Nov 21, 2018

Hmong: Refugees in Wisconsin Support Bill to Include Hmong’s History in School Curricula

Members of the Hmong community in La Crosse, in the state of Wisconsin in the United States (US), defend the passing of a bill that includes the teaching of the history of the Hmong in local schools’ curricula. As Wisconsin is home to over 49,000 Hmong who have found refuge in the US, the community argues of the importance of their children to be taught about the role their people has played in the Vietnam war, as well as the subsequent persecution by the Laotian Government and several violations to basic human rights endured by them.

The article below was published by News8000:

Members of the La Crosse Hmong community want the La Crosse School District to consider teaching the history of their culture in local schools. 

They met with the school board on Monday to ask for its support of Assembly Bill 34 that encourages schools to teach students about the recent history of Hmong people. 

The state of Wisconsin carries a rich history of Hmong culture. 

"Hmong people have lived here in the U.S. for about 40 plus years now," said Maggie Xiong, social justice director of Cia Siab, Inc. "We are refugees here and a lot of us have become citizens." 

More than 49,000 Hmong people live in Wisconsin, making it the largest minority population in the state. 

Xiong said the Hmong community wants the history of their culture taught in local schools. 

(Teaching) "the role that Hmong people have played in the Vietnam War as well as the persecution of Hmong people after the war by the Laotian government," Xiong said. 

She said it will help young Hmong individuals learn about where they came from. 

"I think this would be a great start for the La Crosse School District because there is such a big Hmong population here," Xiong said. 

She said she wants to continue shining a light on the hardships Hmong people face every day. 

"There was a point in my life where I tried not to be Hmong as much as possible," Xiong said. "Of course when you are family-oriented you can't do that." 

She continues to be active in the community to help fix some of these problems. 

(Helping Hmong people with) "language barriers and just being treated right by other folks," Xiong said. "If you don't speak English sometimes folks kind of belittle you. We make sure that we are there to advocate people and even for my own family."

She said education will help more young Hmong students rediscover themselves just like her own experience. 

"In my adult years I am finally rediscovering myself with my Hmong identity and finding who I am with that."

La Crosse state Rep. Jill Billings is a co-author of the bill. Monday's meeting is just the beginning stages. The school board will have time to decide on whether to pass a resolution in support of the bill.

Officials from Cia Siab, Inc. said local support from the school district would be a big step to getting this bill passed. 

Photo courtesy of Prayitno