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This ‘sanctuary dome’ is a place for Lao American refugees to tell their stories

Bryan Thao Worra and Catzie Vilayphonh inside the StoryBooth. May 8, 2017 Category: FeaturedPurposeShort
“Sanctuary” is becoming an increasingly important theme in Philadelphia.

That’s manifested in a several ways, including the city’s continued stance that it will maintain its “sanctuary city” status despite the Department of Justice’s new letters detailing the threat of withheld funds for cities not cooperating with federal immigration officials.

And don’t forget about the declared importance of sanctuary for poets with immigrant and refugee backgrounds.

A new project from Laos in the House, a local arts and events organization for Lao Americans, has created a physical representation of a sanctuary in the form of a large walk-in dome for Lao American refugees to tell their stories through audio and visual recording.

The Laos in the House StoryBooth was created in collaboration with Philadelphia Assembled (PHLA), an expansive project through which the Philadelphia Museum of Art works with a variety of organizations and individuals.

The StoryBooth got its first engagement at the Laos in the House’s #BLESSED popup event this past Saturday, held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in celebration of the Lao New Year last month.

Check it out below:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTzKaoCgTH1/

As the above post details, the inside of the dome was inspired from the “wat,” the Lao Buddhist temple that has been a prominent place for Lao American refugees to settle.

Going so far as to have attendees sit on a “saht,” a Lao rug, the idea of tradition and holding on to the Lao culture and history is important for Catzie Vilayphonh, the founder of Laos in the House, who is a strong believer in our current generation’s responsibility to do so.

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“If it’s not gonna happen, we gotta do it ourselves,” Vilayphonh said.

Oh, and happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

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Philadelphia Assembled

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