Wang Chao Lee
Wang Chao Lee, 51, is a pastor who lives and works on the north side of Milwaukee. Born in the northern part of Laos, his family faced discrimination to get to where they are today. His parents and four siblings fled the country into a refugee camp in Thailand for four and a half years. On December 13, 1979 they arrived in Missoula, Montana.
Coming to the United States was a monumental event in Pastor Lee's life. He had finally been given an opportunity to make a life for himself. Yet life in the new world was not easy. Although he had the freedom to pursue life in any way he chose, he still faced obstacles. Lee and the other immigrants who came from Laos were discriminated against at their high school. So they learnt to stay together and look out for one another.
Lee's decision to become a pastor came as a surprise to him because he had planned to be an architect his entire life. Wang Chao attended St. Paul Bible College in Minnesota. After he graduated in 1988, he went on a mission trip to South America to help the Hmong set up a community center that provided education and a religious setting.
When Lee and his family moved to Milwaukee, he had a choice to live in a wealthy neighborhood or a low income neighborhood. Because he serves God and the people around him, he chose to settle in a less wealthy neighborhood. He explains that he did so, "for the purpose of rebuilding a community. I like to see people upgrade in life." In hopes that his community will follow his lead, he and his family heavily renovated the house and they continue make a lasting impression on the neighborhood by their community work.
Wang Chao Lee, Interviewed by the BLC Field School, June 2016