Time of Remembrance – Joe Kaojio Liow Phan, Ed.D.
Interview with Joe Kaojio Liow Phan as part of the Secret War Oral History Project.
00:00 – Introduction
00:44 – Clip 1: Joe starts with his name and explains the naming conventions.
01:21 – Clip 2: Recalls earliest memory of being a songwriter and how distances traveled over dirt roads are still measured in days not miles.
03:56 – Clip 3: Mien were being persecuted; therefore, his family fled to Thailand. Their first attempt failed and after the second attempt successfully crossing the Mekong they were robbed.
10:09 – Clip 4: Talks about his family’s sponsorship by the Catholic Church in Fargo North Dakota. His parents had to leave grandparents behind, as only immediate family members of a soldier were allowed to come to the United States.
15:05 – Clip 5: Explains that as the oldest child, Joe served as the translator for his family, even though his vocabulary was limited. He was “blessed” by his friendship with a classmate, who was instrumental in making him feel he could make it through 4th grade.
19:10 – Clip 6: Discusses his religious beliefs: animism through shaman. Step-father communicated to sponsors that because of their religious beliefs, family felt that they should move from Fargo, North Dakota to Seattle, Washington, to be with relatives.
23:19 – Clip 7: Recalls when his dad lost his job and the family moved to California in 1983 or 1984. The last year in Seattle, Joe and friends volunteered to help teach traditional dances and attended many community events.
27:23 – Clip 8: Joe says involvement in community as a member of a music band helped him stay connected to his culture. He went through a period where he wanted to “fit in” with American culture, but also understood he is always going to be part of Mien culture.
38:55 – Clip 9: Talks about the confinement of the refugee camp and that you needed permission to leave the camp. Valid reasons included visiting family or looking for employment, but it was very difficult to get permission.
41:40 – Clip 10: Remembers that his friends were there to support him in ways his parents could not.
43:09 – Clip 11: Talks about coming to Sacramento. There were Mien culture clusters in Oak Park area. Mien clustered for safety, support and sense of belonging.
44:41 – Clip 12: Explains that the Mien brought their political structure into community, which includes elected district leaders.
47:12 – Clip 13: Shares that it is his 16th year teaching and that he spent 5 years as an aide before that. He taught in West Sacramento, Oakland, Elk Grove, and now in Sacramento City Unified, where he is a middle school math teacher.
47:56 – Clip 14: Shares the importance of students knowing how to retain their culture values. Believes that your cultural identity is what makes you who you are, which is the most important thing as you progress through life.
53:16 – Credits