Pang Yang, teacher for 279Online, was on a mission to bring students and families together to celebrate Hmong culture, which led her to start the Hmong Showcase five years ago. Each year, at least 600 people turn out for the event, and again this year the Park Center Senior High School auditorium was nearly full for this celebration.
“I felt as though we can give students a lot of knowledge and practice in the classroom, but one of the things I noticed was my students were missing confidence. Giving them a space to shine, to use their voice, is why it is so important,” Yang shared.
The program blends together Hmong and English and includes in person and video elements. Students share what they learned in class using their language, putting together videos and incorporating their culture through art and dance. This is also a chance for students to see what other students across the district are doing in their classes.
“This has been my proudest addition to Park Center Senior High School. Ms. Yang was adamant along with the community that Hmong language and culture needed to be a part of this system. It was really easy to say yes,” said Heather Miller-Cink, principal.
In partnership with the McPhail Music Center, local artist Douachi Yang and the 279Online Big Sister Hmong Program, kindergarten students performed an original song and shared what they love about being Hmong.
“I’m proud to be Hmong because I love my family and they help me whenever they can,” said one student.
Afterwards Douachi Yang brought everyone to the floor to dance to her song that has more than 1.6 million views on YouTube. She even brought Miller-Cink back to the stage to learn the dance.
“It is an honor to be able to see Hmong heritage to continue to be taught to generations here,” said Dr. Brian Bass, assistant superintendent of equity and achievement.