This Saturday, November 5, the Hmong American Cultural Outreach Club (HACO), will be putting on their biggest event of the year, the Hmong New Year Celebration. he doors open at 4:30 p.m. with the main event running from 5 to 7 in Alumni Hall.
Attendees can expect free admission, food, and a variety of entertainment for the evening. This includes an after-party starting at 8, featuring The Immortal Brothers, a Hmong band based out of Brooklyn Center, MN.
“Hmong New Year is an event that will educate you about and give you a look inside Hmong culture,” Senior Deu Xiong, Co-President of HACO said.
The festival has its roots in Laos, when Hmong people would celebrate the end of a strong harvest season.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Minority Arts in American Culture”, and as such, it will be showcasing an array of Hmong cultural arts, such as singing, dancing, and fashion.
To complement the goals of the event, HACO was able to bring in Kao Kalia Yang, a successful writer, teacher, and public speaker from Minneapolis. This will be her second visit to Gustavus, having been a keynote speaker at the 2010 Building Bridges Conference. She will be featuring her most recent book, The Song Poet, as well as talking on how she expresses herself through writing and education.
“She’s a very moving speaker”,Cynthia Vang, HACO’s Sophomore Treasurer said.
Ms. Yang speaks primarily on her experience as a minority, being a woman who is part of the Hmong community.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. The way she speaks it will speak to you,” Vang said.
Miles Yang, a former Gustie and member of the Hmong community, said “culture is an ever-changing thing, and each year the Hmong New Year at Gustavus shows that.”
HACO membership is constantly changing, and each new group of students has their own traditions and their own way of celebrating. This helps make it an event worth coming back to year after year.
In planning this year’s Gustavus celebration, HACO was careful to not overlap with similar events nearby.
“Mankato’s Hmong New Year is right after ours; we wanted to join them”, Deu said.
The Gustavus community has within it only a small part of the larger Hmong community, and the group didn’t want to exclude anyone from one event or the other simply because of a scheduling oversight.
To anyone interested in attending Mankato’s celebration, it’s scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on November 19, with an after-party running from 9 p.m. to midnight.
It will take place in the CSU Ballroom; advance tickets are six dollars, eight at the door, and there is no charge for children under three years old.
Gustavus is home to a vast array of clubs and organizations, who, more often than not, are welcoming and inclusive to anyone who is curious. Nowhere is this more apparent than with HACO.
They are an open-door organization that asks those interested to come only with a willingness to learn about a culture that is different than their own.
“HACO is like a support group for minority students”, Deu said, as they themselves know what it is like to be an often overlooked minority.
The group encourages anyone interested in knowing more about the Hmong culture, or anyone who is also part of a minority culture, to come to their meetings. They are held every Thursday in Beck 221.
Whether or not you are able to attend the meetings, if you love food, the arts, and learning something new, Hmong American Cultural Outreach welcomes you to join in celebrating Hmong New Year.