In 2017, a group of friends got together and decided to help raise money for Legacies of War (www. Legaciesofwar.org) and The Friend's Children's Hospital in Luang Prabang, Laos. (www.fwab.org).
We were a team of 6 supported by a team of volunteers and our community. The response we received was overwhelming. We sold out our event in less than 1 week after posting links for online ticket purchases and raised a record amount of funds from our community to donate to not 1, but 2 charitable organizations which linked us ( Lao Am community, family, and friends) to our ancestral homeland.
All of this passion & support showed us that we needed a platform for the local Lao Am Community to connect, celebrate, and highlight cultural heritage. This platform is unique from current organizations because we are not a religious based society. We hope to promote Inclusivity within our diverse community. We welcome & embrace Lao Am to join us regardless of religious background, or the diversity of their heritage, and encourage engagement with us regardless of age or sexual orientation.
Join us while we embark on a journey to take our group from an idea to a formal not for profit entity. Our long term goal is to create a physical space for the community to access and use to achieve our mission. 2019 will be the year we begin to formalize the development of LAO UNY and welcome you to be a part of it. Your support & encouragement is crucial to our success.
We've identified that there is a very distinguished gap amongst the different generations within the Lao American community due to the dynamics of how the diaspora (the dispersion of any people from their original homeland) has evolved.
Each generation has its own unique defining characteristics and exposure to cultural heritage varies depending on a number of different factors. Lao Am and many other diaspora share similar challenges when it comes to the development of it's cultural identity in a new home away from home. For some Lao Am, The United States is the only home they've known. In that case one's ability to connect with a culture from a country located on the other side of the globe can be somewhat challenging. The challenge of trying to balance multiple cultures, while maintaining traditions, and having to find our own selves amongst every day life can be difficult and confusing.
An additional variable to this equation is lack of access, exposure, resources of information, or language barriers. There really isn't much of Lao history incorporated into academic curriculum in the U.S. educational system available to use as a point of reference either. This further exacerbates the issues for Lao Am youth and their cultural identity development. The current environment challenges the ability for the future youth to take pride in their diversity and share the beauty of their heritage. We want our members to always feel included, relevant, and represented positively and that is why we feel it important to create a space for Lao Am to celebrate & highlight it's diversity.
Your language skills will not determine how Lao you are or aren't, but we will have fun learning and engaging in the development of it. The percentage of your actual Lao DNA won't be used as a metric either. Your sexual orientation, your age, and/or your religious views will not matter in our community.
We want to be emphatic about expressing that we are bi partisan. (of or involving the agreement or cooperation of two political parties that usually oppose each other's policies.) For this reason, you will never see us post any Lao flags as our representation. Why? Because to many they are symbols of political divisiveness and we simply just want to create a positive space for us to be a community.
If your passion for the heritage lies within your heart than that's all that matters to us. Our community is changing, we are a minority within a minority, and in order for the traditions to live on we must learn how to cherish them and share the beauty of it with others.