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Crossing Cultures


Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

It's a bone chilling November evening in 1979. Members of Sheie and Garness Lutheran Churches of rural Mabel wait in the LaCrosse airport for a family coming across the Mekong River, Laotian mountains and centuries of cultural territory. The two churches are sponsoring a Hmong family to leave their refugee camp in Laos and come to live in the United States. After learning about the Hmong history and their present distress, many churches across our country are doing the same.

The Hmong are an ancient people who migrated from South-central Eurasia into China thousands of years ago and into Laos during the 19th century. In the 1960's, the U.S. government recruited Hmong men to rescue American pilots shot down over North Vietnam. Approximately one hundred Hmong died for every pilot they saved. When the United States withdrew >from the Vietnam War in 1975, it withdrew support for its Hmong allies, many of whom sought refuge in neutral Thailand. To get to Thailand, they had to cross the Mekong River. About 50,000 people made it across. About 50,000 died trying.

Chou Vang, his wife Xia, their young daughter Ahzoua and Grandmother Mia are among the lucky ones who made it safely into Laos, but not without the loss of two sons. These are the people we are waiting for in the LaCrosse airport. Suddenly they are standing in front of us, four real people, not just names on paper. Our guests look tired and bewildered. We welcome them as best we can, then Pastor Jay drives them back to Mabel and the house we have prepared for them, a house filled with donations of furniture, bedding, kitchen utensils and food.

We hope we can make this family feel at home here. The culture they left is so different from ours. They are accustomed to living in extended families or clans. Everyone plays an important role. They are blacksmiths, jewelers, wood-workers, weavers, seamstresses, hunters, herbal doctors and shamans. They are animists; for them, natural phenomena and objects, such as houses, rocks, and the wind are alive and have spirits. They record their history in patterns of the "Pandau," or brightly colored fibers woven into ceremonial cloth.

They are not accustomed to our modern conveniences. They do not know our language. One of our most important tasks is to teach our guests English. It is my job to coordinate their language teaching program. In preparation, I have studied English teaching techniques and learned .....
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Fillmore County Pork Producers
Hoffman Stables

Beneath Tropical Seas

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polis ..... 
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Escape from America

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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Industrial Cooking

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, March 26, 2001

You may have heard of "old wives tales". I have an "old farmer attitude" when it comes to cooking. When it is my turn in the kitchen, I tend to press on to get the job done regardless of obstacles. If I donít have an ing ..... 
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Money Well Spent

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

I sat in a seat in the middle of the theatre and looked upward.

ďThe ceiling is still up there after all these years,Ē I thought. Masonite panels tacked up with nails and painted green. Usually the lights are lo ..... 
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Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Journal Opinion

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Facilities Committee served the people well
March 26, 2001

For all practical purposes, the the Facilities Evaluation and Planning Committee have concluded their work.

Commissioned by the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners i ..... 
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To the Editor,

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
Posted in

Monday, March 26, 2001Please, please, Fillmore County residents, stop and think before you open our area to developers and/or new residences on "10-acre woodlots." We now, in year 2001, have fertile land, plenty of woods, and relatively unpolluted ai ..... 
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To the Editor,

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
Posted in

Monday, March 26, 2001I have been reading about the County Engineer not being offered a contract. I have not heard or seen anything in the paper about the commissions being dissatisfied with his work. This whole thing, to me, smacks of closed meeting ..... 
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