Kate Thephavithy

As interviewed by: Sophia Pannell, March 18

Kate Thephavithy: In Her Own Words

I was probably two years old when I moved to America, and I remember taking a boat from Laos to Thailand, and we had to hide from the military to get to the boat. I remember I was able to walk so we walked for a long time and we almost got caught and if we wouldíve got caught we wouldíve been shot and killed. But we didnít get caught, it was very fortunate. I think it took three days, I know that we slept, along the way. We made it, finally to the boat and the boat took us to Thailand and we registered there at the refugee in Thailand and we stayed in Thailand until we got a sponsorship in the United States and our sponsor was living in Lansing, Michigan.
My whole family: my mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters, eight kids at the time, they all came. When we arrived in America I was a shy little girl, I didnít wanna go to school, didnít wanna leave my mom and dad. But then we were met by teachers and the teachers could see the scared look on my face, because I wouldnít let go of my sister.
As I said before I was very shy, so I didnít talk very much, but in Michigan, they were so nice and understanding. They always speak English because the teacher said that the more and more you speak English the quicker it is to learn. I was very shy though, so I just nodded my head when they talked to me. I couldnít even remember when I picked it up, I just canít. When it was time for me to start talking I just talked, I shadowed a girl that talked a lot so I could learn English and then one day I just decided to talk and I did.
As a child I was curious, then anything about immigration, anything to help me understand what I went through and how to word it because I didnít know. By reading the stories it helps me to word my experience. I described my experience but I didnít know how to make it a story that was concise to the point. I tended to go around about it, but since reading other peopleís stories Iíve learned to get to the point of the story to make it more interesting.
I had lots of fun. We met another Laotian family in that same town that we lived in and they actually helped farm the blueberries! It was my favorite part was farming the blueberries, and we helped- well I ate more than I helped. That was one of my favorite times, just going through the blueberry fields and picking the blueberries.