Dreams can come true if we learn to respect each other and work together.
The recent announcement of a new group to host “the world’s largest” Hmong New Year in Fresno for this year brings up an age-old question of why the Fresno Hmong community, the second largest concentration of Hmong in America, still does not yet have a permanent community place to host this event.
For over 30 years, Hmong community members have dreamed of having a place to preserve and keep their culture and traditions alive, and yet Hmong community leaders repeatedly said that this was not achievable because of an apparent lack of financial resources.
It is disheartening then to see the recent competing bids proposed by four local Hmong organizations to host the Hmong New Year at the Fresno Fairgrounds, each bidding well over $250,000 for the opportunity to host the event, adding up to well over $1 million, and then in five years, over $5 million.
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If the four groups learned to respect each other and work together for the Hmong community, their resources would be able to purchase and invest in a permanent place for the Hmong community, taking us one step closer to the 30-year Hmong dream.
Obviously, there is plenty of money in the pockets of these Hmong leaders. Whether the Hmong elders and community leaders have become blinded by greed or power, on May 23 we finally saw the truth- there is funding of over $1 million!
We were sad to see the division among the Hmong leaders as they competed to bid for the Hmong New Year contract. It became more of a business for revenue for one person than a mission for uniting the Hmong and finding them a home to conduct such cultural event.
We know if we all genuinely can respect each other and our ancestors, we do have the funds to make our dream a reality.
Dr. Ghia Xiong is a Hmong community advocate and scholar who has worked with the Fresno Center for New Americans for over 18 years, and currently teaches Hmong health care interpreting at Clovis Community College. He has lived in Fresno for over 35 years and co-authored a book on the Hmong.
Nu Vang, a native Fresnan, is Miss United Hmong 2016 and 2017. She is a community advocate working with the Southeast Asian community to educate and empower residents for a better future.