Education is very important but we need to put education in its PROPER PERSPECTIVE. Let me just give a snap history of the Hmong eduaction, esp those from Laos:
1. The Lyfongs are the first family that capitalise on the importance of education. From their success, few Hmong families began to send their children to school. In my family, my uncles were sent to scholl in their 20’s – after
they were already married with a few kids. There are other Hmong families were doing the same things.
2. During the Vietnam, those few who were educated as mentioned in (1) above became to visible leaders in many areas – from the Army to the civic admisnistration. It was during this time the bulk of the Hmong really understand and appreciate the power of education.
3. Then during the 60-70’s, there were a few Hmong studied abroad and few of them returned to Laos after completion of their studies… and they were our hero, as I remember. These people included Dr Yang Dao, Ly Teck, Profs Toufu
Vang, Vang Yee, Ly Chao etc… These few people, with higher education, were destined to be the leaders for the Hmong and to most of the Hmong, including myself, we were trying to emulate these Hmong hero. I remember those few times
that I returned to Laos from Australia for holiday, I was treated as a VIP every where and I got to rub shoulders with many “nom Hmoob” that I would have no chance even to talk to them if I was just a student in Laso. Many Hmong
families envied my family for having 2 sons studying abroad – and my parents could not read or write. So… Many Hmong parents wanted their children to go abroad to sudy and hang their hope of the future to these kids!
4. Because of the instant success of our few higher educated Hmong, many parents want their kids to pursuit that short cut to success. Dr Yang Dao and Ly Teck got into the middle ranking position in the Lao Governemt; Toufu and Vang Yee
left the education field and join VP and became Colonel?… I think.
When the Provisional Government of National Union was formed in early 1974, Touby Lyfoung (the first educated Hmong) got the position of Deputy Minister for Post and Telecommunications; Dr Yang Dao became a member of the National Political Consultative Council and as Vice-Chairman of the Economy and Finance Committee of the Council… all this because of is “personal qualification” as the first Hmong Ph D! This further re-enforce the importance of education…
and the expectation of the Hmong of their sons who have reached this “personal qualification” to perform as the first few educated Hmong!
5. When the Hmong reached the West and USA, many Hmong families continue to push for their children to reach this educational pinacle – as a way of ensutring their future and the future of their family or clan. But, the Hmong son
discovered that in Amaerica, a Ph D is just a normal thing and there is nothing special about this “personal qualification” any more – or it is now known in the Lao language as “Ph D te foon” – meaning that a PhD kicking the dust around
Even today, the Hmong in the US is still obcess about who is or is not a PhD and the Hmong from outside USA are asked often by the US Hmong, “Koj kawm Ntawv tau Master los Ph D nad?”. Few years ago, my sister was holidaying in the US and she got asked every where… and the US Hmong just cannot understand that even she is a very articulated and “well educated” all around but with NO degree! She was told repeatedly that, “cov zoo li nej mas yeej yog tau Master los PhD xwb”. Another cousin of mine just visited the US few months ago and he was asked by evry Hmong girl that he has met, “Koj kawm tau MA los PhD nad?” and when he told them that he did not have any of such degree, the girls were not really
interested in him!
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