Born and raised in the Xieng Khouang Province of Laos, Xiong is a first generation Hmong American who has settled in St Paul, Minnesota. Due to the dispute between the Communist Lao and the Royal Lao Family, Xiong fled to Thailand for refuge. His siblings and mother followed soon after. There in Thailand he married Mai Lor Thao. The couple immigrated to the US in 1990. They have lived and raised their family of ten in Minnesota since.
“One of my proudest accomplishments, because I am not educated I am not able to create anything with my own hands or skills. But one thing that I am proud of is that although I am not educated. I am able to find a job, even if I don’t make a lot, even if it’s $3 an hour. I am willing to work for that price to support my family, so they don’t have to go ask others for help. I am able to provide for my family and they don’t have to ask others for help…so they can focus on school. That is what I am most proud of”
“Here, in this country, if you aren’t educated and you don’t know the language earning money can be difficult. For example you could be making $15-$16 an hour, however because you aren’t educated you are paid like $10 an hour, but of course you take what you can get.This applies to those who are not educated like me, and those who don’t have a diploma. For those who are educated and have diplomas, are paid the amount that they should be paid. But the few of us who are working for low wages fall are the ones who struggle with language, and aren’t educated. Usually heavy lifting jobs are paid reasonably, however when you are do not know the language there are times where you are paid lower than the expected rate”
“I registered to immigrate to the US in September 1989. Due to warfare we had to refuge in Thailand. The Thai were also very strict on us and there were little to no job opportunities for us.Therefore we decided to immigrate to the US. After 1975 when General Vang Pao fled Laos, Communist Laos did not like us Hmong because were were supporters of General Vang Pao.The communist laos persecuted us, they captured the elders and interrogated them to see if they were soldiers.Some elders were captured and imprisoned, and some were executed. Due to fear we fled to the jungles, However we were still followed and killed. So we decided that if we did not flee to Thailand the Communist Lao would continue to chase after us, so that is why we decided to flee to Thailand”
“I am leaving behind these words of wisdom for us Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese, Thai, those from the middle east, us minorities or refugees. Sharing similar experiences, I think the best thing we can here do is love/support each other, We must respect each other. We must view/treat each other the way we would like to be treated. We are all humans. I think the important thing is for us to support and love each other. Second, because we have come to live in this country, regardless if you are young, old, or your ethnicity, we must practice good ways, learn to be a good person and do good. Therefore others will not look down on us and instead learn to respect us refugees”