As a product of the U.S. educational system, I grew up being miseducated about my own culture and history. Although the school curriculum didn’t explicitly teach me that my culture was inferior, the lack of Hmong history and culture in school made me believe this.
In high school I wanted to fit in—I didn’t want to be seen as the “other,” and I didn’t wear jewelry or clothing that identified me as Hmong. Now I’m proud to wear Hmong jewelry. A big part of that transformation happened during my undergraduate years when I began to recognize the importance of my culture and identity.
I earned a bachelor’s degree in English and double minored in Asian American Studies and Education at UC Davis, and then earned my master’s in Education because I wanted to research the impact of Hmong gender dynamics on education. My thesis advocates for a systematic educational change so that, for example, areas with large Hmong populations would be mandated to teach Hmong history and culture.
Now I’m working on my doctorate in Education. My dissertation research was inspired by seeing many of my Hmong classmates withdraw from the university. My hope is to provide Hmong students support to navigate the University of California. My experiences also led me to teach the first Hmong- American experiences course ever offered at UC Davis so I could share my knowledge and provide a space for students to learn about Hmong history.
During my decade here, I’ve seen a change in the Hmong students at UC Davis. Slowly but surely, they are carving a space for themselves. But my own work is not done. I need to remedy the aftermath of our miseducation by continuing to empower Hmong youth to become powerful advocates for our community and beyond.