Hmong Heritage Month seeks to recognize Hmong culture

UW-Eau Claire celebrates the heritage and culture of Hmong people

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UW-Eau Claire is celebrating Hmong History Month through a series of events throughout the month.

Since 2013, April has become Eau Claire’s Hmong Heritage Month. And, this month, UW-Eau Claire looks to recognize Hmong culture and heritage with various events on campus.

“This heritage month celebration is important to me because it is a reminder to me about my family’s history and the sacrifices made by them and so many others,” Dang Yang, the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said in an email.

This year’s Hmong Heritage Month celebration was organized by Kong Pheng Pha, an assistant professor in the women’s, gender and sexuality studies department, Yang said, as well as several students, including Susan Vang, this year’s project coordinator.

Vang, a fourth-year psychology student with a critical Hmong studies minor, said she has been involved with Hmong Heritage Month since her first year.

“Hmong Heritage Month signifies the celebration of a culture and heritage of many students on this campus who identify as Hmong,” Vang said in an email. “(It) has been a way to empower Hmong students on campus to know that they can freely express and celebrate who they are and where they come from.”

UW-Eau Claire will celebrate language, customs and stories through various aspects of Hmong culture, featuring movies like “Spirits Down” and “1b Tsug 13 Hnub 2,” music, poetry and storytelling, Dang Yang said.

Although some of the events have already passed, Yang said he wants students of all ethnicities to be able to join in the celebration of Hmong culture.

“Realize that the history of Hmong Americans is the history of America, that the culture of Hmong Americans contributes to the culture of America, and that the people we celebrate are not only of Hmong descent, but of American nationality,” Yang said. “Engage actively and authentically. Show humility and be forthcoming in your lack of cultural knowledge — it’s okay to have genuine questions. Be willing to learn. Be willing to advocate and support. Be willing to step aside, when appropriate.”

Although the university takes time in April to celebrate Hmong culture and traditions, Yang said that shouldn’t mean contributions should be limited to this month alone.

Even though it should be celebrated more than just the month of April, Hmong Heritage Month is empowering, Vang said.

“It is important to also acknowledge that our Hmong community does not all come from the same background, practices and even circumstances and this month is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate every identity within the Hmong community,” Vang said.

Hmong Heritage Month activities continue throughout April. The movie “1b Tsug 13 Hnub 2” will be showing at 7 p.m. on April 23 in Centennial Hall room 1108; Hmong Karaoke is at 5:30 p.m. on April 26 in the Lookout in Hilltop Center; and “The Hmonger Games” is from 1-4 p.m. on April 27 on the main campus mall.

Hagmann can be reached at [email protected].