At the core of it all

25th Anniversary of Hmong Culture Core brings in individuals from all over Wisconsin


Photo by Nick Robinson

Guests of the 2015 Culture Core filed in to the Ojibwe ballroom at the end of the breakout sessions to enjoy a meal and talent show put on by Hmong Student Association.

Story by Nick Robinson, Staff Writer

For 25 years, Eau Claire has held the annual Hmong Culture Core, bringing new views on diversity and self-identity to the campus and community. This event, which celebrates Hmong culture, was held Saturday in the Ojibwe ballroom at the Davies Center.

This event was unique in that a lot of young people from the campus went to see and enjoy its diverse message. While many Hmong community members and students filled the ballroom, people of all ages and backgrounds were a part of it, listening to speakers and enjoying a display of cultural diversity put on by students of the Hmong Student Association.

Pafoua (Pam) Her, one of the speakers at the event, said her favorite part about the event was seeing all the young people in attendance.

“All of the young people who are furthering their own education and their identity as individuals in part of our Hmong community,” Her said.

During this event, there was a strong theme of self-identity among the Hmong people who attended. Hmong individuals from all across Wisconsin and Minnesota coming to see the Culture Core event, including those from several colleges in the UW-System.

Hlu Vang, who attended the event, said he thought it was fun and enjoyable.

“Coming to these events really brings out the beauty of what being Hmong means in our culture,” Vang said. “It gives me a sense of who I am and where my ancestors came from.”

Much of what defines this event is cultural diversity. Her said this diversity is indicated by the Hmong people who came to Eau Claire to see and learn more about their own diverse culture.

“It speaks to its commitment of making sure students feel like they belong and that their identity while they’re here may be tied to the campus and also to who they are,” Her said.

This conference has been celebrated 25 years within Eau Claire, while other universities hold similar conferences of their own. Her said this special moment coincided with “40 years in America for the Hmong people.”

“I find it significant,” Her said. “It allows us as Hmong to hold an identity that will last for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Identity, belonging and diversity were the main themes captured during this conference.

Vang said the event would be filled with even more diversity if more people “outside our ethnicity will be more intertwined with it, be more open-minded about it.”

Vang said while being part of a student organization known as the Wisconsin Hmong College Coalition, he found many young Hmong individuals lose their self-identity. An event like this allows for an identity to be restored not just to one individual but to the Hmong people as a whole.

One of the main themes of the Hmong Culture Core 2015 was double consciousness.

Her defined double consciousness as the ability to “reflect on who you are based on how you were raised, the people around you, the culture in which you were born in and balancing that with who you want to be and all of the different expectations and challenges around you in your existing environment.”

There are many meanings formed from the phrase double consciousness.

Vang said this phrase means how the actions of one person can be reflected upon together with the mind and how it questions itself and its actions.