Fresno State's Hmong minor helping students celebrate their heritage

In the three years since it was created, Fresno State's Hmong minor has helped students to celebrate their heritage while preparing them for the workforce.

"After taking a few classes in Hmong, I started to feel like I belong I started to understand my own culture, my own heritage," says Fresno State Junior Dustin Vang.

The Hmong minor was started in 2016, educating students on both the Hmong language and culture.

Sheng Thao is currently enrolled in the program and plans to pursue teaching after graduation.

"Growing up in Fresno, I was mainly influenced by mainstream culture, and having the opportunity to take the Hmong Minor, it lets me see how rich my culture is," Thao said.

Thao hopes the minor will help her to assist her future students better.

"It's like trial and error going into school not speaking English," Thao said. "I went into kindergarten just knowing the words, "yes" and "no," and I feel there is that challenge going on. "So I feel like when I go into the teaching field, I'll be able to bridge that gap between the students and the teacher."

Thirty students have graduated from the program, and 17 are in the process of completing the minor. They say they're able to appreciate the culture and better share with others.

"Being a Hmong minor, I was able to speak properly and formerly talk to my elders, and that gave me an aspect of how they think," Vang said.

"Nurses, teachers and social workers need to be bilingual, truly fluently, in order to be able to serve this diverse population," says Hmong minor coordinator Kaoly Yang.

It's an educational exploration in culture providing the knowledge, support and connectivity to benefit current and future generations.
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