Kong’s Adventure is a children’s book that tells the story of my grandfather, Kong, and his journey to America. It takes place after the Laotian Civil War when the Communist Pathet Lao took over the Royal Lao government. Since Kong was the chief of police, he was associated with the Royal Lao government and was in danger of facing persecution.
From surviving the labor camps to swimming across the dangerous Mekong River, Kong’s Adventure tells a story about the difficult obstacles Kong had to overcome to reunite with his family and start a new life in America. The main character of this story is my grandfather who was born in Laos. As a child, he lived in a small house with his parents and seven siblings where they worked in a rice field every day. When he turned 12, he left home to become a servant to earn a living on his own. Years later, he started attending school and eventually worked his way up to being accepted into the police academy, and then he was promoted to Chief of Police. When the communist regime arrived in Laos, he along with many of his colleagues were forced to go to labor camps.
In 1975, my grandfather and grandmother, along with their newborn baby, escaped Laos and resettled in America. Once they arrived, my grandfather worked at a local factory for many years before deciding to open a Lao grocery store in 1987. There he was able to meet many new people and reconnect with old ones, forming a tight-knit community. The store became the communal gathering place that my grandfather had desired. He faced many challenges throughout the years, but his store was his pride and joy. Now, he is retired and still lives in Kansas. The stories that my grandfather shared with me about his life and adventures while escaping Laos compelled me to write Kong’s Adventure.
These stories continue to resonate with me today because they show the origins of my family and the reason behind why I’m in America today. I hope that my book will provide young children a similar storytelling experience to the one I had with my grandfather. In my history classes, I never learned about Laos or the country’s involvement in major historical events, which made me all the more excited to create this book so that children of all ethnicities can be introduced to this hidden, beautiful, and complex country in Southeast Asia through an exciting adventure.
Stories are a powerful way to pass down legacies because they survived the passing of many generations, and therefore my hope is that I can motivate others to actively search for the answers to difficult questions about the past in order to preserve Lao culture.
The book also teaches readers simple Lao words throughout the story and includes fun facts about Laos. I hope that someday my children’s book will inspire others to also write about their families’ forgotten history.