Little reminders while in Thailand


As I reflect on my experience at the Pha Nok Kok hmong village in Chiang Mai. I noticed that there is a similarity between the Hmong names in America and Thailand. As an Hmong American women I have two names–Hmong and English. My name is Shengyeng . The Hmong spelling of my name is Seev Yees. I also have an American name as my middle name which is Emily. Growing up it was easier to pronounce Emily in grade school, so I went with that name. It didn’t bother me much, because it was easier to write. However, I felt like a piece of me was missing. I’m still on the journey to find that missing piece.

During the discussion with the Chief of the Village I was curious about why the Hmong Thai have a Thai name.  I learned about this in a recent Hmong movie that I watched. I never knew the reason why the Hmong Thai people changed their names to Thai. I wasn’t sure if they kept their Hmong name. It wasn’t until the Chief explained that ‘Thai’ is a Universal language. Since they live in Thailand it was easier to understand Thai. In order to adapt in the Thai culture they must have a Thai name, but still have their Hmong name. In addition, he even mention that sometimes nick names are given.  With this explanation from the Chief I was reminded of my own name in America. I now have a deeper appreciation of my name whether it’s in Hmong or American.


As I got older I find myself using the name Shengyeng more and more. Sometimes I feel self-conscious using the correct pronounciation to others. However, over the years I had learn to embrace my first name in Hmong. I prefer for everyone to call me by my name Shengyeng. I believe that a person’s name is their brand. It should be carried with pride and corrected if misprounced by others. It wasn’t until I graduated from High School that I was reminded of the importance of my name.

Another experience was from the “What is your name?” activity with the High School students at Chiang Dao School  This was definetely a reminder to listen. Just as Eve explained about the different languages and cultures. What I took away from the activity is that listening is important when there’s a language barrier. I had trouble learning the name of the Thai students, but with our body language and hand signals it definitely helped. I truly believe that language plays an important part in life. As Acharn Cathy mentioned from our debrief discussion, “language creates stronger relationships’.


In a nutshell, these experiences will help me grow and shape me as an individual.

2 thoughts on “Little reminders while in Thailand”

  1. I love this! I’m very glad that you’ve learned to love your name and it be proud of it. I completely agree with everything you’ve said. Sometimes it is easier to tell someone an easier name because it just makes the process of them learning it better. Your post reminds me of an article I read in class about a Texas congress person, who wanted to have Asians, I believe specifically Chinese individuals change their names in the US to make it easier to read and pronounce and it caused a huge incident. It’s sad that things like this are happening. It’s people like you, who are proud of your name and what it represents that will show everyone the special meaning behind someone’s name.

  2. Shengyeng, Elegant, the way you wrote this post, especially the first paragraph. I was glad when you asked that question to the Chief as I didn’t know they had Thai along with Hmong names. When we named our daughters, it was a long and important process, but culture wasn’t foremost. Coming here, reading your post, helps me be aware of that dynamic element.

Leave a Reply