In honor of Hmong Heritage Month, the Hmong American Center, Inc. will host the 16th annual Hmong Wausau Heritage Month Conference on Saturday, April 24, 11 a.m.
This year will be the 45th anniversary of the first Hmong family to arrive in the state of Wisconsin in April of 1976.
The day-long virtual event will feature a keynote from Phong Yang, director of admissions and recruitment at California State University, Fresno, as well as a series of panels highlighting Hmong cultural practices, Hmong dance and athletics, Hmong cultural events, and the music industry. Each panel will feature a variety of Hmong leaders, experts, and public figures.
The event will feature two hosts: Ong Vang, a board member for Artwork for Milwaukee, and Ger Lor, a research and development chemist and singer.
“It is definitely a youth event, and I don’t want it to be just for Hmong youth. It can be for anybody,” said Payeng Yang, the chairwoman of the Hmong Heritage Month Committee. “I feel that it’s important to connect with anybody who may be interested in getting involved in a sport or an activity like dance. And even if you’re not Hmong, I feel that you can still connect to it the same way.”
Yang further noted that now, as an organizer, she sees the urgent need to have young people both engage with their culture as well as continue to provide cultural events such as the conference. Her hope is that this event will encourage youth to step up and engage.
“There’s also a lot of work that goes into making these events possible and I feel that that is largely overlooked,” Yang said. “And now that the older generation is slowly starting to hit retirement and not run these events anymore, it’s now up to the younger generation to continue running them so that they stay present for the next generation to be able to enjoy. And that’s a really big goal that I have with hosting this event.
“I feel that it’s important to inspire the younger generation to get involved, to keep these Hmong traditions alive,” she added.
The conference is sponsored by Walmart, The Kroger Company, Kwik Trip, the Hmong Wausau Festival, Miss Hmong Wisconsin Teen, Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, and the Hmong Phoojywg Enrichment Program.