#StopAsianHate: A DeSoto ISD employee’s experience reflects recent social issues
Posted on 03/31/2021
This is the image for the news article titled #StopAsianHate: A DeSoto ISD employee’s experience reflects recent social issues

Statistics are showing a dramatic increase in crimes against Asian Americans. As greater awareness is developing around the ways in which people of Asian descent are being impacted, a DeSoto ISD employee who is also a district parent, shares her perspective and her family's very real fear.


Woodridge Elementary School campus secretary Bounethavy (Nancy) Nolen recently shared on her social media page: “Not the most positive thoughts or prettiest images come to mind when you hear the word “refugee.” The thing is: refugees are strong, courageous and survivors. My family’s journey from escaping Laos Communism to a refugee camp in Thailand is a story of struggle fueled by perseverance.  There are many in this world who have had to leave behind everything they have and everything they know just to LIVE.”


Her followers, many of her friends and co-workers, expressed sentiments of having been educated and inspired by her post.  


“My storytime as a young girl was often spoken about my family’s journey to finding peace and freedom,” she explained.  “Laos was, then, and is still, one of the poorest countries in the world. It is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia surrounded by Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and China. From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance in Laos during 580,000 bombing missions. Up to a third of the bombs dropped did not explode, leaving Laos contaminated with vast quantities of unexploded ordnance. After the United States' Secret War, in fear of persecution from Lao Communist soldiers, my family planned an escape. My mother, with a toddler on her hip and four children running closely behind, ran and hid through the thick jungle. Despite the horror and dangers, every moment was a desperate struggle to survive. They crossed the treacherous Mekong River to seek Asylum in Thailand. The sadness still rings in my mother's voice as she reminisces on those who did not survive the river.” 


“Growing up in the United States was difficult for my family,” she continued. “We were faced with incredibly daunting adversity, but always persevered because there was no turning back, only looking forward.  Early on, I was taught to have thick skin. I will never forget my first parent-teacher conference. The other kids mocked and ridiculed the way our language sounded. Often, I translated for my parents and was told ‘This is America, speak English.’ I was taunted about my slanted eyes, flat nose, and my tan skin. Despite difficulties, my parents sacrificed so much for me to have a better chance at life, I kept silent because I didn't want to worry them. Instead, I did what I was told: work hard, do well in school, and make them proud.” 


Asked about safety precautions her family is implementing, Nolan confessed “anxiety levels are high! We’ve talked about being alert and being aware of our surroundings. In the recent attacks against elderly Asian Americans, my mother is frightened to leave the house. It breaks my heart to see them living in fear.”


My students have experienced unkind words. They understand that we cannot control the behavior of others, but we can always choose how to respond to it.”


Asian Americans have faced discrimination, ranging from verbal assaults to violence, but have not always reported it. In many cases, it was out of fear. It is OK for us to share our stories, to be visible, to be heard. We experience microaggressions at work and racism in our daily lives. I encourage everyone to commit to working to end the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence that are fueling these deplorable acts and injustices. Together, it is our responsibility to condemn hate and create lasting social change.” 

As DeSoto ISD launches its new strategic plan, which has components related to social justice, equity and access, the district affirms even stronger the value of Unconditional Belonging which issues charge that “Together, we are responsible for cultivating a community where everyone feels they belong and are respected, cared for and safe.”  

DeSoto ISD is committed to practices that promote racial equity and lead to becoming an anti-bias organization.