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LMU (re)Location Reflects on the Resilience of 20 Lao and Korean Elders


[The following mid-year update was written by the organization and then sent to us for further sharing.]

(re)Location spotlights the resilience of senior adults like our parents who journeyed—often with their young families—from war-torn Laos and post-war Korea to the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s. Our project amplifies the contributions of Lao and Korean elders to the AAPI community and the broader context of L.A. County while creating space for Angelenos of all ages to connect to universal themes of origins, journeys, and new roots. The project sheds light on the experiences of first-generation Lao and Korean immigrants from these communities to (1) provide an entryway for younger generations of Korean and Lao Americans to a better understanding of their history while (2) creating an opportunity for the public to explore cross-cultural similarities and differences between the two communities in Los Angeles County.

Joyce (L) and Helen (R) with their families in the US

Since receiving the LA2050 grant award, Project Leads Dr. Joyce Yip Green and Artist Helen H. Kim have been compiling the stories, artifacts, and art-based reflections of the 20 Lao and Korean elders they interviewed in preparation for the website and interactive art exhibition to be launched in Fall 2024.

Green and Kim also presented at the 54th American Art Therapy Association Conference in San Diego, CA in October 2023. They had the privilege of sharing the progress of the (re)Location work and the lessons on research ethics learned along the way in community-based research. They were both also invited to join the panel plenary hosted by the association’s Multicultural Committee to discuss their experiences of “the in-between” as immigrants living in Southern California and the ways that they, as multicultural and multi-dimensional artist/art therapist experience liminality. Liminality, as it relates to immigrant/refugee experiences not only involves the realization of that which we are losing but also slowing down to intentionally tolerate the process of shedding loss to make room for growth. Helen facilitated her brilliant art piece “Our Only Guide Is Our Homesickness II”, inviting the 600+ attendees into relational aesthetics with each other. It was a sublime experience and so meaningful to hear from participants how they related to one another’s stories and experiences.

Helen and Joyce presenting at the American Art Therapy Association Conference

Looking ahead, the (re)Location team is gearing up to present the findings from their interviews at the upcoming Loyola Marymount University Art Therapy Research Symposium, Art Therapy Research, Ethnography for Community Empowerment held on Saturday, May 25, 2025 at Loyola Marymount University campus. At this public event, which will include invited community members across Los Angeles County, students, faculty, and professionals, the (re)Location team will share the themes and stories from the interviews, presenting cultural artifacts to shed light on the journeys of acculturation and adaptation to life in the United States.

AuthorLoyola Marymount University