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Endowment, CLS was able to record the interviews and create an on-line archive for them along with related photos and historical documents (www.laostudies.org/loha), which has served as a valuable resource for scholars and community members throughout the world.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.

Project Team

Alicia AkinsExhibit Coordinator
Steve ArounsackProject Co-Director
Linda McIntoshExhibit Planning Coordinator / Curatorial Advisor
Bounlieng PhommasouvanhCommunity Advisor
Dale Thongmahavong PhouvilayGraphic designer
Prany SananikoneContent Advisor
Alisak SanavongsayWebsite Technical Director
Nor SanavongsayInteractive Web / User Interface Designer
Todd SanchioniPhotographer / Videographer
Phoumy SayavongProject Evaluator
Christine SuResearcher / Editor
Vinya SysamouthProject Co-Director
Ryan Wolfson-FordCurriculum Development Specialist


ຄັບທີ່ຢູ່ໄດ້ ຄັບໃຈຢູ່ຍາກ
“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:

Host Cities

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:

City Venue Ethnic Groups Dates
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


Get Involved

More information coming soon.


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
Email: B2W@laostudies.org
Web: www.laostudies.org/B2W