The Hmong Institute has an amazing day planned for Hmong high school students from throughout Wisconsin as they host “Hmong Day at the State Capitol” on Tuesday, May 16, 9 a.m-3:30 p.m. This year’s event is titled “Resilient Hmong Youth.”
The goals of the day are to expose Hmong youth to state government and the policymaking process, reinforce their knowledge of the three branches of state government and inspire and foster Hmong youth to be active citizens.
“At Hmong Day at the State Capitol, we invite youth from around the state to come to the Capitol and it’s really an opportunity for them to get exposed to government and their elected officials, and hopefully, they see themselves one day running for office,” The Hmong Institute CEO Peng Her tells Madison365. “It also reinforces their civic duty as good Wisconsinites and Americans who are good, active citizens.”
The first year that The Hmong Institute hosted Hmong Day at the State Capitol back in 2018 before the pandemic, they had over 230 students attend.
“This year with many of the COVID restrictions lifted, we decided to do it again and right now we have about 120 students coming,” Her says.
Students will get to visit the governor’s office, the Supreme Court chambers and the assembly chambers. The keynote speaker will be State Rep. Francesca Hong.
There will be morning workshops on “How does a bill become a law?” and “The three branches of state government, its roles and impacts on you” and “Why is civic engagement important to you?” Pastor Nengmai Vang will also talk about “Hmong History: Becoming Resilient Hmong Youth.”
Her says that the event is traditionally held on our near May 14th, an important date in the Hmong community.
“That’s the date when the diaspora started. On May 12th-13th, is when Laos fell into communist control. We literally had to flee overnight and so May 14 is when the evacuation started,” Her says. “So if you remember in Afghanistan a couple of years ago when the cargo planes landed and people were lining up on the tarmac, that’s what we did on May 14, 1975. So May 14 is an important day in our history.
“We always like to celebrate that, commemorate that … because it’s not a sad day. It’s a day we lost our country but gained a new homeland,” Her continues. “So we wanted to do something to commemorate that, and we always do it on May 14 but it was the weekend this year and the Capitol was closed. We moved it to Tuesday because there would be more elected officials there.”
All of the Hmong students will take a group picture on the Wisconsin State Capitol steps.
“It’s going to be a great day and hopefully a powerful and fun day for the students,” Her says. “We expect to see students from throughout Wisconsin. In the past, we’ve had students come from Appleton and Sheboygan and Milwaukee and all around the state, so it should be a great experience.”
Hmong Day at the Wisconsin State Capitol will take place on Tuesday, May 16, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.