"They [language classes] helped me value languages more. Languages help us identify who we are as individuals. They also made me love my language so much more and acknowledge my language from the past, present and future."
Major(s) and Certificate(s): English and Southeast Asian Studies
Language(s): Hmong & Thai
Graduation Year: 2012
Current Location: Wausau, WI
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?
I attended Edgewood College to get my teaching license in English and also pursued a Master’s Degree in Education TESOL and K-12 ESL/Bilingual Licensing.
In 2014-15 I taught in a charter school, the Hmong American Peace Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, teaching grades 6-10 Hmong culture and language. It was an amazing experience because I was able to use my language in a classroom setting.
What motivated you to study this/these languages?
Hmong is my native language. I wanted to explore more about my language and get a deeper understanding of it. I also wanted to learn more about the Hmong culture, values, customs and religion.
I took Thai for one semester because I wanted to experience the difference between Hmong and Thai. After taking the course, I realized that Thai isn’t that different from Hmong and that the Hmong language borrows some words from Thai.
How have these languages enriched your life?
They helped me value languages more. Languages help us identify who we are as individuals. They also made me love my language so much more and acknowledge my language from the past, present and future.
What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?
Hmong Culture Night was a great experience. I got to see many students use the language and saw my parents’ faces light up with happiness because their children were learning and speaking Hmong.
What advice do you have for current language students?
Language is art made up of oral and written skills. We need to value language and love the language we speak because it makes us who we are in special ways. By learning a new language, it helps us to love one another and acknowledge those who speak a different language.
What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?
Txuj Ci (ability/skills) – Txuj means “opportunity” and Ci means “bright.” Together, the two words give us skills/knowledge and the ability to do things.