Spring 2014

Hmong culture shared in Central Wisconsin

By Sydney Inks

It is often said that America is a melting pot with diversity in every nook and cranny of the country.  With many Hmong Americans residing in Portage County, we have cultural opportunities here locally as well.  Select faculty, staff and students on campus, with the help of many community members and other professionals, have created a documentary tracing the Hmong community in Stevens Point and spotlighting their diverse culture. “Finding the Middle Way” explores cultural traditions, working life, intergenerational relations, and Hmong and non-Hmong relationships in Portage County.

Anthropology lecturer Tori Jennings and Maysee Yang Herr, an Assistant Professor of Education were two members of the documentary film team. Jennings contributed her experience in ethnographic and fieldwork to teach student project assistants ethical research practices, skills and techniques required for ethnographic and qualitative data collection while primarily working as the project producer. Herr served as the projects humanities expert and cultural consultant. 

Her Hmong background was useful in helping the team understand meaning of content in interviews and events. She will present lectures and lead discussions at public forums and showings of the documentary as the project is presented.

Members of the UW-Stevens Point Hmong and Southeast Asian American Club (HASEAAC) have also contributed with interviews and research. HASEAAC is a club formed in the 1980s and consists of many Hmong American students who are active on campus and in the community.

“Finding the Middle Way,” which will be included in Jennings and Herr’s community  lecture on May 6, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the Portage County Library, ties together two cultures that have become one. While still holding true to tradition and core values, the Hmong Americans in the documentary portray a people who are adaptable and accept new surroundings, but loyal to where they came from. The work done by a team who are integrated with different backgrounds, diverse cultures and professions is a celebration of two communities joining together.  

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