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Chong Kou Vang

Chong Kou Vang

Born: Laos
Heritage: Laotian

Listen to your parents and to your teachers. Have fun in learning. Learning is the key for success. To achieve you need to dream. You have to learn everyday.

Chong Kou Vang

My name is Chong Kou Vang. I was born the year of 1950, in Laos. My mom took me to a school to become a teacher. At that time the homes weren’t close to the school and we had to go to the school very far away. I liked kids. I taught science and history and math.

Laos is different from the United States. Laos is very poor. People are so poor. We farmed for a living. We cooked with firewood. We had no water. We had to go to the river to carry water to the house. My mom worked the hardest in our family.

During the Vietnam War the Hmong people helped American soldiers and pilots. At that time General Vang Pao promised help to work together with the United States.

After the Communists took over Laos in 1975, we couldn’t stay there anymore. We had to run and go to Thailand so we won’t die. The whole town left when it was dark. Everybody packed belongings on their back. We went into the forest. Some had knives and guns that were with us. We had to hurry up. So that whole night we had to get to the Mekong River. Many people died trying to cross the river.

We became refugees and had to go to Thailand. The refugee camp was terrible. There was little food. When you live there you get sick everyday. Several thousand people lived there.

The Americans opened up their doors to the Hmong to come to the United States. My cousin sponsored us to come to New Jersey. It was very hard to live here. We don’t speak any English. I went to adult school to learn English. I was going to school.

Then we moved to California, where I worked at Fresno Public School as a custodian. My wife and I had nine children. They all went to school. Then we came to Minnesota and now I work as a custodian for Valley View Elementary School in Columbia Heights.

What are my dreams? I would like to teach but I’m kind of old now. The dream I have for myself is for my children. I want them to have a good life, so they don’t have to suffer like me.

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Dream, Dream, Dream

Honoring Chong Kou Vang

Dream, Dream, Dream
(Honoring Mr. Chong Kou Vang)

Listen to your parents
Listen to your teachers
Learning is the key for success and always do your best
And dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream!

My name is Chong Kou Vang
We lived in a small town
Far from the city
With four sisters
And two brothers
Farmed to make a living
One day my mother
Went to see a teacher
She wanted me to go
Far away
To get an education

I got my education
To become a teacher
When the war started
My mother and father
Brothers and sisters
Ran through the forest
When it got dark
So many died
When we tried
To get across

From Laos into Thailand
We had to flee
Into a camp
With several thousand
With a fence around us
No one could get out
Had to immigrate
To the United States
To get help

My cousin was a sponsor
In New Jersey
We didn’t know
How to speak English
Hard to live here
But people were nice here
Gave us food and clothing
A place to live
In a big city
To get an education

Then to California
Then to Minnesota
With my wife
And nine children
working for a living
Sweeping the hallways
Fixing the classrooms
Just for you
At Valley View
To get an education

My dream is to teach
But I’m kind of old now
A dream for myself
Is for my children
To have a good life
May you not suffer
Just like I did
To achieve
Is to dream
To have a good life

Music by Larry Long. Words by Larry Long with Ms. Thukral’s fifth grade class of Valley View Elementary School. Assistance from Mr. Renner, ESL Teacher. Columbia Heights, Minnesota

© Larry Long 2009 / BMI