Students welcome new law requiring WI schools teach Hmong and Asian American history

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Posted at 9:34 AM, Apr 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 10:34:59-04

Students at Hmong American Peace Academy in Milwaukee proudly wore traditional Hmong clothing soon after Governor Tony Evers signed a bill into law requiring k-12 schools to teach Hmong and Asian American history.

The governor visited the school Thursday and met with students, school leaders, AAPI organizations, and lawmakers.

"I am extremely excited, especially since I've never really heard of students from other schools talking about Hmong students," senior Kalia Vang said.

"It's going to give them an insight into our culture and community," junior Andrew Vang stated. "That's what everyone wants to have is to be represented to have your voice to be acknowledged."

"I think it is important because it's part of our history as Americans," student Donovan Hang explained.

Hang said that this change is meaningful. As a child, Hang did not realize he was Hmong.

"All I knew was that I was Asian, and the only Asian that I knew or was talked about commonly around then was Chinese. I grew up, thinking I was Chinese," Hang recalled.

Hang and his peers hope that the new curriculum will empower students and foster understanding of different cultures.

Even though Wisconsin has the third largest Hmong population in the country, Gao Nou Yang says she is often asked what being Hmong means.

"I just couldn't understand why they were asking me who I am, like who I was as a Hmong person wasn't something normal, even though to me it is," Yang explained.

Now Yang takes those moments to share more about her background.

As the new law goes into effect she believes it will only add to the diversity in Wisconsin.

"I just hope the Hmong community will gain recognition for what they’ve done for their history and for their tradition," Yang said.