Some people call me Chinese. Why? Even though I look like one, I don’t speak like Chinese, act like Chinese, don’t have the same culture and tradition. I have three words to say: I am Hmong.
During the 2002-2003 school year, our 4th/5th grade class at Randall School in Madison, Wisconsin immersed ourselves in Hmong culture. With our teacher, Mr. Wagler, we traveled across Wisconsin to visit Hmong communities in seven cities. We studied history, traditions, and community life. We learned many things: how to dance, how to make egg rolls, and how to say some Hmong words.
We also delved deeper by visiting a butcher shop and a funeral, and by interviewing shamans and other community leaders. We considered music, occupations, the clan system, social customs, and the stresses and complexities of current Hmong life in the U.S. And we helped the Madison Children’s Museum create a touring exhibit, “Hmong at Heart.” Join us as we explore Hmong culture–and see how our understanding of the Hmong and of ourselves has changed.
At the end of the school year, some of the students made this brief video about their experience: