"I was always embarrassed when I had to speak to the elders in the Hmong community because I was not confident nor comfortable speaking in Hmong. However, after completing sixth semester of Hmong, I am now more than comfortable conversing in Hmong with my grandparents and relatives."
Major(s) and Certificate(s): Microbiology Major
Graduation Year: 2015
Current city: Madison, WI
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?
Badger Volunteer, Studied Abroad, volunteered at Meriter Hospital, Research, volunteered with Cultural Linguistic Services, PK scholar, CeO scholar, Rafiki Club,
What motivated you to study this/these languages?
My own culture and upbringing has motivated me to learn my own language. The loss of our native language within the newer generations had influenced my decision to learn Hmong and understand my culture. As a future healthcare provider, I would like to bridge the gaps between cross-cultural communications.
How have these languages enriched your life?
After learning Hmong for 5 semesters, this had changed my perspectives on the Hmong culture and strengthen my relationship with my community along with my parents. I have a greater understanding of my parents and their hardships. This helped me build better communication skills with not only my parents as well as my grandparents because they speak no English.
What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?
Discussion sessions. They are different from other classes I took because I feel very comfortable with my classmates and teacher. We were encouraged to ask questions on anything that we did not understand or weren’t clear to us. I enjoyed this class very much because it was not just memorizing terms and definition but rather, we had many open discussions. This gave us an opportunity to ask and learn more about the Hmong culture and listen to my classmates perspective on a certain topic within the Hmong culture and traditions.
How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?
As cliche as it sounds, studying abroad has definitely opened my eyes to the wonders of life and changed my life, for the better. I learned a lot about myself that I did not know I was capable of. Studying abroad has changed how I viewed the world and myself. This experience gave me a chance to find and love myself and taught me the value of life.
How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?
Growing up, I knew how to speak Hmong, but they were not the correct pronunciations. I struggled to read and write in Hmong during my first and second semester. I was always embarrassed when I had to speak to the elders in the Hmong community because I was not confident nor comfortable speaking in Hmong. However, after completing a sixth semester of Hmong, I am now more than comfortable conversing in Hmong with my grandparents and relatives.
What advice do you have for current language students?
Start early and try to use it as much as possible.
What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?
Vim li cas? “Why”