Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hmong Encounters

Coming to Thailand, I was both excited and anxious for the adventures that awaited me. I knew I would eventually meet my fellow community members, the Hmong people. When I did, it was amazing! I cannot express enough how exciting it was to meet people from the same community as me in a different country. I started a conversation right off the bat when I encountered my first interaction with two Hmong elders at the Sunday night market in Chiang Mai. Talking to them in Hmong, I noticed the unique sounds of their Hmong words with a slight Chinese accent. At this moment, everything became surreal. I continued to talk to these Hmong elders and learned of a Hmong New Year occurring there as well. Of course I could not miss out on this opportunity so a group of friends and I attended the event with Ajan Cathy. 

Since I have been to multiple Hmong New Years back at home already, I had an idea of what activities may occur such as ball tossing and performances. But what I was most excited was interacting with Hmong people. It was such a beautiful experience to be able to have conversations with the elders. They were excited to learn about the Hmong people in America just as I was to learn about the Hmong people here in Thailand. Who knew I would run into a Hmong family from Germany too? 

Although my rare encounters with Hmong people were unique, I did not expect to see that the Hmong culture was slowly losing its ways in Thailand like in America. To be able to see young Hmong adults and have no way of communication because they could not speak Hmong made me wonder how much of my culture has been lost here? Hopefully, all is not lost within the younger generation.

Hmong New Year in Chiang Mai
Hmong New Year in Chiang Mai

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