Welcome to Gary's web site
Gary's website was last updated in February 2008. New updates will be coming soon...
From October 2006 to December 2007, I had the opportunity to serve as scholar-in-residence to develop courses and teach at the Center for Hmong Studies, Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. It was an important time in my life as I was able to share knowledge on the Hmong with students and the academic community, as well as to learn from Hmong Americans, young and old, about their hopes and concerns, their joy and frustrations but above all, their excitement and success in trying to achieve the American dream. I am grateful to all my Hmong friends and relatives in America who made my presence so welcome and shared with me their ideas and concerns wherever I visited during my stay.
America seems to be the Hmong’s big dream, not only for the more than 200,000 of them who are already there, but also those who live in other parts of the world. Many have achieved their dream of being reunited with those in America, whether from France, Argentina and even from Australia. Those who are in the homeland in Laos also want the American dream by marrying their daughters and sons to those in America, or by escaping to Thailand in the hope of being accepted for resettlement as refugees in America. About 8,000 of them have been waiting since 2005 at Huai Nam Khao, Phetchaboon, for this reason.
Everywhere I went during my recent American sojourn, I was told of the many opportunities available and how much I could do to share in the dream. By the same token, many people also asked where were the Hmong in America going, in what direction were they heading and what would be waiting for them 20 or 50 years from now. There is no doubt about their material and physical survival. But will they survive as an ethnic group, as a culture? Already, few young Hmong know their mother tongue and the culture of their parents. Seeking refuge in the land of freedom and pursuing the American dream have resulted in much loss of the Hmong language and culture, the adoption of new alien social values and contradictory norms, and the conversion to other religions. Many Hmong in the diaspora in Western countries are now confused about who and what they are.
I hope that the contents of this website will help readers to understand the Hmong better. Above all, I hope the Hmong who read my writings will regain a clearer sense of understanding and acceptance of who and what they represent. For this to happen, we need to know Hmong history, language and culture. We should dress in Hmong costumes at New Year festivals. We need to speak Hmong in our every day life between ourselves and our children. We need to read Hmong folk tales to our children. We should enjoy our young people and their group dancing, and listen to Hmong music, including our latest rap artists. We should watch Hmong movies, even those foreign movies dubbed in Hmong.
Thanks to the Hmong in American and their consumer power, the Hmong culture has been so enriched that we are now up there on par with other cultures in the world. We are as modern and as up-to-date as anyone else, so we should be proud of this achievement while not losing our Hmong self-image. A good knowledge of Hmong culture leads to a better sense of identity. A clearer identity leads to more self-confidence and pride. When we have confidence and pride, we can contribute to society the way everyone else does.
To all the Hmong around the world today, I wish to commend you for all the great things you have done or are doing, such as your studies and your work. Have goals and aim high in life. Participate fully in the country you now live in. Make contributions to it, and take pride in it, in yourselves, in your people. Always see yourselves in the broader picture in relation to other people around you, do not stay inside the small confine where you only see Hmong and their needs. Yet, always remember your origin, your roots, and be proud of it.
As in previous years, I would like to thank my webmaster, Yeu Lee, and the many readers who have written to me with their challenging questions and supportive remarks. I would also like to acknowledge the unfailing support of my wife, Maylee Lee, for all this intellectual endeavor and the word processing assistance from my daughters, Melinda, Sheree and Debbie Lee.
You are welcome to e-mail me with your inquiries and comments.