Maikoau Vang

Major(s) and Certificate(s):

Human Development and Family Studies Major, Certificate in Asian American Studies, Certificate in Gender and Women Studies

Graduation Year:
Current city:
Current state/province/country (if outside US):
What motivated you to study this/these languages?:

I wanted to learn more about my own language and culture. Born and raised here in America, it was often hard for me to trace my roots while assimilating to the American culture. I struggled with self-identity as a child and wanted to find the meaning of what it meant to be not just Hmong but Hmong American. I took this class to enhance my language speaking skills in hopes of being able to support the Hmong community in the future.

How have these languages enriched your life?:

I gained self-awareness and a sense of belonging. My speaking and literacy skills in Hmong have improved greatly. This class taught me to appreciate my own culture by keeping my culture’s values and language intact. I enjoy being bilingual because I am able to communicate with different groups of people. I am also able to relate to others easier because I know that I am not the only bilingual student at UW-Madison who struggles living between “two worlds”.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?:

This class encouraged me to speak in Hmong and learn more about the culture in an engaging environment. This class was more discussion-based and gave me hands on learning. We not only focused on the language itself but had the opportunity to explore the culture and its traditions. Most of the classes I take are lecture halls where I don’t have an input but this class gave me a voice.

How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?:

These experiences have helped me find my place on campus and I couldn’t be happier. I learned so much from my peers as well as learning about myself. I was able to connect with many ethnic groups on campus and with the Hmong community in Madison. Giving back is something I enjoy doing and taking this language class created a bridge between me and the Hmong community. I met new people, built relationships, networked, and also had the opportunity to serve the Hmong community as a Hmong translator.

What advice do you have for current language students?:

Learning a new language or learning about your own language will help you discover so much about that culture. It also influences you to want to study abroad in a country where that language is spoken. Although learning a language is a challenge, you grow from it. You gain self-confidence and cultural awareness which not only opens the doorway to new experiences but also prosper a positive outlook.

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?:
Keeb Kwm (history) – This word is of great meaning and importance to the Hmong