Park Center Students Publish Hmong Poetry Book
Students involved in a Hmong class at Park Center High School published three books this school year. They just released a book of poetry and art called “Hmong Youth Poetry Collection, from Mountains to 10,000 Lakes.”
Teacher Pang Yang enlisted the help of hip hop artist Tou Saiko Lee to encourage students to share their story.
“I think I want to tap into him because he has a powerful story to tell,” said Yang. “A powerful story to help shape the students I have in my classroom.”
The book project is part of a class for native Hmong speakers on the Hmong language. The class has been offered at Park Center High School for two years.
“I think a lot of my students take the class because they feel like they are no longer able to connect to parents or grandparents,” said Yang. “They want to be able to connect with them.”
Yang’s students connected with elders to discover the origins of some of their favorite meals in their first book, “The Cultural Dish.” In the second book called “Dear My Teacher,” Yang encouraged students to share their story in letter form.
“There were so many things going on in my life that I wish my teacher would’ve known,” said Yang. “That’s how I preface it to my students.”
During the celebration launching the third book, students and parents participated in a night celebrating culture. Hip Hop artist Tou Saiko Lee spoke and performed. Dr. Yang Dao conducted a song he wrote with students. Students displayed art and thanks to a grant from the Education Minnesota Foundation, every student got to take home a copy of the book.
It was a special treat for students who are learning how to better speak the language of their parents and grandparents.
“In order to be a Hmong person, you need to learn to write, read and speak,” said student Rocky Lo. “Many students are trying to learn right now.”
You can purchase the books through www.HERpublisher.com.