Recollecting Memories, Identity and Home
A campaign to explore art, Hmong identity, culture and history in Southeast Asia
Dear Community Member, Friend, and Fellow,
I am first year Master of Fine Arts student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where I am investigating Hmong American experiences. The repetition of stories from my parents’ home has become something that I inherited as Hmong. Since I have not visited Southeast Asia before, I understand my family’s history as imaginary and as sites that exists orally and as memories. With the constant tension of culture and identity loss that I feel in the United States, in my art I materialize my history and personal experiences in drawing, painting and textiles. I want to draw attention to what it means to be displaced while seeking to belong and feel welcomed. Hence, I am furthering my investigation by joining the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam study abroad program and I am in need of your help.
This program is a 3 credit college course which begins on December 26-January 15, 2018. It is led by Professor Chia Youyee Vang, and for 3 weeks my mother and I will be exploring the legacy of colonialism and Western influence in Southeast Asia. However what makes this trip important in my life is that this exploration is one of healing. Overall the trip will cost around $5,325 for each student attending and this amount covers the program and travel alone. I was fortunate enough to receive financial support from by my University’s art department but their assistance will not be enough to cover my mother’s attendance. Anything that you give will directly cut the cost for my mother.
Additionally, since immigrating to America after the Vietnam War, my mother was not fortunate enough to receive a formal education in the United States. This course will provide her an opportunity to experience an education while I learn more about who she is and her memories of home.
I am interested in locating what has been causing me confusion, hurt and disconnection in my life. I believe a step towards healing is understanding my Hmong American identity through learning more about mother on a more personal level. Who is she, what were her experiences and how does she make sense of who she is? How does her memories and experiences influence who I am as a Hmong American? What has been left behind through the displacement of the wars in Southeast Asia and will I find a part of who I am there? This program will provide an opportunity to begin to make sense of these questions and see for myself the sites that my parents once called home.
When I think about what makes me Hmong, I am reminded of my family, their history, traditions and culture. My family’s journey to America has left me with a lot of questions about Hmong identity and home. I hope that you will consider supporting our adventure to learn more about Southeast Asian history and culture. It is about recollecting ourselves and taking an initiative to heal and feel whole again. Any amount counts, your donations are greatly welcomed. Thank you for your consideration.
With much love and respect,
Kuab Maiv Yaj
(Koua Mai Yang)
Please support my campaign by donating via PayPal.
Your contributions will help cut the cost for my mother's attendance.