Pao | Jenny
S. | Cristina | Jeremy
G. | Izzy L. | Dylan
| Martha | Sara K.
| Mark T. | Gabby
| Izzy S. | Pakou
| Benjamin | Tim | Nate
Today at the Kaj
Siab House, we learned how to play the top game. We also saw
the food that they cooked. The food that they cooked were
egg rolls, stir-fry, rice/sticky rice, and this noodle dish.
There were also music at the Kaj Siab House. The instruments
were k’eng, flutes, and see saw (Xim Xaw). At the Kaj
Siab House, we had a lot of fun. We played a top game. The
player will have to throw the top and try to hit the one that
is spinning on the ground. If you knock it down, you’ll
get a point or something.
Today I observed that Hmong egg roll
dip is almost kind of like the Chinese egg roll dip but the
Chinese dip is sweeter and they don’t have any pepper
in the egg roll dip and there was a different one and that
one was hotter than the other one and it was tiny. There was
a qeej player and his name was Et I think and he was dancing
when he was playing the qeej and I thought it would take a
lot of practice playing the qeej and dancing at the same time
and I thought if you play the qeej like him you would have
to take a lot of breath to play a long song. When we were
playing Hmong games I observed that the rubber band game was
different than the one we played at Bayview. We call it the
qej kog kai and when we play in group and we play
it we jump in a different way. The game we played was kind
of similar to escape the tops.
At first when I looked at the food
I thought I’d not like it. But when I got the plate
I did not know what to get. When I looked at the food, well
it smelled good and looked good. I only like the rice, bread,
soup and punch. I liked the rice because it’s sticky
and tasty. I liked the bread because it has the taste of canela
etc. I learned that you can’t trust the lunch by its
cover. The same thing as with a book. The games were great.
The first game you played by throwing the rock and ten sticks
up and catch the rock. If you catch it you go on but if you
don’t that means you lose. I learned if you get all
of the ten sticks you start the game again but of course you
start out with two sticks. If you win that one you start another
game but this time three, then four, then five sticks and
etc. Another game is jumping over the string. I couldn’t
do any of them well except the first because it was low. Then
it got higher until no one could jump over. I forgot the rules
and I didn’t bring my note book out so I didn’t
write anything down so I can’t write anything about
Today at the Kaj Siab House I learned
how to play Hmong games that I never had heard of and seen
played before. I also learned that Hmong like hot spicy foods
and have rice you eat with your fingers. Many different cultures
have different foods than I am used to. I learned that k'eng
players not only played k'eng, but they also dance to their
music and most Hmong cultural music has meaning that speaks
for itself. Today going to the Kaj Siab House on the bus I
was a little nervous on how the Hmong elders would react.
I also wondered how the food would taste and if it would be
very spicy. When the school bus pulled up I was pretty frightless,
but I still had a little bit of it. We entered the Kaj Siab
House and the smells were familiar and different. The smells
of people was the same, but the air smelled a little like
the food. After we got out our note books, we headed out for
a quick tour of the building. Mr. Wagler asked if anybody
wanted to see the food and interview the cooks. I think that
everybody went to interview the cooks.
I never thought I would have had so much
fun as I had at the Kaj Siab House. The food was delicious,
the entertainment was awesome, and the games were so fun!
But the Kaj Siab House sure gave me some surprises. First
of all, when we came out of the room where we had put our
coats and backpacks, a man passed in front of me. Behind him
was an elderly man. I let him pass. He then stopped in front
of me, reached down and tousled my hair. Then he went on.
I was amazed how welcoming they were to us! They did so much.
Next stop was the kitchen. They were making noodles, pork,
carrots, stir-fry and egg rolls (those were just the main
dishes). There are different dishes in which different things
are made in. For example, big bowls are usually for things
like stir-fry and noodles, since they serve a lot of those.
Then we all gathered in a big room at the center of the Kaj
Siab House. First there were acknowledgments, then some speeches,
and then a gift to the Kaj Siab House. It was a big wooden
sign that said, “Welcome to the Kaj Siab House”
in big letters with translation in Hmong on the bottom. There
were designs all around the words and a frame that looked
as if it was made of bamboo. The entertainment followed. First
a man came out with four flutes. He told us that Hmong think
flutes can speak to you. The first flute was called the tambla.
It was big and played a little like our flute, except it was
lower and bigger. Next there was a little flute, played a
bit like a recorder, except it was higher and more piercing.
The man sometimes slid his fingers when playing it, perhaps
to make it quicker. The lei mei was the next flute he played.
It was skinny, and it looked like the little flute, but it
sounded more like a tambla. Next was the little tambla. It
sounded like the tambla, except quicker and higher. After
that, he asked us if we had heard the flutes talk. I don’t
know if I did. The next piece of entertainment was a teenager
playing the qeej (keng). He wore Hmong clothing and he had
bare feet. He was making gestures with the qeej in a sort
of dance. As he danced the coins on his clothing jingled,
making even more music. Last in the entertainment was a player
playing the Hmong violin. It had a wider bow than ours and
he moved around while he played it. Its strings were very
taught and pulled away from the wood/bamboo. It had only a
few strings but it was interesting to listen to! After lunch,
we learned how to play some Hmong games. Spin the top is one.
Another is jump over the rope. One is a little like jacks,
except it’s played with sticks and rocks. We tried to
play all of them! I was having so much fun that I didn’t
want to leave. All of the people encouraged us to come back.
They sure were hospitable hosts! I hope we’ll go back
Today at Kaj Siab House I learned about
cooking, Hmong instruments and about Hmong games.
We interviewed some Hmong women about the dishes they made
for lunch. The first one was a noodle dish. It had thin noodles,
and vegetables in it. The next one was one that had baby corn,
pepper, and vegetables, and a sauce on it. It also has pork
in it. It is stir fried. In the egg rolls there are noodles,
carrots, meat and eggs. They are delicious!
First there was a man who played four different kinds of Hmong
flutes. The first one was a long, deep sounding flute. The
second one was a small, high pitched flute. When he played
that one he moved his fingers very quickly. The third one
was a thin, medium sized flute. It was low sounding but not
half as low as the first flute. The third flute was a medium
sized flute that was pretty thick. Its pitch was in between
high and low. The next performer was a qeej player named Etti.
He danced really fast while he played the qeej. It didn’t
sound like he took one breath. The next man played a Hmong
violin. The sound was very high. The bow is underneath the
strings. The bottom kind of looks like a drum.
Outside we played a game where you make a top spin on a board
with a stick with a string on it. You wind the top up in the
string then whip it onto the board. Then other people try
to knock your top off with their tops. The game is very fun.
Another game is where you try to jump over a string of rubber
bands. You can push the rubber band down a bit, but then you
jump over it. That was my favorite part.
I learned how to play a Hmong game a lot like jacks, one game
I didn’t know the name of that had spinning tops in
it, and a game where you jump over a rope of rubber bands.
There was purple colored sticky rice, normal white rice, some
rice noodle dish with pork and some green leafy plant and
a dish sort of like cashew chicken except with baby corn and
mushrooms. They also had egg rolls. They were my favorite
They had two kinds of drinks at the Kaj Siab House, some kind
of grape Kool-Aid and a squash. They also had water fountains.
Today I learned a lot about Hmong games
that are really fun. I think its unusual that there are men’s
games and women’s games. In my family, if we like a
game we play it. We don’t have to be a certain gender.
I also learned that there are a lot more Hmong instruments
than the k'eng. I think the violin looking one was interesting
because of its sound and where you place it on your body when
you play it. I also didn’t know that the k'eng sounded
like so many instruments we’re playing. I think it’s
kind of cool that way. What was also interesting was the rice
was purple. The rice I usually eat is white or brown, not
purple. I noticed that Hmong food is a lot like food in the
other cultures of Thailand, like the really thin noodles I’ve
ordered all the time in Thai restaurants. I also thought that,
in a way, Hmong culture is a lot like my culture. For an example,
they like games and I like games. But, then again, when I
think of games, I think checkers or tag. When they think of
games, they think of hit the top with another top, jacks,
or jump over the rubber band.
At the Kaj Siab House there were padaus
and a little qeej hung up on the wall with the pandau. The
Hmong women were cooking some food to eat. Some of the Hmong
women cooked a noodle dish and it looked delicious. In the
noodle dish they cooked the meat first and then made the vegetables
and put them in the bowl. If you put the noodles in boiling
water the noodles would get softer. The stir-fry dish had
lots of vegetables in it. The egg rolls had eggs in them.
The egg rolls could also have any kind of meat. Lee Pao Yang
is a flute player because he looks like he has a lot of flutes.
Tha bli is a flute that he plays. Tha gia is what Lee Pao
has. The laylay sounds low and not very loud. Et was playing
the qeej and dancing with the qeej. He was wearing Hmong clothes
with money on the clothes. The qeej looked like it was singing.
Et is also a Hmong singer. Et is a junior student. Sea saw
is like an instrument. It’s a stringed instrument. The
sound of the sea saw is soft and gentle.
Most of the people at the center are
Hmong elders. There are two story cloths and one of them is
a picture of them escaping Laos and it shows them in the USA.
But both of the cloths have writing on them, which they usually
don’t. Next to one of the cloths there was a mini-qeej
but I am not sure if it really works. There also are some
pictures of the Hmong villages and people in them. For lunch
they made a noodle dish with pork, onions, peanuts and a lot
of vegetables. They made the noodles soft by soaking them
in water and then they stirred the vegetables in. Another
dish was a chicken stir-fry with some onions, peppers, nuts,
baby corn, and some mushrooms. That dish was very spicy. They
are able to make a lot of food quickly for about fifty people
in like two hours. They also made egg rolls. The egg rolls,
of course, had eggs, carrots, noodles and some pork. At the
place there was a picture of a Hmong house and what was around
the house. I think that they are going to use it to help them
build one for the exhibit. There was also a big huge fan on
the wall that had a picture of a Hmong village on it. The
Hmong flute sounds a lot different than the ones that I hear.
There are a few different sizes of flutes and they all have
different sounds. There was also a Hmong violin and it had
a bow and everything, but it only had one string so you would
have to work differently on the Hmong one. There was also
a game called tulu and they played it for us. You have to
take a top thing and spin it with a stick and string onto
a piece of cardboard or hard surface. Then each team has a
chance to hit it off with another top and string. Another
game is a game that is kind of like jacks, only with a rock
and sticks. Once you get all ten of the sticks, you start
over and you have to pick two sticks up, and the next time
three sticks, etc. another game is when you take a bunch of
rubber bands and tie them together like a rope and you keep
raising it higher and you have to keep jumping over it. I
forgot one thing about lunch. There was a lot of rice. There
was this different kind of rice that was purple and sticky
but it tasted the same.
Kaj Siab House is a place where Hmong
elders can get together and talk in Hmong about both old and
new times. Though most people there speak Hmong, some people
speak English, too. They helped translate. One on informational
poster on the wall, I read about a typical Hmong household,
which would consist of a house, a storage shed for food, a
community school, a blacksmith’s shop, pig pen, cow
barn, horse stall, chicken coop and a fenced-in garden. The
food they served us was delicious. There was a noodle dish
with noodles as well as pork, carrots, peanuts and onions.
We also had two different kinds of rice, one white and the
other sticky. The egg rolls were filled with the noodle dish
and they were my favorite. Later, we heard a handful of Hmong
instruments played, four different flutes, the keng and the
Hmong violin. After that we were introduced to some Hmong
games. One was a top game, and another was a game where you
have to jump over a huge rubber band. The last was a game
like jacks but it was played with sticks and a stone.
Pao Vang is a manager at the Kaj Siab
House. There’s a woman whose name is Sheng Vang. She
said to all the people that were at the Kaj Siab House that
the people who work there made the dinner for the people who
work at the Children’s Museum because they are helping
the Kaj Siab House. Coral gave Tim a sign that says welcome
to Kaj Siab House. They made it for the house. There was a
musician that played some instruments called ndaj plai, ndaj
jhia and another kind of flute. There’s a boy called
Et Yany and he goes to East High School and at Kaj Siab House
he played the qeej. Chang Xiong played a sea saw and it kind
of looked like a violin. When we went to the kitchen, they
made some noodle dish, egg rolls and more things that had
vegetables in them. I really liked the peppers. Outside, some
elders played touloue. I don’t really know how to explain
things like how you play this or what it’s made of.
At the Kaj Siab House, I learned
how to make some Hmong foods. To make a noodle dish, you make
the noodles soft in water. Then you put pork and vegetables
into the noodles before mixing them all up to make egg rolls.
You basically put this stuff in the wrapping and you have
an egg role. These things are not very traditional. I also
learned what the traditional Hmong household is like. It has
seven pieces. The first one is a home, of course, then there
is a storage place close by. There is also a school and blacksmith,
there is a pig pen, stables, cow place and a chicken coop.
There is also a fenced-in garden. A funny Kaj Siab House custom
is that when they say something is at a certain time, it is
thirty minutes to one hour after that (today we were right
on time). Hmong people use all sorts of things to represent
Hmong history and culture. At the Kaj Siab House, we saw quilts
called story cloths representing farming and immigration.
We also saw a fan that had a painting of a Hmong village,
in Laos, probably. I learned how to play some Hmong games
there, too. In one of them, one team spins a top like thing
on a board with a stick and string. The other team has the
same materials to try to knock it down. In another game, you
throw up a rock and a bunch of sticks, let the sticks fall
and catch the rock. Then you throw up the rock, pick up a
stick, then catch the rock with the stick in your hand. You
keep doing this until you have all the sticks, kind of like
jacks. The last game I learned is very simple, you merely
jump over a long rubber band. To play some Hmong instruments,
this is what you do. To play a Hmong violin, you put a barrel-like
thing and bow across the strings. You blow into qeejs and
When we first got to Kaj Siab House, we
first put our coats away. Then we went into the main area
and had welcoming speeches for a half-hour. Then came the
performers. The first was a man who played four different
flutes, and he played them all for us. On the first, it sounded
like a kazoo was in harmony with a jug blower, or a set of
pan pipes. The second was more kazooish, as though there were
now several people with one set of pan pipes. The third was
amazing. On the lower notes it was the sound of blowpipes,
the upper notes, a qeej. I do not remember the fourth. The
next performer was a qeej (pronounced keng) player. As he
played the qeej, he did an intriguing and mesmerizing dance,
and it was obvious that he was barefoot. I didn’t know
why. The final performer was playing a Hmong violin, a one-stringed
instrument. It had a drum-type base and a long stick to which
the string was attached. I cannot describe it beyond this.
Next, we went to the kitchens. We saw some of the things the
Hmong cooks were making for lunch. They were making a noodle
dish, egg rolls, and other things which I didn’t see.
Then it was lunch. After lunch, we went outside. We saw a
game called Toolee. They took large tops and spun them with
string on sticks. Then someone else threw a top at the spinning
one, trying to knock the top over. Then, we tried to jump
over a giant rubber band, held shoulder high. There was an
element of sport about it, with some mention of good teams
and strategies. But I did not latch on.
Some Hmong culture I observed is that
they are great dancers and musicians. My favorite instrument
played was the qeej. The man who played the qeej danced to
the rhythm of his playing. He was wearing traditional clothing
and strapped to a vest were hundreds of little coins so that
when he danced they clanged together and made a cool sound.
Another cool thing about Hmong culture is the food they make.
It was delicious. I especially liked the bowl of soup broth
with noodles, many vegetables, and peppers. Everyone except
me thought that the peppers were very hot. My personal favorite
thing that I observed today was the games Hmong people play.
The one I liked the most was the one where people would start
a big wooden or plastic top in the middle and two teams tried
to knock it off a board that was under it. If a person on
your team knocked it off, your team got a point!!
We went to the kitchen where they make these wonderful things.
The egg roll is one of the favorites among our class. They
showed us, well, actually, they told us how to make them.
You put pork (or whatever meat you’d like) in and some
noodles and vegetables in a bowl. Then you wrap some of the
noodles, vegetables and pork in the egg wrapper and work.
Most of their food ways they’ve adopted from America.
They served Kool-Aid and had stir-fry and nice combinations
of both cultures.
On the street, Hmong wear clothes just like you and I. But
on special occasions, and sometimes when playing instruments,
they wear their traditional clothes. Traditional clothes often
have coins hung on them. They often have bright colors like
bright pink and neon orange. They tend to have triangles and
circles, too! They have spirals, too!
Well, today we saw a ‘k’eng being played. This
k’eng player would play and travel around and do dances.
He’d go in circles in one place at first, then he’d
go in circles with one foot up. Then he began to go in a big
circle, spinning around. Near the end, he went in zigzags,
too! Someone played something called the Hmong violin. It
has a wooden bow and two strings. There’s a barrel down
near the bottom with a silver shine. These instruments sound
like something you’ve never heard before. The k’eng
is supposed to talk to spirits. That way, people can tell
when you’re faking. These instruments are used for more