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 A candid shot of Pao on the bus A candid shot of Pao on the bus

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Trust, Responsibility, Power, Representation

Mariah | Mark | Dylan | Pao | Maggie | Emily | Tim | Nate | Cristina | Thomas | Benjamin | Pakou

#1: Does it make a difference to the Hmong how we represent their culture?

I think it does because if we show their culture all really good it is a stereotype, and if we show it all really bad the Hmong probably won’t like it. And if we show all Christian Hmong the traditional Hmong will feel left out of their culture, and if we show all traditional Hmong, the Christian Hmong won’t be happy. So to represent the Hmong we have to show good things, bad things, Christian Hmong, and traditional Hmong.
–Mariah

#2: Do you feel responsible to represent the Hmong in a particular way? Is it important to you how we represent Hmong culture?

I feel it’s important to represent the Hmong in a kind way. I believe this because I have to respect the Hmong. I should respect them because everybody’s culture should be respected.
–Mark

We also don’t want people to leave the exhibit thinking that the Hmong are weird and different, so we must show some of the things about Hmong culture that are the same.
–Dylan

It is important to know about Hmong celebrations. One such celebration is the New Year, which is always two days before Thanksgiving. We go to the expo center to sing, dance, play instruments, eat food, sell candy and toys. After the New Year, there is a big party, which lasts from 6 pm to 12 pm.
–Pao

Yes, I really do feel responsible in how we represent Hmong culture. I feel that if we do a bad job, perhaps by leaving important things out and adding untrue stuff in, or making stereotypes, I’d feel bad and feel like I was one of those responsible for the big mistakes we made because I took part in helping to build the exhibit. . . . However, if it’s an excellent exhibit, I would feel absolutely lovely, because I helped to make an absolutely wonderful exhibit in the MCM that everybody loved and I must have done a bunch of good things for it, and I’d feel a rainbow in my soul.
–Maggie

I feel responsible to represent the Hmong culture in the way that is most truthful, with no stereotypes, nothing that is not true, don’t say anybody’s better than us, and don’t say anybody’s not as good as us. We’re all equal.
–Emily

#3: What have we done to build trust in the Hmong community?

There were several things we did to establish trust. One, whenever possible, we went to places where we had some connection. For example, at the Amish farm near Tomah a student’s grandparents were neighbors. Two, Mr. Wagler and Anne Pryor or Ruth Olson visited every place by themselves before the class came. And three, the release form gave them a chance to say no.
–Tim

#4: Do the Hmong trust us to be responsible in the ways we represent their culture? Does trust change what people tell each other about culture?

I think that the Hmong that we have met and interviewed will trust us in making an exhibit about their culture because, first of all, they let us in their homes, which takes a great deal of trust, and they spoke openly to us about things that were very hard to talk about. The only problem I see with being trusted by the Hmong is that there are thousands of Hmong who might come see this exhibit, maybe 30 that we interviewed, so everybody except those thirty people will have no idea who we are, having no way to trust us.
–Nate

The most they trusted us on is the secrets. They have been telling us some of the secrets that have happened to them. Like escaping refugee camp.
–Cristina

Well maybe the Hmong trust us and I know nothing of the sort, but just being myself I wouldn’t really trust a bunch of 4th and 5th graders to go on a couple of trips and see my culture and have people come and give talks etc.
–Thomas

#5: Do we have power to affect what people think about the Hmong? Do we have power to affect Hmong culture?

We probably do have power over the views of other people. We can’t be sure their views will change after the exhibit and the website. But hopefully, if they came in with stereotypes, the exhibit and website will help get rid of them.

We can’t really change Hmong culture. I mean, Hmong culture is Hmong culture. We might be able to change one Hmong person’s culture by getting them to interact more with European-Americans, but only Hmong people really have the power to change Hmong culture.
–Benjamin

Yes we do have powerful power to [get] other people to trust us and build a bigger community with Hmong people by telling them and the Children’s Museum can help too. The pictures and videos can also help with understanding.
–Pakou