Thomas | Alex
| Pakou | Sarah M.
At WAHMA (Wausau Area Hmong Mutual
Association) we spent the afternoon with two youth groups.
The groups [were established] to keep young people out of
trouble. The first one showed us a game that involves teamwork.
We had to build a structure using ten straws, fifteen marshmallows,
and one balloon. Later, another youth group came and taught
us some Hmong games. One was the Ball Toss.
In this game you get a partner (normally a girl if you’re
a boy) and you toss a ball made of fabric. If you drop the
ball you owe the other player a piece of jewelry or money.
In another game, we’d lined up and when the line started
to run around the leader tries to catch the person at the
end. The last game we played was like Duck Duck Goose, but
instead of tapping the person you leave a small object behind
Wausau at WAHMA some teenagers taught us how to play some
Hmong games played in Laos and Thailand. First, we played
a game called Ball Toss, a simple game where you toss a ball
back and forth. This game was played mainly for the Hmong
New Year. The game was made for boys and girls to talk to
The second game we played has many different
names such as Dog Chases the Tail and Caterpillar. You have
a line of at least five people holding on to each other, and
the person at the front tries to catch the person at the end
without breaking the line. This game is harder than it sounds.
[In Laos] they would play this game all night. The third game
is kind of like Duck Duck Goose...
first game we all tried was Ball Toss. Hmong people play this
game at the New Year, mostly a boy and girl toss the ball
to each other so they can get to know each other. Usually
two people toss a ball with only one hand. The other game
is called Caterpillar. The way you play it is a group of people
holds each other on the waist and then the person at the head
needs to catch the person at the tail. It keeps going in different
patterns. I’m pretty sure this game was made to [create]
community. This game shows me that whatever we do we need
to keep hold of our friends...
“When all is said, and all is done,
working together does not just bring out the best in all of
us, it brings out the best in each of us.” That is one
of the first things Mai Kao Moua told us. She is the director
of the Hmong Women’s Circle. The group is fairly small,
but Mai hopes that it grows to be like the Girl Scouts, and
that teenage girls all around [the state?] can be in the program.
One of the group’s main foci is on working together
and teamwork. Hmong people are very much an ethnicity where
others come first. “Back in Laos, you’d take care
of your family and friends’ wants and needs before you
take care of your own wants and needs,” Mai said.
Mai taught us a game that, although it wasn’t played
in Laos, requires a lot of team work. My group was trying
to make a structure of fifteen marshmallows, some straws,
and a balloon. After the structure was completed, an egg would
be dropped from above and the structure would have to support
it. The game required a lot of teamwork, because it’s
hard if one person tries to take over, but it’s also
a problem when nobody wants to give ideas.
Three other games we played are traditional Hmong, and were
played back in Laos. The most common game is Ball Toss, and
it is still played at Hmong New Year and other times big groups
of people get together. (My family and I saw it played at
the Madison convention center during Hmong New Year this year.)
The game is played with a teenage boy and a teenage girl.
You simply toss a ball back and forth and chat to get to know
Another game played back in Laos is very similar to Duck
Duck Goose, but instead of tapping people on the head, the
“it” hides a small object (such as a rock) behind
one of the people in the circle. That person tries to chase
“it” back to his/her place.
The last game we played can get pretty wild. In this game,
a line of people hook on to each other, holding on to the
back of the person in front of them. The line of players runs
and wiggles while the person in front tries to touch the person
in the back. Usually people get unhooked. We played with half
a dozen kids at a time, but back in Laos they could play it
with more than fifty!
See more images
This is a very fun and frantic game. First
everybody gets in line with their hands on the other person’s
shirt. You run around, and the person in front tries to touch
the person in the back.... In Ball Toss, you toss a ball back
and forth while having a conversation. The game is used by
teenagers getting to know each other—especially girlfriends