LAS’s Education Award Ceremony (or EAC), is one of LAS’s most important events of the year. The EAC is a major event that is usually held after the annual fundraising ball, giving recognition and awards to grade school kids, and of course, scholarships to promising Laotian college students. EAC is a program that LAS has been consistent with since it was first introduced in August of 2003.
The door to UPS Headquarters was opened right at noon welcoming everyone. The students and their parents were greeted and directed to the registration table. Registration included gathering school information that qualified them for the awards. All honor roll and perfect attendance students came in proudly. The reception hall was filled with many who have met before through LAS. Food and drink were plenty. When it comes to feeding their guests, LAS always shows the famous Laotian hospitality.
By 1 PM, EAC coordinators invited everyone to be seated inside the auditorium. The event began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Tila Malaythong. At 1:05 the event Chairperson and last year’s LAS president, Sean Sakprasit, welcomed everyone to EAC 2007. Miss LAS 2007 Busaba Sisounthone, Miss Photogenic Diana Soviravong, and LAS Cultural Director Elizabeth “Bee” Vichathep, performed “The Golden Lotus,” a Lao Nathasinh dance. The GDA (Georgia Dance Academy) dancers also gave a fabulous performance.
The program moved right along after the performances. At 1:20 the MC’s introduced the first Keynote speaker, Meiling Arounnarath, a young Laotian-American journalist from North Carolina. Ms. Arounnarath was asked to talk about “Exceeding your own expectations as well as the expectations of others.” Ms. Arounnarath was a humbled and a humorous young woman. Just 24, she broke the ice very easily with her warm smile and humor.
After the first keynote speaker’s speech, it was time for another GDA presentation of modern dance. After the exciting number, the crowd was taken by the enchanting sound of the Lao bamboo pipe or known as “Khean” in Laotian. The sound of the Lao “khean” always reminded me of a home far away.After the Khean pipers’ performance, the program resumed with the “motivational slide show.” LAS history and past activities were shown. A Lao poem,”My School” was recited by LAS’s “neice”, young Ms. Charlotte Pathoom. Pathoom is a great asset to LAS and her community. Pathoom hopes to serve as president of LAS one day.
Next, a keynote speaker and LAS long time supporter, Mrs. Yvonne Yi Yang, spoke to everyone on the importance of education: “I believe having an education is a valuable asset in order to grow and become a productive member of society. The values that I have are the guiding principles of my chosen professional career.” Ms. Yi teaches first graders at Cedar Hill Elementary, a part of the Gwinnett County School System. Ms. Yi is also currently pursuing a doctorate in education.
A special community award was given to Mr. Voranath Chanthavong, LAS’s most prominent sponsor and supporter.
The youth who came that day and lined the stage were supported and applauded by all their elders in their community. We hope as they get older they will do good for their community, whatever community they are a part of. Mr. Anisong Pathammavong, VIP guest speaker, gave a powerful message to the community. Mr. Pathammavong’s speech was quite vocal, “You must first get Educated, be Empowered, and most important of all, You must Engage yourself in your community!”
After Mr. Pathammavong’s speech, the founder of the GDA, Kinna Sayanam, gave appreciation certificates and awards to her students for a job well done. Their hard work and dedication in making GDA a success reflects on their individual ability as well as their ability to work together as a team. All her staffs including her co-founder, Ms. Yi, were recognized.
Before closing Sean Sakprasit and Dao Malaythong, gave appreciation and recognition of their own to all the volunteers who helped make the EAC 2007 event a successful one.
What LAS accomplished that day was a result of team work. As the closing remark, the president of LAS, Amy Yang thanked the Chairperson of the event, Sean Sakprasit for his services to the community and LAS. She added, “All these acts prove that he has earned the trust of his community and the corporation he works for.” Amy Yang is LAS’s fifth president.
LAS would also like to thank UPS Headquarters for once again hosting the EAC.