XUE XIONG

Xue Xiong escaped from Laos in 1980 with his parents when he was around six.  It was their second attempt to cross the Mekong River.  His parents were Chao Fa—“freedom fighters”—and had stayed to fight the Pathet Lao after 1975. 

Xue grew up in various refugee camps in Thailand.  In 2004, he and his wife, Mae Yia Thao and their seven sons were the first family to depart from the makeshift camp at Wat Tham Krabok.  They re-settled in St Paul, MN where Mae Yia’s older sister, Chong, lives.  Xue is now working at a plant that launders hospital uniforms.

MAE YIA THAO

Like her husband, Xue Xiong, Mae Yia’s parents were Chao Fa and she and her family didn’t escape across the Mekong until around 1980.  Like many Hmong soldiers, her father did not want to leave Thailand and re-settle in the US.  Mae Yia has dreams of learning English and Chinese but she no longer attends English classes and has not yet found a permanent job.

THE XIONG CHILDREN

Toua Xiong is a senior at Arlington High School.  Chai Xiong goes to school at the International Academy/LEAP.  Cha, Bee, Keng, Peng and Su La Xiong go to Hope Academy.