Hmong New Year celebrated at the University of Wisconsin-Stout was such a success that it became annual. The Hmong Stout Student Organization (HSSO) organized the event for the 11th year in a row on Saturday Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Johnson Fieldhouse in the Multipurpose room. Carol Vang and Newshelon Her, both students in the org, talk a little more about how Hmong New Year went this year.
“Hmong New Year became a celebration in Laos during the fall and winter season, when the harvest was almost over. It was a time to come together,” said Vang. Her added, “The Hmong New Year is a time to remember your Hmong heritage and where you came from. Coming to college, you don’t think too much about your Hmong heritage.”
There were two special guests at the event: Pagnia Xiong (a well-known Hmong artist) and Tou SaiKo Lee (a well-known Hmong rapper), as well as traditional Hmong dancing, singing, and a volleyball tournament that everyone could participate in.“There were nine women teams and sixteen men teams competing for first place this year. The first place winners received a trophy and automatically got a seat for next year’s tournament,” said Her. There were two local vendors that served a variety of food ranging from pork-belly with sticky rice to sweet tri-color rice. There was student art presented as well, and Lida Lor, a student here at Stout, was selling her own personalized stickers. “Hmong New Year is a time where the Hmong community at Stout can come together. It’s a very big student-led event here at Stout, and we’re glad to open up the event to everyone in Menomonie,” said Vang.
“The reason why Hmong New Year became an annual event at Stout was because of our advisor, Kalvin Yang,” said Her, “He pitched the idea to his colleagues, and they really enjoyed the idea of having Hmong New Year. Initially, he thought that Hmong New Year would be a one-time deal, but everyone loved the New Year so much that they decided to make it an annual event.”
HSSO is a multicultural student organization here at UW-Stout. It’s a place where Hmong and non-Hmong students can come together and enjoy their culture and community. “Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really know who to talk to. HSSO was a good starting point for me to get to know more people who look like me, as well as a great place for students who vary in different educational status to build a community together,” said Her.
“Being a minority at an all-white campus is hard. Finding HSSO was a great way for me to be a part of a community. I was able to go to conferences and encourage others to become student leaders, and it helped me grow mentally. I really started understanding other perspectives and views as well,” said Vang.
The HSSO runs a lot of Hmong and non-related Hmong events throughout the campus, as well as collaborating with other student orgs to support and encourage diversity. If you’re interested in being a part of this student org, go to one of their Thursday meetings at 7 p.m. in the Willow/Walnut room in the Memorial Student Center or check out Orgsync for more information.