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Meet Nou: Fox Valley Site Director

At the end of 2023, Tami McLaughlin retired as Site Director for World Relief Wisconsin, after 10+ years of service and dedication to the community. In January, we welcomed Nou Huse (pronounced “New”) as the next Site Director for the Fox Valley office.  

Nou considers herself to be 1.5 generation Hmong-American. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, but her family was resettled to the US when she was only 10 months old. She mostly grew up in the Fox Valley and graduated with a double major in Intercultural Studies and Urban Ministry.  

After completing her studies Nou spent 6+ years abroad, most notably in Bangkok, Thailand engaging in cross-cultural ministry, education, and community development.  

In 2021 she moved back to the States and reestablish herself in the Fox Valley. Shortly after, she joined the staff at World Relief Wisconsin and has since held several positions within the organization.  

We sat down with Nou to learn more about her as she steps into this position.  

What motivates you to work in refugee resettlement? 

I would say my personal history of coming from a family with refugee background. But also, my previous engagement with refugees overseas. I have a heart to continue to engage in this area of work.  I’m very internally motivated, meaning I make decisions based on the values I have developed for myself, so being in meaningful work is a big thing for me. Whatever I do has to add value to who I am and enrich my life, so this work answers all of that. 

What drew you to this particular role?   

I learned early on that I have natural leadership skills. Through engaging those skills, I know I lean heavily towards processes, trying to make sense of and connecting the parts and pieces to the larger organization or issue. I enjoy looking at existing systems and asking “How can this be improved? What is missing and what can we build on to this” and then taking all those analytical pieces and applying them to a community.  

I’ve worked in fields that tend to be heavier in the social, spiritual and emotional sense, so I know that I can’t solve every problem and it’s not my place to. Rather I try to be intentional with the choices I make day to day and rely on my team to bring their expertise to work together. I don’t see myself as a one-woman warrior who is going to come fix every problem but really like the fact that this work is best accomplished through high collaboration, and continuous learning. 

What excites you the most thinking about the future of this office?   

I think the potential for growing deeper, as far as staff and capacity. I want to grow and develop staff to really understand the work and become experts in what they do. 

I’m also excited to reach out and work with the community. I want to see the established community grow deeper knowledge of refugee resettlement and welcoming newcomers.  

And, of course, having been raised in an immigrant community in the valley I want to see the newcomers we are welcoming thrive.   

How do you hope to see our community continue to change in order to welcome well? 

Growing up in Appleton, besides school and being in public places, my community was mainly Hmong people. That’s who I saw daily, who I went to church with. Since growing up, moving away, and coming back, I see development. It’s no longer just predominately the white community and the Hmong community but we have pockets of diversity and there are more people in this area now that have made it their home.  

Since working with World Relief, I have interacted with a lot the people from the majority White culture, and most of them are very open to community and friendship with people who don’t look like them, people that are different than then. Growing up, I didn’t really experience this side. So, my hope is that we continue to make this visible, where it’s not an exotic thing to have a friendship with someone who doesn’t look like you or eat like you. It’s just normal. I hope that the lines that used to exist in the community will continue to be broken and erased. I want there to be more real integration and mutual transformation by the sharing of culture and experiences.  

I think this is done through relationship and hospitality. Opening your doors to people and sharing a meal. It’s not in the big strategies – it’s in choosing to have relationships that can be sometimes uncomfortable. Sitting with someone and sharing the same food breaks barriers, it’s powerful.  

If we were to run into you on the weekend, what might we find you doing?  

I would probably be baking sourdough bread, doing laundry, and preparing dinner. I like to cook, so on the weekends I try to make something nice.  

We are so excited to have Nou leading our Fox Valley office as we seek to welcome and serve refugees and immigrants in Northeast Wisconsin.

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