OU-WI Reaches Out to the HmongPosted by Paula Paine on January 14, 2015 in Ottawa University-Wisconsin continues to develop a positive relationship with the Hmong community living in the metro Milwaukee area. For the second year, OUWI sponsored a display booth at the Hmong New Year Festival which took place December 13 – 14 in Milwaukee. Ottawa’s outreach to the Hmong community has been led by Dr. Rhoda Miller, Professor of Psychology, who taught in Laos from 1972 – 1974. For more than a decade, the Hmong people fought to defend their homeland in northern Laos from aggressions by the North Vietnamese and Communist Lao forces. The U.S. fought a “secret war” with the Hmong, but when the U.S. pulled out of Southeast Asia in 1975, thousands of Hmong had to flee their homeland. Many eventually came to the States after years of enduring extreme hardships in overcrowded refugee camps in Thailand.
Over the years, many Hmong families have settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Education is a very strong cultural value in Hmong culture. Families make great sacrifices to see that children get an education. Ottawa’s Wisconsin campus has been fortunate to serve as an educational institution for an increasing number of Hmong adults. The small, friendly, caring environment fits well with Hmong values of tradition, adaptation, education and family. By participating in annual Hmong New Year Festivals, and developing relationships with members of the Hmong culture, Ottawa strives to extend a helping hand to those who seek a better life through education.