Event Title

Seeking Refuge: Hmong Life in Milwaukee

Mentor 1

Dr. Chia Youyee Vang

Location

Union 240B

Start Date

24-4-2015 2:00 PM

Description

Much of the literature about Hmong refugees and immigrants focus on their experiences in California and Minnesota. Wisconsin is home to the third largest Hmong population in the United States and the Milwaukee area is the fourth largest concentration in the country. In addition to analyzing statistical data from the U.S. Census, we conducted oral history interviews with community members and administered a short survey to gather community members’ opinions and perceptions about the overall health and well-being of Hmong in Milwaukee. Issues included in this study are education, health, socioeconomic status, religion, race and gender. Overall we interviewed 67 individuals and obtained completed surveys from 155 people. We found that Hmong community members in Milwaukee have made significant gains in terms of socioeconomic status compared to when they first began settling in the city as refugees in the late 1970s. However, national data show that Hmong Americans remain one of the poorest Asian groups in the U.S. The majority of survey respondents and interviewees find the Milwaukee area a welcoming environment for Hmong people and they feel that they have the freedom to practice the religion they prefer. Because of the areas in which they live, the vast majority worry about their family’s safety. Additionally, Hmong remain culturally isolated as illustrated by the majority of survey respondents and oral history interviewees that their close friends are mostly other Hmong people. Hmong girls and women have made significant gains in education attainment. The majority of interviewees and survey respondents agree that today Hmong families place equal value on boys and girls. Overall, our research suggests that Milwaukee is a good place for immigrants and refugees. After 40 years, the Hmong are integrating despite some important challenges they face. Given the continued arrival of refugees in Milwaukee from other countries, such as Myanmar (Burma), our findings can help shed light on refugee and immigration policies and practices at the local level. We also think that our study can help community organizations, schools, and government agencies find ways to assist new Americans better adjust to life in the U.S.

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Apr 24th, 2:00 PM

Seeking Refuge: Hmong Life in Milwaukee

Union 240B

Much of the literature about Hmong refugees and immigrants focus on their experiences in California and Minnesota. Wisconsin is home to the third largest Hmong population in the United States and the Milwaukee area is the fourth largest concentration in the country. In addition to analyzing statistical data from the U.S. Census, we conducted oral history interviews with community members and administered a short survey to gather community members’ opinions and perceptions about the overall health and well-being of Hmong in Milwaukee. Issues included in this study are education, health, socioeconomic status, religion, race and gender. Overall we interviewed 67 individuals and obtained completed surveys from 155 people. We found that Hmong community members in Milwaukee have made significant gains in terms of socioeconomic status compared to when they first began settling in the city as refugees in the late 1970s. However, national data show that Hmong Americans remain one of the poorest Asian groups in the U.S. The majority of survey respondents and interviewees find the Milwaukee area a welcoming environment for Hmong people and they feel that they have the freedom to practice the religion they prefer. Because of the areas in which they live, the vast majority worry about their family’s safety. Additionally, Hmong remain culturally isolated as illustrated by the majority of survey respondents and oral history interviewees that their close friends are mostly other Hmong people. Hmong girls and women have made significant gains in education attainment. The majority of interviewees and survey respondents agree that today Hmong families place equal value on boys and girls. Overall, our research suggests that Milwaukee is a good place for immigrants and refugees. After 40 years, the Hmong are integrating despite some important challenges they face. Given the continued arrival of refugees in Milwaukee from other countries, such as Myanmar (Burma), our findings can help shed light on refugee and immigration policies and practices at the local level. We also think that our study can help community organizations, schools, and government agencies find ways to assist new Americans better adjust to life in the U.S.