Youth leadership alliance performs for Hmong heritage month

Students who took part in the Hmong Heritage event spent their time practicing on April 7 and the morning of their event.

Yauo Yang

Students who took part in the Hmong Heritage event spent their time practicing on April 7 and the morning of their event.

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In honor of the first Hmong family who arrived to the United States, Youth Leadership Alliance [YLA] and D.C. Everest Hmong students organized an event to celebrate and embrace their culture.

Themed, “Our Cultural Identity,” the event featured a traditional Hmong dancing performance, a  singing performance, a skit, and guest speaker Dr. David Thao, Physician from Wausau, Wis.

We chose this theme, because we wanted this event to resonate with the Hmong youth and elders. We realized that the Hmong youth have a different perspective with the elders, and we wanted to connect the two,” said YLA President and senior Yingyee Xiong. “We wanted to show the elders how we perceive our culture,  show the youth about how the Hmong elders had lived before us, and why our culture should be cherished. We wanted the youths and the elders to meet in the middle.”

The event was held on Sunday, April 8 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Preparation for all three events started with skit writing and dancing through December and then singing practices starting around late Jan. to Feb with meetings becoming more frequent later.

   “I practiced every Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. When the performance day came closer, we had a few days where we practiced at the Hmong Association Center during spring break,” said junior Kalia Thao. “I took part in all three events, singing, dancing and skit.”

Many days of the week were spent with their peers and club members due to the hectic schedule into making the event.

“Our schedule [later on] was: Tuesdays, dancing; Wednesday and Thursday, skit; Fridays, singing; Saturdays, Prop making. We also spent our whole spring break just practicing for our event,” Yingyee Xiong said.

The story of the skit revolves around the life a young Hmong student who does not listen to his mom. One night, three ghosts from his mother’s bloodline take him through the past, present, and future of the Hmong culture.

  The Hmong student (Khue) was played by Max Khang, past ghost (Laomeng) by Johnny Xiong, present ghost (Kalia) by Kalia Thao, and future ghost (Pa-lee-gao-tao-moua-gao-sheng) by Mai Lou Lee.

Mai Lee Xiong, organizer of the singing performance and co-choreographer for the traditional Hmong dance said of why the song was chosen, “The first song [for singing] was ‘Hmoob Yuav Tsum Hlub Hmoob,’ and was chosen by a majority vote. The message and purpose of this song is to unite the Hmong community and to come together and love each other because if we don’t, then who will?” 

Furthermore, another song in the skit was requested by YLA president Yingyee Xiong named, ‘Hmoob Lub Kua Muag.’

“This song contains a powerful message about the unity of the Hmong community also,” said Mai Lee Xiong, “It tells about how through war, the Hmong have lost a land to call their own.”

Overall, the Hmong Heritage celebration was a success for the members.

“The event was a huge opportunity to show the younger generations and the American people our culture and what our background was,” said senior Chris Xiong, who performed as the father in the skit.

Aside from showing the audience about the Hmong culture, everyone who took part along the way gained knowledge coming out of the event.

Kalia Moua said, “I learned so much more about my culture, where we came from and how we [the Hmong] struggled to get to this country. I’ve gained more friends, knowledge and courage.”

Choreographer Pang Xiong believes that the talent and willingness to contribute into the event lead to stronger connections.

“The event definitely brought most of us closer and the [Hmong] community in the school definitely got stronger.”

The event was a huge success, said Yingyee Xiong. This was the first time YLA did a Hmong Heritage Event and more people came than expected. She believes that the success came from all the members and their hard work.

“The advisers were always there with us and did what we asked or needed. But mainly, we did not have as much of an outside group helping us,” Yingyee Xiong said, “The club members really helped and put this event together, as everything was student run. From the skit, dance, and singing, everything was created by the members, which I’m grateful for.”

The audience also contributed to the event and the success of the event.

“One of our goals for the event was to have the audience leaving happy that they came – that this event was worth coming to, and we reached that goal,” said Yingyee Xiong, “The audience laughed, shouted, and cried during our event, which was awesome. The after effect of how many people came up to talk to us about how proud they were of us and how good it was – was great to hear.”

Dr. Mary Jo Lechner who is the Assistant Superintendent Curriculum attended the event as well and offered YLA to perform once again due to the message delivered. Therefore, YLA will be performing again to elementary schools on May 21 at the Senior High School.

“Second runner-up Miss Hmong Milwaukee Pageant Molly Vang wants us to perform at one of her events as well in Late August, so I’m also excited. Otherwise, it is up to the club next year if they want to do another event,” said Yingyee Xiong.

Advisors for the event were Mrs. Leslei Dickerson, Mrs. Mai Lee Ly, and Mr. Yauo Yang. 

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Youth leadership alliance performs for Hmong heritage month