My name “Quyen” was named after the story of a bird in Viet Nam, who missed its country so much that it would call out for home. My mom brought me into this world two days after she turned 20. She gifted me with this name because she missed her Viet Nam — heart aching to see the faces of her parents whom she had left when she fled as a refugee at the age of 16. Her family’s hope was for her freedom.
To have a place to call home for this daughter of refugees has been a lifelong journey. From a child of refugees who were displaced in.... Read More
40 Years in the Making: Southeast Asian Americans and the 2015 White House Conference on Aging
As the Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) and a member of the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC), I was honored to be invited to the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Knowing that the conference only takes place once every ten years, I felt a large sense of responsibility as one of a small group of participants selected to be in the room that day as President Obama helped focus the nation’s attention on the elders in our communities. Many have been observing the anniversaries of important milestones for aging policy that are taking place this year: the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act on July 14, the 50th anniversary of Medicare.... Read More
The Mongoose and the Bird of Paradise: Storytelling to Help Older Lao Americans Thrive in Minnesota
Last week, SEARAC traveled to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, as part of our year-long commemoration of 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) refugee experience (40 & Forward: Southeast Asian Americans Rooted & Rising). Over 100 community members, artists, elders, youth, and families, as well as sponsors from foundations, corporations, and the University of Minnesota gathered to reflect on how far our communities have come over the last four decades, and celebrate both traditional and modern SEAA arts and culture. Almost 125,000 Southeast Asian Americans live in the Twin Cities, including the nation’s 2nd largest Hmong community and the 3rd largest Lao community.
April 30th marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1975, the war took the lives of over 58,000 Americans and at least 1,000,000 Vietnamese. Without Congressional approval, the U.S. also secretly dropped the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years on the small country of Laos, and carpeted northern and eastern Cambodia with ordnance over the course of the war. In Cambodia, the end of the Vietnam War marked the beginning of the terror of the Khmer Rouge genocide, which killed approximately 1.7.... Read More