Born in Laos, escaped to Thailand and currently living in Clovis, California.
00:00 – Introduction
00:45 – Clip 1
Maykou describes growing up in Long Cheng, Laos, during the Vietnam War years. She attended school in Vientiane, but was separated from her parents, who worked in Long Cheng. Recalls the Hmong New Year – a time to celebrate and to honor grandparents and ancestors.
03:15 – Clip 2
Describes attending private vs. public school in Laos, as an elementary student.
05:37 – Clip 3
Explains differences in holidays (which did not include birthdays, Valentine’s Day, etc.) and the freedom children enjoyed. Describes childhood memory of selling garden cabbages to buy tickets to first theater to open in Long Cheng.
08:02 – Clip 4
As Maykou studied for 1st grade exams, she was aware of parents making plans to do something that required her dad to leave them for a while, and that the children and women would travel (escape) without him. Due to her uncle’s and dad’s military involvement in the war, family was able to board cargo plane for escape to Thai refugee camps (Udon, Nam Phong, Ban Vinai). Describes eventual reunion with father and uncle, and her life in the camps.
23:14 – Clip 5
Reflects on coming to America. Describes “culture transition” (ex.,riding an escalator). Family landed in Los Angeles (Orange County), with a voucher, a “home,” but no money (sponsor took all their money). Parents started to work right away. Catholic Church – and neighbors – came to their aid. School helped with children learning English, although there were no Hmong teachers/aides. Talks about challenge of being in between cultures (frequently moving, attending many schools,living with an American family).
40:03 – Clip 6
Shares challenges of growing up in Merced, being bullied at school, physically and verbally. Attended college (first Hmong group from Merced), which was much more positive experience. Reflects on value of being an American.
47:22 – Clip 7
Responds to question on how she explained to others where she was from.
48:26 – Credits