Personal Stories

Stories from the lives of those involved with Asian Media Access.

Throughout the last 8 weeks of  working at Asian Media Access. I have learned many things, such as Tobacco prevention, drug prevention, alcohol prevention, and also about complete street. I really enjoy working at AMA for being in the STEP-UP program for the first time. I learned how to use photoshop, plus making postcard and making facts sheets. I also kind of learned about making film. There are many things that I liked about working at AMA. Something things that I liked about working at AMA was the field trip, the project, and making new friends along the way. One thing that I wanted to learn more about was Film making because it looked really fun. I think that the field trip is a very great ideas to have while working because it will be boring just sitting and staying at one place. I think that AMA is a super cool job to have for my first year of working in the summer.

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Today I didn’t come into work until later in the day because I had PSEO orientation at 9 this morning. It ended up taking forever and I didn’t get to work until roughly 1:30. But that’s fine because it was for school, so it wasn’t that bad. When I got to work I asked what we were doing, so apparently for the radio station tomorrow we’re talking about Gang violence. I know a little bit about Chicago gang violence because I watched a documentary on it, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Today we went on a field trip to a garden on Plymouth and James ave N. We had a very good time helping tend to the garden and pick up the weeds with them. we brought along some extra younger kids to help and it seem like they had a good time. It was hot and humid outside but we all got together and pulled through it, and the weeds together.

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In this program i have  learned how to keep communities safe and how to make them feel safe. Over thess past few days i have  met new people and learned abut things i didn’t know. Asian Media Access has also thought me how to stay away from dugs and what can happen if you use them or abuse them.

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My first memory was probably when I was in Texas at my dad’s house and I was about four or five years old. We just got back from getting my new Fila’s (tennis shoes).We were just hanging out at his house and he asked me what I wanted to eat and I said waffles and candy.  I thought he would say no right away, but I guess since I didn’t see him that often he said yeah to be nice.  I walked to the window and looked out.  Then I noticed the pretty view from up above.  I began to yell, “MOM! MOM!” Out of the window.  After I was done my dad asked me if I wanted to go home and I said no. I’m not really sure what happened after.

My most memorable birthday was in seventh grade on March 5th.  It was the last day of traveling basketball and our championship game against Jordan.  Our game was in Savage, Minnesota.  I woke up to my teammates in my house, waking me up.  They made me breakfast in bed.  My parents were at work and told me they couldn’t make my championship game.  I was kind of sad about it but at the same time I was still happy because it was my birthday.  Then it was time for the game and I was just in the zone like no other.  I scored 16 points that game and we won 33 to 29.  We celebrated after by taking silly string and spraying it at the coaches and me.  It turned out that my parents were at my game the whole time as a surprise.  We went to Red Lobster all together and had cake.  Then I got an iPod video which I’ve always wanted back then.  I got other things too.

My weekend was really good. On Friday I hung out with friends and we were talking about the party that was going to be on Saturday.  At the party everyone was just having fun and a good time.  There was alcohol, but no one was drinking.  That night my friend’s neighbor called the cops on us because I guess we were being too loud. The cops showed up and crashed everything.  The cops saw alcohol in the fridge and decided to give us breathalyzers because he thought we were drinking. Not too long before the cops showed up I just put some minty gum in my mouth, which makes you blow higher when you’re doing a breathalyzer even though you’re not drinking at all.  By the end of that night I got a minor and had to go to court.  The outcome of it all is that I got grounded and it shows up on my record.

I started playing basketball when I was a little kid but started playing on an actual team when I was in second grade.  I love it more then anything.  It was the greatest thing in the world to me when I was a kid and still is.  I enjoy being with friends and just learning new things about the game of basketball.  Currently I am a starting point guard on the varsity squad since freshman year.  I enjoy it a lot.  In the future I hope to pursue basketball in college. I am planning on attending the University of Tennessee.  They are the current state champs for women’s college basketball and have been for a while.  I plan on meeting their coach because I have read about her and she is one of the top coaches in women’s college basketball.

My friends and family mean the world to me!  I have two brothers and two sisters and I am the middle child.  My youngest brother is two, my youngest sister is nine, then its me, my older sister is nineteen and my oldest brother is twenty-six.  My mom is from Sacramento, CA and my dad was born in Congo, Kinshishia.  Out of 100% they are about 85% of my life.  Without them I don’t know what I’d do.  I enjoy sharing good times with them and making new memories.  Without my family and friends I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about certain things or share personal things with.  I cherish every moment I am with them.  I am also up for meeting tons of new people and having plenty of fun!

I love traveling all over! I enjoy it so much because you’re not in your normal boring state.   You get to see and visit things you don’t see everyday.  I’ve been to 32 states so far in my life.  I was born in Houston, Texas and I’ve visited all of the states down south.  I love being down south because it’s always hot and they have extremely good food.  Also I enjoy their southern accents and their southern hospitality.  My other favorite place to go is to California.  I enjoy going there because I get to see tons of family, shop and I get to go to Eddie Murphy’s mansion.

I wanted to work this summer because I wanted some extra money and learn new experiences.  Something that I like so far, is learning new things on the computer and meeting new people.  Also I like being on the computer editing and making slogans. Things that I don’t like are writing and reading.  Things that I learned are improving on my verbal skills and editing skills.

In my future I plan on meeting tons of new people, having my dream job, having fun in college playing basketball, and living with roommates.

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Hello my name is Sheng Thor, I’m 15 years old and I go to Hmong

Academy Charter school…. I wanted to work this summer to earn some

money and get some new stuff for me…. Last summer I worked at HAMAA

which is the Hmong American Assistance Association and my friends and I

all planned to work together at HAMAA again this summer…. It didn’t work

out because I applied for a job too late, so I decided to come and work at

Asian Media Access….

While working at Asian Media Access, I have learned to become a

better person, to listen to others and pay more attention to work, especially

talking on the phone and what to say in a good manner…. Thanks to Kang,

Phanat, Ange, Steven, Tamalin, and my supervisor Loretta, if it wasn’t for

them I wouldn’t have learned this summer….

My whole summer working at AMA, we have been learning a lot about

logos and slogans…. We created slogans and made postcards for the slogans

that we came up with…. Phanat and the Step-Up students wanted to show

what we have made during the summer with the postcards that all of us


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Interview with Li Yang


At Broadway Community High School

By: Fartun Abukar

Li Yang was born in May 24, 1994. She is 16 years old. Her American name is Betty. She is the only child in her family and she feels special about that because her parents can put their full love on her. Sometimes she feels like she needs a brother but Li Yang says, “it’s ok”.  She has been in the United States for three days only.  Her school gave her and other Chinese students the opportunity to come to America.  It is an Educational Exchange.  They are going to be in the United States for only 15 days.  Afterwards they will go back to China.  After nine days in Minnesota, they are going to New York, Washington and Boston.  There are nine students and three teachers.

When asked what is the difference between China and America, Betty said, “China has 5,000 years of cultural history”.  The Beijing Opera has kind of a song that explains China’s history.  China is becoming an international country.   America has less history than China.  America developed very quickly.  America is open, the environmental is great, it’s better than China.  The weather is cool especially at 6:00pm.  Betty goes to high school.  Her school starts at 7:00am to 6:00pm, after 6:00pm she goes to evening school and she does her homework.  In China everything is about learning, practicing and studying.  When Betty grows up, she wants to be a lawyer.  Her parents want her to be a teacher or a doctor but she doesn’t want that.  Betty is planning to attend college in Europe or America.

Betty said people in America welcomed her very well.  People in America are open, friendly and happy to talk to them.  The family that hosted her are very nice.  “They become like my real family,” says Betty.  Betty and the group went to Mall Of America, the University Of Minnesota, and some Middle schools.  Betty learned English when she was in elementary school.  She studied English when she was 3rd grade.  “But this generation learns English earlier,” says Betty.  She studies from Monday to Saturday, morning to evening.  On Sunday she spends most of the time doing homework, sometimes shopping or playing sports. She likes to play tennis.

When there is a celebration or Holiday all the families gather and have a big family dinner.  After they are done with the dinner, they light fireworks with their grandparents.  They celebrate for seven days.  Girls stay home with their family on the first three days.  The other days they can hang out with friends and hold a party.  Betty climbed the Great Wall before but her mom didn’t because she got scared.  In China they have something called and MSN. It’s like face book. You can chat with anyone around the whole world.

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What You Think About Me is Wrong!

by Boleeria Jackson

What do you see when you look at me, a black

Girl with out knowledge?

A girl that would do any thing to succeed in life?

A girl without any goals or dreams?

A girl who don’t plan to do anything?

A girl with any hope?

Well you’re wrong I am a black girl who does have knowledge as you might not see it other people do. What’s that you sway a girl who will do anything 2 succeed in life? Well you’re wrong just because you might do it doesn’t mean I will I have respect 4 myself. What’s that you say a girl without any hopes or dreams, well listen close and clear I have dreams of being the first girl in my family to be a car expert and a Pediatrician. My hope is 2 own 2 cars and have a nice looking house. You sit here and talk about no I with plans you must don’t have and like me because all you do is sit and talk mess all this you see and think is wrong because I just told you what you need to know about me.

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My Dream

My Dream

My dream is to go to college and get a great career.  This activity will help me by looking at different types of colleges.  I want to see which one is best for me, and experience the different types of them.  I want to explore and try something new outside of St. Paul and Minnesota.

I wish to learn the different types of colleges.  I want something new for me.  I want to prove to everyone that I went and finished college.  This grant will help me a lot and will make many people in my life happy and proud of me. This is very important because my family will never have the money to do this for me and I’m wishing this do come true so I can follow my dad’s foot steps and graduate and attend at a college.

I have dreams and they are  the ones that you wake up and forget about, I am more then just a girl,  I am a hmong girl who has a dream that will come true.

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Past, Present, Future

Back in my grandmother’s day she lived in the mountains of Laos. Her family farmed on arable land and had a herd of cows. The mountains were awfully scary because no one really knew of the dangers it enclosed. She once told me about one of her close relatives buried in the mountains. When one dies, the family and the relatives gather around the deceased for a whole night to make sure no one disturbs the coffin and to watch over the dead. It was getting late so the family told a retarded guy around his twenties to watch over the coffin while the family returned home. As the sun fell and the moon rose, the dead in the coffin got out and stiffly walked into the woods close by. The guy watching saw the dead grow a long tail and sharp claws before walking off into the woods.

The first memory I have was when my mom returned from California. I must have been two or two and a half that year. We were in the living room of our suburban, double wide house. My mom was sitting on the couch eating food set on top of a chair. My three year old sister was there too. She was playing, standing or sitting on the couch or floor talking to my mom about her trip to California. She was standing beside the food holding the chair and talking to my mom. I don’t remember, but I know it was one of the two. I, on the other hand, was crawling on my knees and hands between and around the chair. Or was it that I was sitting diagonally from my mom on the living room floor? My mom was eating rice, with hot pepper and watermelon. My mom asked us if we missed her while she was gone. I can’t remember my sister’s response, but I do remember mine. I didn’t give her a verbal response but shook my head “no” and turned away when I felt my eyes fill up with tears. I don’t know why I had that choking moment of crying or why my eyes filled up with tears. I honestly didn’t care or miss her because I had no memories of her except this one. Maybe it was my mom’s gentle voice or her teasing smile.

When I was younger my father would sometimes drink Budweiser or wine just to have something to do instead of sit all day. Not because he was addicted or anything of that nature. My oldest brother and a few of my sisters would form a semicircle around my father and watch him chug down a cup or two before putting it away. He would sometimes offer us a sip or two, not to get us addicted but to see the silly expression we made in response to the bitterness. My older brother, being the daring one, would sometimes take down half a can. My older sisters however, took a sip and pulled away as quickly as the bitterness got to their taste buds. I was trying to be as brave as my brother. Therefore, I took in at least a whole mouth full before I gave up.

As a child I was a brave and naughty warrior. I was spoiled so I was able to explore my curiosity without punishment. Like the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. I didn’t actually die but a part of me did. I feared expressing my curiosity and chose to bottle it up, which led to my quiet and shyness. As I remember, we were in the garage hiding from the neighbors black dog in the front lawn. It was me, my oldest brother, and my three older sisters. The dog was in the middle of the lawn, holding us back from reaching the chicken-coop near the woods. My father had gone earlier in the morning and didn’t get to face the short ugly black dog. My older sister ran with her quick legs and reached the chicken-coop quickly and safely with only a few barks from the dog. I went half way and then pulled back for no reason. The dog sensed my fear and came after me. Afterwards I blacked out and couldn’t recall what happened that afternoon except the fear of the dog.

In my family we don’t throw big parties for someone’s birthday, instead my siblings or parents give us mini gifts such as a twenty dollar bill from my father, hand-me-downs or kind acts from my sisters, and the usual love, nurturing and care from my mother. My father was the only one in the house with a stable job so I was grateful and thankful for any money he was willing to give me. My sisters’ trash was my treasure so I didn’t really mind the hand me downs. Even though my father gave me money I never spent much because I felt that everything I needed I already had. That was how most of my birthdays went ever since I was five and could keep up with money. However, there was one birthday, MY GOLDEN BIRTHDAYthat I’ll never forget! My mom and dad had just cashed their checks and they were going to go to Aldis to buy us some groceries since they hadn’t gone to a grocery for two weeks. I ran up to the car and was about to get in when my oldest sister brushed passed me and stole my spot in the truck. I sat on the driveway and cried exhaustedly. The car drove up the road and my sister yelled out the rear window “Hey, I’ll get you some ice cream for your birthday.” Whoa, I was so-o-o ticked.

I have a photograph that was taken in my hometown. My father took this photo of all my sisters and my little brother along with his mother. We dressed up in our traditional Hmong clothing because my other grandmother from California had come to visit. We also took pictures with her because that was the last day she was with us before she returned home. The girls standing closer to my grandmother are my older sisters. Back then I was shorter. The one standing beside me is a year older than me. The girl on the other side is now a rising sophomore in college and is four years older than me. The girl on the other side of my oldest sister is two years older than me and the tallest in the family, but still acts like a kid. My younger brother is now in the sixth grade and is still a stubborn and spoiled brat. My little sister, on the other hand, didn’t get as spoiled, but is an idiot always seeking attention.

My first trip to Minnesota was because my parents had another one of those arguments about money and relatives. My dad had left North Carolina for Minnesota alone without notifying my mom. This wasn’t the only reason why my mom decided to go; there are more details that I’d rather not mention. After my dad returned for a couple of weeks, my mom bought plane tickets and flew us to St. Paul, Minnesota where my uncles lived. We were picked up by my Uncle Chue who once lived with us along with his wife and kids. This was the uncle we were closer to since he was the only one we had met from my mom’s side. He took us to his home, an apartment on the second floor, small but livable. Since his apartment was small and he had many children of his own, some of us were divided and went to my mom’s oldest brother’s home, which was bigger and made it seem like he had less children, even though they each have the same number of children. I stayed with the oldest uncle who took us to parks and other places to have fun.

My second visit to Minnesota was at the start of school. This time it wasn’t a visit like the first. I was going to start my first year in middle school as a seventh grader and be reunited with my friends from the second grade, first grade and kindergarten. We moved after two weeks of school because of the issues between my parents. My mom took the whole family except for my dad to Minnesota after he left for work. We were moving away from him because he was a bad influence.  When we reached Minnesota we stayed with my Uncle for a while and then started searching for a home. It took a long time before we were able to find a home with a low rent.  We stayed there for a year and then left for another new home. When we first settled up here I complained about anything and everything that I came into contact with. Life in Minnesota is getting better and I’m starting to adapt to it. The schools, streets and even teachers are very different from where I used to live. However, it’s been three years and I see now that I won’t regret moving up here because of everything I’ve been through and experienced. This is the place for me to start my dreams.

Naturally, we (my family) would have moved to Minnesota and lived in St. Paul, but because my mom had a closer bond to my Uncle Chue we decided to stay with them for a few months and then decide where we would settle down next. Our first home in Minnesota was Mary’s place where we stayed for a month and then had to move back with my Uncle Chue because our promised time was out. We stayed with them for a couple more months and then found another home in Minneapolis over at Oliver. A year passed and my mom’s car was dying and my Uncle and Aunt from California were going to move in. Since my mom’s car was our only transportation and we knew more people in Minneapolis we decided to stay in Minneapolis.

My weekend was packed. I couldn’t wait to get time to myself. On Friday night I came home and went directly to bed. I went to bed early because that week I had woken up between six and seven in the morning and not gotten the sleep my head and body yearned for. The next morning I woke up at six without actually intending to get up so early. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a quick shower/bath. Excited about the weekend I ran all over the house trying to get my chores done so I’d get time to myself. Unluckily, I was too quick or perhaps to slow to have finished my chores just as my auntie called from downstairs requesting a babysitter. I eventually had to go down and babysit for about four or five hours before returning upstairs. I fell asleep on a comfortable couch during the first few hours and then woke up after remembering I was downstairs babysitting. The children weren’t crying or causing a riot so I decided to read “The Latehomecomer” by Kao Kalia until I noticed a stench coming from the baby. I cleaned her up and rocked the baby to sleep. Afterwards I continued reading my book until my Uncle and Aunt came home. I had a little time on my hands so I messed with the computers and then ran out to the backyard to chase and play with my little brother. Finally, Sunday came. It wasn’t as I expected, because I didn’t get to spend my time doing everything I wanted. This was to exercise and straighten out my room and belongings. Other than that I enjoyed reading through most of “The Latehomecomer” and talking with my grandmother and I wouldn’t take it back. As a matter of fact“The Late Homecomer” was what encouraged me to finally have the conversation I wanted with her. To talk about her past like Kao Kalia did with her family.

My first intentions of finding a job were to gain work experience and earn money. Before beginning this job I didn’t know how to begin the conversation for selling an ad or soliciting donations. After I practiced and was given a few pointers, I learned how to communicate on the phone about ads and donations to business owners. I was still nervous in the first few weeks of starting, but later found the job easy despite a few rude replies. The rude replies knocked down my hope of making a sale or receiving donations which made me dislike the job, but I became more confident in voicing my opinions, which is a useful tool since I’ll be presenting numerous speeches and interviewing for more jobs in the future. This experience also helped me eliminate the choice of wanting to become a secretary, because I dislike answering phone calls and dealing with customers. In addition to sales over the phone, my job required many topic researches and creativity. The research I did pertained to drugs, HIV/AIDS and issues teens my age face. Since my job required many topic researches I got the chance to exercise my researching skills and learn some facts about the subjects. In addition, I can apply the experience and skills I’ve mastered to my schoolwork and in my search for jobs. Once I’ve gathered up all the information necessary, I use the data I gathered to come up with slogans. After a few days of editing the slogans, I combine the slogan with the images I created to make a postcard. Putting a postcard together was a bit difficult for me since I lacked creativity and computer skills. However, my colleagues and supervisors made my work easier because they showed me how to use the Apple software and gave me suggestions on how to make my postcard so it would send the message I intended it too. What I like most about working in Asian Media Access was the kind colleagues and supervisors. Thanks to the help of my co-workers my job became easier and I was able to slowly develop my computer skills and creativity skills.

What I like most about my life is being taught and learning morals, learning about myself, learning about my background, learning about life, how to be and what to do. What I dislike most about my life is being clueless all the time, being helpless, having no creativity and not being able to help my mother, my father, my sisters, my brothers and myself.

My purpose in life is to help my family be logical and successful instead of turn into evil criminals. My purpose is to be hope for my mom. To be my mother’s motivation, only reason to live everyday instead of disappointing her like my older brother did, leaving her with a bad reputation. My purpose in life is to benefit from the opportunities that my parents weren’t offered. My purpose is to lead a successful life. My purpose is to keep the tradition alive.

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