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Lao Stories: Laotian American Oral History Project
MS.SEA.070  
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Oral History of Kongpheng Kora 2021 February 1

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Kongpheng Kora Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: February 1, 2021 Length of Interview: 00:45:08 Transcriber: Prinston Pan Interpreter: Kaisy Saengpeng
Abstract: Kong Kora was born in a small farming village before moving to Vientiane at a young age in order to attend school and eventually the police academy. He worked his way up to the ranks until he became the chief of police. When the Communists invaded Laos, he escaped to a refugee camp in Thailand where he met with his family and was sponsored by a church in Kansas to come to America. In Kansas, Kong attended college and worked many jobs. He eventually saved up enough money to create his own Laotian grocery store where he was able to create his own Lao community within the small town.
Keywords: 1st Generation; Agriculture; Blue-collar Work; Business; Business owner; Grocery Store; Labor; Lao Language; Market; Nong Khai, Thailand; Refugee camp; Sponsorship; Vientiane, Laos; War
 

Oral History of Nor Sanavongsay 2020 October 18

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Nor Sanavongsay Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: October 18, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:36:08 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Nor Sanavongsay was born in Laos and stayed at the refugee camp at very young age before being sponsored by a church in Tennessee to move to America. Throughout his childhood, he discusses biking around the city with his friends and his parents' support in trying out new hobbies. Through his artistically talented uncle and the various cartoons he watched, he developed a passion for drawing. In college he struggled with illustration, yet he became increasingly interested in technology as the internet became more widespread. He majored in electronic media which landed him a job at Encyclopedia Britannica. With the invention of the iPhone, Nor began to move into application development, which he does to this day.
Keywords: 1.5 Generation; Art; Artist; California; Education; Elgin, Illinois; English Language; Illustrator; Kingsport, Tennessee; Laos; Mueang Mukdahan, Thailand; Phon Sai, Thailand; Sponsorship
 

Oral History of Anna Phommachantone 2020 October 25

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Anna Phommachantone Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: October 25, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:55:15 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Anna Phommachantone is an executive intern at Legacies of War, an organization that works to remove Unexploded Ordnances from Laos. When she was four, she moved to Lancester, Pennsylvania, where she attended predominantly white schools. There she learned how to adapt to her surroundings, while also maintaining her Lao culture and identity through attending Lao temples. It was not until she went to college that she was exposed to diversity and was able to interact with others and learn about different perspectives. She is planning to major in international studies and business to further her international perspective and develop her marketing and advertising skills.
Keywords: 1.5 Generation; Buddhism; English Language; Eldest daughter; Education; Food; Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Legacies of War; Luang Prabang, Laos; Scholar; Sponsorship; Student; War
 

Oral History of Ova Saopeng 2020 November 1

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Ova Saopeng Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: November 1, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:58:39 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Ova Saopeng was born in Laos but moved to Hawaii at a very young age. He discusses learning about the different cultures in religion in Hawaii as a child. After seeing a play in middle school, he was inspired to join a theater club where he learned about acting and performing. His memories of his journey to America as well as his experience growing up as a Laotian-American shaped his motivation to help others express themselves to others through theater. Ova is now a film actor and producer of TeAda Productions. Teda Productions is a theater that sets out to share the stories of immigrants and refugees.
Keywords: 1.5 Generation; Art; Artist; Christianity; Deportation; English Language; Food; Honolulu, Hawaii; Independent Artist; Kalihi, Hawaii; Los Angeles, California; Refugee camp; Seno, Laos; Spirituality; Thailand; Theater; Tradition; War
 

Oral History of Kou Srimoungchanh 2020 October 27

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Kou Srimoungchanh Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: October 27, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 01:13:53 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Kou Srimoungchanh spent a portion childhood in a small agricultural Lao village, where he recalls going out with his brothers to hunt for food. When the communists went to overthrow the Lao government, Kou and his family were able to escape to Hawaii due to his dad's relationship with the French and American government. He spent his teenage years back and forth between Hawaii and Winfield, Kansas. Despite trying other jobs, like carpet cleaning, he was eventually guided into technology. He is now the owner of his own tech company First Secure Data, where he works with other companies to create digital tools to protect their data.
Keywords: 1.5 Generation; Computer Security; English Language; Food; Hawaii; Information Technology; Kansas City, Missouri; Non-religious; Refugee; Savannakhet, Laos; War; Winfield, Kansas
 

Oral History of Aleena Inthaly 2020 November 1

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Aleena Inthaly Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: November 1, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length: 01:09:45 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Aleena Inthaly is a second generation Lao-American who was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She works as the chief of staff at Legacies of War, an organization that works to remove Unexploded Ordinances from Laos. After moving to Springfield, Virginia during her childhood, she came to grow-up in a very diverse neighborhood; there, she learned more about her own culture through interacting with others, as well as the fundamentals of community building. She encourages future generations to take the time and learn about history and the past and to build a sense of resilience and empathy through understanding the past.
Keywords: 2nd Generation; Alexandria, Virginia; Eldest daughter; English Language; Food; Gender Roles; Identity; Intergenerational; Lao American; Legacies of War; Microaggression; Racism; Refugee Camp; Secret War; Springfield, Virginia; Thailand; UXO; War
 

Oral History of Intha Sanduen 2020 November 15

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Intha Sanduen Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: November 15, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:29:34 Transcriber: Prinston Pan Interpreter: Kaisy Saengpeng
Abstract: Intha Sandeung was born in Thakhek, Khammouane Province, Laos. She worked as a nurse in Laos until the Communists took over, which forced her to flee along with her family to America. She got a job at a deli market, where she and her husband worked many strenuous hours to save up money to send their children to college. She recalls struggling with the English language as well as the mode of work and transportation in America when she first arrived. She hopes to return to Laos for a visit in the future. She also encourages future generations to learn about Lao culture, language, and religion.
Keywords: 1st Generation; Healthcare; Khammouane, Laos; Lao Language; Medical; Refugee Camp; Winfield, Kansas
 

Oral History of Kagna Meils 2020 November 15

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Kagna Meils Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: November 15, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:38:04 Transcriber: Dara Sengchanthavong
Abstract: Kagna Meils lived in a largely agricultural village in Laos where she mainly focused on school before her family was forced to escape because of the war that took place against the communist regime. As one of the first Laotians in Winfield, Kansas highschool she had many first hand experiences with discrmination, which she learned to deal with in many ways. By the time she graduated, the Lao Community had exponentially grown which allowed her, for the first time in many years, to connect with others of the same culture and help prevent other Laotians from facing the same treatment she experienced.
Keywords: 1st Generation; Chinese Lao; Education; Food; Vientiane, Laos; Labor; Manufacturing; Music; Refugee Camp; Retail Industry; Sponsorship; Thailand; Winfield, Kansas
 

Oral History of Kham Phimasone 2020 November 15

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Kham Phimasone Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: November 15, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length: 00:38:31 Transcriber: Prinston Pan Interpreter: Kaisy Saengpeng
Abstract: Kham Phimasone describes her childhood education in Laos as well as her initial dreams of becoming a doctor. After completing several years of her primary and secondary education, she eventually pursued teaching and graduated with a teaching degree from the National University of Laos. At the start of the communist regime, she had to escape through a boat and work long, low paying jobs in America despite her high education in Laos. She reflects on her memories and compares her work experience and lifestyle between America and Laos. She hopes to visit Laos again in the future after the pandemic is over.
Keywords: 1st Generation; Agriculture; Buddhism; Education; Food; Graphics; Lao Language; Nong Khai, Thailand; Printing Industry; Refugee Camp; Sponsorship; Vientiane, Laos; War; Wichita, Kansas; Winfield, Kansas
 

Oral History of Bryan Thao Worra 2020 November 19

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Bryan Thao Worra Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: November 19, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 01:06:49 Transcriber: Dara Sengchanthavong
Abstract: Bryan Thao Worra was born in Vientiane, Laos and was then adopted by a pilot for Lao Airlines and lived in America during his childhood. During his years in college, he left for a period of time to go to Washington D.C. to work in Southeast Asian Refugee Resettlement. When he grew older, he looked for his birth parents, which brought him on a long journey through America and into Laos. Through poetry, Bryan expresses his mix of emotions between his Lao origins and his American upbringing. He encourages future generations to be proud of Lao culture and explore the different possibilities and ways of being Lao.
Keywords: 1.5 Generation; Adoptee; Adoption; Alaska; Art; Artist; Banhimphenh, Laos; Education; English Language; Identity; Immigration and Refugee policy; Intergenerational; Lao Culture; Lao Customs; Lao Tradition; Literature; Michigan; Modesto, California; Montana; Non-profit; Poetry; Racism; Refugee; Refugee Resettlement; Vientiane, Laos; War; Washington D.C.
 

Oral History of Sera Koulabdara 2021 February 13

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Sera Koulabdara Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: February 13th, 2021 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:57:17 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Sera Koulabdara was born in Vientiane, Laos and raised in Pakse, Laos. Due to her father's job as a surgeon, her family moved around a lot, and she was initially raised by her grandmothers. She recalls learning to share what she had from a young age due to her experiences of sharing food with others at the temple growing up. After coming to the United States, she majored in international finance, marketing, and minored in Spanish at Ohio State University. She then came to work as the executive director of Legacies of War, an organization created to increase awareness of the events of the Secret War. Sera encourages others to keep learning and contribute and invoke change in society.
Keywords: 1.5 Generation; Advocacy; Pakse, Laos; Buddhism; Chairwoman; College; Columbus, Ohio; Ohio State University; Executive Director; Finance; Highschool; International Finance; Lao Schools; Legacies Library; Legacies of War; Marketing; Preservation; Racial Equality; Secret War; Spanish; Surgeon; UXO; Unexploded Ordnance; Vientiane, Laos
 

Oral History of Chanto Vorasarn 2020 December 18

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Chanto Vorasarn Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: December 18th, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 01:05:58 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Chanto Vorasarn was born in Savannakhet, Laos. He left his parents and came to live with his uncle in order to go to school and eventually graduated from military school to become an officer. He spent many years in the military and ended up as a Major in the military. After the Vietnam War, he was taken as a prisoner of war and was held captive for ten years. After being released, he escaped to Thailand and eventually came to the United States after working as an interpreter for the U.S. Embassy. After coming to the United States, he worked as a high school teacher and even went back to college to obtain a degree to teach French in high schools. He now runs a community center in Florida and is the chair of the Lao Art and Cultural Foundation.
Keywords: 1st Generation; American Legend; Atlanta, Georgia; Buddhism; Education; English Language; Florida; Lao Art and Cultural Foundation; Lao Civil War; Major; Military; Officer; Prison Camp; Prisoner of War; Savannakhet, Laos; St.Petersburg, Florida; Teacher; Thailand; Veteran
 

Oral History of Khambang Sibounheuang 2020 December 20

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Khambang Sibounheuang Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: December 20th, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 01:29:04 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Khambang Sibounheuang was born in Ban Kalong, Savannahkhet, Laos. He went to a buddhist school until he was about the age of ten; he mainly took care of his family. He went to college and went on to write two books. At 17, he joined the army. Wanting to escape a communist regime, Khambang escaped to Thailand, and then the United States. After coming to the United States with his spouse and children, he went to law school and military school and even came to teach a high school class. He encourages future generations to keep the Laotian culture alive.
Keywords: 1st Generation; Ban Kalong, Laos; Books; Buddhist School; Communism; Company Commander; Lao Association; Lao Civil War; Military; Military General; Military Training; Thailand; Translator; Royal Lao Army; Secret War; Teacher; U.S. Special Forces; Writer
 

Oral History of Medd Rattana 2020 December 13

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Medd Rattana Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: December, 13, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:53:25 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Medd Rattana was born in Savannakhet, Laos and eventually moved to Pakse, Laos where he received his primary and secondary education. He joined the Lao army after going to military school in France. After the war, he escaped to a refugee camp in Nong Kai, Thailand and eventually came to San Francisco, California. He went back to school, got married, and settled in Fort Brad, North Carolina. He came to work in financial services and encourages the younger generation to continue the legacy of Laos.
Keywords: 1st generation; Bangkok, Thailand; French Military Academy; Lao Army; Lao Culture; Major; Military; Nong Kai, Thailand; Pakse, Laos; San Francisco, California; Savannakhet, Laos; Working class
 

Oral History of Tony Vongkaysone 2020 December 19

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Tony Vongkaysone Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: December 19, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:56:46 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Tony Vongkaysone was born in Ban Thabok, Bolikhamsai Province, Laos. After obtaining a scholarship from the United States government after the tenth grade, Tony moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand to study agriculture as well as obtain a bachelor's degree. He did not return to Laos, and instead, fled to a refugee camp and eventually came to San Francisco, California. He then moved to Kansas and attended Western State University and obtained a degree in business with a minor in biology. He went on to work in the field of science.
Keywords: 1st Generation; Ban Thabok, Bolikhamsai, Laos; Biology; Business; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Kansas; Lao Resistance Movement; Mois Des, California; San Francisco, California; Vientiane, Laos; Western State University
 

Oral History of Pida Kangphoutong 2020 October 10

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Pida Kangphoutong Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: October 10, 2020 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:56:00 Transcriber: Prinston Pan
Abstract: Pida Kongphouthone was born in Oulong Thailand refugee camp. He came to the United States at the age of three and resided in Linda Vista, California. After attending Cal State Fullerton and obtaining a degree in political science and public administration, Pida went on to be a business owner. Growing up, he recalls having to adjust to racism, discrimination, and prejudice. He is involved with Lao Advocacy and the Lao Community Cultural Center of San Diego; he also supports the Center of Lao Studies and Legacies of War. He encourages the younger generations to embrace their heritage.
 

Oral History of Khammy Luanglatbandith 2021 January 9

Scope and Contents Note

Narrator: Khammy Luanglatbandith Interviewer: Prinston Pan Date: January 9, 2021 Location: Irvine, California Length of Interview: 00:33:23 Transcriber: Dara Sengchanthavong
Abstract: Khammy Luanglatbandith was born in Savannakhet, Laos. He was only able to obtain up to a high school level of eduction before he was drafted into the Lao Airforce as Master Sergeant. He recalls his family struggling financially and not being able to send him to other forms of higher eductation. In the army, he came to the United States for a short period of time for aircraft mechanic training. After escaping to Thailand, he resided in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Kai, Thailand; he then came to Fort Worth, Texas and remained an aircraft mechanic. He encourages future generations to learn about Lao language and history.
Keywords: 1st generation; Air America; Aircraft Mechanic; Airforce; American Airlines; Bangkok, Thailand; Bolikhamsai, Laos; Communism; Fort Worth, Texas; Lao Master Sergeant; Nong Kai, Thailand; Savannakhet, Laos; Travis, California