Once a month a group of about 25 or so students gather
in the DUC to share a hot meal and spend an hour learning about and discussing
a new topic.
Topics this semester have covered renewable energy,
Native American culture in modern America, and, most recently, Hmong culture
and identity. The next and last topic that will be covered this semester is the
Humane Society. The students who attend Soup and Substance help pick the topics
by filling out a survey where they list things they might be interested in
learning about. This not only helps SIEO to know what topics to pick but also
encourages students to come back again.
“I think we have had a lot of new faces,” said Caitlin
Bauman, the leadership and marketing coordinator for SIEO. “We have been mixing
up topics quite a bit, so, like today, there were a lot of new faces. Last
month, we didn’t see the people that are here today. But we also definitely
have people coming back every single time that I have noticed.”
The hour is structured to have a 30-minute talk from
someone who knows about the selected topic, followed by 30 minutes of open
discussion. This month the discussion was focused on Hmong culture and
identity. Several people who come from Hmong families came in to share things
about their family life, what it was like being Hmong while growing up in
America, religious issues and cultural differences.
“I’ve been trying to get to Soup and Substance for a
while, but this was just kind of the first one I could make it to. It wasn’t my
first choice of topic, but it ended up being really interesting, and I’m glad I
came for this topic,” said Abigail Hencheck, a religious studies and
international studies major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
However, Soup and Substance is more than just a chance
for students to have a free meal and learn about an interesting new topic. It
is also an opportunity for some students to share things that are important to
them. Whitney Yang, a student at UWSP, shared a great deal about her life and
enjoyed having the chance to do so.
“It was definitely fun because I like talking about my
culture. It’s something that I rarely get to talk about, since I’m usually just
with Hmong people anyway. So being able to share with other people was really
fun,” Yang said.
After hearing from Yang, her husband and several other
people of Hmong decent, the table was opened up to questions. Several students
ventured to ask follow up questions, querying how some of the Hmong traditions
or life styles might make them feel today. One person asked how many Hmong
traditions they planned to pass down to their children. Yang and her husband
indicated that while they would like to keep the language and the culture alive
in their family, they might loosen up on some of the rules they were expected
to live by.
Soup and Substance will meet again on December 4th to
discuss the Humane Society. They meet at 5:00pm in the DUC in room 235. It is
free to attend, but, as there are limited seats, pre-registration is required.