A Hmong teenager plays the qeej Pakou holding eggrolls Interviewing Hmong teenagers in La Crosse Two Hmong girls Hmong radio station in Wausau Mai Gao from the Hmong Women's Circle

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Introduction: Living in Two Worlds

Jeremy | Emily | Gabby | Izzy S.

The Hmong have lived in two worlds ever since the Hmong were in the refugee camps. This started then because of the grown-ups with their home life and work life for only some adults.

This has been the same with the Hmong kids but started a little later. Living in two worlds started for kids when they came to America, because they had mainstream school and their Hmong traditions at home.
–Jeremy

Most of the Hmong here in America have the pressure of living in two worlds. What I mean is that Hmong kids live in a traditional or Christian HMONG culture, and when they come to school, they have to fit in with the mainstream culture. Its as hard for the older people, because they probably spent most of their life in Laos, and since that is the culture they have known for so long, it must be really hard to adjust.

I bet the kids feel kind of pressured. Usually they are the strongest link to the non-Hmong world. Most of the time when Mr. Wagler sends an important message home, the kid has to translate it quickly. Good thing they are bilingual! That must be a big responsibility for kids.
–Emily

There are a couple of times where it proves that the Hmong live in two worlds.

First when adults go out for jobs they have to try to be as much American as possible, but then when they get home, they have to change their mindset.

That’s the same with kids and school, at school it is so different because they speak English and that’s the culture. At home most of the parents only speak Hmong, so the kids have to learn how to speak Hmong and English. Also the food is really different.
–Gabby

Living in two worlds is difficult for everybody, not just the Hmong. Language is one of the most difficult things to learn, think about learning. The first comes naturally but the second is harder. Well, if you had to learn the second for school or work and you weren’t just doing it for fun.

There are disagreements between kids and grownups about how much of the new culture should we take in? Other questions like that. These are questions with no right answers, they had to make those decisions themselves.
–Izzy S.