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Sweet Lao Sixteen!

By 04/24/13

     For many of us,  blurred and hidden within our memories long ago, the peak age of teenage  adolescence or the coming of age known as sweet sixteen, was once upon a time, part of our  life. Like a small flower bud waiting for its turn, hiding beneath layers of leaves and overshadowed by wilting flowers that came before it, the time is here. It’s my time to shine. Move over welted old flower, let me be seen in the glowing spotlight of lights wonderful sun.

     Turning sixteen  is special for a young girl. I somewhat remember when I was once sixteen. A care fee time filled with happy and unforgettable life long memories with friends. A time of  independence and extreme excitement for an uncertain future that lies ahead.

     This weekend we had the pleasure of photo shooting Sara before  her upcoming sweet 16th birthday soiree. Like many typical young American teenage girls, she lives a normal American life. She has hopes and dreams like all of us at this age. Her normal life, probably is consumed spending time figuring what to do with  friends and zits, occasional teenage crushes and zits, what should I wear today and zits, and for - The Now Age Generation - what should I post on facebook today and zits. What a wonderful life.

     A couple of days after Sara’s photo shoot, I sat down with her and asked her about how she felt being a sixteen year old American-Lao teenager. Seeing her at sixteen, my curiosity stems from my desire to fill  past memories I’ve  lost at that age. Also, my other goal was to help you reflect on your own memories that was once at a time so innocent in one’s  life.

     “Turning sixteen, I feel I have more responsibilities, compared to when I was ten. I feel a need to be a more responsible  person. I try to cook and clean for myself and also help take care of my younger cousins and family. That was what my mom taught me, I guess that is what the differences are from me being a Lao teenager compared to my American friends.” she said when asked do you feel any different now that your sixteen compared to when you were ten? “If I was sixteen in Laos, things differently would be different. I hear that at my age or younger, I would probably need to work to help support my family. I would need to be more mature at an earlier age and  to help look after the entire family” she said. I told her that she would probably be married by know, and she laughed.“ The thing about being Laos is that I have traditions and  a culture that I can tell my friends about  and pass on to the next generation. I was Miss Songkran for five year straight. I didn’t like doing it”, she complained, but she knew it was important to her and her mom in order to help her community. Nice kid. Family value are important as a Laos person. These traits are taught at a very young age from parents who were taught by their parents before them.

     But the important thing about all this is that, at sixteen, she didn’t need to tell me how she felt about being a American-Lao teenager at sixteen. I can see it in her eyes, and her bright glowing smile , her sprit  that is full of life and her  sense of Lao values.

I love young people. You envy them for their youth, you envy them for their beauty, you envy them for their innocence and you envy them for their potential. For once, I wish I was there again. What a wonderful life!



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