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Interview with Bao Vang

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Bao Vang is a half sister of Kim Yang. She was born in Long Cheng, Laos in 1973. She is a White Hmong. Her family immigrated to the U.S. twenty-one years ago. She graduated from high school, married at seventeen and has two children. Her husband belongs to the Moua clan. Currently, she works for American Express as a Distribution Coordinator. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Biographical information and religious affiliation. Childhood-school attendance, duties at home, community service, skills taught, social activities as a child, aspirations as a child. Hmong women's roles-decision making inside and outside of home and clan, women in leadership roles and how they are seen in the community, what women do to support their families, family planning, when women feel respected or disrespected. The war and living in refugee camps-memories of fleeing Laos, of refugee camps, difference in treatment of men and women in the camps. Adjustments since coming to the U.S.-skills needed to adjust, learning English, skills from Laos and Thailand that are adaptable or useable in the U.S., citizenship, leadership roles for women in the U.S. versus Laos, public contributions by Hmong women. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: The interview was conducted predominantly in Hmong. The Hmong transcript and an English translation are bound together for this interview.

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BAO VANG
Narrator

KIM YANG
Interviewer

ORAL HISTORY OFFICE

Funded by a grant from the Minnesota Legislature. Copyright © 2001 by Minnesota Historical Society All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy and recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Oral History Office, Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102.

HMONG WOMEN’S ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

INTRODUCTION

Minnesota is home to one of the largest Hmong communities in the United States. More Hmong live in the Twin Cities than in any other urban area in the United States. Originally from Laos, the Hmong supported American troops during the Vietnam War. Beginning in 1976 and continuing in four waves until 1996, many came to the United States as political refugees. The Hmong have strong kinship and clan ties. Many who originally were resettled in other areas, chose to move to Minnesota to be close to family members and other relatives. The elder women’s experiences included maintaining home and family while their husbands fought alongside American soldiers in the Vietnam War. They fled their farms and villages and crossed the Mekong River into Thailand where they lived in refugee camps before resettling in the United States. The experiences of the oldest members of the community are vastly different from those who came here as children and those who were born in this country. Today, Hmong women work as teachers, lawyers, and decision makers in their respective positions— opportunities not available to them in their homeland. The youngest never experienced war or resettlement and are unfamiliar with the privations of their elders. This oral history project chronicles the contributions and experiences of Hmong women with ties to Minnesota. Members of the Hmong Women’s Action Team, a group of Hmong women community leaders and activists, interviewed each other and their mothers and grandmothers, and in one case her daughter. They share their stories of life in the Minnesota, Thailand, and Laos. Three generations from six different families are represented in this series of eighteen interviews. The interviews help provide a greater understanding of Hmong women’s roles in the home and community, challenges and successes in public and private realms, and across time and space.

BAO VANG

An Interview with

Bao Vang Narrator Kim Yang Interviewer On December 8, 1999

For the Hmong Women’s Action Team Oral History Project Hmoob Thaj Yeeb Oral History Project

The transcript is presented in both English and Hmong.

Bao Vang
KY: First, I am going to ask you a few questions about your background. Okay, so, before we start, I would like to ask you about yourself. Okay, these are demographic questions. What we want to know is, what is your maiden name? BV: I belong to the Vang clan. KY: So, you are from the Vang clan, okay. When you got married, what clan does your husband belong to? BV: The Moua clan. KY: Okay, Moua clan. I just want to make sure it’s clear. At this time or now, how old are you? BV: Twenty-six years old. KY: Okay, and how many children do you have? BV: Two children. KY: Two children, how many boys? BV: One boy and one girl. KY: Okay. What is the highest education level you have achieved? BV: I finished high school and have had some training at the Minnesota School of Business. KY: Okay. What kind of job do you have now? BV: I have a job at American Express, delivering mail to the bosses, the leaders and the advisors in the field. I coordinate. KY: So what is your title? The Title in English, you know, your job title. BV: Distribution Coordinator. KY: Okay. How much do you make in a year, under $20,000 or between $20,000 and $50,000 or between $50,000 and $75,000? BV: $20,000 to $50,000.

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KY: Okay, $20,000 to $50,000. Now, whom do you live with, or do you live by yourself? BV: I live with my husband and my two children. KY: Are you married now or are you still single? BV: I’m married. KY: How old were you when you got married? BV: I was seventeen years old. KY: Okay. Does your husband have many wives or is there just one. BV: Just me. KY: Just you, okay. How long have you been in this country? BV: Twenty-one years. KY: Twenty-one years, right? That is pretty long too. BV: Yes. KY: Where were you born, what place and what province? BV: In Long Cheng, Laos. KY: Okay, are you White Hmong, Blue Hmong, or Stripe Hmong, or what Hmong category do you belong to? BV: I’m White Hmong. KY: What is your family like? Now, do you still practice the traditional Hmong religion, or have you converted into the new religion? BV: Me…Now, my family still practices the traditional religion, but I also believe in God. KY: Okay, I should say before, what about before you got married? BV: Before I got married, we went to church and believed in God, but I married my husband, and they still practice the traditional religion. KY: So, your husband has not converted to the new religion yet?

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BV: No. KY: Okay, now I’m going to ask you about your childhood. Can you tell me a little bit about when you were still little, did you go to school? BV: When I was over there, I was still very little, so I did not go to school. But, I started school when we came to this country. KY: When you were a child, what were your duties at home? What did you do to help your parents? BV: When I was a child, I remember babysitting for close relatives, and when I was a little bigger, I knew how to interpret, so I did interpret at the school. I took my mom to visit my school and then interpreted for them at school. I interpreted at the hospital, at the welfare office, and also helped them fill out forms. KY: Okay, was there anything that you did to help the community? You mentioned that you help interpret also. BV: I have not help interpret for anyone else, just my mom. No, I have not done anything that helped outside the family. KY: Okay, when you were a young girl, things you have learned from your parents, things they told you to learn, what were those? BV: They taught me how to cook, and babysitting, like that. KY: Okay, what were the social activities or fun activities in your life when you were a child or when you were a teenager, what were they? Or, do your remember any fun times? BV: As I remember, the best time was the Hmong New Year. I go and meet old friends, and see people dressed nice. That is also the time for your family to go and shop for new clothes for the Hmong New Year. And, I forget, that is the time for people who still practice the traditional Hmong religion. It is a time when they celebrate a lot. One of the things I remember is my schooling. I remember when I was young, we had a dance group that we practiced together, a couple of us practiced together for the Hmong New Year and shows at other places. The thing that I remember about my childhood the most when I look back that helps me in terms of outside activity—because my mom did not know much about which activities to take me to, all they knew was to take you to visit the relatives—that, I think is the church. Church is a place where you go, then your mom and dad, not dad, but when you go there the elderly trust you, so you have the chance to go out and play.

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KY: You go to church, what do you learn? BV: You learn about how to better your life, and learn about play and Jesus… KY: Ah, ha. Okay. What was did you dream of becoming or what did you want to happen when you grew up? BV: So when I was young, I though, oh, if I could become a model or actress, something that is out there, you know? Maybe that would be a common, or just a dream, or what, but that was what I thought would be great if I could do it. And another thing is that I would travel to other countries to visit and also wondering when I would have a nice home, have money and then I also think about what it would be like when I get married. KY: Okay. When you talk about modeling, do you mean becoming a beauty contestant? Or something different? BV: Um, model, is like posing for pictures you know. KY: Okay. BV: Yes. KY: So, okay, you are a model where they take pictures of you for show, is that right? BV: Yeah, yes, pictures. KY: Okay, good. Now we are going to talk about a women’s life. Okay. Women’s world before, during, and after, the war, you probably don’t remember much, but I’m going to ask you, and you can just tell me what you remember about it. What are some jobs that women had before, during, and after the war, that you remember as you were growing up? BV: I think, a women’s role, back then or even now, is to take care of the house, take care of your husband, and take care of your children. Back over there, going to the farming fields is mostly a woman’s job. KY: What were the jobs that you have heard about from your mom or jobs that you think are considered to be women’s job, back then or in the country, the job that are considered women’s jobs only, what are they? Do you remember, you have already talked a little bit about it, but do you think there are some jobs only for women? BV: I think what people consider women’s responsibilities, are things like, cooking and clean up, and taking care of children. One thing I wonder is why they are divided between men and women, what the difference is. Why, suddenly women’s responsibilities are those inside and men’s responsibilities are those outside. I have not had a clear understanding about the difference. To me, I think there is a difference, but

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yeah, why does it come out? The same thing for both American and Hmong people, and that I don’t… KY: Why are men’s role different from women’s role, right? BV: Yes, it is like there is only, really one difference, maybe one’s more physically powerful. Men are physically stronger, and women are not as strong, but American people have that, Hmong people have that. So, I think that women’s role—everyone thinks, everyone defines it as cooking and cleaning in the house. KY: So, there is not much difference, right? BV: Yes. KY: Really women and men should have the same kinds of responsibilities right? BV: I think it was only defined by one, two or three things only, but like Hmong people, Hmong people define it more than American people. KY: Yes, okay, in your family, do women have the right to make decisions for their extended family members, or for the community? Do women have the right to make decisions or have the right to sit in meetings with the men? BV: I think, back there, to what I heard is that they had no right to voice their opinions. Maybe they can voice their opinion in everyday life, or anything concerning their own family, maybe they can, but in regards to anything big, any big decision that are not their responsibility. For example, for us our dad is not with us, but I just have one brother, but when my brother was old enough he became the decision maker. My mom does make decisions, but it seems like it is a man’s role, so when my brother was old enough, he became the decision maker. KY: Do you think, here is a side question, but do you think women have good ideas and can also make decisions? BV: I think women have good ideas, but one thing, when they were young they were taught that their ideas and decisions are not qualified or not… KY: They don’t have the right… BV: Yes, they don’t have the right to share. I think that women put a lot behind. If they shared, they share their idea, maybe and if they think more, maybe, I think they should have good ideas like men’s also. KY: Do you know any women leaders that are in the community?

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BV: Back then, I did not notice any, but today I see many women leaders in places such as work places, organizations. I see that women will take the leadership role seriously and will be good leaders for our community. KY: Good. What did women do to support the family? Something that women do that can help the family so that the family will prosper and survive, what are they? BV: Back then, a woman’s job, as I know from my mom was to make embroidery to sell, farming, and there were some that opened their own rice noodle soup (fawm) restaurant, and they worked for someone else by helping with their farming that way they received a little bit of money to spend. In this country, women do the same kind of work as men. They have their own jobs. Some women do still stay at home, work from home, and take care of their children, but most of the women do work outside of the home. KY: Oh, good, you can tell me about the three events of women’s role before, during, and after the war? How was family planning back then during the war and right now? Do women have any decision in that or family planning that you know of? BV: To my knowledge, there was no family planning back then. The elderly, I think they did not have any family planning. Both men and women back then said that however many children you had that would be what you had. Because then you needed children because when they are grown, they will help you to do farming work. Also, because there were many sicknesses, you did not know who would live and who would die. So over there, I think there is no family planning. Even if there was any family planning, it would still depend on the man to decide how many children to have. In this country, I think that, women and men have grown a lot as far as men and women talking together to decide on how many children to have or what they need to do to prevent having any more. If we had more, how would we take care of them? So, I think that women have helped in terms of having or not having children. Some people that do not have children. They look for help from doctor, shaman, taking medicine, getting shots, anything to have or not have children. KY: What is the time, do you think, that your husband or men respect women more or when were you most respected? BV: I think as far as people respecting women in general, I think right now they respect women a lot because it is not the kind of job as before such as cooking, taking care of children, cleaning the home, taking care of your husband. Now, I think that women can do the same kind of job as men, and they also do additional work within the family. And also play a leadership role. They can see that women are becoming much more educated. I think that it is very scary for the men because suddenly it is different. Yes, it is different, but I think if they really think about it they would be happy because they have someone to help them instead of having a follower as they themselves become a leader.

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KY: Yes, that is true. When were you most disrespected? Did you ever have any time when your husband or you know, other men are not respectful, they didn’t respect you. BV: No, I think that is when you are still a child. Even now, I say that we have grown a lot, but I think Hmong children are not respected by the elderly, because they think that children don’t know anything. They don’t have [put forward] any ideas to challenge even if they have something to say. They don’t have any contributions to add to, but I think that if we listen to our children they are very smart and they have a lot to say. KY: Yes… BV: So, I think that when you were most disrespected, I think during childhood, it was not because they don’t like you or something, but I think it is because they don’t understand you. They think that children don’t have anything to say. KY: Yes, yes, now, I’m going to ask you about the war and living in the refugee camps. You might not remember a lot. You might not remember, but I’m going to ask you and you can tell me how much you remember. How did you decide to leave Laos during the war? Did you have, at that time, were you the one that made the decision or was it your parents. Did you hear your mom making the decision or what did they say, how did you manage to escape to this side, in Thailand? BV: At that time the war was still going, so all the people had fled to Thailand and to America. It was heard that America is a good country and have many opportunities then. That is why the elderly did whatever they could to come. KY: Okay. BV: But I did not remember exactly why. KY: Oh, okay, do you remember anything about the refugee camps? BV: No, I don’t remember anything about the refugee camps. KY: Oh, okay. Do you remember how long you and your family were there? BV: Oh, I think two and a half years, but that is what I heard. KY: Okay, what did you think was positive about the experience, and did you remember, did your mom or your dad tell you anything that was positive about the experience even though you don’t remember? Do you remember anything they told you at all? Or anything that was negative? BV: I don’t remember any good thing, but well, one of the good things is that there are many people who had passed away, but none from my immediate family. So, I think that

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is something that is positive. Another good thing is being able to reunite after a long time of separation. KY: Okay, is there something bad or negative that you… BV: I think the bad thing is that the elderly have lost their country, even though when you think that Laos is not our country, but I think that there is a sense of loss for their homes, you know they are like that. I think that, and the way they were treated there when they lived in Thailand in the refugee camp. They were not able to farm, to produce their own food. All they did was wait for welfare to give them things so I think they feel homeless and loneliness. KY: Okay, do you, what did you do in the refugee camp, do you remember anything that you did there at all? BV: I don’t remember anything I did, but I was very small so I probably just played. KY: Okay, did you perceive any difference in the treatment of man and woman during the time that you were, your family was in the camp, do you remember at all, any difference in treatment? BV: I don’t remember anything about the camp. I was in Kindergarten, but I do remember as a girl growing up, you’re just to know what your role in life is overnight. It’s like somehow you just feel the sense that you are not important enough, so I think you just your thoughts are that it doesn’t matter. That’s the sense that I got growing up, otherwise I didn’t care…. KY: Okay, now we’re going to continue to adjustment in life in the U.S. Can you tell me who makes the decision or who decided that you and your family were going to come to the U.S., do you remember who decided? BV: It was my mom that decided that we should come. There were a lot of cousins. Since we are here, everybody was coming with us so—and because of the war she decided that maybe we come for better opportunity since we just got the war. KY: Okay, how old were you when your family came to the U.S.? BV: I was five. KY: Okay you were five years old? BV: Yes. KY: Okay, since coming to the U.S. what has been the easiest to adjust to?

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BV: I think the easiest is an adjustment to the wealth of the United States. That has just been amazing. Also, the knowledge and the other opportunities are just so great. I think that it’s just everything. KY: Well, what was the hardest? BV: I think the hardest, immediately, always has been, me. I feel like I’m between two worlds. The older world that is the traditional world and the new world. KY: Okay, do you know what were the immediate skills needed in your adjustment to the process or in your adjustment to the United States? What were the immediate skills that you or your family needed right away? BV: I think we needed to adjust to help American leaders learn what other cultures are like. We didn’t have it like this, so we had to adjust, at home and, how to deal in communicating, language, American language and stuff. KY: Do you know how to use any of the house’s home appliances when you got to the United States? BV: I don’t remember. KY: Okay, how did you acquire those necessary skills? BV: I think I acquired them, I remember acquiring them from, of course, watching a lot of TV… And going to school, and I think church did a lot to help us, adjust to the new life, also we had some cousins here in the U.S. to help us adjust. KY: Okay good, were the skills you had in Laos or Thailand adaptable or usable in the U.S.? Do you remember any of those skills? BV: I think the skill that I remember is taking care of kids, and other things that are not necessarily a skill but something that I learned is respect for the elders and hard work. I think that, I don’t know if you would put in the category of skills, but I think that that’s very important in the U.S. also. KY: Okay, for example, listen to your parents. BV: Yes…and that no matter what, they are always right… KY: Okay, good, do you think life in the U.S. is better for Hmong women and why?

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BV: Yes, I truly think, that life in the U.S. is better for Hmong women. We have so much opportunity and we have this opportunity to be whatever we desire, and I think that it has opened our eyes to a whole new world. KY: Okay, do you feel like the U.S., the United State is your home now? BV: I never really remember…just the new world. KY: Why, is there any particular reason why you would not? BV: No I just never thought about it, it’s not that important to me. KY: Okay, now we going to talk about women’s roles outside of the home, and okay, during the war or after the war, this is just based on that you remember about it. Did you know what was going on and how did you hear about it? BV: During the war, I don’t remember anything now or know anything about the war. It’s from stories from the elders, from my mom, from other older people who tell stories about them. I also hear about the story from my husband about what he experiences at work. During the war and after the war. KY: Okay, were there any public figures that you admire or anybody that you know you don’t necessarily have to admire? Any public figures, any women who were leaders that you know of? BV: I think that people who are leaders that I always admire are Hmong women, especially ones in leadership. Whenever I read something about the leadership role, or that day an American lawyer or just something amazing or a doctor something like that, always it’s an amazement to me. Those would be the people that I’ll look to. BV: Okay, do you know anybody who was close to you like that or like leaders or working in the office or something like that? BV: A lot of people then, my family I know were always in the office and in leadership roles. The person that I was close to that I always was with daily is my sister-in-law (Nhia Her) you know. I see her in a lot of leadership role as far as at the church. She is a president of this Hmong women’s organization, and just in general, even with our relatives whenever they have, like a meeting or something, she is always there. She is always the loud hailer. KY: Support. BV: Yes, well she gives her ideas and people listen to her so I see her as very powerful. KY: Okay, good, in America, how do you think leadership has changed for you and other Hmong women?

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BV: I think that leadership has changed just a lot because it has made us look more willingly at the world as a whole thing to be done to us and for us. A world we can help. I think that we have learned at every general world that we can do other things. They are just like a cloth and cloth woman can work. KY: Okay good, what type of things are women here doing publicly that they would not have been able to do in Laos or Thailand. BV: I think just to be able to go to school in the United States is wonderful. In Laos, very, very few people, Hmong girls go to school and even if they did go to school when they came back they don’t have any opportunities. They just become farmwives or something like that, so I think that to have an opportunity to go to school to be whatever you want. You can go to school and be a doctor. You can go to school to be a teacher or go to school, just to do community work. Anything is possible. KY: Okay, what public contribution to the people do you want to be remembered about Hmong women, or what do people remember about Hmong women? BV: I think a major thing that I would like people to remember about Hmong women is that we, these Hmong women are responsible for big changes in the Hmong farm. I think that we are the most affected by the change in that we are the ones who want the change more than the guys do I think. I think that’s what I want people to remember. Another thing that I want people to remember is that even with the changes, family is still a very important part of life. From before until now family still continues to be a very important part and now I think we play just a more, a better role. KY: Okay good, is there anything else that you would like to add? BV: Yes, I would like to say that as far as leadership, as far as Hmong women, are a real role model something like that I think. I know that I think about it and I can motivate myself now. I can really see that my mom is one of my biggest role models and one of my biggest supports. I admire her a lot, she was very strong in raising us. She was part of us, a mother, a father and as far as—But then our clan, I think she stands out really strong as a strong woman that I think that she still is right now today, so I think that she played a big role in how my life [turned out.] KY: Okay, good, thank you very much for your time. BV: Oh!.. You are welcome.

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Bao Vang
Interviewer (I): First I’m going to ask you a few question about your background. Okay, so ua ntej wb pib no kuv xav noog txog koj tus kheej seb muaj dab tsi rau dab tsi. Um.. okay this is the demograhy question. Nws… ntawm no nws hais tias koj lub npe ua ntej koj lub xeem los yog koj lub npe ua ntej koj yuav txiv yog hmoob dab tsi? Bao Vang (B): Hmoob Vaj. I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: Koj yog hmoob Vaj puas yog, okay. Um… thaum koj yuav txiv lawm ne, koj tus txiv lub xeem yog hmoob dab tsi? Hmoob Muas. Okay, hmoob Muas. I just want to make sure it’s clear. Um… lub sib hawm no los yog tam si no koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo lawm? 26 xyoo Okay, thiab koj muaj pes tsaw tug me nyuam? 2 tug me nyuam. 2 tug me nyuam uh…tsawg tus tub… Ib tug tub ib tug ntxhais Okay. Um… what is the highest education level you have achieved? Qib siab tshaj plawg uas koj kawm ntawv yog dab tsi? Kuv tas high school thiab kuv pais training tom Minnesota school business. Okay. Um… tam sim no koj tau txoj hauj lwm dab tsi ua? Kuv tau txoj hauj lwm nyob tom American Express xa ntaub ntawv rau cov, cov nai um… loj, cov leaders loj thiab cov advisors, advisor in the field coordinate cov ntaub ntawv naj. Uh...ha, ces koj lub title yog dab tsi? Title meskas nav. Title ws…koj txoj hauj lwm title. Ws… Distribution Coordinator. Okay. Um… ib xyoo no koj tau nyiaj between pes tsawg under 20,000 los yog between 20,000 rau 50,000 los yog 50,000 rau 75,000?

I: B: I:

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B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B: I: B:

20,000 rau 50,000 Okay, 20,000 rau 50,000. Um… lub sij hawm tas no koj nrog leej twg nyob los yog koj nyob by koj self? Kuv nrog kuv tus txiv thiab kuv ob tug me nyuam nyob. Okay, hm… tam sim no koj marry lawm los yog koj tseem single? Kuv married lawm. Okay, thaum koj yuav txiv ntawd koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? Kuv muaj 17 xyoo. Um.. okay. Koj tus txiv puas muaj ntau tug poj niam los yog ib tug xwb? Muaj kuv xwb. Muaj koj xwb okay. Nej twb tuaj rau teb chaws ameskas no tau pes tsawg xyoo lawm? 21 xyoo 21 xyoo puas yog, los, yeej pretty long too. Yeah. Um.. koj yug rau teb chaws twg thiab qhov chaws twg los yog lub xeev twg naj? Kuv nyob Looj Ceej, teb chaws Nplog. Okay ws... koj yog hmoob dawb, hmoob ntsuab, los hmoob txaij los yog hmoob dab tsi? Kuv yog hmoob dawb. Koj kev ntseeg yog li cas. Lub sij hawm tam sim no koj tseem ntseeg kev cai qub ua yog cov laus cov kev cai qub, los yog koj coj kev cai tshiab lawm? Kuv… tam sim no peb tsev neeg peb tseem coj kev cai qub tiam sis mas kuv yeej ntseeg Vaj Tswv thiab. Okay, um.. I should say before, ua ntej koj yuav txiv nev? Ua ntej kuv yuav txiv. Ua ntej kuv yuav txiv mas peb mus church thiab peb ntseeg Vaj Tswv tiam sis mas kuv hos los yuav txiv no lawm ces peb ho peb tseem coj dab.

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Koj tus txiv tsis tau coj kev cai tshiab puas yog? Tsis tau. Okay, tam sim no kuv yuav noog koj txog thaum koj tseem yog me nyuam yaus. Koj sim piav seb thaum koj tseem yog me nyuam yaus, lub sij hawm ntawd koj puas tau mus kawm ntawv? Thaum kuv tseem nyob tim ub mas kuv tseem me heev kuv tsi tau kawm ntawv, tiam sis kuv tuaj txog teb chaws no ces kuv mam kawm ntawv. Um.. thaum koj, thaum koj tseem yog me nyuam ntawd, koj cov dej num tom vaj tom tsev yog dab tsi? Koj ua dab tsi pab koj niam tej ntawd? Thaum yog me nyuam ces tsuas nco qab zov me nyuam rau cov txheeb ze, thiab thaum yus ib nyuas loj zog, yus paub pes lus ces yus ho pes lus rau tom school lauj… yus coj yus niam lawv mus xyuas yus tej school ces yus ho pes lus rau tom school lauj, pes lus tom hoos maus lauj, pes rau tom welfare lauj thiab pab lawv fill lawv tej form. Okay, ws...puas muaj tej yam dab tsi uas koj tau pab zej zog tej ntawd? Koj mention ob los hais tias koj pes lus tej ntawd thiab no koj. Kuv tsis tau pab luag tej tiam sis kuv tsuas pab kuv niam lawv xwb uh.. tsis tau, kuv tsis tau ua dab tsi ws... ws... yuav pab uhm tawm sab nraum nawb. Ws... okay, ua... thaum koj tseem yog ib tug ntxhais hluas, tej yam uas tej txuj ci los yog tej hauj lwm uas koj niam lawv qhia koj es koj xyaum, qhia koj kom xyaum ua thiab koj, kom paub ua yog dab tsi? Lawv qhia yus ua zaub ua mov thiab uh.. zov me nyuam tej ntawd xwb. Okay, tej yam social activity los yog tej uas kev lom zem los yog fun tej ntawd rau koj lub neej thaum koj tseem yaus, los yog thaum koj tiav hluas lawm, nws yog dab tsi? Los yog koj puas nco qab tej yam kev lom zem tej ntawd?

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Kuv nco qab mas, qhov lom zem tshaj plaws mas yog hmoob lub Peb Caug, yus pais pom yus tej phooj ywg lauj... pais pom luag tej hnav zoo, thaum ntawd yog thaum caij uas yus tsev neeg ho pais shopping yuav khaub ncaws tshiab hnav mas npaj rau lub hmoob, hmoob lub Peb Caug ntawd. Thiab kuv nco qab, thaum ntawd sawv daws cov kwv tij tseem coj kev cai qub nav. Ces peb muaj noj muaj haus mus rau tom luag tej tsev muaj noj muaj hauv a lot ib qhov kuv nco qab txog ntawm kuv kawm ntawv lauj.. tej ntawd thiab…kuv nco thaum kuv tseem hluas mas peb muaj ib group foob laas voos peb xyaum ua ke peb, peb ob peb tug xyaum ua ke foob laas voos rau tom hmoob New Year lauj, foob laas voos rau other places, hm.. the things that kuv nco qab ua... about kuv qhov childhood tshaj plaws, tshaj plaws es kuv xav uas kuv look back is es pab kuv tawm rooj nav rau qhov kuv niam lawv tsis, lawv tsis tshua paub activity hais yuav coj yus ua yam twg, lawv tsuas paub coj yus mus xyuas kwv tij neej tsa xwb, qhov ntawd mas I think yog church. Church yog ib yam uas coj yus mus ces yus niam yus txiv lawv, not dad but, uh... coj yus mus ces ws... lawv cov laus ho ntseeg yus thiab nav, ntseeg yus ces yus ho tau tawm ua si.. Nej mus church nej kawm dab tsi thiab dab tsi xwb? Kawm txog ua neej zoo thiab kawm txog uh..hmm.. ua si thiab txog Vaj Tswv uh.. hmm.. mostly yeej txog about uh..ua neej zoo yog ua li cas nav. Uh... ah... ws... okay, ws tej yam uas koj ntshaw thaum es koj loj hlob los es koj, koj xav tias thaum koj tiav hluas lawd los yog thaum koj muaj lub cuab lub yig es koj ntshaw nyob rau hauv koj lub neej yog dab tsi? Thaum kuv tseem hluas mas xav hais tias oh… yog hais tias ua tau ib tug, ua tau ib tug model los yog ib tug actress something that is out there you know, tej zaum qhov ntawd yuav yog, xyov qhov ntawd yuav yog common uh.. just dream los yog li cas tiam sis mas kuv xav hais yam ntawd yog ib yam ua kuv xav hais tias that’s would be great if I can do it, hmm... thiab another thing is uh.. travel rau lwm lub teb chaws pais xyuas teb chaws tej ntawd thiab yus yeej xav hais tias thaum twg mam muaj lub tsev zoo nrog luag tej thiab.. muaj nyiaj lauj.. thaum ntawd yus ho xav hais tias yog yus ho mus yuav txiv no ho zoo li cas. Uh.. hm... koj hais qhov model no yog koj hais ua, xav ua ib tug ntxhais nkauj ntsuab puas yog? Los yog txawv qhov ntawd? Uhm…model no ces yog hmm…thaij duab naj. Okay. Yeah. Ib yam li yus yog , yus yog ib tug, okay yus yog ib tug model es lawv thaij yus duab tej ntawd es pais show tej ntawd puas yog?

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Yeah... yes duab uh hmm. Okay, good. Uhmm.. lub sij hawm no wb yuav tham txog poj niam lub neej. Okay, women’s world before during and after the war, uh..you probably don’t remember much but I’m gonna ask you, and you can just tell me what you remember about it? Hm.. what are some jobs that women had before, during and after the war that you remember as you were growing up? Kuv xav hais tias ws... poj niam qhov hauj lwm, tshaj plaws rau tim ub, thiab txawm yog tam sim no yog ws...tu vaj tu tsev, tu yus tus txiv, tu yus tej me tub me nyuam. Ws, tim ub mas pais ua teb lauj tej ntawd yog poj niam hauj lwm ntau heev. Uh... ws...ws... tej yam hauj lwm uas koj hnov koj niam lawv hais los yog tej koj xav tias yog poj niam hauj lwm no nav, es tsis hais lub sij hawm nyob tim ub lub sij hawm nyob tim no es yog poj niam hauj lwm kiag xwb no yog, yog dab tsi? Koj puas nco qab txog, koj twb hais me ntsis lawm tab sis puas muaj tej yam uas koj xav hais tias yog poj niam cov hauj lwm nkaus nkaus xwb naj? Kuv xav hais tias… um.. cov es neeg pheej hais tias yog poj niam hauj lwm mas yog ua zaub ua mov tu vaj tu tsev, thiab tu me nyuam ib qhov kuv xav hais tias ua cas ho cais poj niam thiab txiv neej…qhov, qhov difference yog ab tsi nav…ua cas ho nyob nyob es cia li hais tias poj niam qhov hauj lwm yog yam ntawd, txiv neej qhov ho yog outside no. Qhov ntawv kuv tseem tsis tau understand hais tias this, muaj tib yam difference, tam li kuv xav muaj tib yam difference between poj niam thiab txiv neej tiam sis mas, um.. ua cas.. yeah ua cas ho tawm los, ws...meskas los yeej zoo ntawd hmoob los zoo ntawd qhov ntawd yog uas kuv tsis… Ua cas txiv neej qhov role ho different poj niam qhov role no puas yog? Yeah, it’s like there’s only, there’s only one, really one difference, tej zaum muaj zog thiab tej ntawd, txiv neej muaj zog dua poj niam, poj niam tsis muaj zog uh.. as much tej ntawd tiam sis mas ws...qhov ntawd mekas lawv yeej muaj, hmoob los yeej muaj ces kuv xav hais tias poj niam qhov role es.. sawv daws xav, sawv daws define mas yog..uh ua zaub ua mov thiab cleaning, thiab tu vaj tu tsev. Tab sis yeej tsi txawv ntau mas yom? Yeah. Tiag tiag poj niam thiab txiv neej yuav tau tsum muaj hauj lwm ib yam nav yom? Uh hm hm kuv xav hais tias nws tsuas define by ib ob peb yam xwb tiam sis mas zoo li ws... zoo li hmoob na, zoo li hmoob no muaj nws qhov define ntawd dua meskas os.

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Yeah, okay, hauv koj tsev neeg puas muaj, poj niam puas muaj cai txiav txim los yog puas muaj cai los make decision tej ntawd rau hauv, hauv kwv hauv tij tej ntawd, los yog rau hauv yus zej zog tej ntawd nav? Poj niam puas muaj cai txiav txim tej ntawd los yog puas cai los nrog txiv neej, cov txiv neej sab laj tej ntawd? Kuv xav hais tias puag tim ub tam li kuv hnov hnov xwb mas poj niam ws...tsis muaj cai los, yuav los hais ws... tej zaum nws muaj cai every day life, los hais txog nws tsev neeg me me, tej zaum nws muaj cai thiab tia sis mas hais txog tej yam loj, tej yam decision loj ws tsis yog nws qhov responsibility nws.. piv xam li uas peb li mas peb txiv tsis nrog peb tiam sis mas..yog hais tias kuv muaj ib tug nus xwb tiam sis kuv tus nus ntawd hlob ces kuv tus nus nws ho los ua ho los make decision lawm nav. Ces kuv niam yeej make decision tiam sis mas it seems like yog, yog txiv neej qhov role nav ces um.. kuv tus nus nws cia li hlo los ces nws cia ho yog tus uas make decision lawm nav. Uh hm… ws... koj puas xav tias ntawm no kuv noog tos side tab sis koj puas xav tias, poj niam.. yeej muaj good ideas tej ntawd thiab poj niam yeej make tau decisions thiab? Kuv xav hais tias poj niam muaj tswv yim zoo heev tiam sis mas ib qho lawv, thaum lawv yaus yaus xwb ces lawv maj taught hais tias lawv cov idea los yog lawv cov decision tsis uh.., tsis… qualify los yog tsis ws... Lawv tsis muaj cai los… Yeah, tsis muaj cai los share no nav ces, I think that poj niam put a lot behind nav ces uh... yog hais tias lawv share, lawv share lawv cov idea ntshe…, thiab lawv xav more ntshe kuv xav lawv, lawv yuav tsum muaj idea zoo npaum li txiv neej cov ideas thiab. Uh... hm… ws... Koj puas paub, puas muaj tej tug thawj coj… uas yog poj niam es koj paub, los yog tej zej zog uas nws yog tej tus thawj coj es koj paub? Oh... puag thaum ub mas tsis pom, tsis pom heev tiam sis mas kuv hais tam sim no mas kuv pom ntau tus poj niam yeej ua thawj coj ntawd, tsis hais tom hauj lwm, tsis hais koom haum tej ntawd, kuv yeej pom hais tias poj niam um.. yuav los take qhov leadership role seriously thiab nws los ua tau leader zoo heev rau peb qhov community. Um... hm... good. Ws… poj niam kev pab txhawb nqa tsev neeg yog dab tsi, koj, koj puas paub txog hais poj niam tej kev pab txhawb nqa tsev neeg yog dab tsi los yog lus meskas nws tias : what did women do to help support the family? Tej yam uas, tej yam hauj lwm poj niam ua es los mus txhawb los yog mus pab rau tsev neeg kom tsev neeg loj hlob los yog survive yog dab tsi?

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Puag thaum ub mas poj niam qhov hauj lwm tam li kuv paub ntawm uh..kuv niam lawv mas yog poj niam ua paj ntaub muag lauj.. ua teb tej ntawd thiab lawv ho muaj tej cov ho qhib taj laj ua fawm muag tej ntawd thiab lawv ua zog rau lwm tus ua teb rau lwm tus es ho tau me ntsis nyiaj los siv. Hos teb chaw no mas poj niam yeej ua ib yam li txiv neej, yeej ws... muaj hauj lwm, muaj laj muaj kam ua, ib cov poj niam nws yeej tseem nyob hauv tsev es, nws yeej tseem nyob hauv tsev ws…ua hauj lwm tiam sis mas nws yeej tseem nyob hauv tsev zov me tub me nyuam tiam sis mas mostly poj niam yeej nyob sab nraud ua hauj lwm xwb. Oh...zoo, ws... ws ntawm no nws hais ws... you can tell me about the three events of women’s role before, during and after the war? Did woman hmm..did woman have any decison or hm... or how was family planing back, back then and during the war and right now? Do woman have any decisions hm... or family planning that you know of? Um...tam li yus paub puag thaum ub mas yeej tsis muaj ib qhov family, family planning li, cov laus, cov laus yeej, tam li kuv xav mas cov laus yeej tsis muaj ib qhov family planning tsis hais txiv neej tsis hais poj niam lawv yeej, puag thaum ub mas lawv yeej hais tias yug tau tsawg tug los yuav pes tsawg tus, muaj pe tsawg tus los yuav tsawg tus xwb vim hais tiav puag tim ub mas yus need uh..me nyuam hlob loj los pab yus nav, pab yus ua liaj ua teb, ces, thiab me nyuam no nws muaj muaj mob muaj nkeeg, tsis paub tias tus twg yog tus yuav nyob, tus twg yuav mus ces puag tim ub mas kuv xav hais tias lawv yeej tsis muaj family planning li. Thiab yog hais tias lawv txawm muaj los yeej depend mostly uh.. tus txiv neej xwb seb tus txiv neej xav muaj npaum li cas tus xwb. Ws...hos teb chaw no mas, I think that ws... poj niam thiab txiv neej yeej grow a lot as far as ta sim no cov txiv thiab cov poj niam ho los sib tham tias seb wb no wb ho xav yuav pes tsawg tus me nyuam yog wb xav yuav pes tsawg tus xwb. Wb yuav ua cas wb thiaj tsis muaj ntxiv lawm, yog wb muaj ntxiv wb ho yuav take care li cas txog wb cov me nyuam li cas, ces kuv xav tias poj niam yeej pab los nrhiav txoj kev yuav tsis muaj me tub me nyuam los yog yus muaj nav.. muaj ib cov, lawv tsis muaj nav, los lawv yeej nrhiav kawg nrhiav nais maum lauj, lawv ib cov ua neeb lauj, noj tshuaj lauj, xav tshuaj lauj anything umm..to ua kom muaj me nyuam los yog tsis muaj me nyuam naj. Um...lub sij hawm twg yog lub sij hawm uas koj xav hais tias kwv tij zej zog los yog koj tus txiv, ib yam cov txiv neej tej ntawd nav respect poj niam um.. ntau tshaj? Los yog lus mekas ces nws uh.. hais tias when were you most respected? Uh...hmm…kuv xav hais tias ws... as far as poj niam txiv neej los yog luag tej respect poj niam in general xwb nav, kuv xav hais tias sij hawm tam sim no yog sij hawm uh…lawv respect um.. poj niam a lot rau qhov lawv pom hais peb tsis yog cov es yuav los ua ws...tej hauj lwm li puag thaum ub zov me nyuam lauj ua zaub ua mov noj lauj, los tu yus tej tsev lauj, tu yus tus txiv tej ntawd. Tam sim no kuv xav hais tias poj niam los ua tau hauj lwm ib yam txiv neej, thiab tseem ho ua ws... additional work. Uh.. hmm..

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Uh.. hauv within the family… Uh.. hmm.. Thiab ho play leadership role thiab…. Yeah… Lawv pom hais tias poj niam txawj ntse lawm hov ntau…. Uh.. ah.. Uh… I think that nws very scary rau txiv neej rau qhov ua cas nyob nyob es cia li txawv lawm nav. Yeah, txawv heev lawm tiam sis mas kuv xav hais tias yog hais tias lawv ws... muab los xav tiag no ntshe lawv yuav zoo siab hais tias ua cas ws... muaj tus pab lawv nav, instead of muaj, instead ib tus follower los yog ws... help lawv ua leader thiab nav. Yes, yeah that’s true. Umm…when were you most disrespect? Did you ever had any time when your husband or you know, other man are not respect, they don’t respect you? Wb... ws... kuv xav hais tias thaum ntawvd yog thaum yus tseem yog me nyuam yaus. Vim hais tias even tam sim no kuv hais tias peb yeej grow a lot tiam sis kuv xav hais tias hmoob cov me nyuam yog cov uas cov laus tsis tshua muaj respect rau nav, rau qhov xav hais oh…me nyuam yaus xwb nws tsis paub ab tsi, nws tsis muaj idea tawm tsam ab tsi, nws uh.. hais los nws yog me nyuam xwb nws tsis, nws tsis muaj tswv yim ab tsi yuav add rau nav, tiam sis kuv xav hais tias yog peb mloog peb cov me nyuam a lot, no lawv very smarter thiab uh…that lawv muaj a lot to say nav Yeah… So, I think that when you were most disrespected, I think during thaum childhood is not that ws... lawv tsi nyiam yus los yog li cas tiam sis mas I think is because lawv tsi understand yus nav, lawv tsi understand yus, lawv hais tias me nyuam yaus xwb tsi muaj anything to say nav. Yeah, yeah, hm... now I’m gonna ask you about the war and living in the refugee camps, hm you might not remember a lot. You might not remember but I'm gonna ask you and you can tell me how much you remember. How did you decide to leave, to leave Laos during the war? Hm... koj puas muaj, lub sij hawm ntawd koj puas tau yog tus uas los make decision los yog koj niam lawv, koj puas hnov koj niam lawv um.. make decision los yog lawv hais li cas, ua li cas es nej thiaj uh.. khiav tau tuaj rau uas sab tim no, sab Thaib teb sab tim no?

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Kuv ws... thaum ntawd yeej muaj tsov rog loj.loj.. heev ces tag nrho tej kwv tij neej tsav yeej tuaj tag rau sab Thaib teb thiab tuaj tag rau meskas teb ces, qhov ntawd ces ws yeej hnov hais tias teb chaws mekas no mas yog teb chaws zoo thiab teb chaws muaj opporunity heev no ces... Uh.. hmm … Cov laus thiaj peem tas zog tuaj kom tau... Um, okay. Tiam sis kuv, kuv tsis nco qab exactly hais tias yog li cas. Oh, okay. Hm, do you remember anything about the refugee camps? No, I don’t remember anything about the refugee camp. Oh okay. Do you remember how long you, you and your family were there? Oh, I think 2 ½ years, but, that’s what I heard. Okay, what did you think was postive about the experience and did you remember, does your mom or your dad tell you anything that was positive about the experience even thought you don’t remember, do you remember they tell you at all? Or anything that was negative? Ws tsi nco qab qhov es lawv yuav hais tias yuav zoo npaum li cas tiam sis mas, well !.. ib qho zoo tam li kuv xav xwb naj, mas yog qhov hais tias ws yeej muaj ntau tus thaum es khiav tuaj no yeej muaj ntau tus xiam, tiam sis mas yus cov immediate familys yeej ws yeej muaj pretty much survive thiab pretty much okay so, kuv xav tias qhov ntawd yog ib yam positive thiab ho hm…qhov peb kwv tij neej tsa after a long time ho, rov qab los vim union ces I think qhov ntawd yog qhov zoo. Okay, puas muaj tej yam phem los yog tej yam negative uas koj…. Kuv xav hais tias yam phem yog yam uas, cov laus, yog vim hais tias lawv lost lawv lub teb chaws ntawd nav, even though muab xav tias uas teb chaws Nplog yeej tsi yog peb lub, to be general, tiam sis kuv xav tias a sense of loss thiab ws a lost tsev tej, tej vaj tse lauj you know they’re like that, kuv xav hais tias um qhov ntawd, thiab ntawm es lawv, the way they were treated there um.., lawv, thaum lawv los nyob Thaib teb, lawv los nyob camp tej ntawd ces, lawv tsis ua noj tsis ua haus lawm tsi ua, tos li welfare lawv muab txhuv muab ub muab no ntau ntau rau lawv xwb ces kuv xav tias lawv feel homeless thiab loneliness nav, so um... Okay, do you, what did you do in the refugee camp, do you remember anything that you did there at all?

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I don’t remember anything I did, but I look very small so I am, I probably just played. Okay, ha ha hmm…did you pursue or did you receive any treatment difference between man and woman uh during the time that you were, your family was in the camp, do you remenber at all, any difference in treatment? Um… I don’t remember anything about the camp. I was in kidergarden, but I do remember as a girl growing up, you're just to know what your role in life is over night. It's like somehow you just feel the sense that you are not important enough, so I think you just um, your toughts are it doesn’t matter. Uh hm. That, that’s the sense that I got growing up, otherwise I didn't care uh… hu.. hu…. Okay, now we're going to continue to um… adjustment in life in the U.S. Can you tell me who makes, who makes the decision or who decideded that um, you and your family were gonna come to the us, do you nremember who decided? It was my mom that decided that we should come, um, there are a lot of cousins, since we are here, um, everybody was coming with us so, she… and because of the war she decided that maybe we come for better opportunity since we just got the war. Okay, how old were you when your family came to the U.S.? I was 5. Okay you was 5 years old? Uh hm. Okay, um since coming to the U.S. what has been the easiest to adjust to? I think the easest is, um an adjustment to the wealth, the wealth of the United State has just been amazing. Uh hm. Also, um the knowledge and the other opportunities are just so great. I think that it’s just everything. Um well what was the hardness? I think the hardest, immediately, always has been, um me. I fell like I’m between two world s. The older world that is the traditionel world and the new world.

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Okay, um… do you know well, okay what was the immediate skills needed um in your adjustment to the process or in your adjustment to the United State? What was the immediate skills that um you or your family needed right away? Um, I think we needed to adjust to help American leaders learn what other cultures are like um, we didn’t have it like this, so we had to adjust, um at home and, um how to deal in communicating, um language, American language and staff. Do you know how to use any of the house’s home appliance when you got to the United States? Um, I don’t remember. Okay, how did you acquire those necessary skills? I think I acquired them, I remember acquiring them from, of course, whatching a lot of TV… Uh hm. And going to school, and I think church did a lot to help us, um adjust to the new life, um also we had some cousins here in the U.S. to help us adjust. Okay good, where the skills you had in Laos or Thailand adaptable or useable in the U.S.? Do you remember any of those skills? Um, I think the skill that I remember, um taking care of kids, um and other things that is not necessary a skill but something that I learned is respect for the elders and hardwork. I think that um… I don’t know if you would put in the category of skills, but I think that, um that’s very important in the U.S. also. Okay, for exemple, listen to your parents. Yeah…and that no matter what, they are always right hu..hu… Okay good, how or do you think life in the U.S. is better for hmong women and why? Yeah, I truly think, um that life in the U.S. is better for Hmong women. We have so much opportunity and we have this opportunity to be what ever we desire, and I think that it has opened our eyes to a whole new world. Okay, do you fell like the U.S., the United State is your home now? Um, I never really remember…just the new world.

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Why, is there any particulary reason why you would not? Um, no I just never thought about it, it’s not that important to me. Oky, now we gonna talk about um women 's role outside of the home, and um okay, during the war or after the war, this is just, um base on that you remember about it, um did you know what was going on and how did you hear about it? Um, during the war, I don’t remember anything now or know anything about the war, um it’s from stories from, um the elders, from my mom, from um other older people um tell story about them, I also hear about the story from my husband, what his experience of work. Hm hm. During the war and after the war. Okay, um were there any public figures that you admire um or any body that you know you don’t necessary have to admire? Any public figures, any women who were leaders that you know off? Um, I think that people who are leaders I, I always admire um a woman a hmong woman is especially um in leadership whenever I read something um about, about the leadership role, or that day um an american lawyer or just um something, something amezing or a doctor something that always it’s an amazement to me and would be the people that I'll look to. Okay, do you know any body who was close to you like that or like leaders or um working in the office or something like that? Um, alot of people then, my family I know were always in the office and um in leadership roles. Um, the person that I was close to that I always was with daily is my sister-in-law you know, nyab nyiaj hawj nav, I see her in a lot of leadership role as far as um tom church lau, she is a president of this hmong women's organization and just in general even with peb cov kwv tij when ever they have, like a meeting or something, she is always there, she is always um the loudhailer ha…ha… Support. Yeah, um well she gives her ideas and people listen to her so I see her as very powerfull. Okay, good um in America, how do you think leadership has changed for you and other hmong women?

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I think that leadership has changed just alot because, um it has made, made us look more willingly at the world as a whole thing to be done to us and for us, um a world we can help um I, I think that we have learnd um at every general world that um, that we can do other things, other thing are just like a cloth and cloth woman can work. Uh hm, okay good, um what type, what type of things are women here doing publicly that they would not have been able to do in Laos or Thailand. I think um just to be able to go to school in the United States is wonderful, um and I can loose very few um very very few people um Hmong girls go to school and even if they did go to school when they came back they don’t have the opportunity, they just become farmwives or something like that, so I think that to have an opportunity to go to school um to be whatever you want, you can go to school and um be a doctor, you can go to school to be a teacher or um go to school um just to do community work um anything is possible. Okay, um what public contribution to the people do you want to be remembered about Hmong women, or what do people remember about Hmong women? I think a major thing that I would like people to remember about Hmong women is that we, um these hmong women are responsible for big changees in the Hmong farm, I think that we are the most um affected, affected by um the change in that we are the ones who want the change more than um more than um the guy does I think. Hm. I, I think that’s what I want people to remember um, another thing that I want people to remember is that even with the changes um family is still a very important part of life um from, from before until now um family still continues to be a very important part and now I think we play just a more, a better role. Okay good, um is there anything else that you would like to add? Yes, I, I would like to add um say that as far as leadership, as far as Hmong women, are a real model something like that I think. I, know that I think about it um and I'm motived now I, I can really see that my mom is one of my bigest role models and one of my bigest I, I admire her a lot, she was um very strong in raising us, she was, she was part of us, a mother, a father and as far as… but then our, our clan, I think she stands out really strong as a strong woman that I think um that she is, still is right now today, so I think that she played a big role in how my life is. Okay, good, thank you very much for your time. Oh !.. you are welcome…

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