How a mom-daughter talk led to a global celebration of Hmong women

How a mom-daughter talk led to a global celebration of Hmong women

How a mom-daughter talk led to a global celebration of Hmong women

Elizabeth Yang, with her daughter Evelyn Nouchi Vang and her mother Sandy Yongvang. Photo by Rory Lee | Courtesy of Elizabeth Yang
Hmong Women Inspired to Take on the World

Hmong Women Inspired to Take on the World

 

posted by Brittney Le

A page from the Global Digital Look Book. Photo by CX Photography.

By Brittney Le
AsAmNews Staff Writer

Elizabeth Yang and her daughter Evelyn Nouchi Vang, wearing scarves that can be purchased at the online shop. Photo by Elizabeth Yang.

Elizabeth Yang’s seven-year-old daughter just wanted her friends at school to think she was Asian, not Hmong.

“She told her friends that she was Hmong and her Hmong name, and they laughed at her,” Yang said her daughter, Evelyn Nouchi Vang, told her one night.

“If I don’t do something, my daughter will forget where she came from,” added Yang. “My baby girl would forget all the struggles of what it was to be a Hmong woman.”

Yang was thus inspired by her daughter to start Hmong Women Take on the World (HWTOTW), a virtual summit to celebrate and share the experiences of Hmong women from diverse backgrounds across the globe.

The summit will take place this May 19-20. HWTOTW also just launched its Global Digital Look Book this Wednesday showcasing positive images of Hmong women across different ages and life moments, captured by Hmong photographers and enthusiasts.

“I wanted this to be reflective of the diversity of women all around the world, so I started to crowdsource stories,” Yang told AsAmNews. “I wanted to talk about how the face of leadership within Hmong women could look different.”

In about 5 months, Yang has gathered about 60 Hmong women from all around the world, each with unique skills and professions, to help lead the summit. “I’ve always believed that when she rises, we rise,” said Yang. “How do I help that one sister to rise?”

 

Photo from the Global Digital Look Book. By Khue Lor, Filmtroverse Studios.

Yang has been touring the U.S. and Australia, in her “Quest to Believe that We Are Enough.” She visits various cities to meet her Hmong sisters and introduce them to her global sisters through Facebook Q & A. Talking to these Hmong women about their stories, Yang says, “It leaves an imprint on your heart.”

Elizabeth Yang was born and raised in Fresno, California, until she moved to Minnesota with her mother at about 12 years old. Both Fresno and Minnesota had large Hmong populations, but she still struggled with her identity. “I wasn’t quite American enough and I wasn’t quite Hmong enough, because I was Hmong American,” Yang told AsAmNews. “I identified much more so as being an American girl growing up, and it was challenging. I didn’t fit in between the two cultures.”

HWTOTW Minnesota leaders with Elizabeth Yang’s mother. By Pang Foua Xiong.

However, as she grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, she began to get involved in Hmong community groups and started to embrace her Hmong identity.

When Yang graduated from high school, she didn’t know what she wanted to do. “A lot of the stereotypical Asian American narrative is that you go to college and that’s kind of your path,” she said. After college, Yang ended up in a corporate job, but she “wanted to give back to the world but I just didn’t know how.” Yang tried being a community organizer but eventually landed in product development in the healthcare field.

When her job moved her to Boston, her family left behind the dense Hmong community that they knew. “Nobody knew who Hmong people were,” she said. That’s when Yang had the talk with her daughter that spurred a whole movement.

While Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California have large Hmong populations, physical summits often limit involvement – what about the many Hmong women elsewhere all over the globe? Yang wants to “close the gap between these stories” through this virtual forum that doesn’t have physical boundaries.

From the look book. Photo by Panhia Lee.

“Within the Hmong community, it’s still a very patriarchal system,” she said, acknowledging that a lot of work still needs to be done to uplift women within Hmong culture. “The world is big enough to have this space to give them a space to rise.”

The summit can be viewed the day of through visiting the HWTOTW website. They are still looking for city hosts that can accommodate large crowds to watch the summit. Yang also encourages people to gather at their homes to watch, as a “day just to celebrate each other.”

People can show support through the online shop, where talented Hmong women have contributed their products and skills for proceeds to go towards HWTOTW.

HWTOTW also plans to release a digital magazine this June to continue to share stories of Hmong woman experiences after the summit.

Going back to Minnesota for HWTOTW, Yang has realized that her hometown hasn’t changed much, but she definitely has. “I feel that there’s a greater purpose,” she said. “I feel that I can make a difference.”

From the look book. By Nhia Ly Photography

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How To Leverage Your Strengths Professionally (CliffStrengths) (Online Group Coaching Program with Eva Lee)*

How To Leverage Your Strengths Professionally (CliffStrengths) (Online Group Coaching Program with Eva Lee)*

When: August 22, 2018

Identify your top 5 strengths and use your strengths in your work to thrive! Be part of a small, three-person intimate online group session in gaining insights on your CliftonStrengths*. Recommended participants with experience level between entry level to mid level careers.

Eva Lee is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach since 2016 and currently works in Student Affairs, developing career programs, employer relations, and career counseling students in higher education. Her theoretical approach includes Solution Focused, Design Thinking, Happenstance, and John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice. Her passion in supporting women stems from her early onset experience in helping others explore their career post-graduation. She identifies as a Hmong American dedicated to helping others succeed in finding a fulfilling and thriving career using their strengths.

Benefits:

  • CliftonStrengths Assessment Report
  • Private Online Group Session
  • Walkthrough of the Assessment
  • Awareness and insight of how your strengths appear in your life
  • Skills to leverage your strengths in an interview

 

*Hmong Women Take on the World is sponsoring this Online Group Coaching Program and making this available for FREE for three participants. To be considered, you must attend our Facebook LIVE for drawing details. Check out https://www.facebook.com/hmongwomenday for more information.

About Our Founder, Elizabeth Yang

About Our Founder, Elizabeth Yang

Elizabeth Yang is the Founder & CEO of Better With Company. She brings over 15 years of experience from top Fortune 500 companies in Research & Development innovation, product development, and marketing. She’s launched several multi-million dollar growth initiatives and led emerging technology teams in taking new ideas to market launch by staying focused on the customer experience and people culture.

Elizabeth is a Tiny Habits Coach obsessed with productivity hacks for behavioral changes in life and business. She advises start ups and serves as a mentor at PULSE@MassChallenge, a digital health innovation lab based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Offering breakthrough solutions that transforms from the inside-out for better well-being, higher performance, and clearer purpose with measurable outcomes

She founded Hmong Women Take on the World’s Live Global Virtual Summit, a global initiative that fuses her passions in emerging technology, product marketing, and social media to create inspirational experiences. The crowdfunded campaign raised $30K and generated 100+ curated global stories and brought together a leadership team of 60 partners around the world across 8 different countries, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Laos, USA, and Vietnam.