Being in Thailand has put a lot of things in perspective for me. Back in Minnesota, going to a predominately white university, I have always felt like minority. Like I was always the one getting the shorter end of the stick. Then I come here and I realize how ignorant and privileged I am to live in a country where I have to drive 20 minutes to school and still complain about how bad traffic was on highway 94. How privileged I am to have air conditioning in every building that I walk into even though it is only 80 degrees outside.
Everyday here the sun is hot and the air is humid. Now I can finally understand why my mother has the heat turned on when it’s 70 degrees back at home. After being in the United States for over 30 years, she still hasn’t adjusted to the cold of Minnesota. Visiting the Hmong village was definitely my biggest wake up call. Things are so much different than the Hmong movies that I have seen. Both girls and boys have access to education and agriculture is so much more advanced than I had even considered. Furthermore, I was surprised to learn that only about 10 out of 200 families still followed the traditional Hmong practice of Shamanism. I thought that the conversion of religion was only a trend in the United States, but apparently that did not stand to be true.
Although so many things surprised me, I can say that I have never felt so proud of my Hmong heritage. Seeing the spinning tops, shooting the cross bow, and riding the kart down the hill really helped me embrace my Hmongness. Especially hitting the coconut on my first try! I had always known that those were genuine Hmong traditions but had never had the chance to actually do it. It made me feel like I could relate to my parents childhood. Walking around the village, getting caught in the muddy rain, and playing with the village children made me feel so at home. These are my people. This is my community. And I am their person.
Love from Thailand,