Show Lao pride through education

As everybody knows, every New Year some of us make a New Year’s Resolution in an attempt to change our lives in some way, shape or form. Some of our resolution involves issues such as health, relationship, money, or personal goals. For the first couple of months, some of us will stick to our resolution or work as hard as hell to pretend like we are succeeding in our goals. However, half way through the year, the newness and excitement wears off and we start to forget what it is that we wanted to change and the reason behind it. I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to making a resolution is to make one about something you feel passionate about and is achieveable.

My most important resolution is to increase Lao pride through education. When it comes to college education, Southeast Asians meaning us, has the smallest number of college graduates as compared to other Asians. Also, Laotians has the highest high school drop out rates among other Asians. We have to stop this trend. We have to make education our number one priority among our group. We all love being Lao and say we have pride. If that is the case let us do it by getting our education and be positive role models for the younger Lao generations. Let them have more educated Lao people to look up to or aspire to be like instead of just seeing only a handful of Lao people who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, or inventors.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to show what you are made of, not by how big your house is, how much money you have, how nice your car is or how much bling bling you wear. All those things can be lost, taken, sold, or barter away, but education is something that is yours forever.


14 thoughts on “Show Lao pride through education

  1. I also feel that education is important, and just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop. I find myself learning something new everyday, and there are some self-study courses out there that might improve your profession, career, or just self improvement. Knowledge is definitely the door to opportunities.

    I want to wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year !

  2. Laotian Teacher

    Ginger, I agree with what you are saying about you how we can increase our own learning and education through self-study courses. Nowadays, technology has made it so much easier to learn about people and things. We don’t necessary have to just learn things from inside a classroom. In fact I think it’s important to learn from outside as well.

    Happy New Year to you!

    1. Griffin Rouse

      Hi Laos Teacher,

      I work with a group of Laos Pride kids as well as some of their former leadership to assist in providing opportunities and enabling more positive behaviors. I am looking for insight into the cultures, the stigmas, and any information that can help us end the violent run of criminal activity we’ve had in Smith Hill and turn these kids toward a brighter future. After all, these are good kids!! Thank you very much for any wisdom or insight you may be able to impart.


      Griffin Rouse

      1. Laotian Teacher

        Griffin, first thank you for working with the young Lao population. It is wonderful that you are helping them learn to do something positive instead of negative. I will try to provide you with as much information as possible.

        The first thing I can tell you is the majority of the time, the young Laotians’ behavior is governed by the elders in their lives. This could be their parents, older siblings, grand parents, or the elders in in their community. If you are trying to correct a behavior, it is a good idea to talk to these elders in their lives to gain their support. I don’t know if you have any interpreters working with you. I know, most of the time it is the kids themselves who are the interpreters. For example, my mom would trust me to interpret what my teachers was saying at conferences. She knows good or bad, I would tell her the truth. Speaking from a personal stand point the best way to approach the elders in their lives is to stress that you want to help the kids be successful. Tell the parents, guardians or whoever they are living with that you are there to help. Most of the time the elders will back you up and tell their kids to behave or listen just because you showed up to talk to them.

        Griffin, what kinds of things are you trying to accomplish with these kids? What are the age groups? I’m very interested in finding out more about what you do with them.

  3. Griffin Rouse

    The age group range from around 7 to 17. They are almost, if not entirely, members of the gang Laos Pride. The parents are currently a group we are trying to reach but have not been able to find many successful ways. Many of these parents work two jobs, or have such scars from their struggles in Laos and the subsequent refugee camps that getting through a day sober and clean is something of a commodity. Its been tremendously difficult to find an issue that the parents and children mutually care about beyond employment. We’d obviously very much like to employ all of these kids but are resources are limited. The kids, much like you said you used to do, serve as translators for their parents. Unfortunately, the impression that we have is that they are not quite as honest with their parents as to whats going on in their lives. Most of these kids spend their weekdays at one or two houses where the parents allow (or simply to consumed with everything else in their lives to notice) the students to bunk school and get stoned. I have a translator but he his not an objective member of the community as he is a former gang member with a checkered past both in and out of the gang. Like I said before, the biggest goal we have is to stop the violent trends of behavior these children are exhibiting and to assist in the creation and enabling of employment opportunities using the skill sets these children possess. Thanks for your help Laotian Teacher

  4. Laotian Teacher

    Griffin, what state are you in? You are right most of these kids care about employment instead of education. They probably join the gangs because it’s a way for them to make money and to protect themselves against others. I can see where the challenge would be in trying to convince them that violence is not the key. Have you asked them why they join these gangs? Have you asked them what they care about? I will keep in touch with you because I do want to help. I need to get more info from former gang members and ask them what is the best way to deal with situation. I know that the elders in the community need to step in. Also, if these gang members have positive role models to look up to maybe they will change their ways.

    1. Griffin Rouse

      Hi Laotian Teacher,

      I am in Providence Rhode Island. The gang was formed when the Laos refugees came over from the killing fields in Cambodia and into the schools of Providence. As the minority, they were quickly targeted by the prodominantly black and hispanic students attempting to ascert their dominance. The Laos students proceeded to form Laos Pride (LP) as a way to protect themselves. They make a minimal amount of money in the gang, so financial opportunities have been effective in drawing kids out of the gang. We have set-up a loosely organized rec. night for gang members under the supervision of a few police officers, and former gang members who are now non-violent street-workers. Our problem is we cannot monitor the kids going to school, we cannot monitor the parents who allow their kids to leave school, and we cannot monitor them after-school; without having more involvement from parents. The language barrier is a significant one, particularly because of the wide variety of languages spoken in south east asia. I am good friends with a former gang member who speaks Laos, but as I said before, his checkered past has significantly hindered his ability to gain credibility and trust from more than a handful of parents. We have to find a way to instill a better set of skills when it comes to conflict resolution, problem-solving, and general communication between one another for these kids to to be successful going forward. Thanks for your help.

  5. thon

    Hi laos teacher! I so agree w/ everything! Cuz my parents not so good n raising these kids as the turn 2 drop out and have kid at 16b w/ no job

  6. Laotian Teacher

    Griffin, I have been to Providence before but did not until recently realize the huge Lao population there. I will try to find some Lao contact out there.

    Thon, it is a sad day in Lao community when the younger generations loses respect for the elders as well as forget who they are. If the younger generation is not listening to their elders then they will do what they want. We have to change this behavior.

  7. Griffin Rouse

    It seems as though the parents of our Laos families have quite a quandary on their hands. The family next door is raising 3-5 kids, at least 2 middle school aged boys. The kids very obviously struggle to get their own space and have their own lives, and this puts a strain on their relationship with their parents which results in the kids eventually joining the gangs. The parents have such concern that if there kids are allowed to associate with other southeast asian kids in the neighborhood that they’ll end up doing something stupid resulting in their imprisonment or them joining a gang that they feel handcuffed for very obvious reasons. It seems as though the parents of Laos families, as a result of a language barrier, fear of losing their kids to crime, drugs, or gangs (and im sure other things culture specific) are very uncomfortable with putting too much faith in their kids decision-making. The kids grow up in a western-culture and expect the same freedoms that western parents provide their teens (for better or worse). The teen responds by lashing out rather than approaching the parent, accepting the concerns they have, and attempting to work through their concerns in order to ascertain more freedom and responsibility. If the lashing out or venting is to gangs or a positive role model, seems to make a pretty significant different. How do you we get parents and their kids to talk?

  8. Kelly

    Sabaidee Laotian Teacher,
    If you don’t mind may I please direct my comments to both you and Mr. Griffin. I currently live and work as an English teacher in Vientiane, but I am originally from Providence. (I am not Lao but I can stumble through the language, noi nyung.) I understand all to well what you face there, and that it’s not that they are bad kids, they just face problems there average person can’t understand. Smith Hill is not Easy Steet. I remember explaining to a friend one time, admittedly too casually, what the ribbons on the poles with photos and flowers below meant.
    I will be returning for a visit in May and would love to meet up and talk more about the work you are doing. Is there a way I may contact you?
    Khap jai lai lai..
    PS. Are there Laotian caseworkers at SEDC still on Elmwood? Maybe they would have some ideas.

  9. Griffin Rouse

    Hi Kelly,

    I would love to get together, my email address is If you want to email me, I will give you a more detailed set of contact info, just would rather not do it over a public blog, I am sure you understand. Smith Hill is really a wonderful place, and we are starting to build the capacity to do some pretty special things, so I am very excited for your visit and what will hopefully be a very fruitful and continued dialogue. Thanks for your interest.

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