Sen Saetern is a freelance writer, photographer and bicycle mechanic. Born in Sacramento to a Iu Mien refugee family from Laos, he is now a board member of Iu Mien Community Services and travels the country to share stories from the Iu Mien diaspora. See more at sensaetern.com.
Dust kicks up in a cloud and the sound of gravel crunches as cars and trucks pull into what’s become a summer staple in the Capital Region — fresh strawberry roadside stands. The ramshackle wooden stands, with bright red hand-painted strawberry signs and makeshift awnings to shield workers from extreme summer heat, are typically open seven days a week in peak season.
The Capital Region is home to the country’s densest concentration of Iu Mien people, part of a Southeast Asian nomadic tribe with roots in Southern China. Immigrant and American-born members of the community come together to celebrate the holiday and support each other.