Continuing in the pattern of having speakers on Monday nights, we had a panel of Hmong students from CSP come and speak to us this week. We were able to hear each of their stories which were all quite different, and we had the chance to interact with them throughout the entire evening. We were very well prepared for this small group to come in and speak with us. We have had a lot of exposure to Hmong culture. As the weeks go by, we are learning what questions to ask and what things we would like to know. The sessions are filled with learning and keep us engaged the entire time.
I had been looking forward to the Hmong students coming in because
they are our generation. They are sharing the same experience in time, but the
subjective experience is very different. All three students were born outside
of the US. One of the students came to US eight days before Sept. 11. I
immediately thought of how I felt during that time, and I could not imagine how
scared I would be if I have been in a new country, that seemed to offer a new start,
and was going through similar problems that I had just left behind.
I also wanted to ask them about the movie Gran Torino. Since Christmas break, I have been dying to ask some Hmong students what they thought of the movie and how much was real or Hollywood. One of the students had seen it and she had much to say about the movie. What she said that struck me the most was that the rituals in the movie were not portrayed correctly. The calling of the spirits was done incorrectly and the cutting of the chicken was inaccurate as well. The Hmong do not chop the head of the chicken off, they simply bleed it out. The head has dome importance to the Hmong but I do not recall if she told us what that was.
I was surprised at how traditional the Hmong culture really is. The speakers we have had so far have focused on escaping Laos or giving history or the Vietnam War, which are very interesting topics. But being that these students are of our generation, we got a glimpse into aspects of their culture from a perspective that we as a class could understand. I was not aware of the traditional stance that the Hmong have toward roles of men and women. It was refreshing to hear students of my generation embracing ideals that are a core part of their culture, and expressing the desire to preserve that culture.