Q. How long have you lived in the United States?
A. Since 1988. We moved straight from Thailand to Oklahoma. My parents started studying when I was 15 for the citizen test. They studied really hard every day. They would ask me simple stuff, like “Who was the first President of the United States?” The process and stress was probably the hardest part. My parents passed. My sister and I became citizens when my parents became citizens because we were still under them. We signed the certificates we could then change our names at that time, but I kept mine because I didn’t care. My dad changed his name.
A. I haven’t gone back to visit. My parents have gone back three times, they tried to get me to go, but I haven’t had time. Everything is cheap there. You can do anything for 20 bucks. I would love to go back; I just need a set time.
Q. What language do you speak in your home?
A. We speak English to the kids, but Mong to my parents.
Q. Do your parents still bring the Thailand culture into your home?
A. Originally we are not Thai or Laos, we are Mong. This culture is abundant in Minnesota and California. Originally, we were a part of the Chinese civil war. We were kicked out. We were enslaved in China and then they moved us to Thailand. Our language is a mix of Thai and Laos. The words don’t sound exactly the same. We lived in a refugee camp. That is where a lot of my cousins are from and my grandparents are from there. This is my mom’s side. We all moved from the refugee camp. My dad fought in the wars against the Vietnam. It is not researched a lot, but the Mong people helped America fight off the Vietnamese. My dad was fighting when we were about to flee. American Airlines sponsored us.
Q. What would you like RSU students to know about you?
A. My name is very, very, very common, so unbelievably common. In California and Minnesota, the parents give children a first name and then an American name and then their last name. I didn’t grow up in that culture. I grew up where I was the only Tou that everyone knew.
Q. What suggestions do you have for RSU in better serving students from other countries?
A. So far it is good. There are a lot of Christian organizations on campus which is great because they are always open to new people, always wanting to learn and making sure that they have friends that are following Christ. I think that is a great way to open up to new cultures.