We wanted to share a part of the girls’ heritage with them. So we had to make a stop in the Twin Cities, home to the largest Hmong population per capita in the U.S.
Here we visited and stayed with family who welcomed us warmly with traditional Hmong food and sent us away with treats like home-made raspberry jam as well as water and soy milk for the road. Many thanks and much love to our Yang and Vue families!
We couldn’t leave the Twin Cities without paying a visit to the Hmongtown Market and Hmong Village in St. Paul. Dozens of vendors set up in stalls sell Hmong food, produce, clothing, services, etc. If you’re wanting to sample Hmong foods, we’d recommend the papaya salad, Hmong sausage, and angel wings. Pass on the pho even though the large bowls look very tempting. Home-made is always better especially if you have skillful cooks in the family.
Meanwhile at the Hmong Veterans Memorial Monument at the MN State Capitol in St. Paul, we silently observed and reflected upon the story that the bamboo-shaped monument depicts: Hmong life before, during, and after the war in Laos (our former home). The communist war in Southeast Asia during the 1970s had a devastating impact on the Hmong who helped the Americans fight against Communist forces and who lost their family members, homes, and livelihoods.
After the war, Hmong survivors and refugees, in fear of persecution, fled Laos and settled throughout the world, in the Thailand, U.S., France, Australia, parts of South America, and many other countries. With thousands of other Hmong refugees, my immediate family came to the U.S. in the early 1980s. Sadly, we just learned that one of the most influential leaders in Hmong resettlement, Yang See, my cousin Gablia’s uncle, just passed away this year. During the war, he was a liaison to U.S. political figures who would determine the fate of Hmong survivors and lead to the resettlement of the Hmong in the U.S. Thank you, Yang See and others, who paved the way for us.
This was a heartwarming and soul-filling destination and we want to reconnect with it on our way back home. See you soon, Twin Cities and MN.