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Hmong Struggle

By Eric V. Franco
Standards: 8.1,8.3, 8.10; 12.2, 12.13
Grade Level: Secondary
Topic: Wisconsin's Response to 20th-century change

Lesson Plan Text:

Recruited during the Vietnam War as guerilla soldiers to fight the North Vietnamese, Hmong peoples were living literally in the crossfire during the conflict. When the United States withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, the Hmong who had aided the U.S. were left in the hands of the communists they had fought against. Thousands fled to refugee camps in Thailand where resettlement organizations helped to sponsor Hmong immigration to the United States. Wisconsin has the third largest Hmong population in the country, after Minnesota and California; our largest Hmong communities are in La Crosse, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Wausau, and Milwaukee.

Lesson Objectives: 
The students will use the primary documents listed below to acquire an understanding of the history of Hmong immigration in Wisconsin. Through the analysis of the documents, students will note the struggles and triumphs of the Hmong along with how the Wisconsin Hmong community has changed over time.Students will pay particular attention to the differences among the first generation Hmong refugees and Hmong youth circa 1990 through 2001.



Article--"Understanding the Special Needs of Southeast Asian Youth." by Denis Tucker

Article--"Glimpses of Hmong History and Culture." National Indochinese Clearinghouse

Suggested Activities:
Preparatory Reading
1. Background Reading: Students should read the Turning Points essay, ¿20th Century Immigration.¿
2. Read "Glimpses of Hmong History and Culture" pages 22-27.
3. Read "Understanding the Special Needs of Southeast Asian Youth" pages 1-15.
4. Read  the excerpts of the magazine, ¿FutureHmong.¿

Critical Thinking Questions

1. A: Beginning with "Glimpses of Hmong History and Culture" pages 22-27, use the text to write a brief statement on how Hmong social structure is organized.

B: Given the differences from part A, what issues do you think Hmong might have to deal with in Wisconsin?

2. List the various issues raised by "Understanding the Special Needs of Southeast Asian Youth." What hardships would they have likely faced? What issues would they have to overcome in order to assimilate into Wisconsin culture?

3. Southeast Asians have made Wisconsin their refuge for over thirty years. One aspect of how culture changes over time is to examine how it has changed over time. Use the excerpts from the magazine, ¿FutureHmong¿ to provide evidence of the development of Hmong in Wisconsin.

Evaluate students on their ability to articulate a coherent statement relating to the history of Hmong immigration. Students must know the origins of Hmong to Wisconsin, the cultural differences between Hmong and Wisconsinites, the development of Hmong culture in Wisconsin, and the continuing struggles faced by the Hmong.

Student essays must make statements that are supported by evidence within the primary documents. Student assessment is based on the quality of writing and use of evidence.

Possible Lesson Extensions: 
Conduct an oral history of the Hmong population in your local area.

Invite Hmong students to share their culture in the classroom.

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