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Chicken Curry and Spring Rolls

Chicken curry and spring rolls – sounds great, doesn’t it?  This dinner, enjoyed by the 20 students enrolled in the Honor colloquium course “Hmong Culture & History”, is one of several out of class activities that has allowed students to learn about and experience Hmong culture and history.   The dinner was prepared in the home of course instructor, Ka Vang, by students from the class and the Hmong Student Association. 

 

“The food associated with the class was delectable, delicious, and plentiful.” - Max Voss

The dinner was one of several ways that Professor Vang brought Hmong culture to life for her students. To complement the material they learned, the class participated in immersion experiences by travelling to St. Paul, Minn. to visit both the Hmong Cultural Center and the Hmong Village. Professor Vang also brought several guest speakers—including Chua Thao and Dr. Kevin Thao—to campus that added to the course material and discussions.

Through these experiences and classroom discussions students have been able to not only understand the Hmong history and culture, but also develop a sense of their own identity. A staple of University Honors Program courses, discussion-centric courses allow students to hear about the lived experiences of their fellow Blugolds. Sophomore health care administration major Mizone Vue (Lino Lakes, Minn.) says she “enjoyed not only learning from the professor, but my peers as well.”

“When I was an undergraduate student, the idea of taking a Hmong culture and history class here was not even within reach.  The opportunity to teach such a class manifested from ‘not reachable’ to ‘dare to dream’ to actuality, and, recently, the good news of moving towards the creation of a Critical Hmong Studies Program,” reflects instructor, Ka Vang, who is completing her doctoral dissertation on the experiences of Hmong women.

Students agree the Hmong culture class has been a good mechanism to break through society’s stereotypes and overcome prejudice. Whether from the immersion experiences, the speakers, or their peers, students have been learning to better understand the aspirations and goals of the Hmong, while also exploring the challenges they face. For first-year psychology student, Charissa Cable (Bangkok, Thailand), “this has been a window to understand who I walk past on a day-to-day basis.” 

At the end of the night, the food may have been gone, but the experiences had and memories made will impact students forever.

“It’s more than learning about culture—it’s about opening your eyes and heart to the lives and struggles, of people.” - Cheyenne Bonincontri