The Atwood Ballroom was packed as tickets were oversold for Hmong Night 2015, on April 11. Chairs were added to the back of the ballroom to seat all the people who attended the cultural event, with people attending from Central Minnesota and the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
According to the 2010 Hmong National Development Census report, Minnesota is the second ranked state with the largest Hmong population in the United States with 66,181 people.
The theme of this year’s Hmong Night was the Hmong New Year, as the night included several skits showing the traditions of the Hmong New Year, with a variety of different dances and songs performed throughout the night. Much of what was spoken during the night was in Hmong, and translated English song lyrics were projected while Hmong songs were sung.
The night also included a presentation given by guest speaker Susan Kaying Pha, who spoke about how the new year traditions have differed from generation to generation. “Their traditions in Laos are different than ours today,” Pha said.
“It took very long, honestly,” said Mayzong Lee, the Hmong Student Organization (HSO) president, about the preparation for this year’s Hmong Night. Lee said HSO probably started planning spring semester 2014, voted for their theme, then started doing skit rehearsals and started planning the menu. HSO also cooked the meal with assistance from Sodexo. “We start crunching down at the end of March or early April. We have rehearsals from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day of the week. It’s very fun because it’s a chance for HSO to bond together,” Mayzong said.
HSO member Chia Lee said he loved his experience with Hmong Night.
“This is one of the most talented and well-rounded groups I’ve been around,” Chia said.
Chia said being a part of Hmong Night is really fun because he gets to interact with new members. “We like to bring students together, not just Hmong but others who are interested in Hmong culture,” Chia said.
Mayzong said that “just being able to see everyone grow and bond together is especially my favorite and seeing the show come together on the day of the event because we work so hard for this event.”
Applied economics graduate Nikhil Joshi attended Hmong Night for his second time. Joshi said he liked the skits and musical numbers, and one Hmong New Year traditions. He was surprised to learn that Hmong people don’t work for three days during the new year.
The night ended with all of HSO gathered at the front of the ballroom as they sung the song “Hmoob Lub Kua Muag” together. The group chanted HSO afterwards with cheers erupting from the audience.
“It truly has been a lot of work, but I truly love HSO,” Mayzong said.