What’s more important?

I am interested in finding out what Lao people do after high school since there is such a low number of college attendees among our ethnic group.  Here’s a couple of questions I would like an answer to.  Paragraph response would be appreciated! I included a link to a youtube video because it reminded me of how some Lao people are ignorant or pretend to be ignorant.  All I could think of is these people need to go back to school and I wish they were in my class so I can teach them! It also makes me wonder how many Lao people paid attention in school or if they even think education was important. The youtube video was created by the Lao roots magazine.  The host are bright young men, but some of the people they interview are not very knowledgeable.  Yes, some of them might have been nervous or they were just clowning around for the camera, but it’s apparent some of them need to be more educated. The questions are pretty basic and everybody should know it whether they are Lao or not, but it made me wonder if it is the norm among Lao people to think that it’s okay to be ignorant?  The beauty pageant contestants were pretty ignorant and while it does not represent all young Laotian woman, I still cringe at the thought of how some of our young ladies are uneducated.  Yes, I did laugh at their answers then I was reflective afterwards.When one of the host says that the beauty pageant contestants crack him up, Billy, the other hosts says ” I guess it’s a beauty pageant not an intelligent contest”.  Then his friend retorts, ” Man don’t say that!”  I have to agree with Billy when he comments and implies that those girls are not very bright. It definitely was not  a contest to see how smart these girls were, but they should at least represent Laotian girls better than that.

 1. What is your race? 2. What is your age?

3. Did you finish high school? Why or Why not?

4. Did you go into the military? Why or Why not?

5.  Did you go into the workforce after high school? Why?

6. Did you go to college?  Do you think it is important to obtain a college degree? Why or Why not?

7. Do you think you have to be smart to go to college?


20 thoughts on “What’s more important?

  1. I saw the video at the old Lao Planet forum, Darly posted and we had some discussion and thought it was funny. 🙂

    I’ll be brave and go first. I’m female, Asian, Laotian and between the age of 30-40. I completed high school because it’s one of the prerequisite for college education. I attended college and also worked a part time job to help pay for my books and tuitions. As for me, I think it’s important to have a college degree, plus more, but might not be true for everyone. I’m at an advantage where as I came to the US at a very young age and had the opportunity to attend school, but for some Laotian that came to the US at a later age might not have that opportunity because they might have to work to help support their parents or younger siblings. I don’t think that you have to be smart to attend college, I don’t consider myself smart but I work real hard to get good grades. I learned my ABCD in the last quarter of the 5th grade and at a disadvantage than those that started out in the 1st grade or kindergarten. My parents didn’t have to tell me to study, when I was living in Thailand, not as a refugee but as a Thai citizen, and 4th grade would have been the highest education for me so when I’ve the opportunity, I knew my priority even at a very young age. Life is a learning process, you’re never too old to learn or go back to school if that’s what you want to do, it’s a matter of wanting to or not, knowledge is the key to success even if it’s self taught type of knowledge.

  2. karmadiva

    Ginger thank you for putting yourself out there! I appreciate your candid response. I agree that a lot of Lao people who come later might not have an opportunity for further education because they had to work to support the family. However, you made a good point when you said ” you’re never too old to learn or go back to school”. I agree just because you did not go to college after high school doesn’t mean you can’t change that!:)

  3. In respond to what you said, my oldest sister came to the US when she was 23 years old, she attended classes from our church that sponsored us and got her GED; went to a community college and got an associate degree in Accounting and is currently working at a CPA firm as a Senior Tax Auditor, and recently has gone back to school (evening and weekend class) to get her bachelor degree. She speaks with a thick Laotian accent but she is determined, and she is a good example that you’re never too late to go back to school. Her reasoning for going back to school is that an associate degree is not enough assuming if she has to get another job, education is the door to opportunity.

  4. karmadiva

    Ginger, that is wonderful that your sister had to fortitude to go back to school! Education is the door to more opportunity and we are the ones to step through that door and face the challenge. Taking that first step is so important and your sister should be applauded because she did NOT make any excuses. I hate it when people use race, age, sex or disability to try to get out of things or try to justify their actions! Kudos for your sister!

  5. Sou

    That video was funny, surprising and yet not really. Of course you know that I am a 25 yr old Laotian and the people being quizzed on the video look roughly my age or younger. I see this a lot, but not just with Laotians. It’s almost as if you’re not cool if you know who the vice president is. Yes, I did finish high school. Even though most people feel that their high school years were their most awkward years growing up. I feel the complete opposite; I loved my high school years. I felt so accomplished, academically and socially. And then I entered the real world, the struggle, and had to step down from that gratifying feeling.
    No, I didn’t join the military, however I did marry military and I do believe that’s the same thing, yeah? Just joking. I did have a part time job when I began college right after high school. The wanting to go to college was always there. However, the fear of not completing college was also there but much stronger. This fear was driven from the fear of disappointing my parents and the fear of my own incompetence. To spite the fear, a cross country move, a pregnancy, financial difficulties, and a rocky marriage, I finished.
    The main thing that was pushing me to finish was that fear of disappointing my parents. At that time it was not the thought that a college degree was important. What was important was doing what they desperately wanted me to do. After I finished I was overwhelmed with this feeling of relief, not because of the degree, but because of the joy and satisfaction I felt from my parents. Later I realized that it was not gloating my parents were seeking from my success, but more a sense of security; this belief that a degree will bring me a brighter future and therefore they can worry less about me.
    Do I think having a college degree is important, No. But I do think it certainly helps. I know many successful people who did not go to college and many who did. What I think is more important is the learning, (that sounds so nerdy) but knowledge is what I find more self-satisfying. The institution of college I realized is not for everyone, but learning is. So whatever means the brain is getting information it is certainly better than none.
    Do I think you have to be smart to go to college, absolutely Not! Believe me, this is coming from someone who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. But you do have to have a strong will and disciple, because it is very demanding, yet very rewarding too. A few months after I finished, after sitting with it for a while, I finally began to feel that accomplished feeling again that self-gratification, because it was a struggle and I did it.

  6. karmadiva

    Sou, you reminded me of something. I have to whole-heartedly agree with you that the fear of failure was stronger than the wanting of going to college. I knew I wanted to go to college, but was frightened to think… What if i fail? What would people think of me? Especially me because so many Laotian people expected me to succeed. I know you can identify with this.

    I like what you said about going to college is not for everyone, but learning is. I try to tell my students the same thing! I always tell them there’s three main choices after highschool: college, military or the work force. In all three areas they can find a place for themselves.

    Being able to challenge and motivate yourself to face your fears whatever it may be is very invigorating because at the end it is all worth it! I love learning new things everyday, pushing myself to know more about everything and it doesn’t cost anything. Consider this quote, ‘Learning is a matter of intensity not elapsed time.’ Tom Peters , ‘Re – Imagine’. We should not obsess about how long it takes to learn something because time is relative. What matters is how you feel when you are learning. I’m always excited when I learn something new and I always challenge beside to give it my all.

  7. amphone

    Regarding Lao Root video, its great idea, fun, and humoreous.

    Hello friends, my input regarding Karmadiva’s topic, “What’s more important?” I believe if more Laotians, who are doing well, get their story out there, a lot of good can come out of it. Their stories could benefit someone someway somewhere somehow. I know the data is frightening but I still believe, base on my life time of observation, we have come a long way. We have to continue to help Educators and social workers gaining a better understanding of the Laotians, especially on the matter of “Why there is such a low number of college attendees among our ethnic group.”

    I am Laotian by birth American by choice, still a Laotian regardless. I have been in this country for 27 years. I arrived in the states when I was 13. My real age is, wait…you can do the math. In 1980 I arrived in the states. Four years later I graduated from HS.

    During the early refugee day, there were two set of Laotian parents. One group just want their kids, since most of them are old enough to work, to go to work and help out with the income. There were others, like my parents, would encourage us to work and at the same time preached,” Go get a higher education, get a good job, and pai pen jao pen nai dur louk dur.” After hearing that all your life, you kind na got it. For someone who can’t even see the light of day because I spend too much time in the factory working full time. In my senior year my grades were so low. My English was still so poor. I was really tire from working and did not want to get up and go to school anymore. But I had to. After all that preaching and lecturing, I know I have to get pass high school to get to college. To save me from flungling out of HS, my dad made me stop working and focus on school and homeworks. For he next two months I worked hard to pull my grades up. I managed to graduate.

    After the graduation, I knew college is not my first option. So I convinced my parents that I needed to save some money for college first. Going to college, to our parents, was “ pai hien tor” meaning “go continue your education.” Four years in the country did not prepare me for college. So I wanted to venture out a little and save money for college. The military was an good idea. I always wanted to serve the country I owe so much to. Plus, they will help pay for college. I left home for the military. I joined the Army on July 1984 and I was all that I could be. I started college right after the military service.

    I believe having a college degree is very important. I suspected that a lot of our people may have known that too but somehow didn’t have the mean to pursue it. There are so many reasons why that is. We can write a book about why so many young Laotians are not pursuing higher education. Because I have met a lot of Laotian who are high achievers, I don’t feel so bad.

    The younger generation need inspiration. By leading by example we can break the trend.

    I worked hard all my life. I am doing okay right now. I still pursuing my dreams: dream car, dream girl, dream house, dream vacation, dream bank account. A long the way I’ve learned to live and enjoy my life.

    love the work that you do.

  8. amphone

    Oh yeah, you don’t have to be smart and slart to go to college. It does take a know how to complete college. As long as you learn something while you there, graduate, and get a job. This will show that you are smart and slartt… Smart and slart in Lao sound the same don’t they? Out of five sibbling, one finish college, two went but not complete, I was one fo the two, the other two didn’t. I hope this helps your survey.

  9. karmadiva

    Amphone, kop chai for your story! I am amazed because first of all you were thirteen when you came, but yet manage to complete your educational goals! I was fortunate I was younger so I had more time in the American educational system!

    You are the kind of role model our young men need to see, be around, and emulate. I totally agree that to change the trend we need to lead by examples. I love what you said about how our story will somehow benefit someone somehow somewhere out there! It could be someone sitting at home not doing anything or need a little motivation and they read one of our stories, it might help them decide their future. Words are that powerful! If all of us band together we can change the trend. We are already doing that now, through our blogs.

    I’m going to give you another praise. I really like what you said about how you are Lao by birth and American by choice! Remembering where you come from is as important as where you are in the present. I mean that literally and figuratively! I am proud that I am from Laos, but greatful that I am now living in the U.S. because of the opportunities it has afforded me. Also, I know how much I have improve as person and what I was like when I first got here! I transformed from a shy awkward girl to a confident and proud woman because it is my choice!:)

    Yes, your story has enrich my knowledge of our people and that is gratifying!

  10. karmadiva

    Ginger, you make me laugh! I think I take your knowledge for granted! So of course I have to praise both you and Darly for the awesome work you do to increase everybody’s knowledge of Laos and its people. The blogs are entertaining as well as informative. I’m so excited to be part of this online communication with you two ladies! I know it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain the sites.

  11. amphone

    Ha ha ha…Geen ja ur, she was only praising me because I am just an ordinary guy who is still trying to get there. You and Darly are like celebrities to us. You are awsome already……….Let me have my moment 🙂

    Thanks Karmadiva, I praise you for the time you put into this. Keep up the good work nong sao.

  12. Darly and I are like celebrities to you guys *blush*, a bit embarrassed now that I won’t be able to live up to your expectation. I’m very, very, very ordinary, no different from you Amphone, and thank you Karmadiva for those kind words. 😉

  13. amphone

    Under my sky, I know a few Laotians who I idolized. They are usually and not necessary have to be entertainers or singers. Thanks Karmadiva for this moment. Ginger, your name sounds like a celeb already. Might as well accept this honor.

  14. Hi Amphone, thanks for those kind words and gestures, somehow I don’t feel that the title fits, it seems that Ginger has it pretty easy, the person behind Nye Noona has to do a lot of hard work behind the scene, and I can’t say that she is one and the same as Ginger. The world of pen name Ginger is very different from the reality of the author…thanks for such high recognition; I’ll try to live up to your expectation.

  15. Shogun

    What an interesting topic and blog that has emanated from the Lao Roots Youtube video. As with the other postings, I too thought it was funny.

    I am a 25 yr old Laotian male born in the US. Like others, I finished high school and went on to college thereafter. Though I did not work right after high school, I did work for two summers early on and did not work again until my last year of college. During college, I considered the military as a career, but was never on a committed route that way. Rather, I decided to see what was out there for me. Believe me, four years of college was almost not enough. But luckily I landed a finance job that I enjoy very much and have been at it for almost four years. Though the long and tedious hours may be tiresome, it can’t possibly compare to what was going through the minds of those first generation Laotians who had to start all over again. That to me is motivational.

    Regarding the necessity of a college degree, I believe it all comes down to if you want many opportunities after you are done. However, as others have stated, you don’t need a college degree to be successful. My belief is, the process of going through college opens your eyes to many things, not just career opportunities, that will enrichen your life experience and help you grow.

    I don’t think you need to be “smart” to go to college, you just need the desire to go.

    I strongly encourage our young Laotians to attend college.

  16. Laotian Teacher

    Shogun, thank you for sharing your story! As a teacher, I am always excited to hear about Laotians going to college or have gone to college. It is so important that we represent and show the world that we may be a minority when it comes to our ethnicity, but when it comes to education— we need to be a part of the majority.

    I agree with you that the process of going through college is a life changing express. It really does affect and influence our choice for the future. That is why I want to encourage more Lao people to go to college. If we work together we can encourage more young Lao people and even the older generations to see the importance of education.

  17. Hi, thank you for sharing. I am so happy to hear other laotians graduated from college. I am a 43 years old laotian female. I came to the US when I was 17 years old. I learned ABC at the age of 17. I did finished high school and went on to college. I graduated from college in 1993. I believe college is important to me. It is never to late to get an education. I don’t consider myself smart. I study very hard. To me having college degree is important, without it I would never landed a job in management. My 38 years old sister graduated from university last year with 3.8 GPA . It is never to late to go to college.

  18. Laotian Teacher

    Wow! I am sooooooo impressed! I think it is awesome that you and your sister pursue your degree even though you got here at 17. I was lucky I was seven when I got here so it made it easier for me. I think it is very important for Laotian people to represent in this positive way.

    I don’t consider myself smart, just determined and motivated. We just need to teach the younger generations of Laotians to value education above materialistic things.:)

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