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Bee Vue

My legal name is Bee Vue but my elder name is Va Houa Vue. I was born in Xiengkhouang, Laos in 1954. I came to America in 1987.

I arrived with my family. I was young and newly married. I didn’t have any children yet. 

Traveling with me were my 3 sisters, younger brother and my mother. We traveled from Laos , crossing the Mekong River in 1984. Then we lived in Thailand until 1987 before we came to the United States. I landed in Seattle, WA, then took a connecting flight to Wisconsin, which became my home. 

At that time I was orphaned and devastated. I missed my parents. So, when I saw others playing the flute, I wanted to learn how to play it to express my sorrow.

Today I brought a flute with me. It is something that is always with me no matter where I go. If this one breaks I will replace it. I have many flutes, big and small. I leave this one here at work. The reason behind the flute is my life as an orphan. My father joined the secret war against the communist Vietnamese and was unfortunately killed at a base camp. At that time I was orphaned and devastated. I missed my parents. So, when I saw others playing the flute, I wanted to learn how to play it to express my sorrow.

From then on, I taught myself to play and kept it with me at all times. Whenever I was sad or missed my parents, I would bring it out and play. I played to express my sadness, pain, and longing for my parents and family. All of this was expressed through the flute.

This song I am playing is saying, “Your parents raised you well with a big family. Are you sad? My parents didn’t raise me well. I am an orphan and it saddens me. I am going away and am leaving you behind in this world.” That’s what the flute is singing.

These days, I am still playing the flute in the same manner. When I play, it makes me happy. It’s a great way to express sorrow and when you’re done you feel better. It’s like going to a doctor for therapy to feel better. The flute is like that for me.

The flute is very important to me. I was unable to bring my first flute here. We crossed the river and I dropped it. When we reached Thailand, I bought a new one. On our way to America, I couldn’t bring it either because it broke. So, again, I bought a new one after we arrived.

Now, I have many flutes, about 4-5 of them. I really hope that the younger generation learns to play this flute. It’s an important part of our Hmong culture. We have musical instruments like flutes and the qeej that attest for our culture. I hope young people learn to play this flute. I am willing to teach anyone who wants to learn.



Kuv lub npe hauv ntaub ntawv hu ua Npis Vwj no tam sib kuv lub npe laus hu ua Vam Huas. Kuv yug nyob teb chaws nplog nyob lub xeev XiengKhuoang, xyoo ib txhiab cuaj pua tsibcaug plaub. Kuv tuaj teb chaws no yog ib txhiab cuaj pua yimcaus xya. kuv tuaj, kuv nrog kuv tsev neeg tuaj. Thaum ntawm mas, kuv tseem hluab thias tam sib mas niam qhuab yuav poj niam ces yeej tsis tau muaj me nyuam li. Ces kuv coj kuv tsev neeg, peb muaj, kuv muaj peb tug muam, ib tug kwv uas yau kuv thias, kuv niam. Ces peb kus tuaj nplog teb tuaj ces yog xyoo ib txhiab cuaj pua yimcaus plaub peb hlas naj khoos. Peb tuaj nyob thaib teb yimcaus xya mas lim tuaj txog teb chaws no. Kuv tuaj tsaws rau Seattle, ces kuv mam li txuas nyob hoov Seattle ya los rau Wisconsin. Ces kuv qhob chaws nyob yog Wisconsin. Hnub no kuv nqa lub raj no tuaj. Lub raj no yog lub ua, kuv yeej nyob nrog lub raj no tam lis. Kuv txaws mus txog twg los kuv yeej qab lub raj no. Txaws lub no puas lawm lo kuv yeej mus yuav lwm lub li lub no. Ces kuv yeej muaj lub loj lub me, muaj ntau ntau lub tam sib lub no lub kuv cia rau ntawm kuv chaws ua hauj lwm no. Ces lub raj no tov kuv muaj li no mas kuv lub neej vim tias kuv yog ib tug me nyuam ntsuag. Kuv txiv ua rog thaum uas raug nyamlaj ces kuv txiv kuj raug mus tuag rau tsham rog lawm. Ces thaum ntawm ces me nyuam ntsuag ces yus yeej ntxom ntxom nyeb. Yeej nco niam nco txiv. Ces pom luag tej tshuab raj ces yus kuv hais tias ciaj kuv xyaum thiab es kuv kho kho siab lo kuv tau muas lub raj los tshuab hais kuv txoj kev kho siab no ces kuv thia xyaum. Xyaum tau lub raj no ces, kuv yeej muaj lub raj no coj los mus nyob nrog kuv. Ces thaum yus kho kho siab, thaum yus nco niam nco txiv ces muaj lub raj no los tshuab. Ces yus tshuab ces yus hais txoj kev kho siab, txoj kev txom nyem, txoj kev nco niam nco txiv, nco kwv nco tij, no ces nyob rau haus. 

Asian man playing a wooden flute.

This story is part of the Immigrant Stories collection. Immigrant Stories invites immigrants, refugees, and their families to create digital stories about their experiences. Each story is preserved in the Immigration History Research Center & Archives at the University of Minnesota, where we have collected materials related to immigration in the U.S. since 1965.

Biographical Details

Primary Location During Vietnam: Xiengkhouang, Laos Vietnam location marker

Story Subject: Refugee

Zaj nkauj no mas tshuab hais tias, “Koj niam koj txiv, yuas txawj yug koj, koj muaj niam muaj txiv, muaj viv, muaj ncaus. Puas kho koj siab? Kuv niam kuv txiv tsis txawj yug kuv, yug kuv tsis muaj niam tsis muaj txiv. Yuas kho kuv siab ua luaj li no. Kuv yuas muj, yuaj tshej koj nyob raj teb rooj ntug no”. Ces hais lus li no hauv no os. Nej hnub no los kuv yeej tshuab tim yaj ncaum li. Thaum kuv tshuab ces kuv zoo siab na. Ces qho no yog kuv muab hais ces, nyob li cov es nws nyuaj nyuaj siab nas, yog koj tshuab lub raj tag ces koj zoo siab lawm thiab. Ces ib yam lis cov neeg nyuaj siab es nws mus ntsim ib tug doctor tas ces ua raus nws kuj kaj siab. Ces lub raj kuj pab kuv li ntawm thiab. Lub raj yeej tseem ceev heev rau kuv. Kuv qab tsis tau vim peb hla deb peb khias los xwm ces poob lawm. Qab tsis tau. Ces tuaj txog Thai teb ces kuv rov qab yuav ib lub. Ces thaum peb tuaj ces qab tsis tau lawm thiab. Lub raj tawg lawm. Ces tuaj txog ces kuv rov qab yuav dua thiab. Ces niam nos kuv muaj ntau ntau lub os. Kuv muaj txog plaub tsib lub diam. Ntawm lub raj no mam, kuv xav kom nej cov hluas kawm xws os. Xav kawm es, qhov no yog ib qho sawv cev peb lub culture. Ces peb yuam tsum muaj raj, muaj ncas, muaj qeej. Cov no ces peb cov culture nas. Ces kuv xav kom nej cov hluas kawm thiab. Es twg twg xav kawm los tuaj kuv mam qhia os. 

Story Themes: Bee Vue, Crossing The Mekong, Escape, Flute, Hmong, Laos, Mekong River, Music, Orphan, Secret War

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