From the desk of the Founders of Lao Americans Organization of San Diego (LAOSD), Pida Kongphoutone and Bobbie Oudinarath
LAOSD was co-founded by Pida Kongphoutone and Bobbie Oudinarath in September 2018. It is a grass roots, community based, all volunteer organization based out of San Diego. The organization is led by passionate Lao American leaders and partners dedicated to making positive, impactful, and lasting changes for our community. LAOSD is most known for the advocacy for Inclusion of Lao Americans Refugee History in California Schools (Assembly Bill 1393) and paved the way for other states to follow the pathway.
Our mission is to inspire and empower Lao Americans through education, social and civic engagement. The organization is a non-profit 501(c)3 that works to promote cultural, educational, and social values of Lao Americans and is dedicated to preserving and elevating the heritage and the immigrant legacy of the Lao American community.
LAOSD’s impactful contributions earned the organization “2019 Leadership Excellence” from Legacies of War and “2020 Organization of the Year ” from the Asian Pacific Americans Coalition. We are most proud of the work of elevating awareness and bringing resources to the Lao American community.
The work on AB1393, partnership in the ‘Between 2 Worlds Museum Exhibit’ and the Census 2020 engagement are some past key projects. Post pandemic, LAOSD has continued to do work to strengthen Lao Americans and integrate the community by partnering with more AAPI and other communities. We have been actively visible in the civic and legislative arena and building connectivity and continuing to drive awareness and vital resources to the community. Some recent examples include: Our engagement work around ethnic studies curriculum within San Diego’s K-12 School Districts; Educating the community around Anti-Asian Hate Advocacy and Resources; Partnering with Local Law enforcement on ways to protect our community; Engagement with the city and county in public affairs – LAOSD helped attain proclamations that “April is Lao Heritage Month” and currently working to designate Wat Lao Buddharam of San Diego as a historical site for our community.
LAOSD is focused on delivering these projects in the coming year:
Documentary: In partnership with Lao Collective, “Come Undone” is uniquely the first Lao American film by a female Lao American Director Sourita Siri with a full Lao American crew. LAOSD’s journey of California’s Assembly Bill 1393, it’s importance to children of refugees, and to bring often estranged intergenerational conversations of what it means to be Lao American. This film tells the journey of LAOSD’s courageous effort to include “Lao Americans Refugee History and Cultural Studies” in California schools with Assembly Bill 1393. The bill would cover Laos’ participation as allies to the United States during the Vietnam War and how Laos became the most bombed country per capita in the history of the world. LAOSD is working with local partners for the premiere of this documentary later this year. Stay tuned…
Museum Exhibit: In partnership with the Center for Lao Studies (CLS), LAOSD is proud to make San Diego the permanent home of the “Between Two Worlds: Untold Stories of Refugees from Laos” Exhibit. The permanent exhibit will help share the Lao American stories to a broader audience and bring awareness around the complexities of our two worlds. LAOSD is passionate about supporting education programs like B2W and working on other opportunities like this to engage the community and expand awareness. The organization is finalizing the details with the partnered museum. Stay tuned for more info.
Please find more information about CLS and all the work they do at www.laostudies.org.
Images courtesy LAOSD