Kao Kalia Yang ’03: “When Our Stories Come Together”
Kao Kalia Yang ’03 is a Hmong-American writer, filmmaker, and teacher; she is also a cofounder of Words Wanted, a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services.
Kalia was born in the refugee camps of Thailand to a family that escaped the genocide of the Secret War in Laos. She came to America at the age of six, and her first book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, reflects upon this move. It was the first Hmong-authored book to gain national distribution from a literary press. Her memoir, The Song Poet: A Memoir of my Father, is the first Hmong story to be adapted into an opera by the Minnesota Opera. Kalia’s other work includes her children’s books, A Map Into the World and The Shared Room, as well as a ground-breaking collection titled What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color and a collective memoir about refugee lives, Somewhere in the Unknown World.
Her work, which has been recognized by several prestigious awards, is passionate and eloquent as she seeks to deepen the understanding of the human condition in order to garner more compassion in the world.