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"Before tying the knot, I was living in Wausau while my wife, Kaleah, was living in Port Washington." said Long Lor. "We both knew that we wanted to start our lives together in Wausau because of family but didn’t know exactly how things were going to work due to our careers and having to make that sacrifice."
"The day after our traditional Hmong wedding, as my wife was driving back to Port Washington for work, she received two calls for two separate interviews and was offered her current job the same day." said Long. "The saying that 'If you’re on the right path you’re meant to be on, everything falls into place,' became a reality for us because everything worked out."
A month later, in September 2015, the couple held their American wedding, and Kaleah moved to Wausau.
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Long Lor has worked as the senior student advisor at Rasmussen College for six years. He has a Bachelor's Degree in telecommunication management from DeVry University, A Bachelor's Degree in accounting from Rasmussen College and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Strayer University.
Kaleah Moua has worked as a web content specialist at Gamber-Johnson in Stevens Point for four years. She has a Bachelor's Degree in web and digital media development and an Associate's Degree in web development from Rasmussen College.
"The sports I enjoy playing are soccer and tennis." said Long. "I’ve played soccer since the third grade and played through high school. I was a four-year varsity starter from 1996-2000 for the D.C. Everest Evergreens. In the last ten years, I’ve picked up tennis and taught myself the game of tennis by watching people play on YouTube. I play tennis with friends and family at least once or twice a week during the summer."
In addition, volunteering is something that Long values.
"I’ve volunteered since high school with the Boys and Girls Club." said Long. "I’ve volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association in Detroit, Michigan. Since moving back to Wausau in 2010, I have served as a board member for the MC United Soccer Club and Salvation Army."
"Due to my passion for helping the community grow, I’ve ran as a candidate for President of the Hmong American Center Board this past August." said Long. "I won the election and am now the acting Board President at the Hmong American Center, Inc. This is a non-paid position, and the term is for two years."
The couple is very passionate about helping the Hmong community. They have participated in the Wausau Area Hmong New Year committee and held positions on the Wausau Area Hmong New Year board.
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Long is the co-owner with his sister at Pho 76, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant.
"Pho is a Vietnamese beef broth soup." said Kaleah. "Long is the marketing manager for Pho 76, while I do the graphic design work."
"My goal with Pho 76 is to teach the community about the authentic food from Vietnam." said Long. "This winter, I’d like to serve pho at the local Salvation Army or shelter for the community so they can taste the different dishes from Vietnam."
Kaleah, loves to run. She is a long-distance runner having participated in several 5k runs around the state. She also has a passion for graphic design and web development and has designed flyers, printed pieces, logos and websites for the community.
"I enjoy anything that involves crafting and creating." said Kaleah.
"We have a traditional type of Hmong family, where my mother lives with us." said Long. "She has a green thumb and is very passionate about herbal treatment. She is the center of our family and is one of the main reasons that everyone in the family visits us."
The family loves walking together along Lake Wausau.
"It’s a way for us to bond and develop good healthy habits for our family." said Long. "We also take a lot of pride and joy in watching Amelia grow, discover and learn how to do things on her own. Amelia is a tiny girl with a lot of personality."
Amelia is only a year old and her parents are teaching her to be bi-lingual.
"My wife talks to her in English while I talk to her in Hmong." said Long. "We want her to know both languages so she can communicate with her grandparents when she’s older. Right now, she enjoys dancing and watching Baby Shark."
"We’ve enjoyed living here because of the neighbors." said Kaleah. "Everyone is so friendly and kind to each other."
The family has been able to share a bit of their Hmong culture with their neighbors, inviting them to experience and join in cultural ceremonies and family gatherings.
"Our neighbors have been very receptive and open to learning about the Hmong culture." said Kaleah.
The family enjoys outdoor movie nights and BBQs during football season in their neighborhood.
Long's father was involved in the Vietnam War, meaning that his family had to move from Laos to Thailand and then eventually to the United States for safety. As the war ended, anyone who supported the United States were persecuted by the communists.
"I remember waking up in the middle of the night, and my dad telling us that we’re leaving for Thailand." said Long. "I was five years old and afraid that this could be the last time I would see my family together, knowing the walk from Laos to Thailand would be dangerous."
There were about 20 people, ranging from children to adults on this journey to find a new and safe home away from the communists. The walk took two nights and three days in the cold rain with little food.
"Along the way, I witnessed little kids being fed with opium so that they could stay quiet and keep everyone safe." said Long. "Sadly, I saw a baby died along the way because she couldn’t handle the amount of opium that was given to her to stay quiet. The opium had overdosed her."
"As we were getting closer to the refugee camp of Ban Vinai in Thailand, I remember my dad telling me that I had to leave with my mom, so if we were to get caught, the Thai police officers would not harm the children." said Long. "I thought about the possibility of being away from my dad and brothers, and was afraid this could be the last time I would see them. Luckily, nothing happened to my family and we all eventually came together in Thailand for a little over a year before we were sponsored by a family to come to Spokane, WA, on November 1 of 1988."
Through this journey, Long learned to never take anything for granted.
"I believe we’re all been given an opportunity to work hard and become someone that we want to be." said Long.
We always try to get around all the national parks in Wisconsin to do some hiking. Our frequent trips have been to California once a year to see family. The last trip we were on was for a baby shower and then a ride along the west coast on Highway 1, which was a beautiful site to see. This winter, we will be taking Amelia to Disneyland.
This article initially appeared in Wausau Neighbors magazine, Best Version Media
Photos by Natalie Helen Photography