Sabaidee, everyone and I hope you’ve been enjoying the National Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This is one of my favorite times of the year as we remember all of those who came before us and as we share our history at events across Minnesota. We are the third largest Lao community in the United States and there is much we have been able to do because of support from all of you. We thank you for being our friends, our neighbors, our family. Let’s continue to make this a great state to live, learn, work and succeed in!
For the Lao community I am very proud of all of our communty members who came out on Mother’s Day weekend to be a part of the Race for the Cure to raise awareness of breast cancer in our community. It is important for us to be visible as we promote civic engagement in Minnesota. Thank you all for taking the time out.
We also recently celebrated our traditional Lao New Year to welcome the Year of the Horse, and I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from my welcome to the community, for those of you who couldn’t make it:
“I want to thank everyone who came out to join us. Friends, families, and our public officials. We have people from all walks of life here with us and that reminds us of the diversity in our community. It should make us appreciate what we have built together over the years.
Laos has a very long history that goes back many centuries. This year we are celebrating the Year of the Horse. Like a horse, we look at where we are going and we remember where we have been.
Last year the Lao Assistance Center celebrated 30 years of serving the Lao community. Youth and elders, families, working to preserve the culture to make a bright future. We work hard to make everyone civically engaged and to bring something positive to life in Minnesota and wherever we go.
Next year we will see the building of the Hmong Lao Veterans memorial on the state capitol to honor many of the veterans who defended freedom and whose stories are not always heard in America. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the Lao diaspora and already, many of us are planning events to talk about our culture, and
to show our children where we come from.
We still have many challenges ahead. But we also have each other. We come as friends eager to learn, happy to share. So I wish you all good health, success and happiness in the next year ahead and I thank you all who made last year and so many other years so wonderful.”
I would like to give a special thanks to photographer Pat Carney who took some wonderful pictures of the New Year this year for us. You can see more pictures at: http://www.patcarneystudio.com/galleries/lao-newyear-2014/index.html
Some things I would encourage you all to look at coming up this month at the Lao Assistance Center: We have ongoing Hepatitis B workshops to talk to you about the risks of Hepatitis B and how you can screen yourself and your family to make sure everyone has enough energy to succeed at whatever you want to accomplish.
We will be convening the first of our Healthy Eating workshops. Do you know the healthiest way to make your papaya salad that’s still tasty? Do you know that there are traditional Lao foods you can eat that are good for your diet in moderation? These are some of the things we wlll cover.
We will be having our second round of Housing workshops soon to address how to deal with foreclosures and other key issues. We will also be having workshops in biking, our water system in Minnesota, recycling, and the next cohort of the Lao Leadership Institute. We are also pleased to announce we have received a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board Partners in Arts Participation grant. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. We are proud to have the opportunity to reduce the barriers for our community participating in the arts and culture in the coming year ahead as we approach 40 years of the Lao diaspora.
Thank you everyone for making this possible!