Monday, May 18, 2009

Lao Assistance Center Staff Member Honored At Asian Pacific Heritage Awards

The Annual Dinner to commemorate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was held on Friday, May 15, 2009 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Hmong American Center, home of the non-profit organization, Hmong American Partnership at 1075 Arcade Street in St. Paul. Congratulations to Lao Assitance Center staff member Bryan Thao Worra who received a leadership award for excellence in the arts.

The dinner program consisted of a keynote address by Jon Campbell, Wells Fargo Bank’s Head of Social Responsibilities Group; the presentation of the annual Asian Pacific Leadership Awards; and a cultural performance by Julie Troung of the Chinese American Association of Minnesota’s Dance Theater.

This year, there were four recipients of the annual Asian Pacific Leadership Awards:
Tanweer A. Janjua is recognized for outstanding contribution and demonstrating vision and leadership in civil engagement through his educational efforts and outreach to get out and increase the Asian American and Pacific Islander vote.

K. Dennis Kim, Ph.D., P.E. is recognized for outstanding contribution to the business sector and for community service. Kim took over Enviroscience in 1982, which became EVS, a full service consulting civil engineering firm in 2003. Kim has served on state business committees, and as the Country Officer for Taiwan and Korea for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, as chair of the Minnesota Korean Association and president of the Korean Environmental Professionals Association in America. He also serves on the Board of the Minnesota Chorale, and the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota board.

Bryan Douglas Thao Worra, a National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellow, poet and activist, is recognized for his outstanding contribution to the Asian Pacific Islander arts and literature movement in Minnesota. Thao Worra was nominated by Saymoukda Vongsay, who said that it is his belief in making “a world where cultural diversity is a strength and not a liability, that has had a major impact in the course of 10 years since moving to Minnesota.
“Bryan has worked tirelessly as a Laotian American transcultural adoptee to create a space for Southeast Asian American writers not only in the Minnesota and Midwestern literary community but nationally and internationally,” said Vongsay in the nomination letter.

Additionally, the CAPM Board of Directors recognized Mr. Vy Van Pham with the “Distinguished Service” Award for his many years of commitment to and efforts on behalf of the community and public service.

This year’s banquet theme was “Across the Waves: In Pursuit of a Good Life.”

In May 1990, President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroard on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. The Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans was created by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1985. The primary mission of the Council is to serve Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, current population 207,000 in the following ways: ensure they are more fully incorporated into the governmental and policy making process; help them gain better access to state government services; ensure that their talents and resources are used and promoted; and serve as a bridge between them and non-Asian-Pacific peoples.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated with community festivals, government-sponsored activities, and educational activities for students. At the State level, the Council commemorates May as Heritage Month with an annual dinner and the awarding of the Asian-Pacific Leadership Awards to outstanding persons and organizations who have made a significant contribution or improvement to the Asian Pacific community in Minnesota. The Council also coordinates a “Calendar of Events’ by challenging and offering assistance and support to communities, cities, and school to develop and implement their own events to commemorate Heritage Month.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lao Assistance Staff meet with Noi Sengsourigna and the Children's Music Center

had the opportunity to meet with the immensely talented Lao singer and activist Noi Sengsourigna who is currently touring the United States as a cultural ambassador from Laos.

She is also working to bring attention to the amazing work at the Sengsourigna Children’s Music Center (SCMCC) which is working under the umbrella of Social Science Researchers Art of Speaking Promotion Association or SRASPA. The inspiration for the Center came about in 1982 in Sihome Village.  There, Noi Sengsourigna’s father ran the Traditional Music Center. The Sengsourigna Children's Music Center is devoted to teaching dance, music and Lao culture to Lao children in Shihone primary schools and other locations. In addition to dance and music, children are taught painting, drawing, reading, storytelling and other graphic arts.

It's really a terrific project. You can find out more at