Nico in a traditional Hmong hat Photo of Pao talking a photo of the photographer Close up of Hmong embroidery Izzy in Hmong clothing My Tia Ly, Mr. Wagler and Mo Lee share a joke while preparing eggrolls Mo Lee's son in a Hmong hat Mr. Vue Yang showing off a bowl

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Parents Reflect

Question 4
How have you, your child, and/or other members of your family been changed by our year-long Hmong Cultural Tour?

Makes my family and I happy to know that the Hmong people are being learned about and that they are getting more exciting.
–Pao’s parent

I’m appreciative of many Hmong communities around our state, and of MCM, efforts of teachers in the Randall community (especially Mr. Wagler). I’ve been changed by the HCT because I now know more about another culture causing me to know more about my culture, and helping me learn about another culture other than my own.
–Jeremy’s parent

I think, again, understanding why the Hmong people came to America, and that there are many families left in Thailand, has made us more interested in the plight of the Hmong families and other refugees as well. There is still a lot of suffering in the world, and we can only help those within our sphere of influence. Part of helping those refugees is understanding their cultural differences and accepting them.
–MacKenzie’s parent

I think we all know something more about Hmong culture and its importance for our community. It still feels foreign, but not alien. When I had a university student as an honors student and found out (belatedly) that she was Hmong (and not Vietnamese- or Chinese-American, as I’d assumed), I suddenly felt like I had a better sense for the challenges she and her family faced, and I was even more impressed by her successes. –Tim’s parent

We changed a lot by doing lots of ceremonies because Tria Thao just passed away and our sister Annie got married at a very young age. Our family has been changed by losing other family members.
–Mark’s parent

Focusing in on one culture for a long period of time has allowed a greater understanding for Erika and our family. She also has exposed a further understanding of the ramifications of the Vietnam war (partly from her father who was in the draft in the later years of what was the war. He did not serve though).
–Erika’s parent

I echo Nate’s dad’s responses about the Hmong learning experience. At times, Nate seemed like it was too much – that he wanted to move on to learn about another culture. It’s a good lesson, I think, to have the children learn that culture is deep and thick – and can’t be learned in just an hour or a day. Thank you for providing this opportunity.
–Nate’s parent

Units like the Hmong cultural tour seem to ask, even if not directly, that the children think more deeply about their own cultural background. How do we celebrate significant events in our lives and shy? How do these rituals give meaning to our experience? It is my hope that in observing the role of culture in the lives of her classmates and neighbors that my daughter will begin to think about her own cultural heritage.
–Martha’s parent

I think the lesson that culture can be inquired about, discussed, and studied has been an eye-opener and will have further meaning for our family as the children have the opportunity to meet and learn from people of various ethnic backgrounds and other countries. My husband does field work overseas, and respect for and understanding of local culture is important to us as we look forward to the opportunity to travel there with our children in the future. Their understanding of Hmong culture and the specific practices they’ve learned about give us a helpful model for talking about any culture – its foods, clothing, medicines, religious beliefs, etc.

I did feel that some modifications could have made it easier and more inviting for families to make the connection to the Hmong Cultural Tour experiences. More notice in scheduling events would have made it easier for busy families to attend. The two- and three-day field trips went such great distances that I found it very challenging to participate in any portion of the trips, although I generally put a very high priority on such participation. For instance, my daughters were quite interested in the possibility of a homestay, but as hard as we tried to make that happen, there was no way my husband or I could drive to Wausau on the evening indicated, sleep there in a Hmong home, and return the next day in time to meet work and other commitments.

I would have been willing to see some of the length and distance of these trips curtailed in favor of events which would allow greater parent involvement and more parent assistance. I felt these trips were longer than ideal for the age of the children and much time was spent on the bus.
–Abigail and Maggie’s parent

I think it’s almost too soon for us to say precisely how we’ve been changed by this year and Hmong culture, since it is part of an extraordinary event for us involving our family. Except that the changes have been exciting and profound. Each “tour” is now an indelible part of an entire thrilling year for Sarah – her first full year in Madison, our trip to Vietnam, the adoption of a Vietnamese sister – and we can’t say for sure how it has changed her, except to know that it has. As for us, I think the simplest thing to say – for each context – is that it has made us newly conscious of both the wonder and variation that is life. Hmong people have it hard – in both places (the accounts of the teenagers in La Crosse were striking) – and we won’t and shouldn’t forget that. But nor will we forget their spirit, determination, and embrace of life.
–Sarah’s parents

Nico reports that the Hmong experience has changed him because now he wants to be a blacksmith, he likes their candy and eggrolls. I have an increased respect for the difficulty that people have in trying to maintain a different culture in the United States or any Western culture.
–Nico’s parent

I feel so lucky and honored to have been allowed to experience this unique educational opportunity with Dylan. I have received more than I have given and will always be grateful for how my family has benefited.
–Dylan’s parent