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A butterfly sitting atop flowers in Yellowstone Lake State Park.
Photo: Trevor Keller/PBS Wisconsin

This week, we're sharing stories about people who are making the best out of tough situations.

First up is a Milwaukee writer who knows that forgiveness is ever-changing and often difficult to express. Next is the story of a seamstress who lost her son, but found a new way to make memories using her needle and thread.
Then, we meet a family who is among the large numbers of farmers who have sold their dairy cows in order to survive. After that, a story about the fight for education in Madison's Hmong community.

Finally, we hear from a woman who shares her story of moving from Laos to Eau Claire.

We hope your week is a good one,

-The "Wisconsin Life" Team

Finding forgiveness is deeply personal. Sometimes, it’s easy to forgive someone who’s wronged you and move on. Other times, the road to forgiveness is long and bumpy. But what if forgiveness isn’t an option?

Writer Deshawn McKinney of Milwaukee is exploring this in his new, debut collection of poetry, “father forgive me." He shares one poem from that book, “On Forgiveness.” 


Seamstress Uses Her Skill to Mend Broken Hearts

Sewing is how Kelly Kowaleski would bond with her son, Brady. She would sit in her sewing room while he was sitting in the room next door. They’d chat back and forth. It was a special time for Kelly and Brady.

At the age of 15, Brady tragically passed away in a hunting accident. Kelly lost interest in sewing. Kowaleski went months without picking up a needle or thread. It wasn’t until she started sorting through a pile of Brady’s old clothes that she had an idea. Taking the fabric from a few old shirts, Kowaleski began stitching together a new set of memories.

It's a story that is all too common in Wisconsin. A local farms has to close or change their focus due to economics, work loads or other reasons. The Reisinger's farm is one such story. After over 100 years of dairy farming, the Reisingers have had to sell their dairy cows in order to survive.

Hmong Parents Help Bridge The Culture Gap for Hmong Kids

When Hmong parents worked with the Madison Metropolitan School District to devise a way to look specifically at Hmong student achievement in 2012, the results were an unpleasant surprise: three in ten students were doing math at grade level. One in ten kids were reading at grade level.

Mai Zong Vue, a community advocate, was among those parents and immediately got to work. Along with her husband, Peng Her, she co-founded the Hmong Language and Culture Enrichment Program in 2013.

In the mid-1970s, Lisa Chue Thao and her family had to leave their whole world behind. Their farm, their friends, their home. They lived in northwest Laos and the horrors of war were creeping in. So, they started walking and ended up in a refugee camp in Thailand. In the 1980s, Lisa moved to Eau Claire and raised her family there. She shares that experience in this essay, which she told to and is read by her daughter, Yia Lor.

This newsletter was sent to <<Email Address>>. Wisconsin Life is a co-production of Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.

Funding for Wisconsin Life comes from Alliant Energy, Lowell and Mary Peterson, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the Friends of Wisconsin Public Television. For questions or comments about Wisconsin Life, please use our contact form.

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