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Taking a look at different cultures

posted Mar 30, 2016, 9:40 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 31, 2016, 9:47 AM ]

In Conway Springs, it is easy for most people to find someone who thinks the same way as they do, but that’s not the case for everyone. Junior Amber Vanhsy is like this. Vanhsy, her mom’s side of the family, and her biological dad are all Buddhists. To Vanhsy, being a Buddhist is about peace and respect.

Vanhsy and her family worship Buddha, the equivalent to the Christian God. Vanhsy goes to temple on Sunday and sometimes Saturday. The temple they go to is the Lao Buddhist Associates of Kansas. Service starts at 10 a.m. and gets out between 12 and 1 p.m. At service, some things they do is pray and eat an assortment of Asian foods.

“Service is boring because I can’t understand the prayers, but I can still say them,” Vanhsy said.

Vanhsy said being a Buddhist is more than just service on Sunday to her because it is a part of her culture. Vanhsy has several different symbols of Buddha in her house. For example, she has a poster of Buddha in her bedroom over her bed. This is because Buddha is protecting them in their home and watching over them. She also wears bracelets given to her by the Buddhist monks at the temple.

“Being a Buddhist is important to me because Buddha is always with me and protecting me,” Vanhsy said.

Buddhists also have several holidays throughout the year. One holiday that Vanhsy and her family celebrate is Lao New Year. While Lao New Year this year is on April 12, it is observed and celebrated during Memorial weekend. It is celebrated at the temple and is a weekend-long celebration with food, dancing and a good time. People set up tents everywhere to stay the night, or some will come and go. Lao New Year is open for anyone of any background to attend.

“The food or the shaving cream fights we have are my favorite parts about the festival,” Vanhsy said.

For Lao New Year, people often compete in pageants during the celebration. Junior Amber Vanhsy and a student from Derby High School competed in typical outfits during a pageant in May 2015. Photo courtesy of Amber Vanhsy.