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Giffey, David / The people's stories of South Madison
Volume 1 (2001)

Gerald Herr,   pp. 23-24 PDF (978.1 KB)

Page 23

Gerald Herr
I was born in Laos in Southeast Asia. I came to the United States in the
year 1984. I lived in Appleton for one year. In '85 I moved to Madison.
The United States joined South Vietnam in the fight for the North Vietnam.
So the American people come to Laos and they asked Hmong leaders to help
them cut the Ho Chi Minh trail. So we joined the United States CIA (Central
Intelligence Agency) to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail. I think that the leaders,
have a negotiation. If we could not win the war, they gonna take us to the
United States. After the U.S. withdraw from South Vietnam, we could not stay
in Laos either, so we
escaped to Thailand. In a camp in Thailand then we started to interview to
come to the United States.
I joined the United States in 1971. I was a soldier. I got shot, and I got
a broken arm. And in 1975 the
government escaped from Laos to Thailand or to other countries. At that time
we tried to stay in Laos, but
the communists took over Laos. They tried to search for the people who helped
the CIA. And they take
them to jail or they just kill them, so in 1975 in October we started to
fight again. We used the old supplies
of the United States the CIA left for us, and we start fighting again until
'82. And we could not win. We
are out of supplies. So at that time I escaped to Thailand. In 1982.
In Thailand, you pass the interview so you have the right to come to United
States. So the United
States government provide a ESL (English as a second language) program in
Bangkok, Thailand, to train
you how to speak a little bit and how to use the things in the United States.
I have two brothers in Madison. I have some friends. So that's why I decide
to move to Madison. It's a
good decision because I have friend, my old friend, we used to live together
in Laos.
I went to MATC (Madison Area Technical College) to start my ESL 4. We go
to ESL 5 and 6, and then
you go to pre-GED (general equivalency diploma), and then you got your GED.
And I went to two years in
the technical college, and then in 1990 I got my job in the school district
of Madison. My position they call
the bilingual resource specialist. Mostly I work with the Southeast Asian
According to myself or my friends, when we first came to Madison we live
in public housing, low-
income housing. Now each of us got a job, and we buy around this area.
I think most of the Hmong people we are living in South Madison around here
and Badger Road.
Because we are the poor people. We cannot make enough money to go to the
west or east or wherever the
many whites are living. Because those houses are very expensive. So we can't
afford that.
I have a cousin that just bought a duplex at the Sun Prairie area. So I think
some neighbors they don't
like them, and they just come out to throw the eggs. They keep throwing eggs
toward them.
This is not a problem for me. Myself I don't have any problem with the people,
the neighbors. We have
very good neighbors, white or black or Spanish or whatever. We get along.
Myself, I have no problem with
them. And they seem to like me too.
I compare because I grew up in my country. Many differences. The modern country
and the very poor
country, you know. Sometimes you don't quite understand the very modern country
like United States.
Sometimes make you depressed too.
It used to be that society, and then you move to the other society. A grown-up
person like me, is very
difficult for me to change my person to one society to the other society.
But in my country I was an educa-
tor too. But most people don't have the education in Laos. So when they came
to the United States they
could not help themselves. And their kids always be an American way, and
most the parents they get
depressed. They think about suicide. They think about some bad thing like
kill themselves. In this country
it is very difficult for the older Hmong people.
In Laos most of our people are just farmers. Mostly live in the high lands.
So it's very difficult. Very
23                                   People's Stories
People's Stories

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