The Between Two Words: Untold Stories of Refugees from Laos (B2W) is a project of the Center for Lao Studies. B2W is made possible through support from The McConnell Foundation and the Central Valley Community Foundation.
In 2009, the Center for Lao Studies (CLS) launched the Lao Oral History Archive (LOHA) project to document the untold stories of Lao refugees in the U.S. through audio and video media. The LOHA project team interviewed over 20 families of varying ethnicities in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA and Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and captured the stories of their journeys from life in Laos, to experiences in “reeducation” and refugee camps, to relocation and settlement in the United States.
With the generous support of the California Council for the Humanities, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, and the Asian Pacific Endowment, CLS was able to record the interviews and create an on-line archive for them along with related photos and historical documents (www.laostudies.org/loha), which has served as a valuable resource for scholars and community members throughout the world.
In 2013, with a community grant from the City of San Pablo, California, CLS created a mixed media and photographic installation entitled “Refugees Among Us,” displayed at the San Pablo Art Gallery. The exhibit included artifacts, photos, documents, and a collection of videos of first-person narratives by multi-ethnic Lao Americans recounting their experiences.
The warm reception of both the San Pablo exhibit and LOHA itself led CLS to develop the current project, Between Two Worlds: Untold Stories of Refugees from Laos (B2W), which will further develop these themes and provide a multi- layered, interactive experience for exhibit participants.
|Alicia Akins||Exhibit Coordinator|
|Steve Arounsack||Project Co-Director|
|Linda McIntosh||Exhibit Planning Coordinator / Curatorial Advisor|
|Bounlieng Phommasouvanh||Community Advisor|
|Dale Thongmahavong Phouvilay||Graphic designer|
|Prany Sananikone||Content Advisor|
|Alisak Sanavongsay||Website Technical Director|
|Nor Sanavongsay||Interactive Web / User Interface Designer|
|Todd Sanchioni||Photographer / Videographer|
|Phoumy Sayavong||Project Evaluator|
|Christine Su||Researcher / Editor|
|Vinya Sysamouth||Project Co-Director|
|Ryan Wolfson-Ford||Curriculum Development Specialist|
“A confined home is livable; a confined heart is not.”
- Lao Proverb
Between Two Worlds will present and juxtapose these crucial stages of refugees from Laos and multi-ethnic Lao American history through the representation of four homes. As they move physically and symbolically through each, visitors will be asked to contemplate ideas of “home” as seen through the eyes of people for whom the notion is precarious, and for those who have lived or are still living “between two worlds.” The exhibit highlights the ways in which the refugees from Laos migration exerted pressure on cultural norms, and how survival involved both radical loss and creative adaptation:
Beginning in 2018 through the Spring of 2020, B2W will be exhibited in areas with significant populations of refugees from Laos and their families, including:
|Fresno||Fresno State University Art Gallery||Hmong and Lao||March - May 2018|
|Redding||Turtle Bay Museum||Iu-Mien and Lao||September - November 2018|
|San Diego||TBA||Lao||March - May 2019|
|The San Francisco Bay Area||TBA||Khmu and Lao||September - November 2019|
|Sacramento||TBA||Iu-Mien and Lao||March - May 2020|
More information will be available about how to get involved with this project.
For more information or to support the Between Two Worlds project, please contact:
Center for Lao Studies
405 Grand Ave., Suite 202
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Tel: (415) 874-5578