This week is interview #2 from the Pacific Northwest. It came about because I recognized a foreign language being spoken without understanding a word…
Overhearing an Asian family operating a floral booth at the Portland Farmer’s Market, I approached and asked, “Are you Hmong?”
They affirmed. And they did so with surprise, because 1. I’m not Hmong, and 2. As I’d soon learn, there are few Hmong people in this part of the country (as opposed to my home state of Minnesota).
I asked the young woman at the booth if I could ask her some questions about their history and culture, about their life in Portland, and about their views on the world today.
Sue Meng opened up about her church, school, and career plans. Then her father chimed in about fleeing Laos and Thailand, coming to the US without knowing English, and happily raising his family in America.
This interview was a natural outcrop from my experience with (and research on) the Hmong in Minnesota. Here’s my long-form story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the Hmong experience and the successful, unique Hmong-Minnesota intercultural assimilation.
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