On July 13, 2013, with a special request from Ong Vue, a dear friend of mine and a Superwomyn in her own hometown of Akron, Ohio, I had the opportunity along with Kong Lor of The Kong & Shu Project to bring awareness about the significance of Hmong music, dreaming big, and breaking through social barriers in Akron (Yes, I got to see Lebron James’ high school too). Not only was this a unique presentation for me, but we were also going to SURPRISE over 30 young Hmong students in the Hmong Ohio of Tomorrow (HOOT) organization that day!
And I loooove surprises — I mean being the one who knows about the surprise.
HOOT is a new community organization (not even 1 year old yet) established by truly passionate and caring young Hmong individuals (Ong Vue included), all in their 20s, who know deep within that the potential of their Hmong community lies in their hands and in the hands of the future, the children. (Hence, Hmong Ohio of Tomorrow.) More importantly, because they give a HOOT!
I was told stories of how many of these children, though living in the same city and/or attending the same school, did not know one another unless they were related. Not only, I heard stories of how many hardly knew the Hmong language and the culture.
How many of us can attest to that, right?
All of this changed once HOOT’s mission (to instill Hmong traditions and advance the education, health, and success in Hmong Ohio youth through mentorship, leadership, and community initiatives) got around using one of peb Hmoob’s best talents: talking. Families, including the elderly, were inquiring about HOOT—even at the local Hmong store where Ong frequented. Soon, left and right, children were joining in on the many educational and entertaining gatherings that HOOT organized to better their community.
I am super proud of these individuals who have already made such a big impact in their community. I know they are deeply passionate as they are still looking for a permanent place to hold the meetings, fundraising to have enough healthy snacks (their most unhealthy snack they’ve ever provided were fruit snacks!) for all participants, and so much more!
Meeting them all in person was beyond my imagination. From the HOOT council members to the young participants, their energies were so high; it was truly an overdose of happiness, passion, and love for one another. What an experience to remember!
Thank you, HOOT, for allowing me in your presence that day.
Much love and respect,