Time of Remembrance – Kal Phan
Interview with Kal Phan as part of the Secret War Oral History Project.
00:00 – Introduction
00:41 – Clip 1: Kal explains his names, the name Sei originates from China and is a prefix given to ethnic minorities originally from Thailand.
01:53 – Clip 2: Explains that he lived in Laos until he was 10 years old. When he was 1, his family had to escape from communists to the Burma/Thailand border.
09:38 – Clip 3: Remembers that his parents did not express fear of communists to their children nor did they inform them of their escape plans.
10:17 – Clip 4: Describes his birth village as a 2-hour walk from the Mekong River, which was seen as an obstacle. It took three attempts to escape. Kal’s dad took charge of a group of 30-40 fellow villagers.
21:46 – Clip 5: Describes first refugee camp and having to build their 20′ X 20′ hut for 12 people. Camp was very unsanitary and led to many. He remembers a funeral a day, including his grandmother’s.
26:47 – Clip 6: Explains Thai government didn’t want political refugees as part of Thai community, so kept them confined to camp.
29:34 – Clip 7: Talks about that even without modern day luxuries, he and his family were self-sufficient in Laos. But in the Thai refugee camp, they were completely dependent on food distribution, etc.
37:03 – Clip 8: Explains that Mien people had no concept of outside, modern worlds and feared coming to America, based on folklore myths. Describes his family’s journey from Bangkok to Alabama, through sponsorship of his uncle.
42:25 – Clip 9: Explains how the Mien people used a lunar calendar instead of a birth certificate to determine their ages. Due to limited learning opportunities in refugee camps, he has placed in a 3rd grade class despite being registered as 15. Describes his journey to California and schooling.
46:35 – Clip 10: Recalls how the district curriculum specialists took interest in his family while he was in 3rd grade where he found math to be easy because there was no language difference.
58:51 – Clip 11: Remembers how he would stay up till 2 a.m. studying. His parents didn’t understand why he was doing this because of the differences in culture. He further recalls how his aspirations grew in high school and inspired him to move past his goal of just learning English and to create his own path to college.
1:04:31 – Clip 12: Explains the difficulties he had in supporting his family while on welfare, and at the same time wanting to live the “life” at U.C. Berkeley.
1:10:54 – Clip 13: Reflects about being undecided as to what he wanted to do after college. He majored in Asian Studies due to his interest in Mien people and his professor suggested that Kal become a teacher.
1:17:15 – Clip 14: Describes how his parents were on welfare and worked as janitors with his sisters were on their way to education and successful careers.
1:18:55 – Clip 15: Explains the diversity of student populations, and the abilities of individuals to motivate themselves, which is often overlooked by educators.
1:22:20 – Credits