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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Fresno State’s Hmong Student Association celebrates the history of Hmong New Year

Jayronan Vanthy/The Collegian
The celebration includes a presentation of traditional Hmong clothing.

On Nov. 14, Fresno State celebrated the history of Hmong New Year at the Satellite Student Union, with President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval announcing Fresno State’s Hmong digital repository located on the library website.

The repository is a public collection of photographs, documents and videos that follow the Hmong people’s journey from Laos to the United States. It is founded by Hmongstory Legacy, an organization that is set to preserve stories of Hmong history and promote a community movement to establish a permanent physical museum.

Jiménez-Sandoval emphasizes that the collection is important to the community, stating that generations from now people will be able to learn about the journey of sacrifice, perseverance and hope that Hmong elders undertook.

“When one knows one’s history, one is able to chart one’s own future strongly and securely. And as the Hmong are fundamental to this Valley and the future to this Valley, intrinsically, you are with us forever now,“ Jiménez-Sandoval said.

Traditional dances, musical performances, speeches and awards took place to showcase the cultural significance of the Hmong Community at Fresno State.

The event opened up with an enchanting performance of Hmong dancers by girls representing the youth organization “A Hopeful Encounter” as well as Hmong dancers from Edison High School. Their nimble steps and colorful garbs captivated the audience in a performance that represented the 18 Hmong family clans.

The turnout to the event was admirable, according to Hmong Student Association judicial, Cameron Vang.

“This is mainly for the students. We want to try to promote as much student life as possible and get students to recognize Hmong culture, and see what we’re all about,” Vang said.

The HmSA organization focused on getting guests and students to attend the event as one of its many goals to spread and educate people about the Hmong community.

Although Hmong New Year is typically celebrated in December, Vang says it wasJiménez-Sandoval that proposed to celebrate Hmong New Year at Fresno State, specifically to aid in its recognition.

Jiménez-Sandoval was present to not only commemorate Hmong New Year, but to also recognize the importance of sharing and celebrating Hmong traditions in which he believes are also the traditions of the Central Valley.

According to Jiménez-Sandoval, the celebration is more than just an event, it is an invitation for Hmong students to connect with their roots and take pride in their heritage as he hopes that they share it with their peers and share it with others.

Lar Yang and David Lee, founders of Hmongstory Legacy, said that with their collection, Hmong people can educate their kids, and more importantly themselves as he encourages students to ask their parents about their stories and lives.

“I promise you they will take on a new life once you start talking about things they are familiar with,” Lee said.

Amy Moua, who was announced Miss Hmong USA 2023 and Fresno State alumna, came on stage to talk about her experiences and the culturally integrated talent that she learned to showcase for her pageants.

Amy Moua plays her hulusi flute for the celebration. (Jayronan Vanthy/The Collegian)

Moua chose to show her skills with hulusi flute instead of shooting basketball hoops for the pageants like her parents jokingly suggested, as she was also an athlete known for doing squats or deadlifts amongst her family.

According to Moua, the instrument connected her back to her roots through music and it was also something that she picked up naturally.

“When I really sat back and thought about it during the pageant, this was my one true talent that I felt should be showcased on stage,” Moua said.

To Moua, the hulusi represents ethnic minorities like herself, as it is original and cultural.

HmSA presented an original video produced by Tyson Lee, a student, and directed by liberal studies major Yer Thao for the purpose of visualizing the mythical origins of Hmong New Year.

The students were given instructions and were told to produce the video on the same day they were given the assignment, in which they went to Cher Tang’s, a social work professor, property to film for eight hours.

“We were pretty invested in the beginning, but at the end when nighttime started coming we kinda just lost the energy to go on.” said Adam Xiong, one of the actors in the video.

According to Xiong, director Thao was the only one who could read Hmong so she was the only one who knew what to do with what they were given as they had to act out the lore of Hmong New Year.

Producer Lee had a major role in choreographing the one and only action sequence as Lee is experienced in taekwondo himself.

Lastly, Cha Mee Xiong, an international Hmong Singer, came on stage to perform one of her songs and the audience was given the opportunity to get out of their seats and dance as she sang.

The rest of the HmSA cast and President Jiménez-Sandoval all got out of their seats to sway in the festivities for the night.

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