I welcome whomever that have visited this site with this piece. I hope that you not only stay for this piece but also stay and read a bit before you go.
What I Represent
The best of these experiences really worth relating are those which reflect the spirit of it.
I’m not here to chastise you for what you did or what you didn’t do. My question to you is.
What do you represent? You may be confused by that question. Do you represent yourself?
Parents? Friends? Brothers? Sisters? Family? Ethnicity? Culture? School? I’m going to move on to something else but keep thinking about it.
So last Wednesday, I turned 20. After finishing my job for the day. I went home and ate. While I was eating I was talking to my grandma. Our conversation soon lead to a topic that we’ve discussed before.
My grandma asked me. “How old are you turning today?” I said “20” And then my grandma asked me “When am I going to get married?” “When am I going to have kids.?”
But the question that was most difficult for me to answer was “When am I going to get my bachelors degree? Her voice was weak and soft. Afraid that her question might ruin my birthday.
I told her “Soon.” Which is a lie. But she understand that the lies I tell are not lies.
Because she was the one who taught me that. People keep secrets for a reason. And the truth, can be worse than any lie to cover it up.
I represent her hopes and dreams.
Hmong was involved in the Secret War in Laos. The war lasted from 1961 – 1975.
In those 14 years 30,000 Hmong soldiers died. Those soldiers always lived with a shroud on. When they die in a nameless place for the sake of that war, the place of their death become their grave and their uniform become their shroud.
These soldiers’ ranged from 12 – 60 year olds. The war may have ended in 1975 but the killing didn’t. That was when the genocide began. Between 1975 – 1985 100,000 Hmong died trying to flee to other countries. Another 50,000 died just from trying to cross the Mekong river to Thailand.
Due to our cooperation to fight for the US in Laos. The Vietnamese government ordered all Hmong people to be killed. But you wouldn’t know this. Because it’s not in our K-12 History books.
My grandma told me stories of her experience during those hellish years in Laos.
One of her friend from her village volunteered to be a nurse in the war when it first began. When my grandma was able to see her friend again ten years later, her friend told my grandma that “A doctor with a scalpel sees more death than a soldier with a gun.”
I represent their sacrifice.
With that knowledge about how difficult it was for my ancestors to come to the US. I used that as motivation to obtain a quality education.
Because I know that this is a privilege! I’m here not trying to disappoint my ancestors and my fellow Hmong brother and sisters. Who may have left those refugee camps. But their souls and spirits are still in the refugee camps in Thailand.
In my freshman year in high school. There were 17 hmong students in my projected graduating class of 2017. Four year laters, on graduation night. Only 16 Hmong students graduated. From Chico High.
But only 4 of us were committed to a four year university. Two years later and I met those twelve students who didn’t go to a four year university again. Six of them, don’t want to pursue education anymore.
I represent the few Hmong youths that hasn’t been brought down by the system, by drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence.
When I attended a conference 8 months ago in April
For Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education. Also known as APAHE.
One of the workshops I attended there, the presenter asked us to participate in an activity.
We were given a prompt to create lyrics and perform it to the people who were in that workshop session. The prompt was what do you represent? So naturally, I volunteered.
And I began with
And this is what I rep!
I represent the silent ones. I represent the ones that never won.
They expected me to fail. But nah. I ain’t like that.
I’m tough as nails, smooth like ale, and cold like hail.
They try to color my future like the Mekong.
While trying to make us forget about the napalms.
But don’t worry, it won’t take long.
Til I’m at the top. Because I’m never going to stop, until I drop.
That’s because I represent myself, my legacy, and the Hmong.
So ask yourself, what do you represent?