Sunday, January 24, 2010

Unlearning "U.S. History" to and learning true History, Stephen Dimal Blog #4

This summer I taught at a program called Breakthrough Sacramento, which is a summer program in Sacramento where high school students and college students get to teach upcoming 7th and 8th graders from underserved communities in the greater Sacramento area. The community which made up the largest chunk of the population we taught this summer was the Hmong community. Not many people know this but there are many Hmong people in Sacramento, in fact, they are one of the largest Hmong communities in the United States. In teaching many Hmong students this summer I was able to learn so much more about Hmong history and about the importance of the preservation of Hmong culture. All of the Hmong students that I taught were bilingual and could speak both English and Hmong. However, since most of these students come from refugee families, much like the families mentioned in the McCall article many of them were feeling the effects of their families being a part of the secret wars in Vietnam and Laos. Since there are so many Hmong students in Sacramento I find it sad that I grew up in Sacramento and never really heard about Hmong history until I got into college. I never learned that they fought on the same side of the United States and did not realize why many of them ended up in the U.S. Just like in the McCall article, many of these Hmong Students that I taught still wear their traditional Hmong clothing during the new year. It is very interesting to think about how many Hmong had to make specific story telling cloths which helped preserve their history which is being highly overlooked by the American history teachers. In this video that I attached, you can see a slideshow of pictures from the Hmong New Year in Sacramento. It shows that although their culture is highly overlooked in the United States, the Hmong people work very hard to preserve their culture through the language they speak, the language they speak, and the way they live. Once they United States acknowledges their history, then the Hmong people will finally all be able to succeed in the United States.

McCall, Ava. Speaking Through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture Through Textile Art. The Social Studies. Sept/Oct 1999. Ethnic News Watch.