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Steve Xiong

Steve Xiong

Hmong Refugee from Laos & Bilingual Education Teacher

Born: Laos
Heritage: Hmong

Respect your elders, teachers and fellow classmates. Study hard.

Steve Xiong

Hmong Refugee from Laos & Bilingual Education Teacher

My name is Mr. Steve Xiong. I was born in a small village in Laos in 1965. My people are Hmong.

When I grew up, there was no electricity at all. We used candles to study by night. We lived in the very high mountains. We raised chickens, pigs, cows and water buffalo.

The Hmong are spiritual just like the American Indian. It is our belief that when we die we go to live with our ancestors.

When I was young there was a war in my country. We helped the United States. We saved American pilots that were shot down by the communists. The Hmong wanted freedom and didn’t want the communists to take over their country. Over two hundred thousand Hmong people were killed during and after the war.

My parents had to move from village to village to keep us safe. Terrible things happened during this time. We had to hide in the jungle. Tragically, my parents were killed when I was only 12 years old.

I came to a refugee camp in Thailand. I then moved with a friend to safety in the United States. When my plane landed in Pennsylvania I was very confused. My friend was sent thirty miles away to work. I lived with a sponsor to go to school. He was very mean. I had to leave.

I moved to Minnesota to live with my uncle. I worked hard in Minnesota and got a degree in mathematics. Now I am a teacher in the bilingual program in Minneapolis. I was married in 1982 to Nancy Xiong. We have six beautiful children. Each Hmong New Year we invite friends and relatives to come to the house and eat fish together.

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Have To Keep Moving

Honoring Steve Xiong

Have To Keep Moving
Honoring Steve Xiong

Have to keep moving, moving, moving away
Have to keep hoping, hoping, night and day
For someone, someone to help along the away
From danger, danger in the U.S.A.

I was born in a small village in Laos
My people had to move
From north to south
From way up in those hills
Far from those killing fields
Across the Mekong River to get out
Into Thailand far from Laos

In a refugee camp in Thailand
Without a mother, without a dad
Fighting to resist
Killed by the communist
A stranger was I in a strange land
Without a mom or dad

Off to Pennsylvania I flew
When I arrived I was confused
Came here with a friend
Separated from him
To live with a man who was rude
He said, “You eat too much food

When I told my teacher,
“I have no food.”
My sponsor screamed,
“How dare you
say that about me!”
Swung his fist I chose to leave
To live with my uncle, who
lives in Minnesota with you

Got married and now have six kids
In a home with family and friends
With a prayer for wealth
A life of good health
With money paper to burn
With respect for my ancestors

To each of you I say
Study hard and do not join a gang
Always do your best
Always give respect
To your elders, teachers,
and classmates
Your future just cannot wait

Music by LARRY LONG. Words by LARRY LONG with Lynda Brandt’s & Mrs. Tara Wicks’ 4th grade class of Cityview Performing Arts Magnet School (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2005 / BMI