UW-Green Bay Professor Shares His Story as a Hmong Refugee
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Growing up in the lush, isolated jungles of Southeast Asia, Pao Lor said it was hard to imagine a world beyond his village.“When you’re a little kid, everything is big. The trees are big. The mountains are big,” Lor said. “That’s all that you knew, and that’s all that you saw. You didn’t know what goes beyond the mountain that’s in front of you.”Thinking back on that time — tucked away from the people, cities, even wars beyond the mountains — feels “surreal,” said Lor, who now lives in Kimberly, Wis., and works as a professor at UW-Green Bay. But he’s spent a lot of time reflecting on those memories recently. Over the past few years, Lor has been working on a memoir about his childhood journey, which was published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. The memoir, “Modern Jungles: A Hmong Refugee’s Childhood Story of Survival,” recounts the first 14 years of Lor’s life, when he fled from his home in Laos to refugee camps in Thailand before eventually making his way to the U.S. Lor said he wanted to share insight into the Hmong American experience, one shared by nearly 50,000 people in Wisconsin, and capture some of the powerful memories from his youth.(Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press)“These memories have been playing in my head for a very long time,” Lor said.