The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Roses are red, violets are blue: Prepare to be “enchanted” by the Hmong Student Association Valentine’s Day dance

“All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you”
Photo by David Evbayekha
The candidate board and ballot boxes for the Hmong Student Association Valentine’s Day dance.

The UW-Eau Claire Hmong Student Association (HSA) held its annual Valentine’s Day dance on Saturday, Feb. 17 in the Dakota Ballroom of Davies Student Center. This year’s theme was “Enchanted,” inspired by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

HSA’s public relations manager Paj Ia Moua said the planning committee chose the theme to celebrate the Valentine’s Day weekend.

“We line out the most romantic words,” Moua said. “We had ‘cupid,’ ‘love,’ ‘romance,’ and then out of nowhere, we started to sing ‘Enchanted’ by Taylor Swift. Then I was like ‘oh my god, Enchanted.’”

Moua said she got a new perspective of the dance as this is her first year as an HSA executive board member.

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“You get a lot of the background stuff. You gotta know how to budget. You gotta know who to reach out to, how to reserve things. It just shows you how to be a good leader and how to think ahead, and that was really fun,” Moua said.

Community member Chi Meng Chang said there’s a lot of work that goes into planning the event.

“From my experience as an executive board member last year, planning is kinda difficult, especially with trying to figure out what snacks, desserts or drinks,” Chang said.”Promoting it out here, having candidates to join in for the Valentine’s dance. It is a lot of work but at the end of the day, we’re happy that we are able to do it.”

The candidates that Chang is referring to are the community members who are a part of HSA and get selected to be candidates.

“Usually, what we do is we make a poll or we have people [the community members] nominate. There is also a deadline for them [the selected members] to choose if they want to stay in as a candidate, or if they want to drop out,” Chang said. “We usually have around six candidates. After that, we just confirm them and then we do a promotional video with the candidates just to promote them for the Valentine’s dance.”

Anyone who attends the event gets the chance to dance with one of the candidates. One of the executive board members selects one lucky winner for each candidate by drawing a raffle ticket from each of the six boxes.

Fourth-year psychology student Ana Dolney said the experience of being a candidate for the Valentine’s Day dance is unique.

“It kinda feels a little strange, but it’s not bad,” Dolney said.

Besides dancing, anyone who goes to the event will get to take part in a community favorite, Hmong line dancing.

“I’m not Hmong, so I’m not an expert on this, but it’s basically a certain set of dance steps that you do. Everyone kinda does it together to a certain song,” Dolney said. It’s kinda really fun cause everyone kinda collectively does it, and it’s really powerful to see everyone doing this dance altogether.”

Whether you are coming from different universities and communities, HSA wants to provide joy at UW-Eau Claire.

“HSA is an organization to help promote and support our Hmong students here so people can acknowledge and understand the Hmong culture, language and community. Once you join into the organization, you’ll understand more about what it is,” Chang said.

“For Hmong Student Association, I have been in there for five years now. It’s really a home away from home,” Moua said. “It’s very great with networking, helping Hmong students to not feel as shy, especially coming from traditional or stricter backgrounds. We get to come here and feel not so lonely. I think that’s a great part about being in HSA.”

HSA is preparing for its annual culture conference, Culture Core, that will take place on March 30. That event will include a variety of performances, free food and workshops to learn the different generations of Hmong voices.


Evbayekha can be reached at [email protected]

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