ST. PAUL - Asian Minnesotans come from many journeys and backgrounds.
And starting Monday, there's a campaign underway to tell their stories.
CAAL, or the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, is calling on all Asian Minnesotans to share their stories from the past or present. You may be featured in their pop-up public exhibit across Minnesota, on the CAAL website and social media. The campaign, #MinneAsianStories, will launch with daily featured stories for the whole month of May.
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
The goals of #MinneAsianStories are to engage, educate and challenge fellow Minnesotans’ perceptions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who live, work and play in Minnesota.
The executive director of the organization, Bo Thao-Urabe, and members of the organization are on a mission to incorporate the story of Asian Americans into daily lives.
“I came to the U.S. as a refugee child with my family in 1979 post the Vietnam and secret war in Laos,” she said. “I was plopped in the school. No interpreters. By the time I was in second grade I was speaking English better than my parents. I started being their navigator.”
Asian Minnesotans make up one of the fastest growing communities of color in the U.S. The state of Minnesota holds a population of about 256,000, according to the U.S. Census.
Bo says others tried to write her story but she changed the script. In addition to CAAL, she served as Commissioner to President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“I constantly had people tell me what I couldn't be and that helped to give me internal fuel,” she said with a smile.
As a social entrepreneur, Bo has received many awards recognizing her contributions and leadership. She is hoping others will share their stories, too.
“Asian Minnesotan stories are Minnesota stories. Not only is the community chosen to come here because it is a state where they believe they can come and contribute and build a better life for their families,” she said. “It is important for us to think about stories as opportunities to learn from each other and connect and think about what we might do together to make sure that Minnesota is thriving for everybody.”
To learn how to submit your story, visit http://caalmn.org/.