Friday, March 11, 2016

10th Annual Lao Educational Conference (ALEC) coming March 29th, 2016 to Sacramento

Where does the time go? In Sacramento the Lao American Advancement Organization is bringing the 10th Annual Lao Education Conference to Sacramento State University to help Lao youth on March 29th.

ALEC holds a special place in my heart because I last had a chance to attend in 2009 as a presenter, the same year I won the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature and released my book, Tanon Sai Jai. Nationally-acclaimed spoken word artist Catzie Vilayphonh of the duo Yellow Rage was also in attendance to present with me, and I wound up reading Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning director Thavisouk Phrasavath's speech for the youth that day. I often wonder where many of the students have gone since.

It's not often that you get to bring Lao students together in the US, and rarely do they have a chance to meet so many positive role models in a close setting. They have an opportunity to really learn some valuable life skills no matter what field of study they pursue.

Sacramento has the largest concentration of Lao in the country, and I think it's vital for our community across the US to support their efforts if you have the means. It's a community that has gone to great lengths to promote education and success, recognizing the diverse paths we take to get there. There are some very innovative businesses, artists and community builders who can be found in the region. Investing in our youth at the middle school level is particularly encouraging because all too often our community efforts focus on supporting our youth in high school and the first few years of college. This, too, is important. But Sacramento community organizers have particularly understood the importance of engaging our youth in middle school to create lifelong learners.

A big thanks goes to Dr. Khonepheth Lily Liemthongsamout who has gone to great lengths to keep up the momentum for this event and to create a positive environment. It's a free conference for all middle/high school Lao American students in Sacramento City Unified School District or the Twin Rivers Unified School District. For adults, a $30 registration is appreciated but not required.

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