2017 Campaign for Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam: intersecting a University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee Southeast Asian history and a Hmong culture study abroad program with a University of Minnesota-Twin Citites MFA studio art research.
Help me reach $5,000 to cut the cost for travel
I am an artist exploring Hmong American experiences in drawing, painting, and installation. My work examines Hmong female experiences and the reproduction of culture in the Hmong identity today. I recently applied to be apart of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam study abroad program happening during the winter of this year. Traveling to Southeast Asia has always been on my mind, however I never had the necessary funds to make the trip. The unique thing about this trip is that my mother will be traveling with me. This travel abroad group consists of roughly 13 students (including my mom) all special students, undergraduates, and graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The program begins on December 26th-January 15th, 2018, and I am in need of your help!
Help me reach $5,000 to cover the cost of travel.
Break down of the program cost:
Program Expenses: $4,921
*included in the program expense is the cost of traveling and stay
UW-M Administrative Fees: $370
UW-M International Health Insurance: $34
Non Wisconsin Student and Graduate fees: $400
**photo from my family's archive.
Since immigrating to America after the Vietnam War my mother was not fortunate enough to receive formal education in the United States. This will be my mother’s first college course, and this traveling opportunity has a special place in my life because I was always looking for an opportunity to share with my mother the experiences that Hmong Americans experience as they transition from the domestic home to college. As a first generation college student, I felt that there were no support for my transition into higher education. My Hmong language was not proficient enough to explain college to my parents. Even while I was an undergraduate student, I felt that there was not enough opportunities to share with my parents how college was like for young Hmong American adults. I found myself looking for ways to bridge the gap between my parents and myself. Our experiences of Hmong were vast different and yet similar as we were constantly having to redefine ourselves to survive. Although my mother is aware that today, Hmong American college students learn about Hmong history and culture in higher education, learning collectively across multi-generations is still very uncommon.
This will be my first time visiting Southeast Asia and I am extremely grateful that mother will be accompanying me on this journey. I like many others who was born in the United States, have some romanticized notion of a homeland. I believe that we are all indigenous to somewhere, someplace and a land. I am guided by this curiosity to understand the need to see my mother’s homeland with my mother. I believe this program will provide some answers that I was unable to find here in the Midwest. I see this study abroad program as a form of research for my art practice because many of my works are inspired by and borrow from the Hmong culture and history.
Currently my work explores the production of culture and because of the majority of Hmong textiles and other culture materials are made in Southeast Asia and China. I want to see these places in person to better understand the Hmong American capitalist and consumption of culture material. The saturation of Hmong textiles is something that I am concerned about and I hope that this trip will provide more questions and answers to my curiosity and hopefully to build a critical understanding of cultural production.
I am in the process of fundraising to help cover the travel cost of this program for both my mother and myself. I hope that you will consider supporting my pursuits through donating to this campaign. Any amount counts, your donations are also welcomed. Your donations will directly expand on my ongoing drawing and paintings series. It will hold space for continued dialogue on the notions of homeland, culture consumption and especially for Hmong textile arts.
Much love and respect,
Kuab Maiv Yaj
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