The school district in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has begun to acknowledge the cultural presence of the Hmong children who make up its student body. Very recently, a club has been started in Locust Lane Elementary School that has to do with Hmong culture. It is a Hmong language club that is geared toward children in the 4th and 5th grades. The club is especially geared for children who speak Hmong at home to whatever extent, but do not know how to read or write the language.
Three women have taken roles in the creation of this club: True Vue, Tia Lor and an English teacher by the name of Karla Lien.
The creation of this club came just before last week’s announcement that there will be a “Hmong History and Culture” course available next fall in the high school.
Many reasons exist for why the school district has decided to include Hmong culture in its activities. First off, Hmong make up the the Chippewa Valley’s largest minority group, as well as the largest singular ethnic group. They exist in enough numbers to have a voice and to be a priority. Secondly, the school district is trying to educate non-Hmong children about Hmong culture for better understanding among students.
Many people do not know who the Hmong are. Hmong is an ethnic group from Southeast Asia. Prior to a couple hundred years ago, they used to live in China. From the early sixties to the end of the Vietnam War, the United States worked in cahoots with the Hmong to fight communist forces in Southeast Asia.
Trouble came to the Hmong after the Vietnam War was over. After the war ended, American forces pulled out of communist-occupied parts of Asia, leaving the Hmong by themselves. Once the Hmong were left alone, the communists came to seek revenge against the them for colluding with the American forces. As a result, the communists treated the Hmong inhumanely.
Hmong people fled communist-occupied parts of Southeast Asia for America and refugee camps in other Asian countries. Many of them lived in refugee camps for years, and it was common to go from a refugee camp in Asia to America. The American government took an initiative to place them in the United States.