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4-H youth explore Hmong cooking, art, dance, and culture

Each spring the Minnesota 4-H Foundation distributes grants to 4-H clubs who want to make a difference in their community. We will be featuring one grantee every month this year to celebrate all the wonderful ways Minnesota 4-H'ers are living out the 4-H Pledge. Our featured grantee for this month connected Hmong youth with cultural learning and community service. We hope you enjoy their story.

Now several years in the making, a partnership between AsianMedia Access and Urban 4-H has created the Hmong Mother and Daughter Club (HMDC), based in North Minneapolis. With support from Helping Hands grants from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation, the HMDC mixes relationship development opportunities with cultural learning and community service projects decided on by the youth. Youth love the program due to it allowing them to try and experience things that their schools can’t offer.

Each year, HMDC hosts a six-month-long program connecting Hmong girls ages 6-18 years old with each other, adult role models, and 4-H. In 2015, the club chose two goals: utilizing “Create/Perform/Respond” philosophy to study and practice traditional Asian dances; and supporting a bicultural approach (Hmong and American) to foster a healthy, balanced lifestyle which includes cultural pride and individual value.

Minnesota State Fair
HMDC hosts weekly dance practices with help from the Iny Asian Dance Theater. Additionally, workshops were held to learn Hmong needle works and sewing. Some of the youth traveled to South Korea and took their paj dao art to display at the International Junior Arts Festival there. Bi-weekly, parents join the youth for relationship-building activities, and on the opposite weeks the group works on healthy eating and Hmong cooking.

A shirt from the HDMC service learning project
The 2015 community service project was decided on by the youth and focused on domestic violence prevention in Hmong communities. The youth expressed concern around gender violence and viewed themselves as agents of change. The HDMC hosted art activities for youth and victims to express their feelings through drawings, which were transferred to T-shirts and later exhibited. Forty-five shirts were created and exhibited, pushing for awareness of stopping domestic violence.

The girls were able to see their work acknowledged: the Asian Pacific Council of Minnesotans proposed two bills to support domestic violence victims, with support from the HDMC project. In 2015, a $200,000 fund was created to support a study on violence against Asian Pacific women and children.

From learning how to express themselves to exploring a diverse selection of arts and culture, the HDMC offers Hmong youth an opportunity to learn about themselves and others using the philosophy of 4-H. Community support is crucial to the continuation of this project in future years. Helping Hands Grants from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation help support programs like the HDMC, connecting youth to their culture and their communities. Visit learn more about these grants.

By Madeleine Miller
Minnesota 4-H Foundation
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