Goodman Community Center | ‘Modern Jungles’ by Pao Lor

‘Modern Jungles’ by Pao Lor

Noteworthy books, podcasts and movies to foster equity through understanding — and action

June 4, 2024 |
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A noteworthy Book

Modern Jungles

Imagine having to flee your home, city and country with armed forces hot on your heels. Imagine a multiday journey on foot that costs the lives of both of your parents and leaves you in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language. And now imagine that you’re 5 years old.

This was the incredible beginning of Pao Lor’s life as a Hmong refugee in Thailand in the 1970s. In his book, “Modern Jungles,” Lor tells the story of his childhood in Laos, his flight to a Thai refugee camp and his eventual immigration to the United States. Lor stayed initially in California before moving to relatives in Green Bay.

Published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Lor describes the challenges of adapting to the unfamiliar American society and culture, facing isolation and adjusting to numerous new schools and living situations. This powerful narrative also offers a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of the Hmong people, who number approximately 58,000 in Wisconsin alone — which is third most in the U.S., behind California and Minnesota.

After finding success in academics and sports, Lor went on to become the first college graduate in his family. He is currently the associate dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Previously he had been a professor at UW-Green Bay.

Submitted by Chris Graupner

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