Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Convention on Cluster Munitions goes into effect on August 1st!

The Convention on Cluster Munitions goes into effect on August 1st!

For Laotians around the world and others affected by these deadly weapons, it's a meaningful step towards creating a safer world for our children, families and neighbors.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions. Separate articles in the Convention concern assistance to victims, clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles, although Laos requires an exemption from the target date for UXO clearance of 2020. During the war for Laos, the US dropped more bombs on Laos than on all of Europe in World War 2.

Over the past 14 years more than 25,000 hectares, just 0.28 percent of the total 87,000 square kilometres contaminated by UXO, has been cleared. Cluster Munitions are the leading cause of unexploded ordnance in Laos, where 33% of all UXO fatalities are children. Many of their parents today weren't even alive during the war for Laos that ended in 1975.

For more information on UXO the non-profit organization Legacies of War www.legaciesofwar.org has done tremendous advocacy work on this issue. You can help by writing your representatives and encouraging them to support increased funds to clear UXO in Laos and Southeast Asia!

MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants!

Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative Grants!
The next application deadline for the Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative grant program will be Friday, August 27, 2010.

Artist Initiative grants support and assist artists at various stages in their careers. The program encourages artistic development, nurtures artistic creativity, and recognizes the contributions individual artists make to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota.

Several things about the program are different this year:
— Artists, working in any discipline, are eligible to apply
— The grant range has expanded; artists may request from $2,000 to $10,000
— Projects will need to include a community component
— Applicants will need to apply online, using the Arts Board's Web based forms

Many things about the program are the same as they have been in previous years:
— Artists, at any stages in their careers, may apply
— Grants must be used to fund a specific project that will enhance the applicant's artistic or career development
— Artists will have a one-year period to expend the grant funds.

Visit the Arts Board's Web site for more information about the program and how to apply:

A series of grant information sessions will be held in communities throughout the state, the schedule will be posted during the last week of July.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MA/AHC Health Data Survey needs participants

MA/AHC has been invited to participate on a panel for a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) summit on data. As a result MA/AHC wants to hear from you what data needs our community has.

They developed a simple survey of 20 questions that should take only 15 minutes. There are no right or wrong answers. Questions include how you do you use data? What type of data is important to your community, etc.

MA/AHC is seeking your input so we can bring your voice and ideas to the panel which will influence how MDH adjusts its health data collection and reporting practices to better meet community needs. Please be sure to read the directions at the top of each page. The survey will close on Friday, August 6, 2010. We appreciate your time and input. SURVEY LINK: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8BRPPT3

Lao American Writer in Asian American Press

Lao American writer Saymoukda Vongsay was featured in Asian American Press: http://aapress.com/arts/operation-gynocracy to discuss her upcoming show this week at Black Dog Cafe at 7pm on Wednesday, July 28th.

Curated with Hmong American writer May Lee-Yang and featuring DJ Kool Akiem, featured talents will include many well-known Twin Cities artists including: Mysnikol Miller, Kelly Fallows, Linda Chanda, Alison Morse, Andrea Jenkins, Lori Young-Williams, Tene Morgan, Rachel Austin Bernstein, Pachee Moua, Heidi Berg, Carrie Stark, and Eva Song Margolis.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lao Youth Celebrate 1 Year together and Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free!

On Sunday, July 18th, 32 Lao youth and their friends and family from Northwest Hennepin County gathered together to celebrate one year of participation in their youth leadership program, part of the Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free initiative with the Lao Assistance Center and the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council.

The day began with a small pizza party at the Lao Assistance Center offices at 503 Irving Avenue North in Minneapolis, followed by youth carpooling together with their chaperones to Valley Fair in Shakopee Minnesota, where they spent the day celebrating together.
Everyone enjoyed the day and thought it was a good way to demonstrate how much fun life can be without the presence of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs in their lives.

The Lao Assistance Center staff also had certificates for all of the program participants thanking them for their participation. Each year, the youth are organized to convene two community forums for their peers to discuss the importance of living chemically free. Their activities are designed to combine leadership exercises, opportunities for peer support, and education and awareness of how they are often targeted at a young age to be lifelong consumers of hazardous products.

If you're interested in having your youth participate and you live in Northwest Hennepin County, e-mail Kinnaryp@laocenter.org or call 612.374.4967

Monday, July 19, 2010

Assistance Needed for Lao Pictorial History!

The Lao Assistance Center and community supporters are working together to construct a visual history of the Lao American community in Minnesota over the last 30 years.

If you have pictures of life in Minnesota or from your family's history in Laos, we'd love to see them and make them part of our project. We will present highlights of this history during the October 9th celebration at the Crystal Community Center as we pay tribute to 30 years in America. For more information e-mail Bryan Thao Worra at bryant@laocenter.org

Asian Media Access @ FLOW Northside Arts Crawl

The fifth annual FLOW Northside Arts Crawl occurs once a year showcasing various art for the public to see. There will be art booths and exhibitions, musicians, and many exciting activities to participate in. Asian Media Access will have an exhibition booth at this event from 3pm to 8pm on July 24th.

FLOW takes place along W. Broadway. Asian Media Access will be in the New 5 Points Building (KMOJ Building) on W. Broadway and Penn. Ave. N.

The AMA booth will have a media exhibition, origami,calligraphy, and other fun activities. Moreover, this is a good chance for you to learn more about Asian Media Access and Northside arts organizations and make connections or reconnect with the local community. There will also be food, drink, concerts and performances at FLOW!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lao Americans gather @ Origami

On July 9th, Lao American professionals gathered together at the Origami restaurant in Minneapolis to network and connect.

The evening included a guest appearance by Channapha Khamvongsa, executive director for Legacies of War, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization raising awareness about unexploded ordnance left over in Laos and the importance of supporting efforts to clear these deadly devices so the next generation of Lao can rebuild. Over 20 people were in attendance throughout the gathering.

Other topics included the Lao American Mid-Year Review: What’s been, where we’re going as a community and discussions on Twin Cities World Refugee Day, the Minnesota Dragon Festival, Senator Franken in Laos, Refugee Nation and the Lao American Writers Summit and other upcoming events.

We were happy to see the presence of the Lao Student Association from the University of Minnesota as well as acclaimed visual artist Mali Kouanchao and we look forward to many other gatherings in the future!

Get informed about Hepatitis B!

The Lao Assistance Center has been advocating for several years for Lao to inform themselves about Hepatitis B. This is a very serious cause for our community, but one for which we have little data related to Lao and other Southeast Asians in Minnesota.

National data from the 1980s to the early 1990s indicates about 1 in 10 new immigrants from Southeast Asia had chronic hepatitis B infection, with some communities having rates nearly as high as 20%. Hepatitis B has remained a serous problem in adult immigrants from Southeast Asia due to the lack of awareness, education, testing, and prevention.

Census 2000 data shows that a large fraction of Lao Minnesotans will soon be entering their 30s-40s-50s in the next few years. In these age groups, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment for Hepatitis B will be important to prevent deaths and liver disease from chronic Hepatitis B.

Many healthcare providers and policy makers seem to incorrectly assume there are active and effective hepatitis surveillance programs in place; unfortunately, in reality, it is clear many adult immigrants from high risk countries are not following the recommendations for hepatitis B prevention, screening, diagnosis, or treatment. Please take the time to understand more about this disease!

Lao Youth Leadership Group marks 1 year!

This July marks one year since the Lao Youth Leadership group was assembled to address Southeast Asians Living Chemically Free. It's been a year of positive accomplishments as the youth got to know one another and reach out to their peers and adults in Minnesota. In 2010-2011, they will be changing their name to United Youth to reflect their interests and goals.

The Lao Assistance Center thanks them for their involvement and commitment to our community and looks forward to their upcoming projects!

Lao Community Computer Lab off to great start!

Following a review and report with Project for Pride in Living on July 8th, statistics show that in the first 6 months of operation, the new Lao Assistance Center computer lab helped 80% of Lao visitors successfully find jobs and improve their basic computer skills. We thank UROC for donating these computers, Project for Pride in Living, the Workforce Center and as our many volunteers and friends who made this success possible!

We have five internet-connected computers with a printer available for community members during regular Lao Assistance Center hours, 9-5, Mondays through Friday.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lao youth stay tobacco free!

Lao youth participating in the Tobacco Free Youth program had a busy Spring in Minnesota!

For starters, they held a video shoot at Brooklyn Center High School on April 1st to educate the community about the dangers of tobacco. They also met several times to visit stores in Northwest Hennepin County to promote positive health messages and create store partnerships to reduce tobacco advertising that occurs at eye-level for youth.

You may have seen some of the youth at the Lao New year in St. Paul at the Minnesota National Guard where they had a booth set up on April 17th.

The Lao Assistance Center hopes more families will support youth who want to reduce tobacco use in our community.

During a fundraising event at Wat Lao Monticello celebrating Boun Visaka Bouxa, a festival in memory of Buddha’s Birth, four Lao youth in our program did outreach here and at another Lao community fundraising for the Lao temple held at Harrison Neighborhood Association. The youth also participated in the Harrison Neighborhood Association annual dinner.

Eight of the youth gave a presentation at the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Retreat at Bay Lake Camp Youth Presentation on June 11th-16th, and attended the Tobacco Free Yoth-Start Noticing’s trip to the Twins game.
The season wound down with the Lao youth doing outreach at the Boun Phra Vet celebration at the Wat Lao Farmington, where they handed out Tobacco Free Youth materials to all of the vendors in the event and to guests arriving at entrance the Wat.

As you see, it's been very busy!

The Lao Assistance Center thanks everyone who's involved including: Linda, Connie, Amanda, Melina, Alexis, Nina, Kinoy, Anna, Amy, Chanthala, Michael, Jeffrey, Aaron Reak, Annette, Katherine, Siren, Katty, Sandy, Dokeo, and Daisy!

You're all wonderful youth and you're making a difference!

If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved, let us know! Call 612-374-4967 or email chongchith@laocenter.org

Americorps positons available at Lao Assistance Center!

For more information e-mail: bryant@laocenter.org

With a goal of assisting 3,750 Twin City ex-offenders and first generation immigrants successfully integrate into the workforce, Emerge * AmeriCorps offers a unique service for AmeriCorps members to make a difference in the lives of people who encounter multiple barriers in securing gainful employment. Emerge * AmeriCorps members will work closely with their host site and site-supervisors to implement five core services that increase participant employability and enhance partner site capacity to effectively serve their constituents.

The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota’s mission is to enhance the quality of life of Minnesota Lao families. The agency operates a continuum of programs to address basic needs, increase self reliance, reduce social isolation and promote cultural equity. Each year the agency serves 750+ Lao community members.

Full-time Emerge * AmeriCorps members serve a minimum of 1700 hours from 8/23/10 to 8/22/11 and receive a modest living allowance ($983/month pre-tax); basic health insurance; and $5,350 Education Award upon successful completion of service.

Part-time Emerge * AmeriCorps members serve a minimum of 900 hours of service and receive a modest living allowance ($491/month pre-tax); and a$2,675 Education Award upon successful completion of service.

All Emerge * AmeriCorps members may qualify for student loan deferral and receive ongoing support and training.