New Book Highlights Laotians in the SF Bay Area

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Throughout the 19th and up to the mid-20th centuries, immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, India, and the Philippines came to America through San Francisco.

The end of the decades-long Vietnam War changed the modern Asian American demographics of the city, this time with refugees coming from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Today, the San Francisco Bay Area remains a hub for Laotian American culture, history, and community resources, and it has been a center for Laotian American advancement since the early 1980s.

After calling the United States home for more than 30 years and battling the scars of war, a new book “Laotians in the San Francisco Bay Area” released last month highlights the lives they have made for themselves and their families.

The book features photos from local community leaders and organizations including the Lao Seri Association, Laotian American National Alliance South East Asian Cultural Heritage & Musical Performing Arts, and the Lao Khmu community from the East Bay.

This volume is culmination of dedicated work by Khammany Mathavongsy, Phoumy Sayavong, Vinya Sysamouth, and Jonathan H. X. Lee, an assistant professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco Sate University. They all wish to thank their supporters for sharing their life, history, and resources: Asian Pacific Environmental Network/Laotian Organizing Project, Boon Vong, Bouavanh Syphandone Sydavong, Bounchanh and Hongkkham Thepkaysone, Bounmy and Vongduane Somsanith, Boutsaba Janetvilay and Family, Chao Khamluang Nokham and Family, Chanthanom Ounkeo, Chris Khamvong Karnsouvong, Houmpheng and Kethmani Banouvong, Iu-Mien Twelve Clans, Ken and Kesa Thirakul and Family, Khamkheua and Dee Sayavong and Family, Khammany Mathavongsy and Family, Khammek Sackdavong and Family, Kouichoy and Chaylium Saechao and Family, Lao Iu Mien Culture Association, Inc. (LIMCA), Lao Women Association of the Bay Area, Laurie Reedsnyder, Marcus Q. Rhinelander, Mey Saechao, Mitchell I. Bonner, Pastor Khamsaeng Keosaeng of Khmu Baptist Church, Phengkio Raxakoul and Family, Phoumy and Khamla Sayavong and Family, Oun Thavonekham of Lao Arts and Culture Association, Ray and Brenda Soungpanya and Family, Saysombath and Oradee Houngviengkham, Sean Soungpanya and Bouakham Sayavong and Family, Sumphun Phinong Lao Association, Vongtakhoun Association, and Wat Lao Rattanaram Temple. Phoumy Sayavong wishes to extend a special thanks to Allan Soungpanya, Linda Soungpanya, Tom Schao, and Seng K. Fong (Executive Director of Lao Iu Mien Culture Association, Inc.). Jonathan H. X. Lee wishes to extend a warm thank you to his students at San Francisco State University who went into their communities to gathered stories and photos, and Mark E. Pfeifer.

To purchase a copy of the book for a special rate of $18, not including shipping and handling, for AsianWeek readers, contact South East Asian Cultural Heritage & Musical Performing Arts at

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