Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Laos and Me

"Laos aims to lift itself out of least-developed country status by 2020," reports Brian McCartan, "but a shift underway from reliance on Western aid to Asian private capital has sparked criticism from development specialists who believe the trend towards large-scale projects is unsustainable and works against the country's long-term economic goals— Big is beautiful in Laos. Whatever works for them.

A Laotian refugee friend in my hometown of Orchard Park, New York, whose family had been taken in by the local Presbyterian congregation, was my gateway drug to the Orient. He and his seven siblings or so were equally divided between go-getters and pot-heads. (I'll leave the reader to decide which camp my friend, and by extension, yours truly, belonged). His father, an anti-communist air force officer, called our friend not by his Laotian name, which we had shortened to "Chanty," but by "Dwai," which we latter learned was in honor of Dwight David Eisenhower.

Anyway, at his family's abode, a five-minute walk from mine, I learned the value of steamed rice, ping pong, and a traditional culture, much more than I ever learned in high school.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.