Textbook Update Could Give Hmong Youth Cultural Pride

Connie Vang, New America Media, August 28, 2008

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But, if Governor Schwarzenegger signs Assembly Bill 2064 into law this month, it could change that and increase the cultural knowledge of many high school students in California. A.B. 2064 would require that the war and refugee history of Southeast Asians be included in the next textbook curriculum update.

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A.B. 2064 {snip} would require that all high school history textbooks in California include teaching what Southeast Asians provided to the Americans during the Vietnam War. In 2003, A.B. 78 was signed into law. It was similar to A.B. 2064, but it only encouraged history teachers to teach it, rather than requiring it.

When people don’t know their cultural history, they don’t know a part of themselves. As a result, they may react negatively, even resenting their culture. After discovering my cultural history, I started educating others. Often, in my classes I ended up educating my teachers and classmates about the Hmong and how they helped in the Vietnam War. Afterwards, some non-Hmong students even came up to me and asked more questions.

No one seemed to know how the Hmong helped during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t just in my American and world history classes, but also in my American government and Spanish classes. It came up during discussions on the Vietnam War, the economy, terrorism, and genocide.

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Some Hmong students tell me A.B. 2064 won’t pass because Hmong people are a small percentage of the population and America does not care enough. I think they react this way because the Hmong have received little recognition.

There is more to the bill beyond Hmong people. A.B. 2064 will also include other Southeast Asians that allied with the Americans, such as the Lao, Mien, Cambodian and Vietnamese. I didn’t even know that other ethnicities were recruited for the “Secret Army,” but I learned that through A.B. 2064. These other groups are just as important, and should also be recognized for their contribution and sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

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