Experts

Biographies of Experts in the field

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Channapha Khamvongsa: Channapha Khamvongsa is founder and executive director of Legacies of War, an organization that seeks to address the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos, to provide space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace. The organization uses art, culture, education, and community organizing, especially among the Lao diaspora, to create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war. Legacies has successfully advocated for an increase in U.S. funding for bomb clearance in Laos, from an annual average of $2M in 2008 to nearly $20M in 2016. She has written and spoken widely about the secret war in Laos and its aftermath and has appeared in the New York Times, Democracy Now!, and CNN. She previously worked at the Ford Foundation and NEO Philanthropy on immigrant rights, civil society, civic engagement, capacity building, and transformational leadership. She has served on the the Seattle Women’s Commission, as well as on the boards of the Refugee Women’s Alliance and the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL). She was born in Vientiane and came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of seven. Ms. Khamvongsa received her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Titus Ptituseachey: Titus was a co-director of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) aid program in Laos from 1980-85. Titus returned to Laos in 1994 to coordinate the beginning of the humanitarian demining project in Laos, working alongside the Mines Advisory Group and the Lao Committee for Social and Veterans Affairs. Titus brings with him hands-on experience working in Laos to help villagers remove cluster bombs from their farmland as well as a wealth of experience as the Chair of the Advisory Board for Legacies of War.

Brett Dakin: Brett Dakin has been involved with Laos since he first worked in the country as a Princeton-in-Asia fellow. He is the author of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos, which Rough Guides calls “a must for anyone looking to understand Laos today.” Brett, formerly chair of the board of Legacies of War, has helped guide the organization through several key milestones, including Secretary Hillary Clinton’s 2012 visit to Laos and the decade-long increase in US funding for bomb removal. He brings to Legacies a wealth of hands-on experience in Laos and as a lawyer, an understanding of the legal issues facing Laos today.

noylbplaosChanida Phaengdara Potter:  Chanida is a Lao American community builder and the founding editor-in-chief of Little Laos on the Prairie, an online storytelling publication committed to amplifying the journeys, cultures, and livelihoods of the Lao Diaspora experience. She also serves as executive director of The SEAD Project, a nonprofit that connects Southeast Asian local and global diaspora communities toward meaningful and sustainable development. Chanida brings with her an astute understanding of the Lao diaspora and of the effects of the secret war on generations of Laotian Americans.

Kou-YangKou Yang: A Fulbright Scholar, Sasakawa Fellow, and Professor Emeritus of California State University, Stanislaus, Kou Yang is the author of two books, co-editor of one book, and has contributed to more than 5 books. With an extensive publication record on Hmong Diaspora, Hmong history and culture, the Hmong American experience, Lao culture, and the American experience of Indochinese refugees, his more than 20 essays have appeared in widely-consulted national and international peer-reviewed journals. He has also contributed to more than 15 newspaper articles and editorial opinion pieces, such as: The deadly, horrible mess we made still plagues Indochina (2015), 40yrs After the Vietnam War: celebrating the contributions of Indochinese refugees to the USA (2015), and Newly Appointed Leaders in Laos Signal a Few Changes Ahead (2016). Kou Yang is a native of Laos, and a former Buddhist Novice and Social Worker. He has previously worked in many programs and capacities, including child welfare, family service, poverty reduction, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and mental health.

Dave Claycomb: Dave Claycomb brings to Legacies his commitment to a safe world and clean environment. Dave founded California-based HELIX Environmental Planning, Inc. in 1991 and continues to sit on the firm’s Board of Directors while overseeing its Northern California operation.  Dave also sits on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Habitat Conservancy which owns and manages open space preserves throughout California.  At Legacies of War, Dave serves as a Board member and has helped to direct some of the biggest recent developments in the organization’s history.  Claycomb brings with him tremendous organizational skills and experience in community events, having organized and participated in Lao-American community events across the country.


U.S. Congressional members involved in UXO issues

Available upon request. The 2017 Letter to U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, March 29, 2017 can be found here.

Speaker & Film Screening in Boston Area

“The Bombing of Laos and the Continuing Tragedy of Cluster Bombs”

Forbush Memorial Library Westminster, MA January 20, 2010, 6-8PM

Walt Haney, Forbush Library Trustee and longtime resident of Westminster, will give a talk on “The Bombing of Laos and the Continuing Tragedy of Cluster Bombs.”

Haney spent more than three years in Laos, 1968-71 and 1975. In 1970 and 1971, he carried out two surveys of Lao refugees that helped document the widespread bombing of civilians in Laos. Reports on these surveys were both published in reports by the U.S. Senate.

Haney is also author of an analysis of U.S. involvement in Laos from 1950 to 1970. This analysis was published in Chomsky, N. and H. Zinn (Eds.) The Gravel Edition, The Pentagon Papers, Vol. V: Critical Essays (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972, pp. 248-293). Finally, Haney will describe his involvement with Legacies of War (http://legaciesofwar.org), a group organized to bring attention to the continuing tragedy of cluster bombs, not just in Laos but also in other war-torn countries around the world.

Following Haney’s remarks, there will be a showing of the award-winning film “Bombies” and a discussion. Light refreshments will be served. The lecture and film-showing are open to the public at no charge, but seating is limited.

National Traveling Exhibition Midwest Premiere in Minneapolis

Lao Assistance Center, Pangea World Theater and Intermedia Arts present

Legacies of War: National Traveling Exhibition and Community Programs

Curated by local artist Malichansouk Kouanchao, Bush Artist Fellow

Presented in conjunction with the Refugee Nation Touring Performance.

The Legacies of War National Traveling Exhibition tells the story of the U.S. secret bombing in Laos- a forgotten chapter in U.S. history – through the voices of villagers from Laos and the Lao diaspora at large.

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Opening Night Reception – September 30, 2010

In the 1960s and 1970s, when due to the bombing, Lao civilians became refugees of “The Secret War,” and had no language or tools to communicate with the outside world about their experiences except through a series of crude, hand-drawn sketches shown to visiting foreigners. But this art was enough to provoke questions that ultimately led to a global awareness of what was happening during the CIA’s covert war in Laos, and these sketches contributed to shaping the destiny of over 400,000 Laotians and Hmong in the United States today.

The National Traveling Exhibition has traveled to ten U.S. cities and to Dublin, Ireland. Its Midwest debut will take place at Intermedia Arts on September 30, 2010 (Special Opening Reception at 6:30pm) and run through October 24 with film screenings, community workshops and discussions throughout the month.

Artwork: Malichansouk Kouanchao

Legacies of War is presented in conjunction with the Refugee Nation National Traveling Performance, a collection of oral histories that reveals connections between American and Southeast Asian history, and the unique challenges faced by political refugees and their American children. It gives voice to the Lao Diaspora – often excluded from the American experience. Refugee Nation is about a young generation struggling to understand their history and the silence of an elder generation still healing from the traumas of war.

This project is made possible in part by support from Arts Midwest, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Asian Pacific Endowment. Refugee Nation is a part of Intermedia Arts’ Catalyst Series.

Intermedia Arts is located at 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (map)


Events

» Exhibition

National Traveling Exhibition
September 30, 2010 – October 24, 2010
Daily 12pm-5pm
$3 suggested donation

Opening Reception
September 30, 2010 @ 6:30pm-8:30pm – FREE
Reception will include a blessing ceremony, guest speakers and community gathering.

» Performances

Refugee Nation
October 8-10, Friday – Sunday @ 7:30pm
October 14-17, Thursday – Sunday @ 7:30pm
*Post performance discussions October 9, 15 & 16
Tickets: $10 (advance, students, seniors); $12 (door)
Click here to purchase tickets.

» Workshops & Discussions

Community Art Workshop – Express Yourself
October 2, 2010 @ 1pm-4pm – FREE
Student Day
Two-part workshop: In Tapestry of Hope: Weaving a Bomb Free Future, participants will create art pieces to include in an international art exhibition to debut in Vientiane, Laos in November. In the Refugee Nation workshop, participants will engage in discussions and exercises about identity and community.

Community Discussion – Gen X, Gen Y and Gen G (as in RefuGee)
October 13, 2010 @ 12:30pm – FREE
Bring your lunch for this roundtable intergenerational discussion following the Refugee Nation matinee.

» Film Screenings

Bomb Harvest
October 12, 2010 @ 7pm
$5 suggested donation
Laos: The most bombed country, per capita, on the planet. A bomb disposal specialist has to train a new young “big bomb” team to deal with bombs left from the US “Secret War”, but meanwhile, the local children are out hunting for bomb scrap metal. Post screening discussion with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and community members.

Bombies
October 19, 2010 @ 7pm
$5 suggested donation
Award-winning film portrays the aftermath of the carpet bombing of Laos with made-in-Minnesota cluster bombs and includes local footage of demonstrations at Honeywell and Alliant Techsystems (ATK).
Special guest speaker Marv Davidov, featured in the film as the founder of the MN-based Honeywell Project to end weapons manufacturing during the Vietnam War.

All events held at:
Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408 (map)

For more information, visit www.intermediaarts.org or call (612) 871-4444.


Media Contact

Theresa Sweetland
Executive/Artistic Director, Intermedia Arts
(612) 874-2813
theresa@intermediaarts.org

Photo/Interview Opportunities

Digital photos, audio, video, interview and photo opportunities are available upon request.


About the Presenters

  • Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota

    Minnesota has the third largest Laotian community in the US with 25,000 residents, many living in Hennepin County and particularly North Minneapolis. Many first arrived in the US as refugees in the early 1980s to rebuild to their lives. Many Lao in Minnesota received international recognition and awards for their art and community activism, and recently convened the first national Lao American Writers Summit. The Lao Assistance Center was established in 1983 with a mission to help Lao families meet their basic needs and to preserve their culture and traditions.

  • Pangea World Theater

    Pangea World Theater begins from the fundamental paradigm of diversity in the world. Our work expresses this reality and our organization advances this possibility consciously. Since its inception in 1995, Pangea’s goals have included creating a new literature with stories from different communities for theater, changing our methods of auditioning in order to include artists from diverse communities who are not trained in the traditional western methods of the audition process, and creating new possibilities and new aesthetic realities for a more diverse audience. As the community of the Twin Cities has become increasingly diverse with the influx of new immigrants, Pangea has actively sought individuals from these communities to be part of our artistic and advisory team.

  • Intermedia Arts

    As Minnesota’s premier multidisciplinary, multicultural arts center, Intermedia Arts builds understanding among people by catalyzing and inspiring artists and audiences to make changes in their lives and communities. We are a nationally recognized leader in empowering artists and community leaders to use arts-based approaches to solve community issues. From graffiti art to digital technology to performance art to spoken word, we work from the community up to unearth and enliven new and emerging artists and art forms while challenging and exploring the role of art in our lives. By stimulating civic dialogue and giving voice to the issues and experiences of underrepresented communities locally, nationally and internationally, we contribute to a stronger, healthier society.

  • The Catalyst Series

    Intermedia Arts’ Catalyst Series is a new program dedicated to collaborating with and providing support for artists, arts groups and organizations working as catalysts for change in their communities. The Catalyst Series is designed to engage audiences by provoking new performing, visual, literary, multimedia and film presentations that spark dialogue and inspire social change. Our goal is to provide artists, arts groups and arts organizations with the resources necessary to focus on their creative process, connect with their communities, advance their career, market their work, and develop new audiences.

First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (1MSP)

Legacies of War is attending the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (1MSP) in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Leading up to the meeting, we will be traveling around Laos and attending other events. We will be documenting our entire trip and experiences with a microsite: Legacies of War @ 1MSP. Check it for daily updates.

For more information on this historic meeting, visit http://www.clusterconvention.org/1msp/.

Legacies of War Exhibit in Brooklyn Center, MN

Check out the Legacies of War Exhibit at the Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center, MN. The exhibit will be there until June 1st.

Association of Asian American Studies Conference, New Orleans

Legacies of War will present Undigested War: Purging Official Narratives of U.S. Wars in Asia with Still Present Past at the Association of Asian American Studies Conference in New Orleans, May 18-21. Click here for more information on the conference.