Mariah | Sarah
M. | Maggie | Benjamin
| Emily | Benjamin
| Nate | Jeremy
| Abigail | Benjamin
| Cristina | Benjamin
| Cristina | Jeremy
| Abigail | Mariah
| Abigail | Maggie
| Mariah | Tim |
Mariah | Abigail
| Benjamin | Abigail
| Nate | Emily
| Abigail | Nate
| Tim | Sarah
M. | Pao | Benjamin
| Martha | Erika
| Erika | Jenny
| Jeremy | Benjamin
| Izzy L. | Izzy
S. | Sara K.
Before the trip I thought
Hmong culture was just some bizarre culture, to be honest.
But now I know what the Hmong truly are...
From the first to the last stop on the
trip I learned more about the Hmong, and every place we visited
changed my perspective.
I want [people] to see that the Hmong
have a distinctive culture in many ways, from cooking to blacksmiths
to butchering. I’d like others to hear the qeej and
learn about how it speaks to spirits in music. I want people
to look at sewing patterns in embroidery and clothes—the
elephant’s foot and the snail pattern...The colors feel
like they’re different from our own because of the way
they blend together and become a beautiful thing that flows...the
color and juices of imagination, pulling together with thread...
The first thing people should know about
Hmong culture is that those superstitions that Hmong eat dogs
are not true. If you believe [stereotypes], you’ll never
get to know Hmong.
The Hmong culture is a minority here,
so they are often treated unfairly. That has been true for
many cultures, but it is especially hard for the Hmong as
they are the most recent refugees and have to survive in this
Hmong people are a lot like European Americans.
You just have to know them. They live in houses like ours,
the play a lot of the same games, they go to the same schools,
have the same feelings. They may have some different customs
and traditions, they may have different cultural history,
they may have different colored skin, they may have different
dialects and speak different languages, but they’re
really not that different.
The way that Hmong people let other cultures
venture into their own cultures helped me see that most Hmong
are very nice people.
One thing that outsiders should know
is that most Hmong are very hospitable. I think that their
hospitality could be considered to be an aspect of their culture.
I think others should ...wish that
the terrible war that drove [the Hmong] out of Laos never
happened. In Laos, they had been free to do what they believed
they should do, but here they can’t have completely
traditional funerals, or butcher at home, etc.
Others should also understand that the Hmong are afraid of
losing their culture. [Then] what would they have left besides
a couple of objects from Laos? Everybody should understand
that although the Hmong have endured crossing the Mekong River,
living in horrible refugee camps, and an extremely difficult
life here, they welcome people to their homes and cultures
with hospitality...Even if deep down they are shaking in fear
for [losing] their culture.
People should know...the Hmong didn’t
want to come to the United States. If it weren’t for
OUR CIA war, they would still be living a happy, peaceful
life in Laos. Instead WE forced them to go through the hardships
of crossing the Mekong River, living in refugee camps, and
then learning a new language and everything [else] about America.
And it’s all our fault.
I want people to know that Hmong people
make their own clothes. [So] if they don’t have anything
to do they don’t waste their time
There are a few things that are hard
to digest about Hmong culture. One is how Shamans can connect
to the spirit world. I mean, how does playing instruments,
singing songs, giving gifts, and making sacrifices help heal
a person? It really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
I wish that I could understand and believe
things about Shamanism but I think it’s a little too
weird for me to believe.
One thing that was hard for me to
believe was Shamanism. I couldn’t really believe it
because I felt split in half. Part of me said that I should
believe in it, and the other part said that there is no such
thing as spirits and all that other junk.
It’s somewhat hard to believe
that Shamans can talk to the spirits and catch them with a
ring of rattles and put them into the sick person’s
body. It just doesn’t seem [possible] that a special
person [can] put a black cloth over his head, get onto a bench
(supposedly a horse) with a ring of rattles, and with his
soul go to the spirit world. How do they do it?
I don’t understand how the Hmong
shaman goes into the spirit world and tries to win back the
sick person’s lost spirit. And why they slaughter animals
for the sick person. And why after they kill the animal they
guide its spirit through the back door with a stick! (They
tap the stick on the sides of the doorway.) I found it kind
of funny that the Shaman rides a bench as a horse! (Not trying
to insult the Hmong culture.)
I had trouble with the butchering.
Yes, it’s more respectful than slaughterhouses, but
I’m an animal lover....Is there any way to not have
the animal even get an idea what’s going to happen to
it? Like with a chicken, just grab it by the legs and cut
off its head off before it even realizes it is upside down?
I find it hard to accept the fact
that the Hmong butchers cut the throat of the animal as though
it were something born not to see the light of day!
I wish that people would understand
Hmong butchering. When we visited the butcher shop, most kids
were scared of the blood and heads and legs strewn across
the floor. I was scared of the squealing of the pigs. But
later I thought it over and decided it was just a different
way of doing things. How they butcher is not nearly as bad
as how we kill animals. If the Hmong didn’t do their
butchering, they would not have meat to eat.
The single thing that was the hardest
for me to understand was the concept of spirit money. Shouldn’t
a photocopier or scanner and printer give one unlimited spirit
The Christian church rather bothered
me because the missionaries are trying to convert all the
Hmong people to being Christians, and I think the Hmong should
stay the Hmong and not be Christians unless they want to.
After our trip, I see TONS of things
differently.... Before we saw Dr. Bee Lo I thought nothing
at all of healing...But now I see that in Laos, there are
so many plants that can make so many medicines!...For instance,
Dr. Lo told us that garlic can prevent CANCER and kill bacteria!
And he would know, because he specializes in naturopathic
medicines. And if you eat a tomato, you don’t have to
worry about cancer ( I think even if you have it!) Onion takes
away a sore throat....Aloe is VERY good for burns. There’s
more, but I think you get the point about how many medicines
there are. (But in case you have hay fever or an allergy,
ginger will do the trick!