Dang Yang playing a Hmong flute Photo of a subject on the bus taking a photo of the photographer Taking notes on the bus The kids taking notes Izzy taking notes Playing on a playset in the park Playing football in the park

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Parents Reflect

Question 2
What do you consider the most important things your child has learned about Hmong culture this year?

Pao's parent | Jeremy’s parent | MacKenzie’s parent | Tim's parent | Mark's parent | Alex’s parent | Nate’s parent | Benjamin’s parent | Martha’s parent | Abigail and Maggie‘s parent | Sarah’s parent | Nico’s parent | Dylan’s parent | Emma’s parent

My mom thinks that I learned the values of our traditional beliefs.
–Pao’s parent

That there are cultures with people discriminated against. That life is not easy or fair and that the Hmong are able to preserve their culture despite not having large amounts of financial resources.
–Jeremy’s parent

My child did not know until this year that the Hmong people were involved in the Vietnam war. And they felt that the American government did not treat them well. It was by what we did that they are here in the first place. It’s good that we let them come to America, but it’s also sad how we got them involved in something that didn’t have anything to do with them.
–MacKenzie’s parent

It has been hard to learn what Tim has learned about Hmong culture this year because he’s so reluctant to talk about it. He has really not enjoyed this project at all. Nevertheless, it turns out he’s learned a lot. The history of the Hmong has moved him and interested him deeply. He enjoyed learning about the qeej (I thought it was pretty cool too), and teaching me how to pronounce this word. I think he learned a lot about shamanism, too. When he was having trouble writing an essay about what he’d learned this past year, we went over his notes together and I asked him about what a shaman was. Without prompting, he said that a shaman was like a doctor but different because also a spiritual healer. A little more probing got him to articulate that in our culture doctors and priests are separate roles that are together in Hmong culture, and that that affects much in how both cultures live. (He never wrote this in his essay, but I thought it was an important insight). So he has a sense for a really important aspect of culture: how people treat the spirit and the body. I don’t think he really knows that he knows this yet, or that it’s important.
–Tim’s parent

My child says that he learned about that lots of people are converted by Christians. He did not know some Hmong are converted by Christians and became Catholic.
–Mark’s parent

A very important thing she thinks I’ve learned is about shamanism and how the Hmong see the mind and body as more one then we see them. Another thing is I learned they had to endure many hardships.
–Alex’s parent

My child’s most important discoveries about Hmong culture include a sense of the many dimensions in which history can envelope a people, establish a thread of continuity that is both global and local in character. I also find that he has an enriched appreciation for cultural pride and tradition, and for the many stresses that accompany effort to “be oneself” as a minority.
–Nate’s parent

I think the most important thing that my child has learned this year is that while they have a distinct culture, the Hmong are not more or less human than any other cultural group, and that those who do have distinct cultures should still be treated with the respect due to all humans. It is also important that my son learned that the United States had a great deal to do with the internment of the Hmong in the camps in Thailand and made their lives far harsher than was necessary.
–Benjamin’s parent

First and foremost, I appreciate the depth of the research done by the class into Hmong culture. Visiting Hmong families, eating their food, and attending various cultural activities (including a funeral) all add up to an understanding of culture that is, I believe, unique for most kids of this age.
–Martha’s parent

I think learning the history of the Hmong and the strength they have as a people has been the most important thing. They have learned to admire the strengths rather than to think of Hmong as disadvantaged.
–Abigail and Maggie’s parent

For Sarah – again given the dual nature of her exposure to Hmong culture and the significance of gaining an adopted sister from Vietnam, though not Hmong – I think the biggest lesson is a continuation of what we have tried to instill in her – that cultural diversity is a good thing. That people should not be judged simply by their material wealth, or their majority status, or their conformity to the typical cultural ideals. And since she saw a lot of Hmong people in both locales she now has a very full resource of examples to think and remember for her whole life.
–Sarah’s parent

I believe that the year long study of the Hmong has given the kids a lens to see other cultures and this is probably the most valuable piece they have gotten from their study. They have had so many experiences with Hmong culture that I think they have a better understanding of all the aspects than most Westerners will ever have. I think for Nico, it was fun to know so much about a culture that many do not know well. He went to the science museum in St. Paul with his grandfather. There was an exhibit on the Hmong. Nico enjoyed pontificating about all that he knew. Nico feels that the Blacksmith was the most important experience because it showed how some people have a much closer relationship to their food than we generally do as Americans.
–Nico’s parent

I think the most important thing Dylan learned from this study is that we have more similarities than differences. He was very interested in Shamanism and Animism and how this related to Hmong culture and the challenge of assimilating into American society. He was impressed by how successful some Hmong have become in the U.S. It was gratifying for me to see Dylan confidently conduct interviews for his paper on Shamanism and form his own opinions on the information he had collected. When Dylan started the fourth grade one of the early assignments was to, “Describe your family culture” his response was, “We don’t have a unique culture we are just like everybody else.” Studying Hmong culture has given him a greater appreciation of his own. I think he has been given the tools he needs to appreciate the uniqueness and validity of other cultures and a good foundation to more fully understand Asian cultures.
–Dylan’s parent

My daughter has learned that Hmong children prefer to play with other Hmong children because they share the same culture – and that is comforting to them. She has learned about the strength of the Hmong culture. She has also learned about the traditions that are kept by each family. She thought that Hmong culture would be a small culture that not many people were involved with. It turned out to be totally different because the Hmong culture exists in many geographic areas in the United States and the world. Also there are many Hmong, but only 42 last names!
–Emma’s parent