Back to:
Current year's news releases

All news releases
News and information home

Student studies Hmong people in Thailand

RELEASED: Oct. 20, 2011

Mou Chang
Mou Chang

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student who was born in Thailand but came to the United States at a young age was able to reconnect with her native culture last summer through a research project abroad.

Mou Chang, a junior sociology major from Wausau, spent six weeks studying the Hmong people in Nan, Thailand. She primarily studied various parts of the Hmong culture, such as religion, marriage and language.

Chang observed Hmong culture by participating in daily life in the Nan community. She spent much of her time in Thailand doing what the Hmong people were doing, whether it was cooking or planting crops.

"They are such busy people that the only time you can interview them is at night before or after dinner," Chang said, noting that it was difficult to remember everything that happened during the day when writing down observations at night.

Among Chang's research goals was to learn how the Hmong people living in Thailand differ from the Hmong people living in the United States. One of her findings involved the maturity level of Hmong children in Thailand.

"I was watching a group of 5-year-old girls playing house when I saw one of them use a knife to chop up flowers and pretend it was food," Chang said. "Their lifestyle makes it necessary for them to know certain things at a younger age."

Seeing the differences between Hmong culture in Thailand and in the United States was one of Chang's favorite aspects of the trip.

"Although the Hmong people didn't have much money, they had a lot of freedom compared to over here," Chang said. "They didn't have to pay for land, water or electricity. Their life was very simple and carefree."

But the opportunity to conduct the research in Thailand made her appreciate all the opportunities available to her in the United States, Chang said.

Chang said the classes she took as part of her anthropology minor program helped her prepare for the trip, as did her mentor, Dr. Dan Strouthes, associate professor of anthropology.

"While I provided her with a semester's training in fieldwork methods, Mou did all of the preparation and fieldwork herself, including site selection," Strouthes said. "Anthropological fieldwork is really a case in which it is up to the individual to show tremendous initiative and independence, and this Mou has done."

Currently, Chang is writing her research results, which she plans to present at UW-Eau Claire's Student Research Day in spring 2012.

Chang hopes to return to Thailand next summer to continue her research in a more focused study.

The trip was sponsored by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

-30-

MC/JB

Back to:
Current year's news releases

All news releases
News and information home

 

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.