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Meet SEARAC's Summer Interns: Liang Xiong, U of MN - Twin Cities
Jun 29 Meet SEARAC's Summer Interns: Liang Xiong, U of MN - Twin Cities
Hi! My name is Liang Xiong and I am a rising senior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I am a political science major with double minors in Asian American Studies and Asian Languages and Literature. I was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota where I grew up in the warmth of a close knit Hmong refugee community in the McDonough Housing Project. Because of the large Hmong population in Minnesota, my parents found it to be the best place to live since all their friends and families are within driving distance.
As the fourth child of six and the eldest daughter, distance was hard to overcome when I found a passion for travelling. After a high school trip to London and Paris, I continued travelling in college. I have been to South Korea twice; once through a ten-day scholarship and the second time to study abroad. Last summer, I worked at an English camp in Japan teaching conversational English phrases and American culture. While abroad in Korea and Japan, I began to question my identity as a Hmong American. One thing for sure, I was not considered American; American was generally perceived as white. I became just Hmong, an ethnic group that the world knew very little about. It was hard to accept that once I stepped outside the comfortable perimeters of Saint Paul that I would have to start explaining what and who the Hmong people are. But on a positive note, it compelled me to learn more about Hmong history, Asian American history, and my identity as a female, a second-generation American, and a Southeast Asian American.
(Picture on the left: At the Demilitarized Zone in Korea. The tall white building in the back is North Korea. Picture on the right: With my English camp team members in Japan.)
One of the luxuries of attending the U of M is their Asian American Studies (AAS) program. AAS classes have deepened my understanding of the social and historical construct of my identity as an Asian American, Southeast Asian American, and a Hmong American. It helped me to become more articulate about the various issues that our communities face and has taught me where Hmong people fit in American history. (Despite the large Hmong student population in our public schools, I was never taught Hmong history in an academic setting until college.) To further develop a deeper understanding of the various issues that exists in the Hmong American community, I joined a student group called Viivncaus – Hmong Women’s Group, where I am the current outreach coordinator. Viivncaus seeks to create a safe environment for discussions and to support our members’ journey to establish cultural identity, networks, and connections with other women on campus and in our communities.
(Viivncaus-Hmong Women's Group board members)
As a student who works particularly with Southeast Asian Americans on campus and who belongs to the largest SE Asian population in Minnesota, I absolutely admire the work that SEARAC does. It is an honor to be able to work alongside the amazing staffs here, and I hope to learn more about immigration and education policy affecting SE Asian Americans.