Chan Seng Lathung

Chan Seng Lathung Oral History Interview


Group 1 Chan Interview

Chan’s interview went very smooth and was completely natural. We began the interview with him talking about his family coming to America and if he believed he was part of the 1.5 generation. He then began to talk about how his family and the route they took coming to America. He then said that he did not believe he was part of the 1.5 generation because he felt he was more Americanized. We asked him many more questions about Mien people and how his family experienced war trauma and life in America. But there were a few stories that stood out like when he talked about how close he was to his grandfather as opposed to his actual father. He opened up about his relationship with his grandfather and how he would tell him stories of his childhood growing up in Asia. Unlike his father who did not talk much and because of that they never really connected growing up. Also, he talked about his mother and how she was very strict on him and his siblings. Growing up, his mother would always make sure he completed his homework before he was able to play outside. He remembered his uncles would go outside and play, but as he’s gotten older, he realized his mother was right. He ended the interview with giving advice to minorities in America and saying that they should always hold their values and never forget why they came to America. 


Key Words

War trauma – Is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, in this case it is War.

Intergenerational trauma –

Refugee – A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Family formation – The structure and style of a family unit. May vary

Model minority – a specific demographic that is generally perceived to achieve a higher amount of socioeconomic success than their counterparts and are also held in a higher regard in comparison.

Asian parenting – a style of parenting that often times may stereotypically be seen as strict or demanding. Asian style of parenting may call for educational prowess or heightened expectations for success in extra-curricular activities.

Western parenting – a style of parenting that focuses on aspects of the child’s life beyond educational and financial success. Western parenting can be characterized by the additional displays of affection and leeway in expectations set by the parents as well as additional involvement in the social lives and mental health of their children.

Violence – Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage someone or something physically and mentally.

Discipline – Highly regarded trait in many Asian cultures that include but are not limited to areas of; academic achievement, family honor, cultural practice, cultural preservation, model citizen, etc,.

Racial Inequality (classes/statuses) – identifies the social advantages and disparities that affect different races

Migration – movement by individuals from one place to another with the aims of settling, permanently or briefly in another area

Culture – rooted in tradition with knowledge being passed down from older generations to younger generations through telling stories

1.5 Generation – a generation of people who have a gap between the cultures and way of life they grew up with and the gap they are struggling to close with the new culture they are immersed in. A person who spent a portion of their childhood in one country and then moved into a different country would be an example of someone who is apart of the 1.5 generation.



Enrico Zermeno

ES 360


Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times. “Saving a Language, and a Culture.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2013,


This article talks about a group of professors who try to translate the Mien language, into a written one. The aim of this was to write down a language that never had a written aspect to it. The targets were people who spoke Mien that came from Northern Thailand and Laos. Which is about 70,000 people who still remain there and 35,000 who live in the United States can use it too. The translation took 5,600 entries, 28,000 subentries, 5,000 example sentences, 4,500 notes on usage, register and idiom, and about 2,000 cultural notes. 


Worra, Bryan Thao. “Essay: In Remembering Vietnam War, More Stories of Lao Refugees Deserve to Be Told.” WHYY, WHYY, 12 Oct. 2017,


This article reflects on the affects after the Vietnam War and how it affected people from Laos. The author goes over how his family had to immigrate to the United States and how people would tell him to be grateful that he has a chance to live in the United States and not Laos anymore. Also the author goes over the “secret war” of Laos with the United States that bombed much of the country. 



Sean Johnson

Professor Tanemura


21 April 2019

Saeteurn, Fahm Finh. “Iu-Mien History: From China to the U.S.” Iu-Mien History, In-Mien Community Services,

This article gives us a brief history of the Iu-Mien history, and how their culture was spread out throughout time. Between the 17th and 18th century the Iu-Mien (Yao) were first reported to be migrating southward towards Vietnam. The people didn’t decide to migrate towards Laos, Burma, and Thailand until the 19th and 20th century. The Yao had refused to pay taxes, and in not doing so, they shifted their migration due in search of new territory. In more recent memory, the Iu-Mien people gave the United States their support during the Vietnam war. They engaged themselves in guerrilla warfare while providing the Americans intelligence, surveillance, and troops to support the fight. More than 70 percent of the people relocated to Thailand after the war. This article is significant because of the history of the Mien people’s migration shift throughout time, even though the population is quite small.


Chao, Catalina. “To Inherit the Moving Mountains: The Displacement of Iu-Mien Culture and Identiy in Refugee America.” Prized Writing, UC Regents, Davis Campus, 2009,

This article talks about how the author has personal connections towards the Iu-Mien people, and how they have in some ways lost their identity as refugees. She talks about how the Secret War has disrupted lives on the Mien even decades after their initial resettlement. Movement, migration, and settlement are greatly ingrained in the Mien culture identity. Even though the Mien have found their way into the United States, their adjustment from being people of a farming culture towards a more industrialized western culture has traumatically affected their identity. This article is important because it shows their refugee culture is still an adjustment since their migration is still very recent.


Schein, Louisa., and Thoj, Va-Megn. “Violence, Hmong American Visibility, and the Precariousness of Asian Race.” PMLA, vol. 123(5). (2008): pp.1752-1756. Print


This article talks about the Virginia Tech shooting by Korean American student Seung-hui Cho, and Chai Soua Vang, the Hmong hunter who killed six white hunters in the woods in Wisconsin, and how their acts impacted the perceptions of these Asian races within the eyes of Americans. Prior to the attack carried out by Vang in 2004, many Americans had little knowledge about the Hmong people. From their involvement in the Vietnam debacle that made them warriors, to their fight against persecution by Chinese masters, people would question if the Hmong were overall violent people. But as history shows, the Hmong who migrated from China to the Southeast Asia did not act on violent conflicts due to natural violent tendencies, but because they often found frictions in their agrarian lives. The most notable fighters among the Hmong were the people that were involved in the Vietnam war. These people were recruited by the CIA to fight against the Vietnamese communist activities that happened in the North. I believe this article is important because even though one individual had demonstrated a unforgivable act, Hmong Americans are now profiled under global trends that connect them to a time where their people fought for their lives.



Leonel Lopez

Professor Janice Tanemura

Asian Intimacies and Families

19 April 2019

Annotated Bibliography


Nakasako, Spencer. “Kelly Loves Tony”. Issued 1998.


In the video film Kelly Loves Tony, this short movie is about a young girl named Kelly who lives in Oakland, California with her family. Kelly is the first to be a high school graduate in her Iu Mien family, and she is looking to take the next step by going to College. Kelly a man named Tony who happens to be a Junior High School dropout and ex-con. Kelly becomes pregnant and it totally changes what she wants to do and how she has to go about her life while also worrying about Tony possibly being deported due to his record. This movie shows the hardship of a young girl who has to face adversity and does the best she can to better her life for her Iu Mien family and her own family with Tony.


Saechao, Munnyuan. “The Aftereffect of the Laotian Civil War Four Decades Later: Examining the Stressors and Protective of Elderly Iu-Mien Refugees”. Issued 2018. 24 Pages.


There has always been a significant gap in the psychological literature regarding the psychological state of elderly Iu Mien refugees following the Laotian War. An interview process was set up to interview 11 elderly Iu-Mien refugees. They discovered that these interviewees continue to suffer from things like PTS, and experience barriers culturally. These are just some of the things that these refugees have to endure in their everyday lives and things that they have to live with forever.


Schuldberg, Jean. “Cultural Competency of Non-Iu-Mien Social Workers: Iu-Mien Social Service Workers Perspective”. Issued 2001. 225 Pages.


This is an article on which eight Iu-Mien social service workings provided their personal perspectives on the cultural competency needs in social work education. Most Iu-Mien people are refugees from Laos and have experienced some type of contact with social workers in regards to refugee assistance. These eight Mien service workers are glad that they are able to help and give back to the Iu-Mien community. The findings of this study in the article show what the differences are between having a non Iu-Mien social worker vs. an Iu-Mien social worker. The cultural difference is definitely there, these non Iu-Mien social workers may be good at their profession but that cannot make up for the fact that they are culturally different on every level. They make assumptions on things like stereotypes, lack of appreciate of elders and children, and the lack of translation.



Chan Lathung

Dr. Tanemura

Oral History Project

Yaangh, Chiem-Seng. Crossing a New Sea: A Study of the First Generation of Iu -Mien College Graduates (2008): ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Web. Accessed 19 April 2019.

In the first chapter of Chiem-Seng Yaangh’s dissertation he details some of the challenges IuMien students face attending American schools. Some of the challenges these students face include but are not limited to; experiences of acculturation, challenging stereotypes such as the Model Minority Myth, and straddling between multiple cultures. The study conducted interviews of 26 Iu Mien students pursuing higher education and applied anassimilation without acculturation theoretical framework to analyze how Mien parents accommodate within American school systems and how Iu Mien college students negotiate home and school cultures that resulted in high educational achievement.

(n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2019, from

The text lays out the cultural norms and structures of the Mien people. This was a piece done by the LIMCA (Lao Iu Mien Culture Association) situated in the San Francisco bay area where many Mien families relocated after fleeing their country after the end of the Vietnam War. The information presented represents the ideals of the elder generations of the Mien people and is an attempt to preserve the culture (as they know it) through written text. The information is limiting, as it is not academic work that provides in-depth knowledge and analysis to challenges Mien people may be facing. However, it does provide insight into the traditional family structure and roles of Mien people and can serve as a basis to draw contrast from when studying contemporary Mien families and how families are formed.


Zhou, M., & Ocampo, A. C. (2016). Contemporary Asian America: A Multidisciplinary Reader. New York: New York University Press.


In the chapter discussing the 1.5 generation of Southeast Asian migrants, Zhou and Ocampo details the challenges American born children of refugee parents face as the younger generations negotiate identity and face the challenges of assimilation meanwhile holding onto their cultural identities. Later chapters discuss issues of racial discrimination and shifts in traditional family roles. Other important issues discussed by Zhou and Ocampo are the struggles of Mien people and the pursuit of higher education. Mien people traditionally lived in rural environments, had very limited contact with the outside world, and thus had high levels of illiteracy. The parent’s lack of knowledge of the American education system has been detrimental to younger generations as the younger generations could not rely on their parents for guidance or information. Further affecting the relationship between parents and children.

Chris Ragotero

Dr. Tanemura

Johnson, Jason B. “From Southeast Asia to a Violent East Bay / Gang Rivalries Turn Immigrants’ Hopes into Urban Miseries.” SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Jan. 2012,


Gwai Boonkeut moved to the United States to get away from the Vietnam War which killed his two brothers and mother. Boonkeut soon finds out that he cannot escape the war because his daughter Chan unfortunately was caught in a gang altercation that had nothing to do with her. The gang that killed Chan was the Sons of Death who represented the color blue and consisted of Mien and other Southeast Asian descendants, unfortunately Chan was murdered do to her brother being affiliated with the rival gang. These South East Asian gangs were developed because they were tired of being picked on and instead of the gang being a means of protection it grew up to be a deadly association that terrorized the bay area. Boonkeut and Chan does not deserve this, Boonkeut tried so hard to get away from war only to find himself back in it.

Prince Lakha

Professor Tanemura

Asian Intimacies and Families

Waters, Tony. Adaptation and Migration among the Mien People of Southeast Asia. Vol. 8, Gordon & Breach, 1990.

Tony Waters discusses the practices of Mien people in respect to preserving their culture. The migration of Mien people away from Laos following the Laotian civil war to different areas of Southeast Asia as well as to the USA is observed and discusses the variance between the groups. The identity of Mien culture is clearly described within the article in detail and discusses the similarities it shares with the cultures of Laos’ neighboring countries.


Jonsson, Hjorleifur. “Mien Alter-Natives in Thai Modernity.” ASU.EDU,


Jonsson elaborates on the development of Mien people in the society of Thailand. Mien people carried a misrepresented stigma of being out of date due to their appearance in museum’s in traditional attire and other strong ties to their culture. They are also documented participating in cultural activities and the resulting status  is described as a Western view by Jonsson by the people of Thailand. As such they are labeled as “unmodern alternatives” in the journal due to their lack of power and position within Thailand society.