First Hmong studies to be offered in area schools

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- History class is turning a new page in area high schools.

“I think it will be a great push for Hmong youth, but classmates here at North High School,” said sophomore Risa Lor. “It’ll be a fun class to learn and focus on.”

Starting in the fall, the Eau Claire Area School District is introducing a new course for high school students to learn about Hmong culture.

“Hmong studies is something in our school district that many people have been asking about for a number of years and have been very interested in from educators in our schools, parents and members of our Hmong community,” said school board member Joe Luginbill. “The Hmong community plays such an important role in the history of not only Eau Claire, but the U.S. and world history.”

“Usually in the regular history classes they don't teach anything about what Hmong people did in the wars or how we contributed,” said senior Alina Xiong. “I hope in the Hmong studies class, it will shed more light into what Hmong people did in history.”

Around 9 percent of students in the district are of East Asian descent, the majority being Hmong.

Students said this new course is the perfect opportunity for students to learn about their neighbors, here in Eau Claire, and to learn themselves.

“A lot of the underclassmen and younger students, they don't have that much knowledge of Hmong culture because a lot of Hmong families have been Americanized,” said senior Che Nou Vang. “So this will give a big opportunity for younger kids, and kids in general, to learn about Hmong culture.”

“You have people in Eau Claire history like Joe Bee Xiong who passed away 10 years ago,” Luginbill added. “He was the first Hmong elected official in the U.S. when he was elected to our city council in Eau Claire. So, Eau Claire has a very deep history with Hmong community.”

The school said their goal is to get about is to get about 20-25 students enrolled in the class, but this being the first year, they said they’re ok teaching it with a little less.

The district said they're hoping this course will help them tap into local resources and increase collaboration between organizations like the Hmong Association and UW-Eau Claire who has a Hmong program underway.

The district adds hoping with enough interest by students that this course will eventually lead to a Hmong language class or comprehensive studies