The State Council on Asian Pacific Americans will honor three individuals at its Heritage Month Banquet and Community Leadership Awards Dinner, Friday, May 13, 5:30 p.m. at Earl Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.
The awards are presented each year at the Heritage Month Banquet, to individuals and organizations that are nominated by community, and undergo an awards screening committee that presents recommendations to the CAPM Board of Directors, which then votes on each nominee.
The 2011 awardees are:
Dr. Adisack Nhouyvanisvon for Excellence in Education; Ms. Bounxou Chanthraphone for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts; and Mr. Hung D. Phung for Communty Leadership and Humanitarianism.
The Keynote Address will be presented by Patrick Geraghty, President and chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. He is responsible for the strategy and operations of the state’s largest health plan, serving 2.7 million members, with a full scope of health plan products and services.
Geraghty is a frequent speaker on a range of health care topics including impact of health care reform, payment reform strategies, innovation in health care and prevention and wellness.
Excellence in Education
Dr. Adisack Nhouyvanisvon of Minnetonka is recognized for his work in the area of education. He is currently the President and Co-founder of Naiku, Inc., an Inver Grove Heights-based company that brings innovative assessment tools to the education market.
As a graduate student Dr. Adisack Nhouyvanisvong co-founded the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, a grass-roots organization established to promote the Lao literary arts. He previously conducted large-scale educational assessments for the Minnesota Department of Education and private testing companies.
Dr. Nhouyvanisvong has experience with computer-based testing and computer-adaptive testing, in addition to teaching college-level and graduate-level courses in research methods and advanced measurement theory and applications. He received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. He has taught at the University of Minnesota and is an adjunct faculty at Metropolitan State University and Saint Mary’s University.
Nhouyvanisvong was nominated by fellow Carlson School of Management MBA student Corey Thompson, who said he is a role model who “not only cares deeply about helping others, but helps them reach their potential and succeed.”
His is nominated for leadership that goes beyond educational measurement but also for his community work that includes support for the Legacies of War: Refugee Nation exhibit at lntermedia Arts that showcased the journey of Lao Americans over the last 35 years.
Nhouyvanisvong presented and assisted in the first national Lao American Writers Summit to help Lao across the nation rebuild their literary and artistic voice, a subject he is deeply familiar with as a co-founder of the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project in 1995. From 1996 to 2002, the SatJaDham team hosted six national conferences and produced five of the earliest collections of Lao American writing by Lao in their own voices.
Ketmani Kouanchao, Interim Director, EOPS, Mt. San Jacinto California Community College District, described Nhouyvanisvon as someone who will be the first to challenge your comfort level among his peers and for his community commitment to uniting and exposing arts of all cultures. He said Nhouyvanisvong’s interpersonal skills draw others to him.
“Adisack is not a typical community builder,” said Kouachao. “He is an idealist who is grounded in his cultural value of community servitude to help those who are vulnerable in society to have a voice.”
Chongchith Saengsudham, a Family Outreach Specialist at Lao Assistance Center, said Nhouyvanisvon displays great energy and wisdom, and an innovation for using technology to make it easier for students and teachers to connect.
“I was always impressed with his intelligence and his sense of humor, and the way that he brings others together around him,” said Saengsudham. “As a refugee from Laos, he has come so far, rebuilding his life in America against great odds.”
Lifetime Achievement in the Arts
Bounxou Daoheuang Chanthraphone, of Brooklyn Park, is this year’s recipient of the CAPM Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in the Arts.
Born in 1947, Chanthraphone learned Lao weaving from her mother and grandmother in her Savannakhet home in the Central region of Laos. These designs frequently incorporate images of animals, people, and plants.
She enjoyed weaving and it wasn’t long before she mastered other regional styles of the northern and southern regions of Laos.
Chanthraphone graduated from teachers college in Vientiane, and then taught elementary school in Savannakhet for eight years. She continued her weaving with the local elders and many textile masters during time until leaving Laos in the mid 1970s for because of the war.
“I couldn’t take anything with me, but only my life and my weaving skills,” said Chanthraphone. “With these skills I continued my weaving in Ubon Refugee Camp and worked with the Japanese volunteers to establish the first Lao weaving for Lao people in the camp, especially Lao women so that they too can earn some money to support their families, and at the same time have a sense of pride and live with dignity.
“I was very grateful to my mother and my grandmother; because of these weaving skills I was able to help my family and other families in the camp.”
In 1982, Chanthraphone immigrated to the United States with her daughter, Ladda. She started work on weaving arts at her Minneapolis home and continued to teach Lao weaving to young women and adults in the community through the Lao PTA (Lao Parents and Teachers Association).
She also worked for the Centre for Asian and Pacific Islanders in the Mothers and Daughters Program, and taught Lao weaving for Centre for Asians and Pacific Islanders School for Weaving Arts and Apprenticeships. She received Folk Arts Apprenticeship grants in 1995 and 1997.
Bryan Thao Worra, who nominated Chanthraphone, said she is recognized nationally for her work. She was honored in with the National Heritage Fellowships Award in 2000 – the first Lao to win this lifetime award for folk artists who contribute to our nation’s traditional arts heritage. In 2002, she received a Bush Artist Fellowship to weave the architectural wonders of three temples.
“The support and the honors have still touched my heart through these days, for they are a confirmation and a celebration of my weaving work and life; both of which are the objects of beauty,” she said.
“Bounxou Chanthraphone is a master of Lao weaving arts,” said Thao Worra. “In her presentations, she demonstrates the Lao loom, shows examples of a variety of ornate traditional textiles, and explains the meanings behind the designs.”
Thao Worra said Chanthraphone’s life story embodies a unique ideal that we all should aspire to, giving back not only to her family and her neighbors in Minnesota, but preserving many traditions in our former homeland for future generations.
“Her life is an intersection of the arts, of history and education, of community service and the quest for personal excellence and innovation,” he said. “Her life’s work is a great testament to both the power of the individual and of the community, bringing out the best in others to remember our interconnections, our traditions, but more importantly our future. She brings a wonderful cheer and joy to her efforts, a boundless enthusiasm that inspires me and many others here and across the nation.”
Sunny Chanthanouvong executive director, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, supported the nomination, saying that Chanthraphone is a master weaver and an esteemed elder and an inspiring leader who stepped forward to share her knowledge and to help rebuild the Lao community to what it is today in Minnesota.
“The Lao voice is often considered quiet but Mrs. Chanthraphone’s life and work speaks not only to today’s Lao Americans, but to future generations to be courageous and to be compassionate,” said Chanthanouvong. “As a people we can achieve so much. We should never forget the importance of supporting one another and creating opportunities. I hope many will learn from her and work together to make a vibrant story of success and learning, of art and civic engagement.”
Julie Gordon Dalgleish, president, Arts Development Associates in Minneapolis, recommended Chanthraphone from knowing previous in her previous role as director of the Bush Artist Program.
Dalgleish said that the multiple honors that Chanthraphone has received are a testament to the quality and significance of her work and her contributions to Lao weaving arts. She said few artists are honored with any one of these awards, much less three.
She said that Chanthraphone’s work speaks for itself but that her spirit of generosity and intense desire to achieve excellence is also what make her a great wonderful leader with a sense of humor, who offers encouragement and deep interest in others.
“I can think of no one more deserving of this honor than Ms Chanthraphone,” said Dalgleish. “She has been an important leader and an inspiration to her community, her family, other artists, and to me.”
Mr. Hung D. Phung
Mr. Hung D. Phung is nominated as a Humanitarian for the 2011 CAPM Leadership Award.
Phung was born in South Vietnam in 1962 and was moved around with his family while his father fought as an Army Ranger during the Vietnam War. In 1975, Hung was a student who also worked to provide for his family. He was drafted by the military at age 18 when Vietnam was engaged in the war with Cambodia in early 1980’s.
Phung’s mother decided that he should escape Vietnam. It was not an easy journey in a tiny boat for ten days and nights. They traveled 1,000 miles of the South China Sea to land in Bataan, Philippines, where Hung spent about 18 months at a refugee center.
When he was sponsored to Minnesota in 1982, Phung began getting involved with the community as a volunteer to work as a para for Family Children Services. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree at University of Minnesota in 1989 and worked for Wilder Foundation and with Lutheran Social Services as a Case Worker in the Southeast Asian Refugee Program from 1988 to 1991.
Then Phung decided to work in a Hong Kong refugee camp with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991-1994. In Hong Kong, Phung coordinated all vocational training programs and instructors in Tai A Chan Refugee Centre to develop vocational training programs for refugees.
Returning to Minnesota, Hung was able to reunite his family here after 13 years of separation. Hung continues to work with Bloomington Public Schools and earned his Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on guidance counseling from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls in 2001.
Hung’s work in the schools allows him to work with the Vietnamese and Asian communities in the Twin Cities and abroad. He has conducted workshops in various topics ranging from bilingual storytelling to diversity seminars. He has facilitated monthly SEED seminars (Seeking Equality Education Diversity) for Bloomington Public School staff since 2001, in addition to educational and cultural consultants to Shakopee Public Schools, Dakota County, City of Bloomington and Eastview High School.
Phuo Thi Minh Tran, Hennepin County Librarian, nominated Hung for the award, noting that the two met at the 2002 Vietnam Culture Camp at St. Olaf College. “Observing Mr. Phung at other cultural events, workshops, teaching, and presentation at schools, conferences, and communities, I was captivated and fascinated by Mr. Phung’s creativity, dedication, enthusiasm, and quiet leadership style,” said Tran. “Then I decided to collaborate with Mr. Phung in many cultural events to build bridge that creates bonds and collaboration between communities and generations.”
Tran said Phung is a passionate and inspirational leader who as past chair of the Vietnamese Culture and Sciences Association -Minnesota chair in 2009-2010, helped bring young adults, students, and elders through his leadership and volunteer positions.
Together the two co-organized the annual Lunar New Year community events, and the Pride of Vietnam: 35 Years in Minnesota, and the annual Mid-Autumn celebration at the Mall of America. The events promote and educate others about Vietnamese culture.
In his letter of support, Dr. Ha H. Tuong, a retired Minneapolis Public Schools principal, said Phung demonstrates energy and devotion to his fellow educators, community and students, whether Vietnamese or other Asian groups in various projects that promote cross-cultural and cross-generation understanding.
“Mr. Phung is very resourceful, sociable, open to new ideas, and eager to learn and advance with whoever he works with,” said Tuong. “His tasteful humor always helps everybody work hard and forget how hard projects are. He goes beyond the call for duty during projects, and is supportive of everyone working well with each other. He is like a super glue that helps people bond with each other into a team and community.”
Ha H. Tuong, Ed. D., has known Phung for fifteen years since working together with the Association Group to perform music, dance, and martial art at the Science Museum to promote Vietnamese culture. In his recommendation letter Tuong describes Hung as a person of intelligence and integrity who has given himself in every field with utmost devotion.
“Hung is an untiring advocate for these students as well as a dispenser of practical help,” said Tuong. “He always treats with love and respect. The staff is very pleased to have such a pleasant colleague.”
Tuong noted that each year Phung manages the Hung Vuong Ancestor’s Anniversary, and that it demonstrates to youth the importance the Vietnamese place on their ancestors.
Sang Truong, M.Ed, an ESL teacher with Bloomington Public Schools, said the Asian Club at Bloomington Public Schools, High School students in Kennedy and Jefferson High School, have eagerly signed on to the letter of recommendation for Phung’s award.
The group expressed appreciation for his support, guidance, encouragement, dedication, understanding and leadership to empower all of them to become good students, active citizens, and future leaders.
“Your cultural activities at schools, in the community, and beyond truly help us to maintain and connect to our roots,” the letter said. “All the field trips in the past, and especially today to the State Capitol to meet the legislators and support the Council of Asian of Pacific Minnesotans, give us the opportunity to enhance our knowledge to the community and he world.”