(Photo- from left to right)
Kabzuag Vaj of Madison, WI; Bo Thao of St. Paul, MN; Doua Thor of Washington, DC; Due Vang of Sacramento, CA (sitting); Linda Hawj of St. Paul, MN; and May Yer (Ly) Thao with Bo Thao & the Cultural Orientation Team of St. Paul, MN
It has taken me practically a whole week to feel some kind of reality after the 2013 Hmong National Development Conference in Fresno, CA on April 5-7, 2013. As I left the event Sunday, bitter sweetness lingered in my heart as I replayed all the experiences and energy I was submersed in throughout the weekend. As a matter of fact, bitter sweetness had already made an appearance the night before as the Saturday evening banquet can be seen as the “end” of the conference as many folks leave early Sunday morning (like the awesome Arkansas/Tri-State 40). At 3 AM in my hotel room after the banquet, I tried to find as many ways as possible to stay awake. I took an extra long shower; I checked my Facebook profusely; I folded my clothes neatly; I even organized my toiletries. I honestly did not want the weekend to end. Looking back at that moment, I know now why I felt that way. Along with the overwhelming love for the Hmong community I felt at the conference, I knew it also left me with many great memories, discussions, experiences, encounters, and hopes for an even brighter future in the Hmong community.
One distinct memory I have from the HNDC is the recognition of five remarkable Hmong females at the Leadership Banquet held on Saturday evening. These five individuals were recipients of the HND IMPACT Award, an award recognizing change makers who have impacted the Hmong community through Innovation, Mentorship, Proven Integrity, Advocacy, Culture, and Transcending Barriers. All individuals were nominated and then selected by the public and the HND selection committee.
In this short summary, I cannot express enough how honored I was to be in the same room as these five warriors. Their stories, triumphs, and accomplishments were so moving and empowering; ua rau kuv zoo siab tshaj plaws tias kuv yug los ua ib tug ntxhais Hmoob. With deep respect and love, I commend and congratulate these five inspiring Hmong leaders.
I know that this is not the last we will hear of these amazing change makers!