The Hmong and South East Asian and American Club (HaSEAAC) will host an educational conference themed “From Hmong to Hmong American” and benefit concert Saturday, March 8, in the Dreyfus University Center of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP).
The conference begins at noon and is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested but not required. Pre-registration can be completed online at stuorgs.uwsp.edu/haseeac/pages/home.aspx.
The conference features three guest speakers, as well as a panel of HaSEAAC members. All of the speakers will focus on the theme, “From Hmong to Hmong American.”
“We invited speakers from all around Wisconsin,” said Yia Lor, a student and HaSEAAC member helping to plan the event. “They will be touching on subjects related to our theme, some of the struggles and different perspectives, and what we can look forward to and expect in the future. There are a variety of speakers from different backgrounds.”
The keynote speaker will be Vincent Her from UW-La Crosse.
“He was born in the right generation that he can really relate to us but at the same time he is very knowledgeable about his own generation,” said Charles Vang, another HaSEAAC member planning the event.
Also speaking are Via Ving and Ian Braid. Ving is assistant to the chancellor for equity and affirmative action at UWSP. She will speak about leadership opportunities for Hmong. Braid is a geography professor from UW-Madison and will present on Hmong veterans and related issues.
“I think the purpose for this, for me, is to really show that this small group of students can really impact a big group of people, not just locally or around the state but across the country,” said Vang.
At 3 p.m. will be a showing of the documentary “Finding the Middle Way.” The documentary is about the Hmong people in Portage County and is a result of a two-year collaboration among Hmong and non-Hmong community members with university students and faculty.
“A documentary sounds kind of dry and boring but it really is a story and it brings up a lot of issues for discussion,” said Sue Clark Kubley, adviser to HaSEAAC.
The concert, “Our Voice, Our World: Our Sisters” will feature 15 musicians, including musicians from UWSP and other areas of Wisconsin and Michigan. Tickets are $8 and all proceeds go to benefit VivNcaug, Lous, a nonprofit organization that supports the well-being of women and girls, helps break the cycle of poverty and raise their status in society.
UWSP student Mykalia Lo has been one of the main organizers for the benefit concert, communicating with the performers, VivNcaug and the five subcommittees helping to plan the event. Lo recently went on a mission trip to Thailand and worked closely with VivNcaug.
“They help prevent women from being trafficked,” Lo said. “For me, coming back from Thailand and having that heart to fight human trafficking and applying it to the benefit concert has brought a lot of memories. It has been a great opportunity to be a part of this.”
The concert will run from 7 to 11 p.m., with 410 seats available. Lor said they hope to sell out the concert. HaSEAAC will also accept additional donations for VivNcaug.
“I was very pleased that they chose VivNcaug this year because its focus is on women and girls and in our world women and girls, especially if they are not white and from America, they are really the most vulnerable people that we have,” said Kubley.
Students have been working on this event since the summer of 2013. There was a similar event in 2011 when HaSEAAC was able to raise $4,500 for the Laotian People to People Project so they could build a medical clinic in Laos.
“Honestly for me in 2011 when I attended our first concert I was very moved by it,” Vang said. That is what really brought me to come to Stevens Point and for me to really be working behind the scenes now and not just going to watch. I feel like, come the night of, it’s going to be really unreal for me.”
“You would not believe all the planning that goes into this” said Kubley. “And these guys are students. This is something that brings a rich musical experience to campus but it is so much more beyond that. To just donate all this time and energy and planning and no one is getting a penny for this. The students are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s really impressive to me that they continue to want to do this.”