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GLOBAL UMD: In Search of Their Roots

Hmong heritage night  
HLUB (Hmong living Unity and Balance), the first Hmong student club at UMD, aims at educating the whole campus about Hmong history and culture. During its biggest event, Hmong Heritage, traditional food, customs, dance and music were presented to the audience.  

Global UMD is a new podcast series for Spring 2015. Follow the episodes on the UMD Homepage.

Radio Transcript

(Intro Music)

Narrator Jiaxun Fan: This is Global UMD, presenting you stories about the diverse voices on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.

Fan: Few people know that the Hmong are an ethnic group that has lived in Southeast Asia for thousands of years. During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s, the Hmong people in Laos partnered with the Americans to fight against Southeast Asian Communists, and many became refugees in the U.S. when Laos fell. Currently, Minnesota is the second highest Hmong populated state after California, and Hmong students has also become the biggest ethnic group among Asian students at UMD. For this episode, we want to show you how our Hmong students maintain and promote their culture on campus.

(Jari Vang singing)

Fan: This is Jari Vang, a UMD sophomore , singing his own song “family” in Hmong. In the song, he wrote, “My Hmong people/let’s come together/open your ear/so you can hear the Hmong voice/I support you with strength/your support my skills/we can only succeed if we stand together. ” Since 2015 is the 40th anniversary since Hmong people started their new life in America, Vang wrote this song to memorize his ancestors and also to educate the youth about their culture.

Jari Vang: The song was basically talking about we all should look back into our history and reunite as one. So the reason why I chose to write music is because I believe culture can be found through music, and I don’t know a lot about the culture and I can’t go out and find a lot about the culture. So the only way to educate the youth about our culture is through entertainment.

Fan: There are over hundred Hmong students at UMD. Jari Vang is not the only one who realized the importance of maintaining Hmong identity and culture as more and more younger generations were born and grew up in the U.S. Jay Vang, a UMD senior, created a club called HLUB (pronounced Loo) which stands for Hmong Living in Unity and Balance and also means “love” in Hmong. As the current president of HLUB , Jay Vang hopes the club can not only help Hmong students to learn about their own culture but also help people from other backgrounds to learn about who they are and where they come from.

Jay Vang: Our mission is to help bring awareness to our members about the different issues that occurs within the Hmong community either up here in Duluth or in the Cities or oversea, but then at the same time to bring awareness of what Hmong people are to the UMD campus, to the student body and to the community.

Fan: When HLUB first created, Ger Thor joined in with the intention of supporting her friend Jay Vang. However, after she participated in HLUB’s workshops and activities, Thor realized that she didn’t know as much as she wants to about her culture.

Thor: First I joined is was to support my friend, but that as I stayed in the organization and was on board, I realized I didn’t know very much about the Hmong history and Hmong people. I think in order for me to really embrace who I am as a Hmong woman, I need to understand all that first. And so I want to educate myself.

Fan: As the new president of HLUB, Thor wants to promote the club more on campus.

Thor: For the upcoming year, I want us to be able to promote our organization more even just around the campus first.

Fan: There is something special about being a Hmong student at UMD. According to Jay Vang, UMD is a place where you can meet all the Hmong students on campus and socialize with them; they are like a family.

Jay Vang: UMD itself is a middle size campus allows the Hmong people to socialize, to get to know each other, and actually know each other by name and hang out.

Fan: If you would like to know more information about HLUB and their activities, please visit their facebook page. This is podcast Global UMD, and we tell you about the many voices on our campus.


Ger and Jay Jari singing
HLUB's current president Jay Vang (on the right) joins future president Ger Thor (on the left). Both of them have been asked by their American peers whether they are from mountains or oceans.
Jari Vang sings his own song "Family" in Hmong during the Feast of Nations event. In the first generation since his parents immigrated to the U.S., Jari thinks that music is the best way to educate the youth about Hmong culture.

Listen to other episodes of Global UMD:

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

A Warmer Campus

A Global Living Experience

Get Your Internships in America

A Mentor, A Friend

Their American Lives

We Are Going to Graduate



Podcast and story by Jiaxun Fan, May, 2015.

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Cheryl Reitan,

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