FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Hopeful Encounter is on a mission to provide access to education for children across South East Asia and help local youth connect to their native cultures.
The non-profit was created in Fresno in 2014 by Susan Xiong after her husband took a trip to his home village in Laos and saw that not much had changed in 20 years.
Within a year, the nonprofit built a school for 100 kids in the Village.
"He felt inspired at the same time. With the knowledge and education received here in America, he could go back and contribute and create a thriving environment for youth in South East Asia," says Susan.
In Fresno, the nonprofit focuses on youth development, health and, education.
They also help teens connect with their culture and background through dance, music, and exhibit displays.
Thong Vang is the Social Impact Strategist at A Hopeful Encounter.
He was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, raised in Fresno, and has a Hmong background.
"Since we don't have a country, the culture is such a big part of our identity as people. And so the identities connect us across generations, and also into the future," mentioned Thong.
The non-profit also operates a food pantry.
Their art room, learning center and dance groups are all centered around helping create a strong and healthy mindset
"A place where they're rooted in a place where they can say yes, I belong here in Fresno, because I have a space that tells me every single day and not just once a year about who I am, where my roots are," explained Susan.
The resources are free to use and are mostly led by youth volunteers. Volunteer opportunities are available.
Founders of A Hopeful Encounter hope to keep expanding and continue to serve the community they grew up in.
To learn more, click here.
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