Catzie Vilayphonh reflects on her refugee roots


Recently, Lao American poet Catzie Vilayphonh shared some of her thoughts regarding the issue of refugees in America that we think are worth sharing with our readers:

I am honoring my parents journey from Laos to America with this picture. It’s the only one I have left of my time in Camp. I no longer have the black & white “ID” picture with my name on chalkboard, but I distinctly remember what it looks like. Since I was born there, I wasn’t old enough to have my photo taken by myself, so it’s just a side profile of my left ear as I am sleeping in my dad’s arms. I used to get annoyed when I told people I was born in Nongkhai Thailand and people assumed that I was Thai, but now I simply, say Nongkhai Refugee Camp which leads to the fuller story.

I am a refugee. I have never met my grandparents, or any family members outside my mother and father who brought me, and my sister who was born here. The “cousins” and “uncles” and “aunts” I have now were all either adopted in the refugee camp I was born in, or when we settled in America. I’m grateful for this “family”, the kindness of our sponsors who took us in and all of the strangers who have helped us with donated clothes, food and simply being there. I have not forgotten any of this.

This is the reason I started Laos In The House, because your trauma is also not to be forgotten. This is the reason I fight for Legacies of War, to help those left behind. This is why I am a board member for 1Love Movement, because deportation should not happen to those who’ve already been displaced by the very government who caused it. The refugee ban is WRONG for so many reasons.




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