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Little Laos Year in Review: The Lao’dest moments of 2018

Another year has come and gone. And a lot has happened. From movies and books that brought our stories to the forefront to a devastating flood that swept through regions of Laos, impacting thousands; we’ve gathered up some our Lao’dest moments of the year that defined the Laotian community.

Little Laos’ 2018 Year in Review


Construction of the Haw Pha Bang temple in Luang Prabang was completed in 2006. The city was named No. 52 in The New York Times’ list of places to travel in 2018.
  • 4 – Rapper EraNetik is featured on rapper 50 Cent’s “Thisis50” website for his music video “Yellow Fellow
  • 10 – Luang Prabang comes in at No. 52 on the New York Time’s list of places to travel in 2018
  • 17 – Minnesota swears in its first Hmong American judge, St. Paul lawyer Sophia Vuelo. The state’s jurist is right at home on Ramsey County bench.
  • 23 – Chef James Syhabout’s book “Hawkerfare” is released
  • 25 – The National Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia opened “The Orient and Beyond,” a special exhibition of the works of Genevieve Couteau (1925-2013). It features Couteau’s drawings from Bali and several paintings from her journey to Laos.
  • 31 – Martha Stewart features a version of shrimp larb in the January/February edition of “Living Magazine” to mixed reviews


“Getting Lao’d,” a documentary on modern Lao music and film debuts in February 2018.
  • 1 – “Raising a Beast” to be directed by Xaisongkham Induangchanthy, of Laos, and produced by Abigail Lazaro and Steve Arounsack
  • 23 – “Getting Lao’d,” a documentary on the rise of modern musical and cinematic expression in Laos, officially debuts at the 2018 Seattle Asian American Film Festival
  • 21-25 – U.S. Congressional members visited Vientiane, the largest such delegation in the history of U.S.-Lao relations, to discuss bi-lateral cooperation between the two countries


  • 29 – The U.S. Congress allocates $30 million to UXO sector in Laos for fiscal year 2018 to clear bombs from the country.


Lao New Year festivities at Wat Lao Boubpharam in San Diego California. Photo by Snap Pilots.
  • Monthlong – Lao New Year is celebrated all over the country.
  • 7 – The Lao Community Service Center of Washington hosts its first Miss Lao Washington pageant
  • 22 – Lindsay Souvannarath sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in a plan that involved a mall shooting in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2015


“Origin Story,” a documentary by Kulap Vilaysack, explores her search to find her biological father.
  • 10-24 – The Center for Asian American Media festival featured Kulap Vilaysack’s “Origin Story,” Steve Arounsack’s “Getting Lao’d,” and Rita Phetmixay’s “Phetmixay Means Fighter
  • 22 – London fashion brand, Eponine, sparks outrage for labeling ‘Hmong-inspired’ designs as ‘tribal’
  • 23 – Michelin Chef Bobby Pradchith featured in Michelin Guide
  • 28 – Chef James Syhabout, Hmong judge Sophia Vuelo and showrunner, writer and documentarian Kulap Vilaysack are featured in NBC Asian America’s A-Z list


Laos in the House notes World Refugee Day with photos of its volunteers and their families.
  • 8 – The Lao community mourns the death of Anthony Bourdain, who showcased the nuances of Lao cuisine and community to the world on his show, “Parts Unknown.”
  • 20 – The Lao community acknowledges World Refugee Day among the Immigrant Heritage Month


A dam collapse displaced thousands in the Attapeu and Champasak regions of Laos July 23. A fundraiser with The SEAD Project and Team We Run raised more than $27,000 in aid.
  • 10 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an order suspending the issuance of visas to certain Lao citizens after Laos refused to take back deported persons from the U.S. These individuals included officials at the Director General level and above from the Lao Ministry of Public Security, as well as their immediate families; and individuals employed by Lao government officials.
  • 23 – Collapse of a Lao dam caused massive flooding and destruction in the Attapeu and Champasak regions. It left several dead and missing and thousands more displaced.


A California Senate bill seeking to teach children Southeast Asian history in schools left out Laotian experiences.
  • Monthlong – August is officially declared Lao-American Artist Heritage Month in Minnesota
  • 23 – California Senate Bill 895, introduced by Senator Janet Nguyen (34th Senate District) required the state’s Instructional Quality Commission to develop a curriculum that would teach children the Vietnamese refugee experience. It later added Hmong and Cambodian histories, but excluded Lao/Laotian experiences.


The Lao Heritage Foundation featured a fashion show at its 14th annual gala in Alexandria Virginia. Photo by Snap Pilots.
  • 1- Laos in the House director Catzie Vilayphone is awarded the 2018 PCA Apprenticeship Grant to learn playing the khaen under the mentorship of Xai Souphom, musical director of the Lao Heritage Foundation
  • 29 – The Lao Heritage Foundation hosts its annual gala in Alexandria, Virginia at the Durants Art Center
  • 26 – Little Laos’ Janit Von Saechao speaks at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Senate briefing on the joint report “Dreams Detained: In Her Words”


“When Everything Was Everything” unpacks family, migration and identity in Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay’s debut children’s book.
  • 6 – The Between 2 Worlds exhibit, which explores the Lao refugee experience and the idea of home, opens in Redding, California
  • 10 – “When Everything Was Everything,” a debut children’s book by Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, is launched
  • 13 – Legacies of War hosts its annual LaoNow event in New York City, a day celebrating artists, designers, leaders and food from the community
  • 15 – The Harvard discrimination trial begins. The plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions, alleges the Ivy League university discriminates against Asian Americans by judging them at a higher standard than most. A verdict in the case is not expected until early this year. Little Laos posted a three-part series of how affirmative action affects Lao Americans:
  • 20-21 – Vientiane master weaver Viengkham Nanthavongdouangsy visits Washington, DC and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 20-21: Little Laos editor Bryan Thao Worra keynotes the League of Minnesota Poets Fall Conference
  • 25 -Reach Out Laos, a mental and emotional support service, launched the first part of its helpline service. Its telephone service launched soon after in early November.


Ohio senator Tina Maharath will serve in the state’s Senate District 3 seat.
  • 10 – The SEAD Project’s “Planting SEADS” book is released and sold out in less than a month.
  • 19 – An episode of NBC’s “Madam Secretary” aired, focusing on Laos, including the U.S. bombing of Laos and the UXO issue
  • 27 –  Tina Maharath wins Ohio Senate District 3 seat, a first for a Lao American
  • 28 – “A Legendary Christmas,” a holiday special with singer John Legend and model and author Chrissy Teigen, premieres on NBC with Kulap Vilaysack featured as showrunner and co-executive producer
  • 29 – Dancer, engineer, photographer and poet Krysada Phounsiri is featured in SD Voyager magazine, Okir Publishing Inc.


Miss Laos’ outfit at the 2018 Miss Universe pageant won her the National Costume award.
  • 15 – Musical artist Tin Tin Vongphrachanh releases first official EP “MIDDLESPACE” on all major streaming platform services
  • 17 – Miss Laos On-anong Homsombath wins National Costume at the 2018 Miss Universe pageant with a Kinnaly-inspired costume
  • 29 – Fresno Hmong New Year pageant crowns Hmong textile researcher, Pachia Lucy Vang, in 1st place.

What are your 2018 reflections so far? What are you looking forward to the most in 2019?

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