Conversation With A Hmong Portlander

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,…
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Out Today: My Story About The Hmong In Minnesota In Today’s Star Tribune

I was inspired to write the story two years ago. I walked into a Hmong-owned insurance office near the school I work for to find it decorated like my grandfather’s den: deer antlers, wildlife photography, and pictures of hunters in blaze orange all along the wall. In my mind, such outdoor interests were almost exclusively…
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The World Evolves Around You / My Story About The Hmong In Minnesota In This Sunday’s Star Tribune

On a sunny Saturday in the summer of 2010, I walked a few blocks from my apartment in Minneapolis to the Loring Park Art Fair. Dozens of exhibitors showed their sculptures, paintings, and more to the scores of neighborhood folks walking about. One exhibitor’s work caught my eye. He displayed his black and white photographs…
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Highlights From The Minnesota State Fair

  Its origins are in livestock, food, contests, and carnival rides–and its heartbeat remains as such. But like many other events/organizations originated long ago (the State Fair goes back to before we even had a state, in what was known in the mid-1850s as the “Territorial Fair”), the Minnesota State Fair has evolved and grown to…
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The Hmong Have Caught On To Minnesota Fishing

The Hmong have been in Minnesota for 40 years. Which aspects of a culture does a people bring to a new land? Which do they leave behind? And which aspects of the local culture does one adopt when entering a new land? These are the questions I’m asking in an article I’m working on. And I’ve…
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Thailand: A Look Back At The Best Moments/Photos

River rides, elephant rides, Hmong villages, Long neck women… Art, blossoms, schools, sports… New friends, new terrain, and lots of food and shopping… And that covers just a bit of what we saw and did on this student trip to Thailand. Travel has a way of really packing a punch, of squeezing as much out…
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Refugee Camp Ruins And A Buddhist Monastery

  Our van motorcade approached a monastery community with row houses, a large, black statue of the Buddha, and temples. These structures sat before a backdrop of grassy, rocky hills. This was all for the monks. Adjacent to the temple property were the ruins of a former refugee camp: piles of concrete on what is…
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One Cliff, Two Rivers, Three Countries: A Story Of Freedom

  I stood at the edge of a cliff overlooking a windy, muddy river coming into view from my left. It meandered its way across my line of sight until meeting another, larger river perpendicularly. This truer river, clearer in direction and color, came into view from the distant horizon straight ahead and continued toward me until…
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The Hmong Mountain Village In Thailand

We walked past one-room houses of bamboo stick walls, straw roofs, and dirt floors. Chickens scampered and clucked about. Children played barefoot and parents in flip-flops tended to the babies, prepped meals, or conducted other daily chores. This was a quiet lifestyle. No machines–though it felt as if we had entered a time machine and gone…
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Teaching Football To Thai Students

  Blue 42; Blue 42!! Our interactions with our sister school in the rural hill country of Thailand went beyond the classroom. Scheduled for two days were: a service project and a sports day. And like my Mom taught me, you do the work first. Then you can go play in the field. *** A service project…
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