The Hmong population is growing here in Central Wisconsin, yet many Hmong advocates feel there is not enough education on this culture in local communities. One U.W. Stevens Point organization is looking to change that.
HaSEAAC, or Hmong and South East Asian American Club, held its 20th annual conference, this time titled "From Hmong to Hmong American."
"A lot of people, even students, I ask them do they know Hmong people and some of them are kind of clueless," said HaSEAAC President, Deng Vang.
More than 100 people came to learn not only about the history of the diverse culture and ethnicity, but also about this growing community's future in Central Wisconsin. The conference featured a number of different workshops with speakers from diverse backgrounds on the culture. Many of the speakers were looking to empower the Hmong attendees to be proud of their heritage.
"Hmong people have become a great asset to the community in Stevens Point," said Vang.
A screening of 'Finding the Middle Way,' a documentary about the Hmong culture in Portage County over the last 35 years, also gave people the chance to get a more intimate view of the Hmong people. The film gave a glimpse into local community member's personal lives and experiences transitioning and developing in the area.
"You get sort of an idea of, you know, the Vietnam War ends, the refugees come over and that's sort of where you kind of knew that much and maybe not a lot more about how far the Hmong community has advanced in this community," said Mattew Brown, Director of 'Finding The Middle Way.' "We talked to people and we went to events and we didn't come into it with a real solid idea of what we wanted it to be. We really wanted people to tell their own stories."
One story talks about how Hmong immigrants were brought together through a community garden. Brown said the garden and gardening ended up "being a very meaningful place for a lot of families."
The documentary's cultural consultant and co-editor, Song Cheng said it's important that people learn about the different cultures in their area to become a harmonious community.
"Understanding each others cultures, values and it's what being in America is," he said. "It's just being able to understand one another and we all come from different backgrounds and I think that's very important."
If you would like to learn more about the documentary, you can visit its website, hmongvideo.org.
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