Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dear Niam, You are my Center of the World

My center of the world began inside of you, Mom. To be honest, my center of the world still revolves around you. When I think of the beginning of the world I see April 7th, 1991. I was born the year of the sheep according to the Chinese zodiac. I was born to a Hmong mother in a refugee camp somewhere in Thailand. We don’t get to pick and choose our skin color, racial background, class status, country of origin or parents – but if we could, I would choose you a million times over. I would choose to be Hmong a million times again.

To the world the Hmong people were inexistent.  But I never knew that. When I tell people I was born in Thailand they automatically make the mistake of categorizing me as Thai. Mom, you were my center of the world and you reminded me each and every day that I was Hmong. We spoke Hmong. We ate Hmong food, peb no mov nrog kua txob . We celebrated Hmong festivals such as No Peb Caug. We practiced Hmong shamanistic traditions. We sacrificed chickens and cows to our ancestors. We made ghost money and burned it to the spirit world. We watched Hmong movies and listened to Hmong music. As a little girl I knew that knowing my culture and heritage as a Hmong person was the most important thing to remember. To me being Hmong was the center of this universe because you were my mom and you were Hmong.

My identity as a Hmong person imprinted itself permanently into who I am and shaped how I saw the world. 

(To Be Continued...)

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