7 years ago we received word that our 5-page grant I wrote had been accepted, giving us $5,000 to start the first National Lao American Writers Summit in Minnesota. We eventually raised $13K and set in motion a vital gathering that continues to meaningfully bring our refugee writers and community builders together to share our stories and expand our sense of what we can do together.
We convened in August, 2010 at the historic The Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, gathering together nearly a hundred emerging and established Lao refugee artists and writers to share and exchange their work and ideas.
This was an audacious, perhaps even outrageous idea for its time, but as we see the continued, tangible impact of that gathering it reminds me of the importance of the arts in our lives and valuing our voices.
This all reminds me how much can be done even on a shoestring budget. Gatherings that can make such a pivotal difference in our world. Many of these artists would meet for the very first time in 40 years. Many of them have continued to collaborate since then.
I thank my amazing fellow founding co-chairs who were with me at the beginning: Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Catzie Vilayphonh and Chanida Phaengdara Potter. For all of my fellow refugees in diaspora from so many nations and cultures, I hope this message resonates with you: It's Possible.