I can’t believe today is our last day in Thailand. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been here for three weeks and have seen and learned so much. Even though I loved it here, I can’t wait to go back home.
It’s been over twenty-five years since my parents immigrated to the United States as refugees from Thailand. They haven’t been back since. Though my parents still have friends and family here and in Laos, they haven’t found the time and opportunity to come back to the place they grew up, the place they once called home. Being assimilated into the American lifestyle, they still keep a part of Laos and Thailand with them through gardening, farming, raising chickens, going to local Hmong markets, practicing Shamanism, etc. It’s hard sometimes, but they still do.
Even though I am the only one here, I feel that this trip was also for my family; in every picture I took, my dad, mom, uncles and aunts would comment on the things: “Good choice to go as an American.” “Is it fun?” “The Mekong River is still big.” “Be safe and always be aware.”
I’ve always wondered about my parents lives before the United States – do they miss it? What did they do as kids, as teenagers? What kind of struggles did they have? What kind of environment did they grow up in? Even though the places we went were definitely not exact replicas of the way they lived, I’m truly grateful that I got to experience the things I did, such as sleeping on hard mats, squatting toilets and walking through the woods. Each time we went out and explored the city or learned about the environment and agriculture, I kept my parents in mind and connected it with them. In a way I did have this experience with my mom and dad, but I wish they could’ve been here with me to see everything. I know they would talk about what’s changed and what’s the same, and about how different the American lifestyle is from what we see.
It’s been three weeks since I’ve been home, and I miss it. I miss the beautiful lakes, I miss the view of the skyline of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and I miss the businesses down University Avenue. It’s been over twenty-five years for my parents; I wonder what they miss?