MAKER INTERVIEW: SEE LOR
This months Maker highlight goes to See Lor the author of Reading Karma. She is a mother, teacher, and author. Read on to learn more about why she started her own business publishing her very own books full of imagination and also some history.
1. What are the three qualities that got you to where you are today?
- Vision. I am a woman with vision and purpose. I start with a vision. With vision, I find my purpose to pursue things.
- Determination keeps me going. I don’t quit easily. I say to my kids, “We don’t quit when it gets hard, we work harder because it’s hard.”
- Persistence. When I set my mind to something, I pursue it. It’s not easy for me to quit once I make a decision. I follow through with my plan, so I can reach my goals.
2. What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
I was a dreamer. I day dreamed a lot when I was a kid. I would day dream about flying away in air balloons. So, I guess, I wanted to be a traveler when I was young. But really, this is only part of the story, because these dreams happened when I was already in America.
But when I was in Laos, and growing up in Thailand, we spent 3-5 years there. I don’t remember dreaming about becoming anything. I just remember being a kid, playing with friends. When you’re in a refugee camp, and you’re hungry, not in school, just surviving day after day, how can you dream in that kind of condition?
But … Once I was in America, I day dreamed a lot about flying away in air balloons. So maybe that’s when I started having dreams, I guess.
3. What inspired you to start doing what you do now?
My first year of teaching, I had a very diverse student body. I wanted to celebrate them by reading a book from their culture and promoting literacy. When we got to the Hmong students in my classroom, I couldn’t find many Hmong children’s books. That’s when I knew there was a need. “Why not? Why can’t I create this? This is a need!” Since then—about 20 years ago—I was determined to meet this need. I’ve been writing since then, but never published anything until 2015. I knew right away that the language, culture, and people I wanted to preserve was the Hmong people, but I didn’t know how I was going to do that back then. So, I just started writing the stories, and came up with book titles. But I didn’t publish anything because the process about 20 years ago was quite complex. I had my fair share of being rejected by publishers just like all great writers such as J.K. Rowling and Dr. Seuss.
That was my true inspiration. It happened during that first year of teaching when I realized we had very limited, and not very authentic books with the Hmong identity. I wanted to fulfill that need. The inspiration is much bigger than myself.
4. Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
My inspiration comes from students and teachers for sure. That’s why I went back to classroom teaching (instead of being an administrator). Students inspire me to write to their liking, and teachers inspire me because I hear what their struggles and challenges are, so hopefully, I can write books that are meaningful for them.
As a teacher, you know what students like, and what teachers need in order to do a good job at teaching kids. I’m able to have those conversations with teachers and students daily as a teacher. You can’t get that being a vice principal.
5. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Hawaii. I love it because of the weather. I also love the landscape, the nature, and especially the beaches. I’ve not traveled outside of the country, but Hawaii is my favorite place right now.
6. If you were home on a rainy Sunday afternoon, what movie would you most want to see on television?
A documentary about food around the world. I love watching food shows, especially when people travel to show the diversity of the world. Then maybe someday I can travel and experience that myself. Really, it’s to give me an idea of where I might want to go someday.
7. What’s your favorite time of the day?
Early in the morning because I think better when the day is new, and I am well rested.
8. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
Besides writing children’s books, I would like to write research-based personal development books for adults about “mind – body – spirit.” I am also a Hmong shaman, so my other passion is to help others live well.
9. What skill would you like to master?
I would like to master the art of meditation someday.
10. What are some small things that make your day better?
Spending time with my loved ones and spending some time to myself reading a good book.
11. If you got a free check for $5,000, how would you use it?
I would like to visit schools to do author visits to promote reading and writing.
12. Who inspires you to be better?
My children, every day. The legacy I leave is very important. It’s important to be the best version of me for them.
13. What’s one thing that you are especially good at?
I’m good at motivating other people to become the best version of themselves. I learned to do this when I was an assistant principal at a middle school, motivating students to do their personal best in school every day. I had many years of learning through trials and errors at what works best with adolescents. If you want them to perform and be the best version of themselves, you have to know how to communicate and inspire them to want to do better for themselves.
14. What’s one thing that you are especially bad at?
I’m really bad with directions. I expect myself to get lost, but I always arrive at my destination. I leave plenty of room to get lost and make mistakes, so I’m never short of a back-up plan. I am a woman with plans A, B, C, and D.
15. If you could compete in an Olympic sport, what would it be?
Gymnastics because I’m actually pretty flexible and did gymnastics in elementary school.
16. What’s a favorite book of yours?
The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.
17. What do you like most about where you currently live?
I like the location. Sacramento is in the middle. If you go south, you get the beaches and the coast. If you go north, you get the forests and mountains.
18. If you could live in a foreign place, where would it be?
Japan because I enjoy simplicity and I like visiting Buddhist shrines.
19. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Never doubt yourself. Believe that you can do anything you put your mind to.
20. What change would you like to see in the Hmong culture?
Start to appreciate the abilities of Hmong women more than just the fact that we are women. Recognize, respect, and admire the fact that Hmong women are smart and intelligent beings. We can lead. We have a lot to contribute to society and can be positive role models for both boys and girls.
21. What is your favorite thing about being Hmong?
We are very unique in terms of our clothing/textiles. We have a beautiful language and some beautiful clothes. Spiritual healing done by shamans is also another unique aspect of being Hmong.
Check out our shop to find her books.