Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lao American Storyteller Festival coming to Minneapolis

On February 21st-23rd, the Lao Assistance Center will be presenting the Lao American Storytellers Festival at the Harrison Neighborhood Center at 503 Irving Avenue N. in Minneapolis, MN. The festival will include formal presentations of traditional folk tales, oral histories, worship sessions and cultural exhibits from 1pm to 4pm each day. Free and open to the public. Further schedule details will be announced on the Lao Assistance website (www.laocenter.org) and social media such as twitter: @laocenterMN.

Among the guest presenters will by Lao Minnesotan Storyteller Fellows Saymoukda Vongsay, Phouthakannha Nantharath, Sue Veerasaeng, Saphaothong Komany, and David Zander. The festival will also be presented in conjunction with Bryan Thao Worra's summit, Beyond the Other Side of the Eye: Discussions in Southeast Asian Futurism.

This activity was made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Region Arts Council, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

In the United States there are approximately 200,000 Lao with the largest populations residing in California, Texas, and Minnesota. Minnesota has the 3rd largest Lao refugee population in the US with 12,000 to 25,000 residents. There are still many gains to be achieved in both education and the arts. Many members of the community expressed concerns regarding the preservation and transmission of traditional culture to the youth.

The Lao American Storytellers Festival is a key outcome of a year-long intensive apprenticeship program of the Lao Assistance Center to encourage the next generation of Lao American storytellers. This is the first year such a program has been implemented.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2nd Quarter Lao Assistance Center Computer Literacy Program Schedule Announced

Based on current community response the following training dates have been announced for the second quarter of the Lao Assistance Center Computer Literacy Program. Phouthakannha Nantharath is the lead director of the Computer Literacy Program. To get involved, please call the Lao Assistance Center at: (612) 374-4967 or sunny@laocenter.org

Trainings will continue to be offered on the following schedule based on demand:

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays:
Basic Skills Training. 9AM, 1PM and 4PM.

Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Intermediate Skills Training.  9AM, 1PM and 4PM.

Trainings are held at our location at 503 Irving Avenue N. in Minneapolis. Workstations are limited, so please remember to RSVP to hold your slot for classes.

The Lao Assistance Center program was funded last year by Wells Fargo to purchase and upgrade new equipment to help the organization carry out training and education programs to stabilize our community workforce.

We are implementing a four-pronged strategy that will significantly enhance access to computer literacy programs, English skills program and employment skills and job searching skills that are culturally specific to the Lao community. 

Our four key prongs are:
1. Develop a formal job readiness training curriculum that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. 
2. Develop relationship with companies. High growth industry sectors are Healthcare, Finance/Insurance, Professional/Technical, Transportation and High-Tech Manufacturing. 
3. Increase partnerships with organizations providing English language skills to Lao elders with limited English proficiency. 
4. Leverage volunteers, including 2nd and 3rd generation Lao youth, to assist elders
Phouthakannha Nantharath, director of the program said: "Our community needs to be empowered with current skills in computer literacy if we want to be eligible for the best jobs and opportunities. Thank you to Wells Fargo, who provided us significant support for our Computer Literacy Program. I am happy to see our community is doing well and responding positively to the program."

If you would like to get involved with the Lao Assistance Center as a sponsor or employer, please contact sunny@laocenter.org.