Laotian group inspires
Khmu conference discusses education
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 16:08
The college process and health awareness were presented to the Khmu community at the first Khmu International Federation Conference held in the Student Dining Room on Aug. 15.
The Khmu National Federation (KNF) put together the Khmu International Federation Conference, the first communitywide health conference at the college. The theme of the conference is Building a Healthy and Strong Community.
“We are here to promote higher education to the Khmu and Lao youth who may be first-time college students within their families,” KNF President Roberty Knoonsrivong said.
KNF Planning Committee member Tracie Chulaparn said, Khmu is an ethnic group from the country of Lao.
Khmu communities reside throughout the U.S. with an estimate of 4,000 Khmu people living, working and raising families in the Bay Area.
Due to the high concentration of the Khmu and Lao communities that reside in Richmond, Contra Costa College was the decided location.
The conference focused on informing students of this ethnic group on the benefits of higher education, staying motivated and the overall process of getting classes.
Executive Director Vinya Sysamouth, of the Lao Studies Center, was one of the guest speakers. He spoke of the difficult transition to the U.S. experienced by the Khmu and Laoitian communities.
Rather than immigrating to the U.S. by their own decision, Khmu and Lao communities were forced to come to the states due to the increase in violence during the Vietnam War, Dr. Sysamouth said.
“We need to be here to motivate each other into education and be that guiding light for our younger (Khmu and Lao) community,” Sysamouth said.
Sophomore Souriya Chanthanasak, who attended the event, found it helpful and feels more Khmu events should happen.
“The information one can receive at this event, (can be used) to tell others about our culture and truly see how far our culture has come in America,” Chanthanasak said. “We need more Khmu or Lao youth at these events to really make an impact.”
Former CCC student and UCSD graduate Stephanie Phonvongsa agreed.
“(KNF) helps promote a morale for students of this very particular ethnic group,” Phonvongsa said.
“Students who have no clue about the college process and experience are critical for this foundation.”