Kao Kalia Yang, the award-winning author of The Latehomecomer and The Song Poet, spoke with our partner classroom for the Young Authors' Book Project (Ms. Cohen’s 9th-grade classes) at Como Park Senior High. Yang read from a chapter of The Song Poet, her father’s song for her mother, and answered questions posed by the students. The class described her answers as “inspirational, motivational, and emotional.” She concluded her presentation with a series of ghost stories.
“She was a great storyteller,” Aleeyar commented. “She helped us understand the future – what’s ahead of us and what we should do.” The class agreed that the author told her story in a meaningful way.
“I made personal connections to what she was feeling,” Deleela explained. Patricia said, “I liked the way she delivered her story. You can feel her emotions – the story came from the heart.” October elaborated, “It was emotional the way she talked about the hardships that her family went through.”
The author spoke about the challenges she experienced in a refugee camp in Thailand and the difficulties she faced growing up in St. Paul. “She gave me a new perspective on life – if you hit rock bottom, you can pick yourself up,” Trinity remarked.
Kao Kalia Yang emphasized the dedication and love of her family that made her success possible. Wah remarked, “She made me appreciate my parents more for all they do for me.” The author spoke mostly in English, but occasionally she spoke in Hmong. Kevin appreciated that she shared her love of the Hmong language and culture. “She embraced us,” he remarked.
The author will be writing the forward to the professionally published book that these students are creating with the guidance and support of the MOI (Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute) staff and volunteers, in partnership with Wise Ink Creative Publishing. Each student will contribute an essay or poem, and artists will illustrate the cover and text.
The publication of the book will be celebrated with a reception and student reading on May 22 in the Como Park Senior High auditorium. Keep your eye out for more updates!
**originally published in the Como Park Senior High newsletter.