As I re-connect with many of my high school peers within the past few weeks, I thought about how high school was for me and how different I was back then. Being one of the few Asian people who graduated from Towers High School in 1994 -- damn I make it sound like I'm so freaking old now, don't I? -- I thought about what kind of person my classmates perceived me as. The quiet, shy, nerdy Chinese girl, I believe. Hey, not many people cared what my ethnicity was back then. If I was yellow and had slanted eyes, than I was considered Chinese. Forget educating others about my ethnicity being Hmong. Plus it had to do with how my parents raised me. They raised me to not make a big deal out of little things - to let these just be so there would be no trouble. So about me being Hmong was on that list. But when I was around my Hmong and Lao friends, I was this outgoing person with a sense of humor, always making people laugh because I'm silly. They even considered me to be more daring so they would always let me do the more "bold" things. However, when I get back to high school, it's totally different. After high school, I got married to my hubby and started my own family and didn't have my parents around me to guide me. I started to have my own identity, my own voice of what kind of person I really was. Now, I'm not those crazy girls who went on "Girls Gone Wild" or anything. Just saying I'm the type who would tell you what's up. It has gotten to where I am right only, hahaha. But I've gotten better at that. Sometimes it's better just to agree to disagree.
Having a family of my own, I understand where my parents are coming from. They escape from Laos to Thailand to come to the USA. In 1975, General Vang Pao was the first Hmong man to come to the USA and helped many of the Hmong people to re-locate to start a new life because many Hmong people have lost their lives helping the USA fight in the Vietnam War, also known as the "Secret War." I was born in 1976 and all my parents wanted to do was make sure I was safe and still had to adapt to the American ways.
In the past few years, my heart has gone out to teaching others more about my ethnicity. Even though I've been criticized for not being with a Hmong man, I believe my heart is more Hmong than others who claim they are Hmong. I started a Hmong blog - http://nickihawj.blogspot.com/ - for me to keep up with Hmong news as well as educate others. The disturbing YouTube videos that circulating a couple of years ago is what got me so emotional. Plus a couple of weeks ago, Duce and Pagnia's lyrics on their "The Hmong Movement" song really teared me up. How can we Hmong people help out America and still no one knows about us?