Many children of refugees who arrived in the 1970s to 1980s took on the reverse role of a parent. One of the many tasks that I remember growing up was reading legal documents and explaining it to my parents, filling out forms, interpreting at parent/child conferences at school, and talking to other adults on the phone disputing fee charges on credit cards that my parents never applied for.
In 2016, the Hmong Museum hosted a series called Hmong Chronicles which invited Hmong American artists to collaborate with Hmong elders and create a public performance or talk. Hmong Chronicles was developed to revive oral storytelling in the modern age. In the video below, writer, Shoua Lee, reads her creative writing piece about her experience as a child interpreter.
Events were made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board through grant from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Ramsey County Library, and donations from individuals like you. Photo, young girl, courtesy of the Minnesota Museum of American Art and Sarah White, 2017.