Monday, May 2, 2011
A Hmong Boy's Story by Yakao Yang
During the Vietnam War, the Hmong people helped the United States fight the Vietnamese communist regime. As you know the U.S. did not win the war and only prolonged the inevitable advance of communism. The Vietnamese were very cruel to the Hmong people who fought against them and as a result many Hmong people entered refugee camps and tried to find a way to live the rest of their lives here in the United States. Today, their are still Hmong waiting in Refugee camps in Thailand.
A Hmong Boy's Story chronicles the life of a young boy growing up during this conflict of political powers. This is Yakao Yang's memoir which details the racism and prejudice he faced as a Hmong boy trying to get an education (when education wasn't valued by Hmong people). He had to attend school where at times he was the only Hmong child in the classroom. He made friends, learned as much as he could and overcame many obstacles.
What I enjoyed most was learning about the Hmong culture and history, from their lifestyle in the mountains, their courting and marriage rituals, to life in the refugee camps and the migration of the people from place to place. I really learned a lot and feel I know the history and culture of my Hmong students better. Every year I attend Hmong New Year at my kids school and participate in the ball toss and the traditional New Year's feast. I feel that I truly understand the surnames and the rituals behind the Hmong New Year.
Yang's memoir is very detailed and hard to read at times because English is not his native language. Yet, it is very readable and entertaining for those willing to persevere. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Hmong culture. I think he has created a unique memoir and his family would be very proud of all he accomplished in his life. Yakao is a man who values education and loves his family and it shows in his book. Thank you Yakao Yang for sharing your personal story.
Buy book at Amazon here