Time of Remembrance – Chiem-Seng Yaangh, Ph.D.
Interview with Chiem-Seng Yaangh,Ph.D. as part of the Secret War Oral History Project.
00:00 – Introduction
00:44 – Clip 1: Recalls earliest memories of his village. Helped his family with harvesting crops.
04:09 – Clip 2: Talks about communists attacking his village. His family was relocated to a temporary camp in the “middle of nowhere”.
10:26 – Clip 3: Remembers soldiers coming into village and the villagers preparing a feast. As soon as the soldiers left, the villagers packed up and left.
11:46 – Clip 4: Recounts family’s middle-of-the-night escape. Chiem-Seng helped carry some of the family’s silver pieces.
15:00 – Clip 5: Recognizes that his family was fortunate to be in a village on the west side of the Mekong River when they escapied to Thailand.
15:53 – Clip 6: Explains that not everyone left the village at first because they had hoped they could stay. But eventually all of the people left the village.
17:16 – Clip 7: Discusses life in the temporary shelters in Thailand, where there was a lot of death and sickness.
19:32 – Clip 8: Explains the family dynamics in the refugee camp and the help his mother needed, leading her to remarry a widow. Chiem-Seng explains that “forming families” was common in the refugee camp.
20:51 – Clip 9: Explains that in the refugee camp, families had to build their own thatch houses. The Mien people were hunters/fishers and would go out and hunt for fresh meat.
24:51 – Clip 10: They were at the mercy of the Thai soldiers. They had no citizenship, no rights and if you complained they would put you in a dungeon.
27:13 – Clip 11: Explains that the UN and Thai government arranged interviews to determine if people were eligible to go to another country. His step-father and brother-in-law helped qualify the family to go to the U.S.
31:03 – Clip 12: Describes leaving Laos and how he didn’t want to leave because they had just built their house.
37:49 – Clip 13: Explains the death curse in more detail. It is a ritual ceremony and is considered a serious threat.
39:31 – Clip 14: Describes the refugee camp where he played and would go to the farm to help his parents. There was also a lot of abuse from the soldiers, hunger and crying.
41:22 – Clip 15: Discusses what happens when people were trying to survive in the camps – thefts, fights, and they were not allowed into the city.
42:58 – Clip 16: Explains the process of coming to the United States through the Refugee Resettlement Program. The apartment complex where his family was resettled was mostly made up of other refugees from Laos.
45:16 – Clip 17: Explains his first experiences with formal education.
50:35 – Clip 18: States that his escorts at school were rotated, until they found a student who spoke Hmong, which Chiem was also fluent in. This student became his unofficial translator.
51:32 – Clip 19: Describes being picked on and getting hit. He was pushed into a locker by a group of kids and also remembers being sent to a storage room by a teacher for talking.
53:46 – Clip 20: Explains that white families adopted him to help immerse him into the culture by inviting him to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and that helped him at school.
55:57 – Clip 21: Describes being in Portland, Oregon, for 14 years and provides information about his educational background.
56:32 – Clip 22: Discusses the origin of his name and what he chose to study.
1:01:06 – Clip 23: Explains that he was able to pay for college through financial aid and work study; he also had a scholarship for people who wanted to teach.
1:01:53 – Clip 24: In response to a question about how he knew what to do with regards to applying for college, Chiem-Seng explains that he had a teacher who specifically helped refugee children get into college.
1:04:33 – Clip 25: Recalls people who encouraged him and helped him along the way.
1:05:45 – Clip 26: Discusses his career path and how he started working at a non-profit.
1:16:28 – Credits