Sara and Emma taking notes among the bags of rice Brightly colored thread at the store A fan decorated with a pastoral image showing a waterfall and river in a Hmong village Izzy and Gabby on the bus In the grocery store Bags of rice Mr Wagler smiling A close up of a colorful skirt Close up of reverse applique design Playing a card game on the bus Close-up of paj ntaub A Hmong consonant chart in the home of Nao Yee Thao Sarah hanging upside down at the park Decorations in the home of Nao Yee Thao, a shaman and Hmong musical instrument player

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Parents Reflect

Question 3
What have you most valued in observing your child learning about Hmong culture?

She has seen my knowledge grow as the year has gone by. She is happy that I learned how to play the k’eng.
–Pao’s parent

I valued my child’s understanding about stereotypes and his concerned about Hmong being subjected to stereotypes.
–Jeremy’s parent

I think MacKenzie is generally an inclusive kid. I think understanding the origin of the Hmong exodus to America was the most valuable information that she discovered during this year.
–MacKenzie’s parent

I have valued the growth he has experienced in writing and overcoming his reluctance to write about things he doesn’t find especially interesting. He is much better at both note-taking and writing than he was last year. But more important, he learned that he could find aspects of interest (such as history and exhibit design) within a topic that he was reluctant to participate in. Finally, I do think he has a better sense for what culture is in general, as he put it, “everything connected with what people do.”
–Tim’s parent

We look at them and tell them what they should do and we tell them to blow the qeej and write in Hmong and read in Hmong. I think we like our own children knowing their own culture.
–Mark’s parent

Having Erika see the opportunity to see a wide variety of cultures within a culture (green Hmong, blue Hmong, white Hmong, etc.)
–Erika’s parent

I have most valued the honesty of the Hmong culture study, allowing kids to see difficult things and to ask probing questions about people and ways of life that were previously unfamiliar.
–Nate’s parent

I appreciate that my son has been exposed to so much information about Hmong culture in such a caring and sensitive way. The approach of visiting people from all walks of life in the Hmong community, regardless of age and integration into the larger community, and of acknowledging that cultures, even when they are different from ours, are deserving of respect and appreciation, has required him to keep an open mind about people who are “different.” While I believe that my son knew this already in some sense, the HCT experience has brought the need for respect to the fore, which I trust will inform his attitudes for the rest of his life.
–Benjamin’s parent

Of most value is Martha’s excitement in learning about Hmong culture. On several occasions she told me about cultural events that intrigued and interested her. I’m hoping that this excitement about the Hmong will lead to a life long interest in other cultures.
–Martha’s parent

The most valuable thing to me is not any particular thing about Hmong culture, but that they’ve learned that you can learn about culture by observing and asking questions, and that it’s okay and healthy to acknowledge cultural differences. They’ve learned that culture is something many people are proud of and strive to preserve.
–Abigail and Maggie’s parent

We value two things – 1) is the exploration that both journeys allowed Sarah to experience. Observing and learning are very useful in their own rights – for their outcomes – but the process of doing them is at least equally valuable. Sarah learned a lot about how to observe and report what she saw in the Hmong culture; 2) that she was able to see a very unique part of our new home – Wisconsin – in the same year that she saw that culture closer to its roots. She was practically able to travel back and forth in time and then compare the two. While certainly she, or any of us, for that matter, may not be able to reach some profound conclusion about that contrast, again she possesses it in her mind’s eye, and for that we are very thankful for both opportunities.
–Sarah’s parents

It has been fun for me to watch how excited Nico has been to learn about the Hmong.
–Nico’s parent

Involvement with the Hmong Cultural Tour has been a peak experience for Dylan and me. We have discussed religion, life and death, and examined out own family values. We have experienced another culture on a level that would normally require travel to another country, at great expense, and I doubt we would have achieved the same benefit.
–Dylan’s parent

My mom said that it’s difficult for students like us because my mom said when she was a little girl she had never done that before and my brothers and sisters had never done that before either. My mom said that she is glad that I’m learning another culture but she said that I’m still Cambodian and I will always be. She said that it is difficult for kids like us because then when we go some where else, we always have to take notes while we go to some place and my mom said it’s hard for us because we get tired and exhausted and she also said that’s a good thing because when you take more notes you listen better and learn better and pay attention much more better.
–Jenny’s parent

By learning about the traditions and cultures of others, we have learned to appreciate and value our own traditions and culture. We also learned that we are lacking some features of the Hmong culture. By becoming a homogeneous group of Caucasians, we have lost the traditions of our heritage (however many cultures hat entails). With each generation, the family is left to make its own culture or traditions. Because cultural customs are no longer passed from generation to generation – or the customs are not valued by the newer generations, the traditions are lost or diluted or the reasons for traditions lose their meaning.

Studying Hmong culture has made us more interested in our own beliefs or traditions. At the same time, it has made us more open to other cultures. It has also helped us to better understand why people would wish to retain their cultural independence within another culture.

Finally, I have been touched by the generosity and patience of the Hmong people who have shared their stories, their skills, their talents, their food, their time and their homes with me and my daughter so that we may learn.
–Emma’s parent