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Interview with Kia Lee

Lee, Kia
Vang, Lee
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Cultural idenitification
Kia Lee talks about growing up in Laos, her father's death, learning to cook, and her culture.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Lee Vang interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
LV (Lee Vang): This is interview number LV2A. This is with Kia Lee of Morganton, North Carolina. And the date is February 7, 2002. OK. So um, I explained the project to you what, what we're trying to do and what your purpose is in it so, um, and I told you that you can tell us any stories that you want to tell us so-.
KL (Kia Lee): OK.
LV: What would like to start today?
KL: Uh, we talk about our children, living in Laos and their stories.
LV: Hmm.
KL: So, our children in Laos just sometimes might very difficult but sometimes not. Because we have a children in Laos or who I am. Their ages seven to 10 or 11. We have a lots of things to do. We don't have a downtown or we live in mountain. So we all help the parent to caring the children, the little baby. Sometime we have free time we just play out, outside and throw the rock and play games. That's all. Sometime we can help the parent watch the chick, uh, the chicken and the pig when the, the parent feed the animal. So after that and the parents finish the dinner we eat and just go sleep and sometimes help the parent hold the baby or carrying the baby. So when the parent go work we don't have a jobs like United States. We work from Laos just only land and we play or help the parent, step by step, to help to watch the baby and carrying for to this go to the farm and came back home. We work so hard with the parent and we learn from the parent, grandparent to parent, and we learn from each other. We are listen to the parent we scare the parent because we need to. Caring the parent's power and learning from the parent about life to live or our future. That's where we are and now we are really much difficult to us to learn in Laos because some, we don't have a school. Some we do have school, and if we do have school some parent let the children go school and they have a little education but they don't have a company or name, nothing to do. But we do for our people culture. But uh, sometimes parents don't let children go to school. Like I am. I don't have a school, so I don't know much lang-, language about study. A difficult for each parent or children. So that's our culture we follow the parent what we recall, relate from grandparent to parent and we relay each other for each other and listen to the parent carrying their story, carrying their power from each other, step by step, until we came to United States. And until we don't have a country.
KL: Hmmm. So do you think you had to follow when you were a child?
LV: Well, we don't have a fun very much because we are child and we scared the parent. We don't want to play it too much. Sometime they let us to go a few minutes, couple minute and they yell as we can come home back to watch the kids and help them to feed the dog, the chicken and the pig, and horses and cow. All kind of those things. We have to work so hard and we don't have no fun. That's what we, we do have free country, but we don't have fun. Because we all scared the parent. But that's what we are learning. We don't have a gang people, young ga-, young teenager walk away and from the parent. We are learning our life from the parent. So we don't have a stranger. So that's why we are we are no fun. But we do carry a lot of power, a lots of things to learn by hear and by idea.
KL: Hmmm.
LV: That's all we do.
KL: So do you think that, so you say you didn't go to school, right?
LV: No we don't have a school.
KL: Did they have school?
LV: Yeah. Mister General Rinpau he's a government in Laos or he's general person by the army sometime some country or state, he sent a teacher come into the state to teach some kids. About two teacher. One go to, um, six or seven to 12 and one go to one to five or six, for young children. But my ma and my dad, my dad let me go but my mom don't let me go and then that's why we, that's who I am. I don't know much Laos language because my mom don't let me go. So that's why I don't know much of difficult-.
KL: Right.
LV: -At Laos.
KL: At Laos.
LV: So that's what happen.
KL: But then, but do so do you think that you guys considered like education more important or, or was it less important? Like the education you got or like making things with your hands or helping your parents learning from your parents?
LV: Yeah.
KL: Is that more important than education like, you know to learn from the schools?
LV: Well, it's more important or not important but see, the parent, some parent they caring they treating they say OK, they let you go school but all country, we don't have company, we don't have business. That's what happen. Sometime we don't have school but we don't have no company, no business, no office sometime like a my dad he's a General person, he's a governor, and he's a mayor, and he's a judge in a city about fighting each other or the war or something. So sometime the if I, I have a school then I finish twelfth grade or something and my dad going to tell me that why you coming to write that letter or that paper to be a judge and tell the people and the people the work and next time there's no more price. Or no more you know, complain each other. So that's why I am, but we don't have school because we have school, we don't have company, we don't have a office to stay and all we do we just help the parent about take care children and feed the animal and learning to sew needlework and make our clothes by hand and help the people, the parent, to learn to the farm all day long and all year for 12 months a year, all the time that's all we have and we have fun about when we go work to ( ). Sometimes we have about 12 to 20 people go one day together. We do have fun, a lots of fun but sometime we don't have a lot of people we have about one or two people work in the land so we do have really, really sad person about we work too hard. We work really hard. Sometime we spend our time to stay in the land. Sometime for one month or two months or half a year all the time and never come home or should come home couple months, couple weeks and go back to the land. And take care chicken and pig or animal to the land. That's all we are, growing our future. That's why we are growing our life and learning from parent. That's it.
LV: So when you went to work on the farm who did you go with? Was it just your parents or like a community or a lot of family or-?
KL: Well, when they turn we are small kids we just help the parent watch the babysitter and we grow up and then we just help each other to work you know. One night, one day they work for me and one day, the other day, we work for her and the other day. We work for other people. We just take play for each time each, each person and that, that mean we take play like this. We work faster. And that's what we do. Where you take a couple weeks, a couple days we finish for each one, for each person the land.
LV: So are they your neighbors?
KL: Yeah. We are neighbor and sisters and brother or-.
LV: So they are your family, too?
KL: -Family or cousin. That's what we are. We have lots of people. Have lots of farm. Ah, we work so far and so hard. We use a knife or the big hammer like a knife but it's hammer, cut the big tree, a small tree and make wood a lots of thing. That's really, really difficult for our live in Laos.
LV: So did you ever cut the tree by yourself?
KL: I do. I cut a big tree about, um, maybe about 10 inch bigger by myself because I remember 1969 when dad died I still a kid and I help mom work with my mom. I be the older son or older daughter and I help my mom so I cut that big tree by myself and all the whole end I am only one go to work and cut the bamboo trees. Small, bigger bamboo, all kind of tree fell down on the ground when in time I think it's about May, ah, I think it's March or April we start fire the land. For each land had to be fire. After we fin-, finish fire we need to plant in a rice seed to the ground.
LV: Uh-hmm.
KL: So that's where we are working. Every year to year about food for us. So we not live in downtown or we don't live in the valley. We live in the mountain.
LV: So did you, so you grew most of your food?
KL: In our land.
KL: Did you buy any food from the market or the store?
LV: No.
KL: Everything was from the farm?
LV: Yeah. We grow vegetables. Rice, corn um, pumpkin pie, carrot, everything or cilantro, onion. We planted in the land when the time the day we, we went to work and the time almost about four to five o'clock was time for us to go pick up the, ah, the pork, the vegetable. So you have, you have to go pick up and the time about five to six o'clock we have to go home. And we carried those to home and cook. That's all we are doing every day. For our food. So if we carried a lot it should be last, ah, about two or three days but sometimes if we go everyday we not carrying that much it should be carrying couple to cook for dinner and for breakfast and after that we back and next, next night we'll bring again. But if you won't go back that day, we go other persons for help other persons like a take plate so you should carry a lot and it last a couple day so that's what we are carrying food from the farm to home to cook. We don't have a shopping. We don't have a downtown. We don't have market. We don't have nothing. That's how we spend our time like this. We plant hot pepper, everything on the land. So that's what you cook. We don't buy anything from the store. We don't have store.
LV: Hmm. What was, what was your favorite food to eat from your farm?
KL: [Sigh] Oh-.
LV: What did you like to eat the most?
KL: We don't have many, we don't have, ah, it's like April to between May um, March to May we do have a pumpkin plant and vegetable, cilantro, onion and another kind like a tomato, sugar cane, ah, pepper, ah, something like this. We just, all we eat always, always every year same thing. And after that May to June the pumpkin pie they all grow and they have a seed and they have a pumpkin pie so they have a eight in there and we do carrying a big, big pumpkin pie to home and we have corn and we have, um, what they call an-, another kind that they call pumpkin pie too but is, is a white one, long big one and they call those different names. So we do have a those. Another, ah, June to say June to July and the cucumber grow a lot. We eat cucumber only with the salt and with the paper, pepper. Pepper, that's all. That's all we grow. And our food, we don't have any favorite, any different food to eat. And in the winter time we don't have no food. We have rice and hot pepper and the old bigger pumpkin pie. We cook those every night, every morning for our eat. That's all.
LV: Yeah, but you personally didn't have like a favorite food that you liked?
KL: No. We don't have a no favorite. The same kind no matter what. I am 10 years old or one years old or five years old, we eat the same food with the parent. We don't have so it many kind of food or favorite. And other kind we don't have a sugar cane. We make sugar so I know how to make sugar, use sugar cane to make a sugar. And I know how to use the corn to make, ah, what do you call? Ah, something just cut up and chuck it together and make together like a they call sticky corn. So we add them together and we carrying the banana plant use the, ah, use the leaves and we cut it and we just take it home and we just put together and we cook. I do know how to make those things by myself. That's my favorite. But once a year, not many, sometime at one month all those finish and gone and never have it no more until next year.
LV: Wow.
KL: So once, once a year that's all.
LV: So, how do you make sugar out of sugar cane?
KL: Well, is easy. I don't learn so hard from my mom, my parent. When I one time I watched them to do. When they bring the sugar cane home they chop, chop one small piece and they put, um, use something like a hammer or something to chop in very small piece and mash together and they put on the big bowl pan and they boil a little water in the pan and that the liquid from the sugar cane come down to the pan so they use that and one by one, put in the all the sugar cane. Skin throw away and they use the liquid. They keep boiling and boiling until, ah, until you see it's almost like sugar. So they need, they need a some kind like a liquid and they want to keep it and sometime they want to put some honey or something like a honey soup, soup so they just take it out and they keep some put on the bottom and they lay other one in the pan and they keep cold and cook until stuck, stuck and then they took out and they just put on a big bowl or something or when it stuck it cool when it stuck they already like a sugar cane or they just like, ah, um, something stuck.
LV: So you mean they take the liquid-.
KL: Keep boiling.
LV: -And they boil it.
KL: Uh-huh. Keep going, going-. \\
LV: So eventually it will turn into kind of sugar? \\
KL: Uh-huh. Stuck-. \\
LV: Just let it cool it down-.
KL: Cool it down. It's already stuck-.
LV: Right. And so then it's basically sugar and you just have to crush it up-.
KL: Uh-huh.
LV: -To make it like powdered sugar?
KL: Yeah, that's all in it. But I don't learn so hard from my mom. I watch her one, do one time. And then next week or next month, she went to work in the land she told me and my sister, "Are you two coming home? Are you two coming and bring some food for us?" So we said, "OK. We'll take care of the house and take care of the chicken and the animal and tomorrow bring a rice and couple rice for us." "OK and help us to work." And I say, "OK." When the next day we spent two days to stay home and the next day we go about to help them we caned the sugar we asked to go and she yell me she say, "Who, who gave a that sugar for you?" I say, "I make it." "Who told you to do?" "Well, I watch you do it and then I know it." And she say, "When?" I say, "You do a couple a months ago. I know what to do. I follow you." And she say, "Are you crazy?" And I say, "No I'm not. I'm not crazy. I learn from you and then I just keep doing what is, whatever you do. That's what we are learning. I watch you do." And she say, "Oh my God. You, you so smart." I say, "Yes I am." The next week and the next day, I doing, was sticking rice the same thing and I bring to mom and she say, "Who did that?" I say, "I did it." And she say, "Are you crazy?" "No I'm not crazy. I learn from you." Anything she know, then I know. I remember until right now. That's not really difficult. But if you don't be lazy, if you lazy you don't make it.
LV: Hmmm.
KL: It's too hard.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Too much time.
LV: So who is this lady?
KL: My mom.
LV: Oh, your mom.
KL: Yeah.
LV: So she didn't even know you learned it.
KL: No. She don't, she thought that I'm a lazy. She think that I not keep my mind for her. She thought I not going to keep my eye to her maybe I watch her to do but I just play around. But I just keep my eye on her, what she doing, all kinds the things, all cul-, in our culture going. Then that's what I followed her for, and I followed her hand. I, I keep my eye to her what she doing so that I learn it.
LV: So that's how-.
KL: That's all she's given me. That's what she, she supply me.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: So she said, "Who did that? Who told you? Who, who teach you?" I say, "I did it. I made myself." "Who told you?" I say, "I didn't, nobody told me. I watch you. I keep my eye onto you and so you, you don't tell me that or watch me to do and next time I going to do it. You don't tell me but I watch you do it." So I keep my eye on. Then one day I do myself and the next time she say, "OK, go get sugar cane and come in and do whatever you can." I say, "OK." She try everything to me. She say, "Do it." And I say, "Yes." I did. I do every kind a, what do you call, ah, sweet rice, uh, sticking rice or all kind of things.
LV: Hmmm.
KL: I did myself.
LV: Hmmm.
KL: So it, life's so hard but it's so much time to do a lot of things and lots of time. I spend a lots of time in the whole day to do because we live in the mountain. We need, we don't have a big pan, we don't have a, ah, bargain store, we don't have anything or bigger, we have small pan and we have circle bigger pan, we don't have a lots of dishes so we have bucket only but you we use the, the wood to make a bucket so we use the bucket to be a pan. So that's all we are very difficult to do. We use, we don't have spoon, we use the bamboo to make a spoon and we use the big bamboo to be a big spoon.
LV: Hmmm.
KL: Our, our culture.
LV: Hmmm.
KL: We don't have a spoon right, right now.
LV: Right.
KL: We, we have difficult life to live.
LV: So you use the bamboo as a spoon // and-. //
KL: Small spoon, // big spoon-. //
LV: You take the bamboo and you cut it in half?
KL: Uh-huh we use the, the end to cut, chop. Cut it and you know just make a circle.
LV: Yeah.
KL: And that's what we are. I remember about 40 years ago this very difficult. So that's all we are like.
LV: So how old were you when you first started cooking?
KL: I think it's about 11 years old.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: About 11 years old but I the only person remember and to keep my eye really clear to continue to learn really quickly-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -To myself, to the parent-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -Because my dad is a General person. A lot of people came in to their house. We are busy and busy and busy. No time to play-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -No time to talk. I just cook, cook, cook, cook, cook, cook. We have long table-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: -About 25 feet.
LV: Yeah.
KL: I have to set that table all the time. One table finish, they take it off and set another table and other people come in again-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Oh, that a very tired-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -Because my dad is General.
LV: So like when, when you say, was he like a General like in the army?
KL: Ah he's a army and he's a general judge. \\
LV: \\ So he's like-. \\
KL: For fighting \\ the war. \\
LV: -He's kind \\ of like a major? \\
KL: \\ He's a major, he's a mayor, he's government-. \\
LV: \\ Of the village. \\
KL: -He's governor, both. He's a, he's a mailman, too.
LV: [Laughs]
KL: So, he do all kinds of things in Laos-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -That's why he's a general person-.
KL: He's really smart. He's go kind, he's taller, he's cool man, he's sweet man, he's nice man, talk slow.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: All kind I, I remember. That's why I love him a lot and helping my kids. I watch myself, I watch my life. That's what I learn in my life from my mom and my dad. My ma is not cool mommy, she's important one. She talk really fast and she don't thinking about what she talk, but I learning from my ma, my dad because my body is like my dad. But I only woman, but I planning like my dad. I watch him, I follow his work, I follow his dad that's why I keep in my mind to keep growing in my life and to teach my chil-, my kids, my children and grow my life to be like him. To learning like him, to remember his mind and his life and to be cool like him or learning to be nice to people and don't talk back. Think about law. That's what I am. So my dad is really cool man. Nobody be like him I ever see. I have an uncle, his brother older, he's not cool man and his brother younger is not cool man either. They be army and when they go to the mountain, ah, when he go, all the, all the army go, too. All of it. When he came home and all the army come home, all of it. When the brother go, nobody go. When the brother younger go, nobody go. When other people go, nobody go. They get mad to my dad. That's why they killed my dad.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: My dad's die is not, is not, he died by himself.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: That's why they hate him because he's cool man and sometimes he's a really important. He say, "OK, relax."
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: He's a cool man really, really cool man. He talk sweet, he cool down he kind and nice, nice, nice man and anybody like him. So when he go, when he go, they go and when he come home, they came home and nobody go to stay in the mountain. So they get mad they say one night, "We going ki-, kill him." We thought that maybe they lying. Then one day, um, I think in my age about 12 to 13, I remember and my mom told me go get cup of rice, sticky rice. When I go with my uncle's wife we go to, to the mountain. We carrying the rice and I told him I said, "Dad come and give me the rice I going to go back home." He told me, "Ah, wait a minute. I come down there and I come back." I said, "No you can't go." He say, "No. Yes I can. I come back few minute." He left a five minute and the bomb is popped and all I see him that's only that day he, he's gone.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: I told him, "Come back to give me the rice. I'm going to go home." He said, "Wait a minute. I come back five minute." I say, "No. You can't go. It's dangerous you know. I have to go." Then that's all I see him. That's how all I see him. That's how I remember his life and when he gone. The bomb is popped. All I heard him yell and he said, "Help! I'm going to die." When my uncle ran to him he already died. I don't, I don't get any information from him. But I remember until right now. Made me sick. Made me feel bad for him. That person killed my dad he not die, but he blind, his leg is broken, had be cut off and the arm had to be cut off. He came back to stay one year. He died. So, after my dad died they all die. Nobody live. I don't know why. Nobody killed but they keep dying by themselves. So it made me sick until now.
LV: Hmmm.
KL: So that's all we are do. So, I remember. [Pause] So [long pause] ah, we talk about the war in Laos.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: We do have a winter and summer but not that cold or not that hot. Winter is the same thing right now and summer is not hot, either. Same thing. The winter is a little bit cold. The summer, ah, maybe one day, a half day raining and half day sunny. And maybe couple hours rainy and couple hours sunny. It changing back and forth. The same thing for the, all the whole country. So, that's what we've got good food growing, um, rice or anything on the, on the land.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: We don't have a whole year no rain or we don't have a whole year of raining. We do couple of but I remember July most of the time is, only in July raining a lot. Sometimes seven days, sometimes three days, five days or one month. A lots of land flood. A lots of raining then after that is no more but half day raining, half days sunny or one day's sunny and one day raining. That's all we have. We don't have no, no ice, no snow. We don't have anything like this. We don't ever see, we never see anything like this.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: That's all we can do.
LV: So it was always pretty much warm?
KL: Uh-huh we don't have no, we don't, we don't carry a larger cold jacket.
LV: Hmm.
KL: We don't have. We just carry a, a thin clothes every year, every day.
LV: So always like short sleeves or-?
KL: Short sleeves, thin sleeves, thin coat, shirt.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Or we don't have many blankets it's a warm piece, piece of blanket for each, each, each piece person on a bed or for whole people. Like um, we, we, we are different, really difficult. Like a my dad, my mom, my sister, my brother, we all both share a one blanket-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: When we grow up my sister and me share one blanket.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: We don't have our own blanket.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Why, how we are different [pause] so-.
LV: Did that was that ever a problem for you and your sister to share [laughs] one blanket?
KL: Well-.
LV: Like you know at night when you're sleeping did somebody steal [laughs]?
KL: Yeah. When we fall asleep like, we all die because we work so hard-.
LV: Right.
KL: When we die, when we sleep, we don't we don't hear what we doing.
LV: Yeah.
KL: We just you know, we just dream about, we work so hard just kick up the blanket-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: So when, when we would get when we woke up it's too cold I say, "OK, OK. Where the blanket?" When we find out it's on, fallen out on the bed and had to go get again and come back. Covered again. And the next time again same thing because we work too hard. We sleep, we so tired when we sleep maybe it's about, I think it's about 11 to 12 o'clock midnight, we sleep, time to sleep and about three o'clock we wake up.
LV: Hmm. So maybe three hours? \\
KL: So we had two hours to three hours of sleep that's all.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: And the first chicken, the rooster, first chicken you know, ah, get up and yell [sound of rooster] and then I have to get up faster to make the fire-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -Burn and start cook the rice and start cook the vegetable.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: And around four to five is not, outside's not clear yet.
LV: Yeah.
KL: We have to get bamboo, dry bamboo make the fire and go, go to work.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Early.
LV: Really early. [Laughs]
KL: Really early. And sometimes the parent or the mom or the brother and the father have to go early to go carrying, ah, because we raise horses, cow-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: And they have to go carry it all the horses' food and the cows' food-
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Like, um, um, plant, corn pant, banana plant, something like this to back home when we finished the breakfast when they came home they already finished already in the eating. We eat it and we almost bought fire to see with. Outside's not clear yet we already get the bamboo and get the fire go with wood-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: And we came in late about seven to six o'clock, eight to, I think it's seven to eight o'clock. A late, late, late, late night.
LV: Yeah.
KL: We have to get the bamboo, get the fire, came home back home again.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Oh, I feel so sad and so tired.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: I remember. That's why I don't want to go back to Laos.
LV: [Laughs]
KL: Get sick. I'm so tired about that. So that's why you don't have company. You don't have, we don't have visiting.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: We don't have a no job all. We do, work for the farm. All we do, cook some food from the farm, all we do just do everything grown to the farm and carry from the farm to the house and cook-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: -And who lazy who had no food.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Who lazy who had no food at all.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Have to go steal. Have to go you know-.
LV: Right. You just have to \\ steal it.\\
KL: \\ Uh-huh, uh-huh. Steal it. \\ Ah, sugar cane same thing. Everything's the same thing. Ah, what you call it, sweet potato?
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Um, all those kind and for lazy, nobody make. Then they have to go steal.
LV: Were there any people who got caught stealing?
KL: No.
LV: No?
KL: Nobody know.
LV: Oh.
KL: Nobody know who did it. But if who know, if we know that if who had no land, no much land-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: -Because we have about three to four mountain-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: -Each land.
LV: Yeah.
KL: And if he hold, if who have a small land like one mountain, about ten acre-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: -That person going to be hungry and if that person have a food every year, every month and where she going to get it?
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: She stole.
LV: Right.
KL: Then we that know she did.
LV: Right.
KL: So that's what, [laughs] that's what we, what we saw but that's what we teach our kids. Don't, don't do it.
LV: Right.
KL: Don't do it. [Pause] If, if somebody if my family, if she keep stoling, if we don't kill her but if sometime she got killed, it's for no reason. It's because she die from nothing-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -Because she's somebody you want to kill.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Or she die for herself because she stole a lot, a lot from other people because her land is too small.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: And other people's land are lot, three, four, five, ten mountain. And take about half year to start bottom to the top.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: It's too much.
LV: Yeah.
KL: And that person have a small land and why she have food every month every year? And the, the big land have no much food why?
LV: Yeah.
KL: Why? Because she not scared, she keep stole.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: So she have food every month we don't have it because we scared and don't want to do it.
LV: Right.
KL: So, that's what we are.
LV: So nobody would ever, nobody would ever say anything?
KL: No. Sometimes if they, they saw it they catch it.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: They catch it and have to tie her or him and lock him up to, to the outside-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -Or hit him.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Or sometimes they have to go hunting and kill and when they kill, nobody know that who kill.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: That's it. [Pause]
LV: Hmm.
KL: So she die or he die for no reason.
LV: Yeah.
KL: Because so many people get angry that she don't or he don't work so much and why she or he have a lots of food.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Because that, that street go that way and she go that way and she crossed, crossed the mountain go to there and when she stole it I think she got it she go all the way that back-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: -And when the people sneak in around follow the fork where she go and where she come.
LV: Yeah.
KL: So that's what we are. They got killed for nothing.
LV: Yeah.
KL: So that's the way, that's the way we are. But we don't have no kids work away. We don't have no, no kids [pause] kill each other and no gang people, no young teenager, young girl, boy, walk away from the parent.
LV: Yeah, hmm.
KL: We ever see and we ever have it.
LV: So does-.
KL: We grow our children exactly for the parents and the power ( ). We learn from each other, listen each other, learning from each other, that's what we are right now. We don't have uh, no gang, no fighting-.
LV: Hmm.
KL: -For the kids like, like United States. So that's why, that's why I am teaching my kids that we need to learn the good life.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: So that's what I am. [Pause]
LV: So, so when you see all these mall kids in America who are in gangs do you, do you always like wonder why they're in gangs or-?
KL: Well-.
LV: Do you think that they're just bad kids or something?
KL: No, they're not bad kids. I feel that they are good kids because I am trusting or I should be a parent's trusting too but the truth is, why we have so many kids walk away from the parent because the law.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: Because the law in United States-.
LV: Yep.
KL: -The government. Because they should not to giving the law to open and believe the kid's freedom-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -They have to lock up the, the law that no law for young kids to be a freedom. Because I remember a time I study, ah, citizenship, um, that time they fighting in United States they have a lot to control. The kids and no gang people, nobody walk away, nobody steal. So later that country bigger, bigger and they getting the freedom for the kids and for the teenager and they don't want the parent hit or teaching or yell or hitting so that's why right now young teenagers don't, they don't scare the parent because they are freedom because the law don't like the parent teach them or yell them or learn them work so hard like help take care of children, their little brother or little sister or cook their dinner or brother's or teach them to go work to the farm, to the land or get some job for them to work so hard and no time to speak to each other to talk about each other. If they do something like this and nobody walk away at all because I see there is no way that right now young teenager or young kids one years old to 15 years old, they don't, ah, allow for the parent hit it, they don't allow the parent teach it. If who hit it and they have to put to the ma or the dad to jail. That's what happens now. That's what, that's why they control the law and let them, let them freedom. When they go freedom, they got freedom and got free time. So they should go work, work away. They don't understand what they're doing. They don't know what they're doing. They just say, "Oh we, we lazy to work so we just go steal." And walk away and talk each, each other, have a sex. That's it. That's it. So when they go on 21 to 25 age when they return back to look after the future it's too late, it's too late. They can't come back. Sometime they got killed. Sometime they can, they cannot return to be a young kids again and learning their future they got bad life, bad name, they got bad love then they going to be grown very good no more. Sometime they got good woman, sometime you got gang woman, too. So that's what happen. That's what happen. The all the kids, all the students, have to be listen to the parent have to be scared the ma and the dad because the ma and the dad is god. What I mean is, the god because the ma, the dad, is give the birth to the children. Given the blood, given the heart and the skin. God gave it to the parent and the parent relay or carry the baby and you have to remember about how much your ma and your dad raised you. How much time she or they love you, you got to be put your life, your fun and your future under your foot and not much fun and not much walk away because if you be a bad person remember, you never get any good wife if you're a girl if you walk away from you parent you never got a good guy. Never. Your life is mean you already throw away. You never make it. Sometimes someone come back, change it. Mean you change for new person and make more difficult for you or me may use a su-, supply but some, some don't want to come home, you know. You go one-by-one and one step-by-step. You not got a good guy forever. You just got bad loss, bad life. You cannot change you body no more. Sometime you just walk away and you die for no reason and you die. Nobody know where you are. That's all these kids because the law, because the universe, United States, the government did it. We can't control the kids. We cannot protect the kids from all the parents in the United States. No way. It's really difficult. From Laos from Thailand. Thailand I, I talk about Thailand. Right now Thailand is really difficult for young kids to be a bad person. If they stole, um, one jewelry stole and they don't find out they got free time, if they found out they catch it they going to take you to the mountain they tie your hand, tie your legs. They take all your clothes. They hit you every day. They lock you up to the mountain. They let couple people watch you every night, every day. They don't give any food for you, they don't give no water for you, about seven days until you die or sometime they just hit you until they ( ). After that, they tell you go hunting. They mean they going to take you to a hut in the mountain and kill you. You never come home. Never. Thailand is very difficult. Laos is very difficult but not much and Laos not much but Thailand because they have a different law and they have so big, big kill so that's what happen. So I want my kids to learn and listen to me to, about my story about my I hear and I caring with me and I want them to take care their body because remember if you pass the red light, all you young kids and students, if you pass the red light, what do you do? You're going to get a ticket. You can't run back, you have to get a ticket and then the police say, "OK I make the appointment already. You have to go meet the judge in that day." And sometimes if you they follow your speed. You may, maybe you allowed to pay 200 dollars, 100 dollars, 85 dollars, 90 dollars. Depend you're guilty. So your life is the same thing that I want all the young kids and teenager on the student college and the university and the whole United States to watch the way, way you are and listen to your parent and listen to the grandparent step-by-step, relay for each other relay from, from brother and sister or cousin who saw and who can see the need to listen. Is something the parent yell you. Maybe you wrong already. It's not you right, you wrong. You've got guilty. You've done something wrong but that's what they yell at you. So please if who listens or who got my message just listen to the parent. So that's it.
LV: Hmm. So, so how would you describe your, your relationship with your mother when you was a child?
KL: Well, when I a child I will learn from my mom. Well it's very difficult to talk about because all young kids in Laos we all nobody. Boy and girl, we always scared the parent. Because if they told us to stay home and watch the kids, watch the animals and we say OK, we don't have to go play around with each other I have to stay home inside the house or inside the pen to watch the ch-, and the children and, ah, watch the animal because we don't have a good house. We just have a kind of special house, that's all. So sometimes we don't watch the house the, the pig when it dig and it going to get inside and go get food.
LV: So the pigs are going to dig \\ like-. \\
KL: \\ Dig [pause] \\ the wall-.
LV: Right. \\ To get in your house? \\
KL: \\ -To come inside, \\ uh-huh. So I have to stay home. You're all going to stay home if she, if she came home the pig dig the wall everything in the house messy, she going to hit me, she going to yell me, she not going to let me eat. So everything going to be messed up in there so I have to scare her. I say, "I'm not going to play. I just stay home." And then when everybody say, "OK, we're going to go." I say, "No. I can't. You go. I not go." So I just stay home until she came home or I know it time for her to come home. I have to carry the bucket. I'm going to carry the water three or four time, three or four bucket, to fill the big bucket inside the house and when she came home she say, "Oh, thank you, you got water." And I say, "Yeah." "And who watch the kids and who watch the house?" And I say, "I did." "OK. Thank you." So she happy. If I don't, I'm gone. She want gone when she came home the house mess. She going to hurt me. There's no reason for I say sorry, sorry. No reason because the whole bunch house is all a mess. The chicken, pig ah, she all come home. So food's gone, house mess. So maybe I'm [laughs] I'm not going to go outside-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -I have to take care of-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: That's what happen you know. That's what we are listen the parent. We don't have no gang people if, if, if pretend like now and we yell our kids like now and they going to be, if I'm going to tell that if something happen like this it should be the parent abuse children, but we don't think that it's abuse because they teach it us only for, for us to remember that what you're going to control yourself. That's all. You're learning not, not, they not abuse you. They just teach you. I remember what I am. But if I'm not guilty she can't hit me, yeah. And sometime she threaten me. She don't like me, she don't love me. But if I, I do something wrong and she hit me it's my fault because I should know that and I'm not going to, you know do something wrong and make her hit me. So that's why we are scared of mom and the dad. That's why we be nice to the parent and we have to be nice until a boy got married or a girl got married. When we got married we have to say, "Oh, I have to work so hard." If I don't work too hard I don't have a no land, no food, no money. I don't have a lots of animal, a chicken, pig, uh, cows, horses. Then my mom and my dad coming and they don't want coming see me. So I have to thinking, I have to say I have to work so hard when they came in I say, "Oh, ma, dad coming to see me. I have a big land, I have lots of chicken and lots of cow, lots pig and they coming to see me."
LV: So-.
KL: I have big dinner for them.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: That's what we are.
LV: So what's more important? To have lots of animals or lots of land or money?
KL: Well, although we have to have a lots of land, long land, we have cow, a lots of cow, about 20 to 40 cow, pigs and cow. We have ah, 20 to 30 pig, 100 chicken about three, four, five family horses to carry food and help us to carry corn or rice from the, from the land to the house. And we have to have money, a lots piece silver-.
LV: Silver?
KL: Silver.
LV: Because that's-?
KL: It's money.
LV: Because that's money.
KL: So, we all have to each person go away and have to be have it. All of those kind. That's why we beat each other, see? I want to say, "I want to be on top." And he say, "I want to be on top," and I say, "I want to be on top."
LV: Yeah.
KL: So [laughs] that are what we are. Same thing way in United States.
LV: All kinds of competition.
KL: Uh-huh. I have a money. You make money. Who have a ton of money?
LV: Yeah.
KL: I think it's a lawyer and doctor.
LV: Yeah, yeah.
KL: And who, who got more idea, who got more time? That's what we are. See? I don't have a husband but I keep working. I keep pushing myself saying, "No fun, no fun."
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: So I keep doing all myself. Ah, one day I want to have the government, one day I want to have the people or I want to have lots of money by myself or I want to have my family and my children, my kids and my daughter. That's what I am.
LV: You want to help everybody.
KL: Anybody who asking me to help, I'm going to help. That's why I'm going to take my chance to be ah be cooperating-.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: -To help people. Sometime I borrow money for, sometime I give free food. That's what I am. So young kids have to be learn by the parent who have parent who you have to learn because I may not be a general, but one day, you know-.
LV: Yeah.
KL: So-.
LV: OK. Thank you for your time today.
KL: Oh, you're welcome. Anytime young guy wants a story, young kids or teacher who need help in asking me.
LV: Yeah.
KL: I have more in, not education, I have more stories.
LV: Uh-huh.
KL: But if you have someone who want to get more information, just let me know.
LV: Yep.
KL: OK. Thank you.
LV: Uh-huh. [Pause] Consent form for this interview-yes.