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From Lao Teacher to a Leading Role in the Public Works of Arlington County


Oudone Sirikool came to the United States of America at the age 25, where he was no longer allow to attend high school like many other young Laotian refugees. However, he did took some English classes at an adult education center, learning just enough to communicate and able to work. In Laos, Oudone was a teacher in Luang Prabang.

Life in America is a big transition for all refugees, learning the new language, new culture and traditions and even food are part of the assimilation of becoming a citizen of this county. Oudone struggled and survived through these difficult times, but never gave up. Oudone talks to VOA, ”I only have a year of English lesson before taking a normal life, as a working class people just like others who come to this country. I worked in the chicken packaging company in Georgia prior to moving to Virginia. I got the job as a blue-collar worker in Public works in Arlington County. I determine and continue to work hard and try to take some classes to improve my skills at work. From 1985 until a present time, I am happy to see progress at work, and I am proud of myself, even though I didn’t have much education and I’ve came this far.”

Oudone’s hard work and determination lead him to a managing role in charging more than 10 people. His daily responsibilities include a follow up on the citizens’ complain, fixing the necessary works that needed to be done such as side walk, pit and hole, and snow plowing during the snow season and a weekly meeting with other supervisors to plan the weekly schedule, short and long term planning to provide a better service to the public of that county.

Oudone hopes someday to bring back the good working system he has learned to apply and be used in his hometown in Laos someday, after he returns, of course.

Listen to audio files for a whole story.

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