Time of Remembrance – Kathy Chao Rothberg
Interview with Kathy Chao Rothberg as part of the Secret War Oral History Project.
00:00 – Introduction
00:44 – Clip 1: Kathy shares three early memories from her life in Laos leading up to her leaving Laos at the age of 4.
04:06 – Clip 2: Recalls life as a young child in a Thai refugee camp: dusty, with few resources for games, but they improvised and she attended Thai school.
06:02 – Clip 3:
Describes the process involved in applying to leave Thailand to come to the U.S. They were given refugee status and flown to San Francisco.
10:23 – Clip 4: Entered 1st grade at age 7 at Balboa Elementary School in Richmond, not knowing a word of English.
12:54 – Clip 5: Remembers difficulty understanding directions for walking to another Mien family’s home and back
16:05 – Clip 6: Reflects on possibilities that having a car opened to them, such as traveling all the way to San Jose to meet and visit with another Mien family.
19:06 – Clip 7: Reflects on day to day challenges faced by other Mien refugee family without being able to read English.
21:38 – Clip 8: Recalls memory of early childhood friend from her neighborhood, who wanted her to join in on some bullying of other kids.
22:40 – Clip 9: Shares how several teachers supported her in learning English. One teacher gave her a TV.
24:01 – Clip 10: Credits her parents for the investment they made into their children’s education.
26:53 – Clip 11: Discusses the huge influx of Laotian and Vietnamese refugees in the 15 years following her 1975 arrival in California.
28:09 – Clip 12: Talks about her path into community service, which started through her parents’ involvement in community service.
41:01 – Clip 13: Responds to question on traveling back to Laos, a trip that hasn’t happened yet.
42:26 – Clip 14: Shares her (American) husband’s observation of the resourcefulness of the Mien.
46:57 – Clip 15: Reflects back on her parents’ sacrifices, especially her mother.
49:55 – Clip 16: Responds to question on what she remembers about the CIA in Laos and CIA personnel coming to visit her father.
50:35 – Clip 17: Talks about importance of refugees understanding their past. Also the importance of our schools encouraging and celebrating diversity.
55:05 – Clip 18: Tells how she sometimes “westernizes” bedtime stories for her children to reflect Mien culture.
55:48 – Clip 19: Inquires about the vision for the TOR project.
56:25 – Clip 20: Talks about typical Mien children’s games.
57:22 – Clip 21: Shares her connection with the Peralta Historical Park in Oakland and how the Lau Family organization works with them to restore the park, with Mien senior citizens volunteering to restore the community garden.
59:56 – Clip 22: Continues on youth and community opportunities from the partnership.
1:00:46 – Clip 23: Shares about a book recently published that includes interviews with Kathy and her father.
1:01:38 – Clip 24: Recalls that the Cambodian community of Oakland was inspired by the traveling exhibit and requested a Cambodian exhibit.
1:01:58 – Clip 25:
Compares dynamics of being on a school board as opposed to city council.
1:03:56 – Clip 26: Talks about her father (Chaosarn Chao) and lessons learned from working with him on community projects.
1:05:31 – Clip 27: Shares what the immigration experience is like when your parents are still connected to “the old country.”
1:10:15 – Clip 28: Shares about career paths taken by her siblings and her own journey into discovering what she really cared about.
1:18:31 – Credits