Sunday, June 26, 2011

ode to my sister

my sister just completed a week-long visit to seattle. she returned to louisiana, the state of my birth with quite amount of fanfare that i will not get into here. but she loved seattle - the view of mountains and hills in pretty much every direction you might look - and the smells, particularly downtown where the salt water mixes with the carnival aroma of things cooking at pike place market (or maybe even mcdonald's on the corner of 3rd and pine.) she and so many of my siblings have tried to shake themselves of their louisiana heritage, while i guess i might be the only one that wants to embrace it. maybe it's because of all that time we spent in california when my dad was in the air force. (i hardly was in california at all; my dad retired before i even started kindergarten and brought me back louisisana.) and now i've been gone from home for more years than i like to think about, but i spend too much time in my job talking about culture and heritage to not see its importance for me- so i find myself wanting to reclaim mine.

i know i've posted on this (and mincemeat pie) before, but the feeling of disconnect from my roots seems to intensify over time. i think my louisiana heritage is much muted by the fact that i've lost my accent - sold it for a mess of pottage as it were, by coming up to seattle and so readily embracing the scene here; thus i am looked at incredulously when i tell people i'm from baton rouge. also, we didn't eat crawfish growing up. my mother is not cajun nor was she poor, and thus, crawfish wasn't something her family would eat. and i didn't grow up hanging in the treme, (watching people sashay past my steps.) so what do i have left? well, i still have my sisters and my dad that live there, and i can still go home. and my sister, to her eternal dismay, still has a southern accent that gets the jealousy stirred up inside me. and she hates her accent! (so much so that when she says, "i hate my accent," she says hate with two syllables.) but no matter, seattle loved her - everywhere she went there was a conversation, and seattle quickly realized that they could look up at the sky or into each other's eyes and say things... yes, to quote my sister, "seattle finds me quaint and adorable!" there are some other quotations from my sister, but i won't get into those here either.

but the point of this post: while my sister was here in seattle, i felt my tongue loosen. (how else can i describe this?) my brain somehow sent signals to my mouth, my tongue, the air coming up out of my lungs! and my brain told my voice to loosen it up a bit, to revisit the past, to speak how i shoulda been speaking all these years, how i used to speak before. (oh yeah, i know some of yall didn't know this, but believe you me, i did have an accent! i've seen videos of me as a kid, and i look at me and feel all confused, like it aint really me at all, just some other kid wearing a shirt or sweater that looks like something i used to wear back when i was growing up.) well, this past week, i felt my southern accent return. when talking to my sister, i'd speak the words like they're supposed to be spoken, and the sound of my tone and voice, it was how it shoulda been! and like a father killing the fatted calf for the returning prodigal, i felt inclined to throw myself a party. so i ate a lot of doughnuts and pretended they were beignets. it really was a week-long mardis gras.

but its sunday morning, and it's gone now, my accent. my sister left and took with her my ability to speak it... if i try, it sounds like i'm imitating. when did it go? where did it go? i'm not upset that its gone, more happy to have had it hang around if even for a little while. felt like more than just my sister had come to visit, but my past and my former self. so this is for you wana lee! (and for your accent!!) thanks you for reminding me of it, for bringing it out of me, and for giving me the most important reason of all to return home.

by the way, check out the opening credits of treme. this has gotta be one of the best tv show openers of all time - from the music to the images of katrina mold and vintage scenes of new orleans:

here is the full song by john boutte:

Saturday, June 25, 2011


congrats to daravanh for her winning essay and the opportunity to accompany Jai Lao foundation to Laos to build a school in banh hat kham! and thanks to everyone that voted!

and if you're in cali today, don't forget to stop by the Jai Lao foundation's annual fund raising dinner! but actually, on second thought... i think you have to reserve your ticket, so it might be too late...

well, here's the link anywayz...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jai Lao's essay contest: banh hat kham

i've posted all the essays for the Jai Lao build-a-school-in-Laos contest! if you haven't had a chance, read them below - or go to the Jai Lao facebook page, like Jai Lao and read them there. then you can vote on which one you like best.

i will be voting for essay #1, and so i encourage everyone to get on facebook and vote for banh hat kham! this is a very close race, so vote now.

here is my reasoning - while every village in Laos needs a school, banh hat kham has the ground work already laid. the land has been identified and cleared, teachers are ready to teach, and an organization is already in the community and can assist with the ongoing negotiations to ensure the success of the school.

i appreciate all the hardwork that JLF has put into their missions in Laos. and i am excited to see another school built!

the contest ends next friday, so vote now:!/note.php?note_id=10150197409086644

Thursday, June 16, 2011

banh meuang kham

essay #4:


I remember sitting at the dining table one hot afternoon, complaining about the amount of homework third graders had to do when I should be outside playing. Telling myself how stupid school was, would I really use all these subjects as an adults and why am I wasting this beautiful day inside instead of outside with my friends. Not only did I grow up in a small town of Opelika, Alabama; I was that 1 out of 5 Asians in my school that spent more time observing the other students than interacting with them. I thought whoever wanted to go to school was an idiot!

My aunt, Monekham, who just came from Laos, would often sit down with us when we did our homework. Interested in the subjects American school s offer, she would ask us how Laotian schools were compared to American schools. She then reminisced about how difficult it was to go to school back in Laos. The children there wanted to go to school but couldn't. I just didn't comprehend what she meant by that. Why would anyone want to go to school when they had an option not to? And she couldn't comprehend why I didn't want to go to school.

As she tried to explain it to me, I could feel the seriousness in her voice, the way her eyes got glassy about a very corrupt country and hard life back in Laos. Even as an 8 yr old, seeing someone's eyes moistens up signified the universal language for sadness. She described her early morning 20 minute walk on a dark dirt road from her village, Baan Muang Kham (Xieng Khouang), to the next village where a school was available. Her village had a small school but it was only from grades 1-3 and the children would be lucky if they had a teacher. After elementary school, she had to go to another city to continue her education. She always reminds us how fortunate we are to have many schools, buses, textbooks, and teachers to accommodate us. She was very proud to grow up without a parent but still get the chance to get an education.

Unlike her, there are thousands of other children who wants to read and write, sit in a classroom and gain book knowledge. They weren't able to do so because there were no schools nearby since Laos is not developed enough due to lack of educational. So many children help out their family by finding jobs at a young age to help feed their parent and other younger kids in the family. It is a game of survival of the fittest. Life was their school and teachings. They would never be able to experience sitting in a classroom and reading a textbook like our kids are in the United States.

When I saw Jai Lao's posting for this contest, I thought of my aunt immediately and knew how much entering her village in this contest would mean to her. After explaining the contest to my aunt, she repeately asked, "Wow, so they are really going to build an actual school, school? With teachers?" The excitement in her voice was priceless.

With the lack of knowledge I have on Baan Muang Kham, I started doing my research and also had my aunt contact some of her family and friends in this village. Please forgive me if some of my facts are off, but getting resources on such a small village is so limited, we can only go by the information that were given from a relative who currently resides there. Baan Muang Kham is a small village of about 30 families. The village consists of an old elementary school, that often lacks teachers. If a school is built there, not only Baan Muang Kham but the surrounding small villages will benefit from walking lesser miles for education. Children will have consistency in education because the governor will provide teachers for them. As you can see, all the Googling I did about this tiny village wouldn't be enough resource for me to speak so thoroughly about. This is how unexplored part of Laos are, to know more about this part I would have to speak to people who once lived in this village. Right now Laos is islolated from the rest of the world, not only through educational advancement, but also because the people there don't have the tools to communicate to the rest of the world about where they come from. That's why it's so important to build schools and bring awareness to everyone outside of Laos. It starts with a small gesture and from there on, it grows and maybe one day we can build a school in every village just like American has schools for every X amount per capital.

Here I am, over two decades later and finally realizing what my aunt said to me made sense. My friend MeMe and I had a conversation about how we always wanted to have a foundation of our own to help Laotian and Thai people back at home-we didn't know how or what, but we knew we wanted to do something. But did it matter as long as we are dedicated, and inspire others to do the same? Whether it is raising money to send supplies back home, building a school, or even educating today's youth about keeping our traditions alive, we know that it starts with "you". We both told each other with faith and supporters behind us it could happen.

So when we came across Jai Lao's contest we knew we had to do our best. This opportunity will give both of us a wonderful experience to serve on one of Jai Lao great missions. Being raised in America for almost 30 years and living the American way doesn't mean we have to lose all sense and tradition of our Laotian way. We surely don't have the appearance of traditional Asians, but that's what would set us a part from the stereotype. If we could educate other younger 2nd, 3rd generation Laotians in America about our mission and/or traditions, then we can keep our culture alive and not let it wash away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

banh houay xai

essay #3:

Embracing My Roots

I wake up to blaring alarm clocks, Facebook, and live by what my over packed electronic calendar on my iphone tells me to do. Half way around the globe, there are people who wake up to the sound of roosters and live by what the sun and stars provide them. While I start my day complaining about having to get up for work, commuting, and running myself ragged with my kid’s extracurricular activities, these people start their day fetching water from a well, sow their fields, and walk miles to the market to sell their crops to support their families.

It’s no wonder my parents looked to Ah-may-leekah (America) in search of freedom for their future but mostly for mine. The price to pay? I have no memories. I have kept zero to little tradition. Worst yet, I have no photographs except the one shown of my childhood in Laos. But I am educated. There was never a doubt that I would be. My parents believed an education held promises for a better life.

We left Laos when I was 4 and we never lookedback. I never had any interest in embracing my culture because all I wanted to be was an American. I didn’t want to be made fun of at school for looking different, for speaking different, and “darn it! why did e-meh (mom) pack me a ball of sticky rice for my lunch while everyone else had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?” I wanted nothing to do with being Laotian until recently.

My secret desire to learn about my motherland was sparked in December 2009. I met an older Caucasian man at a holiday party. Drunk conversations can often be hilarious but never educational... he knew more about Laos than I did. He traveled thru Laos in the late 70s and fell in love with the country. He told me about Luang Prabrang, Huay Xai, Muang Sing and a bunch of other small villages. Although I wasn’t drunk, I couldn’t tell him which province I was from.

When I tell people I’m from Laos, they usually don’t have a clue where the country is so why bother with details of province and village. He told me stories of how each village was very rich in tradition, hospitality, and especially compassion for a stranger.

After the party, I declared that visiting Laos was going on my bucket list. The next day I called my parents and asked them where we lived in Laos. My mother is from Ban Huay Xai and my father is from Muang Sing. I’m not certain whether it’s a coincidence that my family is from the places that Caucasian man was telling me about.

Later in January 2010, my son’s preschool class asked me to share some traditions for their multicultural day event. One event led to another and that year I learned a bit more about Laos. One sleepless night, I was surfing the internet and stumbled upon Jai Lao Foundation (JLF). I don’t even remember googling anything on Laos but somehow one link led to another link that led me to JLF.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that all these strings of events has led me to this opportunity to be a part of JLF’s mission to build another school for the Laotian children. Each event and each link I visited got me closer to connecting with my parents and initiating a long over due and rare conversation about our culture.

Every child, no matter the culture, has heard the story of how their parents walked miles and miles to school in snow, rain, and sleet. My mom is definitely no exception. She literally walked a long distance from her village to go to school. She didn’t attend preschool or elementary school as there was none available. She was a teenager when she first attended school and she says, “I would stop by the noodle house and eat kow soy midway to school because it was that far.” As the only daughter amongst three older brothers, she had many responsibilities handed to her so she was very fortunate to receive an education even though it was very minimal. There was no time for formal education when there are other important things to worry about such as the basic survival of the family.

My intention of nominating a school for the villages of Huay Xai is to not only bring a school closer to their village or to give them an opportunity for more education, but to be the example of why it’s important to know where you are from and most importantly to not be ashamed of your culture. Building a school in the villages would be an easy thing to accomplish with the proper resources, but teaching people to look inside of them and empower them to stay grounded in their roots is a much more rewarding service.

As a yoga teacher, I am rewarded and inspired by the many students who begin to spark transformations through the practice of yoga to find their authentic self. As I commit to my practice, I realize that sometimes I struggle to find my authentic self because I’m not grounded in my roots. I’ve grown up in a place where external influences heavily taint my true self. I’ve masked myself with layers of social domestication because I wanted to fit in. These past few years, yoga has slowly helped me peel away the layers so I may get a glimpse of who my true self is. Sometimes I find things that I don’t like about me, but the process of finding that part of me helps me to grow and become what’s already inside of me and not what I should become.

Without a doubt, the villagers will be overwhelmed with gratitude for their new school. To these under-served children, a pencil, a teacher, and a classroom can bring the promise of a future with choice. This is what my parents created for me. However, as I live and grow, I can see clearly that an education alone does not promise a ticket to a better life. I’m discovering that we all have choices no matter what our socioeconomic status is. It’s a simple choice of choosing to be guided by our life’s experience and using those experiences as a platform to create future choices or be stuck in the story of “poor me... if only I had more of I could live a happier life.” My wish for these students is to bring their real life experiences into their new classrooms and use it to create possibilities.

Each village deserves to be the recipient of a very generous gift from JLF. However, I chose my mom’s village in Ban Huay Xai. If chosen, I would choose without hesitation to have my mom accompany me on my journey to Laos. It would be a dream come true for her because she tells me the house she grew up in is still standing. She has never visited the Motherland since immigrating here. Many stories would unfold from our visit and I imagine many tears would be shed.

What intrigues and scares me most at the same time is the connection I would be rebuilding with my mom. There is much mystery and opportunities to be discovered by not only my mom and I, but for those Laotian faces that are smeared rich with experience and humanity. There is no question that these little faces would educate me beyond what any classroom could provide for them. They are already rich in many ways... a classroom would just be the sacred space for them to explore their highest potential.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

banh pherk

here is essay #2 from the Jai Lao foundation's contest. see my previous posts below for details. please like Jai Lao on facebook and then vote for an essay!!/pages/Jai-Lao-Foundation/86902157936?sk=notes

First of all, I would like to Thank you all for giving everyone an opportunity to submit this essay.

I would like to share my childhood memory with you of a small remote village by the name of Ban Pherk. This village is about 40 minutes drive out skirt from Vientiane. As a kid, I remembered walking on the red dirt road for 5 or 10 minutes to the village school as a first grader. The school bench was made out of logs that has been cut in halves and not stained. Students shared desk with other classmates in a classroom with no electricity or bathroom. Every morning before starting class, we all stood in front of the school and sang the Lao Anthem song. The school exist of 1st to 4th grade only. After that, students has to go to another village name Elai which is about 20 minutes driving distance. Most of the people in this village do not own cars, so the education stops at the 4th grade level. Ban Pherk is not a village that I was born in, but it was the last village that I can remember as a kid living in Laos. I consider this village my childhood hometown village. As I remember there is only 1 school there. The village has no playground anywhere not even at the school. I believe in higher education for every children in the world, and I would like this village to have that opportunity as well. If there is an opportunity in the future, I would like to explore this village with the Jai Lao Boards to build a Secondary school. With an educated children in the village, they will be able to provide and contribute to their community as well as to Laos and the World outside of Laos. This would be an opportunity of a lifetime for me and this village to have a Secondary School build within walking distance for the children to attend. I would be able to visit my parents homeland and reconnect with people in the village in helping Jai Lao Foundation build a school, if Ban Pherk is chosen.

Since both of my parents has passed now, I do not know too much about where my parents raised us as a kid in Laos. Most of my relatives are back in Laos. Our dad passed away 1 month after we arrived in the US and my mother was in her early 30's with 5 young children. My mother passed at the age of 50 losing her final life battle to cancer. After my father passed, my mother had to learn to drive and work to support her children. We didn't do much family events together because mom always had to work to support us. I didn't understand why she had 2 or maybe even 3 jobs back then. Now I understand all the sacrifices that she had made to provide for her children. The one promise that my dad requested from my mom before he passed was to make sure his children all attend college for higher education. My mother worked and show us her strength and ambition for us children to further our education not only for ourselves but to make our hard working mother proud and have pride in her children. At each graduation ceremony, my mom would cry nonstop and I used to be so embarrassed. But now I understand her feelings of joy and accomplishment of the promise she made to her late husband. I like to learn more about Ban Pherk and have more compassion for the people of the village. This will show me where my parents came from as well as where I came from and where I would be if my mother did not make the decision to escape Laos to meet up with my dad who escaped the War and was already in Thailand waiting for his family.

It's very difficult for me to take my mind back to the past because there was a lot of sad memories. I look forward everyday for a brighter and better day. As immigrants, we all have the same kind of story but every story is different and unique for that family. I remember going back and forth hiding in 2 of our Aunt's house in Vientiane before escaping to Thailand. My mother sewed gold jewelry inside the Sinh that I was wearing. We rode in a boat to cross the Mekong River with my mom, 1 brother and 2 sisters and a cousin who was about 15 years old who was very beautiful with long wavy hair. I remember the only light lighting the way in the Mekong River was the cigarette light from the man who was rowing the boat. I stared at the glowing embers of the fire, observing the smoke fly away and gradually fade to nothingness. I heard several gunshots along the way and even saw a dead body floating in the river. My mother covered my mouth before I can even scream in terror. We walked up from the boat to the Thailand soil that dark morning. We saw 2 Thai Officials carrying guns. Before they took us to the Nongkai Camp in Thailand, there was a bribery between the 2 Thai Officials and my 15 years old cousin. I remembered they took her somewhere and brought her back later with her white shirts missing buttons. I don't know much about time back then, but the wait to see her face was so still and silent. The only noise I heard was my mom cries in anger the whole time until my beautiful cousin came back with the 2 Thai officials. I kept thinking in my mind the whole time, what is happening to my beautiful cousin and where did they take her, and when will I see her again??? She came back looking so upset with anger and fear. She non stop cried nonstop in tears until she sat in silent. As I got older, I made an educated guess what happened to my cousin. I think the 2 Thai Officials violated her soul to pay for our ways to the Nongkai Camp in Thailand. I never asked my mom about it, but I'm pretty sure that was what happened. Maybe my mom though we were too young to even know what was happening and hope that we did not remember this past. It's something that we never discussed or talk about ever again. With this is my mind as a child, it made me a stronger person and to believe in the ability of attaining a higher education and maybe one day go back in the past to the village my parents once lived and see how I can help this village. Taking the effort to write this essay is my first step in trying to help my fellow classmates and Lao citizens back home who did not take the opportunity to escape Laos and experience the life in America. If my parents can bring us to the America so their children can have a higher education and fight the many obstacles along the way, there is no reason why anyone of the village kids should not attend school or have the opportunity to do so if the secondary school is built in this town. I would even like to tell the village people our family struggle and experiences to the US, just to motivate parents to allow their children to attend school. Our family is one of the very few that left the town.

In 2009, I made my first journey back to Laos and visited Ban Pherk for a brief 30 minutes. My last memory about Ban Pherk, it was one of those rare morning that the sun manages to peek out from the thick, ominous clouds that have disappeared for many days, revealing the vivid bright sky and the warmth of the bright sunlight seeping through my face as we walk out of this village. At that very moment, I felt and saw a brighter light somewhere else in the future or place as if we were following the rainbow to search for the pot of gold. Many years has passed by in the blink of an eye and I came back to Ban Pherk and everything still looked the same with very little changes in the village. I did not have the opportunity to explore the village, but it looked very small. I remember as a kid the house we lived in had more land. I was told the land was sold out. My parents used to farm rice field and that was sold out too by relatives. When I went back to the house we used to live in, i had very few recollection of the house. To my surprise, my brother remembers every land and lot that belonged to my late grandmother. The fondest memory I had was having lunch with my parents on a hut in the rice field while my brother was fishing. While visiting the Village's Wat, I was looked for my grandmother's Tombstone which was no where to be found. I discovered that the day of her funeral, it rained so hard and her ashes were never collected. Grandmother's Tombstone was never built. I felt so hurt by this discovery, my eyes was draining tears as if I was trying to fill up the water in the Mekong River. When I returned to the US, I told my siblings about the story and we built a Tombstone to honor my grandmother at the Wat. The most precious thing that my aunt in Laos gave me that belonged to her only brother were spoons that she found at the house we left behind. She gave me 2 of the spoons which I feel very honored to have since this is the only belongings that I have from my late father. In meeting and learning about Jai Lao Foundation, it gave me the courage to travel back in time to my past which I remember in Ban Pherk. In that travel, I learned more of where my life started, the struggles my parents took, the life of my parents, and who I am and who I could have been if I was still living in Ban Pherk now.

Seeing the innocent people at the Wat who are now all strangers to me, but could have once been my parents friends, made me want to explore more about the town to learn more where I came from and where my parents came from. After going back to Laos, I realize the painful memories I fear was now in the past. We all make choices and our parents made choices for our future. It was not an easy struggle and there were sacrifices along the way to the land of freedom and opportunity. Parents in Laos have this opportunity to support their children to attend school and children have the decision for their future. If they understand our immigrant struggles, then maybe education will be a priority for our Lao people too. An educated person will have an educated choice in life and a brighter future no matter where they reside. By building schools and giving educations to the hundreds and later thousands of children in Laos, Jai Lao Foundation is giving the best gift anyone can give to a child. I would like to nominate Ban Pherk to have this opportunity for a secondary education for the children of this village. This is the best life time opportunity that I can do help the people of this village is to share knowledge. Education is not up to the mark at Ban Pherk due to lack of institutions. The lack of proper infrastructure or school are the main drawback which directly effects the growth of the development in this village. Agriculture is the main occupation of the villagers. The cultural and social life of the villagers are simple and comfortable. They seem to be contented with what they have because it's what they know. If a Secondary School is build at Ban Pherk, Most if not all kids in the village, and maybe other villages will be entering the school to acquire the knowledge they need and further help with the development of their village in the future to come.

Thank your for reading my life memory which started in BAN PHERK, a small remote village in Laos. Please considerate your VOTE for BAN PHERK for Jai Lao Foundation to build a Secondary School to give the children of this village an opportunity to higher education than just a 4th grader.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

ban hat kham

over the next several days, i will post about the Jai Lao contest to build their fourth school in Laos. (see my previous post.) Jai Lao is doing awesome work in bringing education to young people in Laos, and they are sponsoring a contest to bring another school to Laos - and allowing supporters of Jai Lao to decide which village will have a school built. Four essays have been written asking for support.

if you "like" Jai Lao organization on facebook, you will then be able to help decide which of these villages will have their school built.

here is the first of four essays that are posted on the Jai Lao page:

Situated two and a half hours north of Luang Prabang then an hour and 45 minutes by boat further north up the river Nam Ou, Ban Hat Kham is built in mountain terrain and nestled in groves of trees. The village has no paved roads, no electricity, and no latrines. It is home to 53 Khmu families and has a population of 307 residents. Their homes, made of bamboo with mostly thatch or tin roofs, are perched on stilts and clustered close together.

The residents of Ban Hat Kham are extremely poor. Their estimated per capita annual income is a mere tenth of the meager $986 national average (U.S Department of States, November 30, 2010, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs). Their geographic location limits their economic mobility. They rely heavily on subsistence farming, gathering, hunting, trapping, and fishing for their survival. The villagers mainly barter for goods among themselves, although they occasionally earn cash by selling farm goods, basketries, and livestock to outsiders who pass through.

Ban Hat Kham needs a new school that will provide education to preschoolers through third graders. The village has a school teacher and 49 students but no school building. In 2010, monsoons destroyed the village school, a simple bamboo structure. The villagers salvaged a chalkboard, some desks, and a few wooden benches and tables. No textbooks exist in the village.

The residents want to build a two-room school but lack the funds. As a temporary measure, the local government allows the teacher to hold school in the village’s community center where village council meetings are held. The community center, an open structure with no windows or shutters, is not a suitable location. During the wet and windy season, which can last up to five months, classes are usually cancelled. This substantial gap in the school year disrupts the students’ educational progress.

Steve Rutledge, founder of Adopt a Village in Laos (AAVIL), a Canada-based nonprofit organization, obtained approval from the local government to build a two-room primary school and provide water purification systems and hygienic latrines. AAVIL had a donor lined up to fund the school. Unfortunately, the donor withdrew the offer when the Lao government announced a proposal to build a dam near the village. The dam proposal is in its early stages. If the project is eventually approved, which may take an estimated seven to ten years, Ban Hat Kham would be submerged in water, and the residents would be forced to relocate.

While the proposal creates a degree of uncertainty, the developers have promised to relocate the village and replace everything the villagers lose, including any buildings such as a school. The education of these children cannot be placed on hold while the decision is made. Most children in Laos do not make it past the 5th grade. A delay of a single year costs the children a large percentage of their potential education. They can’t afford to wait. They need a school now.

AAVIL does not currently have funding to build a school for Ban Hat Kham. A partnership with the Jai Lao Foundation is all it would take to make the dream of obtaining a new school a reality. Mr. Rutledge indicated that AAVIL is excited to collaborate with Jai Lao and has pledged to donate a water filter system to every family in Ban Hat Kham and to the school. In addition, the organization will provide school supplies and two toilets to the school when it is built.

According to Mr. Rutledge, the residents of Ban Hat Kham are eager to help build a new school. They have committed to supply wood and collect gravel and sand from the river. The villagers have shown initiative in cleaning the old school site and clearing debris to prepare for the new building.

Thanks to the preliminary work completed by AAVIL, Ban Hat Kham provides an opportunity for Jai Lao and its supporters to improve lives quickly. With so many deserving villages, deciding which one to assist will be difficult; however, I believe Ban Hat Kham is the ideal location for Jai Lao’s new school project.

this essay was written by a good friend of mine, daravanh! if you wish to vote for ban hat kham, "like" Jai Lao, then "like" essay #1.

Friday, June 10, 2011

building a school

i've posted about the Jai Lao foundation before. they are a wonderful organization that has been working to build schools in rural parts of Laos. (and one of their fund raisers is selling Jai Lao padek!) they are currently beginning construction on another school right now.

if you are on facebook, look for them and "like" them, and you can see their info and photos of the work they've done.

they were awarded money from chase bank to build more schools, and so they are holding a contest - four people have submitted essays describing the needs of a village in Laos, and based on fb votes, a school will be built in one of those villages.

here are the rules:

Jai Lao Village School Search Rules

The Village Essay School Search will run from Friday, June 10 through Friday, June 24. Here are the four villages asking for your vote to have Jai Lao build a school in their village: BANH HAT KHAM~ESSAY 1, BAN PHERK ESSAY 2, BANH HUAY XAI~ESSAY 3, BANH MUANG KHAM~ESSAY 4. While all four villages are worthy of having a school built, only one can win this contest through your votes. Please take the time to read all four essays to determine which one you’d like to vote for. You must “LIKE” the Jai Lao Foundation first in order to have your vote counted.

ONLY ONE VOTE PER FB USER PLEASE. If Jai Lao sees you have voted more then once, then your vote will be disqualified. The contest is two weeks long and every vote counts. Please feel free to rally your FB friends to help your village. Jai Lao will tally up the votes Friday, June 24 and announce the winning essay at our 2nd Anniversary One Night in Laos Charity dinner June 25.

The village chosen with the most FB votes will have a great opportunity to travel to Laos, along with a friend, funded by Jai Lao in November 2011 to build their dream school in their home village. This indeed is a rare and wonderful opportunity for Jai Lao Board of Director Volunteers travels to Laos at our own expense. Please note: Travel is from San Francisco airport only. Jai Lao wishes all four great essays the best of luck on this contest.

so get on fb, like Jai Lao, and vote!

and bhet would like for you to vote for her village...hers is baan hat kham, essay #1!

Monday, June 06, 2011


this kickstarter thing is the best idea ever. congrats jenny on getting the funding you were looking for, and with four days left to spare!!!

and in other news, weiner admits guilt...

and the thai king is insulted...

thailand bans buddha tattoos...

(this is the thai rapper nicky pimp... and you gotta love his other tattoo as well - it lets you know that he is his "dad's child." wow.)

and Laos is trying to replant its forests...