At the age of 55, Chue Lo is the elder of his family. Chue was born in Laos the second of six children. While his parents might have known a time of stability in Laos, Chue and his siblings grew up with difficult and unstable conditions caused by a period of political unrest. Despite this, Chue’s parents insisted he continue to attend school. In his studies, he learned to speak several languages in addition to his native Hmong. According to Chue, there are no specific rituals to signify coming-of-age. His family recognized him as an adult when he had completed his education and returned home from school…
Amy E. Smith
Coming-of-age can happen abruptly, through a single experience—or it can be a process. For Shoua Lo, a cheerful man who laughs easily, the process began at age 19, when he decided to marry and start a family of his own. For Americans of all ethnicities, starting a family is a rite of passage that can open the door of adulthood. When you have children of your own, it is harder to continue to think of yourself as a child. Shoua, born the second oldest in a family of seven sons and three daughters, knew very well what sort of responsibilities he was taking on…
John Lo’s parents were often away from the home, so John took on the parental responsibilities when they were gone. By age 13, he cooked, cleaned and took care of his younger brothers and sisters. Older siblings were not available to help. Although often frustrated, he accepted these responsibilities. Looking back he feels he did a good job; in fact, this may have been his first step toward adulthood…
Amy E. Smith
“If you work like a slave first—eventually, you’ll get to eat and live like a leader. If you eat and live like a leader first—eventually, you’ll have to eat and live like a slave.”
These are words of wisdom, words that anyone can learn from. They’re words that Teng Lo has never forgotten. Now seventy years old, he has learned many things in life—but those words, spoken by his Hmong elders, are as meaningful today as when he first heard them, years ago and in a very different place, as a twelve-year-old boy.
Toubee Yang is a Stockton citizen who traveled over the ocean from his birthplace to find a new home and culture that he now embraces. His life is memorable partly because of the experiences he has had traveling and learning about the culture of the United States. His story is about a family broken in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, of a child growing up in a nation that did not readily respect his heritage, and also as a refugee in a totally foreign environment…
Seeing San Francisco for the first time, at the age of three, after immigrating from Loas will always be a special memory for William Yang now age 16. The sky scrapers of San Francisco were a great contrast to the jungles and life he had just left. In Laos, he lived with his family in a typical rural village where the houses were made of bamboo, thatched roofs and had dirt floors. The villagers would work in their fields to gather food, which they cooked on an open fire. Leaving his parents behind, accompanied only by his grandfather, the trip to America was indeed a great adventure…
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