are three places you think anyone who visits Laos should go to at least once in their lifetime? Luang Prabang, Vientiane and any part of the countryside. It’s all beautiful!
What was the hardest part about adjusting to life in Minnesota? The weather and the Western culture. Sometimes there are ways they do things that are so different from how we would do it in Laos!
How do you let someone know they’re appreciated in the community? Tell them “thank you” and support their work if you are able.
What advice do you have for young Lao who want to be successful? Work hard, take chances and don’t forget those had lend you their hand.
You can visit Tippi online at her website at http://www.tippigoodwin.com
~Bryan Thao Worra