On August 11, 1992, the Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office as a non-profit organization.
Over the past twenty years, the Hmong Cultural Center has served the Hmong and non-Hmong community with several important programs to promote education about Hmong culture and history and facilitate the adaptation of Hmong in American Society.
The Hmong Cultural Center Achievements from 1992 to 2012 begin with Citizenship and ESL Class Instruction.
Hmong Cultural Center has provided Citizenship Classes to the community since the mid-1990s as a member of the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium. Over the years, HCC has developed a particularly strong reputation as a provider of Medical Waiver Citizenship Classes for elderly and disabled Hmong refugees, a group whose needs are often overlooked by other service agencies.
English language Citizenship classes have also had sizable enrollments at the center for more than 15 years. The center estimates it has assisted at least 2,000 Hmong refugees in navigating the naturalization process and obtaining U.S. Citizenship over this time, a very important contribution to Hmong adjustment to Minnesota.
In addition to Citizenship classes, the center is known for the assistance it provides to the community with filling out naturalization paperwork and providing translation at the USCIS office when clients enrolled in its classes take their Citizenship exams. With the arrival of Hmong from Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand in 2004, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes became another important component of Hmong Cultural Center’s Adult Basic Education programming.
Today, Hmong Cultural Center serves diverse populations in its Adult Basic Education classes including Vietnamese, Laotians, Oromo and Karen.
The services continue with Qeej, Dance, Funeral and Wedding Song Instruction.
The organization’s emphasis on traditional Hmong folk arts is inherently connected to the social fabric and ethnic identity of Hmong Minnesotans. Qeej, Funeral and Wedding Song Instruction classes were founding programs of Hmong Cultural Center twenty years ago and remain important parts of its mission in promoting education about Hmong culture today.
In the late 1990s, the center diversified its offerings with the addition of classes to teach Hmong and Asian dances. Since 1992, Hmong Cultural Center estimates that it has trained more than 500 children and youth to play the Qeej instrument in Hmong funeral ceremonies and a similar number of community members in the oral recitation of traditional Hmong funeral and wedding songs.
In a very real, tangible sense, Hmong Cultural Center has contributed to the continued survival of the Qeej instrument tradition and the ability of Hmong families in Minnesota to have proper cultural funeral ceremonies for another generation. In a similar vein, Hmong Cultural Center has trained an entire generation of young adults and adults as cultural specialists with the knowledge and ability to orally recite the canon of funeral and marriage songs associated with the traditional Hmong marriage and funeral ceremonies, allowing the survival of these important forms of Hmong ceremonial culture in the lives of Hmong-Minnesotans.
The Hmong Resource Center Library is a valuable resource.
In the late 1990s, the Hmong Cultural Center started the Hmong Resource Center Library (www.hmonglibrary.org), a unique collection of Hmong-related books, dissertations, journal and newspaper articles which has grown into the largest collection of Hmong-related scholarly research in the United States.
Hundreds of high school and college students, scholars and community members use the resource center library each year, many of these library patrons come from beyond the Twin Cities area to utilize this institution’s unique collections of books, theses, dissertations and journal articles about the Hmong. The center has also partnered over the years with the Hmong Studies Journal, the only scholarly journal focused on Hmong Studies research for community outreach activities and the printing of physical editions of the journal’s volumes.
More recent additions include Multicultural Education Program Initiatives.
In 2003, Hmong Cultural Center developed a Building Bridges: Teaching about the Hmong in Our Communities (Hmong 101) curriculum which has been shared with at least 5,000 persons in community presentations and visits to the center over the past nice years. The center has also engaged in recent initiatives to develop resources that educate the public about Hmong traditional folk arts.
These projects have involved the development of a folk arts multimedia website (accessible at www.learnabouthmong.net) and a recently launched virtual Hmong textiles museum in partnership with the Hmong Archives www.hmongembroidery.org) intended to engage viewers in learning about Hmong culture and Hmong folk arts as practiced by Hmong Minnesotans.
The Future Hmong Cultural Center Initiatives.
The leadership and staff of Hmong Cultural Center are very excited about several initiatives planned for the next few years. These upcoming initiatives are centered upon the multicultural education focus of Hmong Cultural Center’s mission and include:
• An Upcoming Community Exhibit of Hmong Embroidery Artworks featured on HmongEmbroidery.org, the new virtual museum partnership of the Hmong Cultural Center/Hmong Archives
• The Production of Additional Videos of Hmong Folk Arts Performances for Inclusion in the Center’s Expanding LearnaboutHmong Arts Education Webpage
• The Development of Enhanced Interpretative Exhibits and Displays Related to Hmong History in Minnesota as part of a combined Hmong American History Center and Library
• The Expansion of the Building Bridges Multicultural Education Program to the Internet through Webinar Technology to serve Educators and Service Providers working with Hmong Populations in Wisconsin, California, North Carolina, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Alaska and other States with Emerging Hmong Populations
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Hmong Cultural Center will hold a public event at its offices at 995 University Avenue, Suite 214 in Saint Paul on December 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. This event will include a slide show of milestones in Hmong Cultural Center history, Qeej and Dance performances as well as exhibits of embroidery from Hmong Cultural Center’s new virtual embroidery museum in partnership with the Hmong Archives.
In recognition of this very special event, Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed December 12, 2012 “Hmong Cultural Center Day” in Minnesota.
Founded in 1992, Hmong Cultural Center’s mission is to promote the personal development of children, youth, and adults through Hmong cultural education while providing resources that enhance cross-cultural awareness and understanding between Hmong and non-Hmong persons. In early 2012, HCC earned “Meets Standards” Status from the Charities Review Council.
The center’s website is at www.hmongcc.org/. The community is very welcome to visit HCC and enroll in our programs. To learn more about programs at Hmong Cultural Center call 651-917-9937 or stop by the center at 995 University Avenue, Suite 214 in Saint Paul.