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Education faculty, students work to understand Native and Hmong issues

RELEASED: April 6, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Education faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will attend a symposium later this month to better their understanding of issues that relate to Indigenous and Hmong populations.

Two faculty members from the College of Education and Human Sciences and 73 students — mostly education and social work majors — will attend the Widening the Circle/Act 31 Teacher Education Symposium April 16 in La Crosse.

"The symposium is an important experience for our students, particularly for those whose future professions will require them to work closely with Indigenous and Hmong American communities in Wisconsin," said Dr. Christin DePouw, assistant professor of education studies. "It teaches in-depth content knowledge about these communities while fostering multiple opportunities for participants to build relationships with Native and Hmong community members, teachers, social service professionals, students and parents. It is through the combination of content knowledge and relationship-building that participants become more culturally responsive and culturally competent in their professional and personal interactions."

The symposium was created to provide professional development opportunities for teachers who are working to be in compliance with Act 31, Wisconsin legislation that requires schools to teach Wisconsin tribal nation history, culture and sovereignty at various points in the K-12 school curricula, said DePouw. It also now incorporates Hmong history, culture, education and contemporary issues, she said, noting that several students from the UW-Eau Claire Hmong Student Association also will attend the event.

The annual symposium, which is co-sponsored by UW-Eau Claire this year, will include workshops, presentations, discussions and exhibits that are designed to build understanding of Indigenous and Hmong contemporary issues and education policy, DePouw said.

The UW-Eau Claire excursion to the symposium is the result of collaboration between UW-La Crosse's Native American Student Association and UW-Eau Claire faculty members DePouw, Dr. Aram deKoven, Dr. Jill Pinkney Pastrana and Dr. Leah Olson-McBride.

More information about the symposium is available online or by contacting Dr. Christin DePouw at depouwca@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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