Receiving Social Security benefits? Check. Over 15 grandchildren? Check. Buried loved ones? Unfortunately check.
Meet my 66-year-old mom, Shoua Vang, otherwise known as Niam Vaj Kim Zeej. Her YouTube channel is called ‘My Hmong Grandma.’ I can’t believe I’m typing this!
YouTube is a place where anything can happen. Seriously, just search ASMR, you may or may not thank me. One of the first rules is to have a niche, a very specific topic that you are dedicated to. So, for My Hmong Grandma, it would be storytelling. Storytelling, especially honing it to Hmong storytelling has grown a good audience. There are generally two types of Hmong Storytelling: ghost stories and relationships. You know it’s doing well when my even older in-laws listen to it day and night on YouTube; it’s pretty much their white noise machine.
This is where ‘niche on niche’ comes in handy. My mother, Shoua, is a gifted storyteller. Not in ghost stories or relationships (sorry), but positive, motivational, lessons-learned parables! I think it’s safe to say that we need some positivity now a days, am I right? She’s spoken at countless banquets and been a guest speaker at many events. What makes my mom stand out is that she also voices her mistakes in the past.
I’ve personally come to a new chapter in my life that I realize there are people smarter and wiser than me. I must try to learn from these certain people to reduce the amount of regret and heartache I will have in my life.
C’mon… have you ever been lectured before? Only to hear ‘you should have done this, you should have done that, why didn’t you know better?’ Being berated or belittled breaks down a person’s confidence and trust. Sometimes we need to seek out better teachers in our lives, better or more empathic people. You need to know that the other person is human too, flawed yet capable to understand. I think the reason why I love YouTube is that there are many different types of teachers out there.
My Hmong Grandma points out lessons she’s learned in the past, or too late; that hopefully others can apply in their lives. She’s great at parables, drawing out ordinary everyday items that can be illustrated to help a person’s life. For example, if you tune in, one of the first videos is titled, ‘Pob Zeb – The Rock’ illustrates that not everything in life is easy. There’s gravity, there’s weight, there’s opposites pulling each other in life. Just like moving a rock, a boulder, it’s hard to get it going but once you dedicate yourself to push a little harder each day, bit by bit the rock moves and gains momentum.
This channel would be a great tool or device to preserve our language to the next generation! Have your children listen to it in the background, or as bed stories. Slowly they can understand Hmoob tone, inflections of dialogue and word-by-word, your son or daughter can carry Hmoob with them to their children.
So, please listen to My Hmong Grandma on YouTube through your desktop, smartphone, ear buds at the gym, podcast style in the car… make it your white noise making machine. But first remember to subscribe and hit the bell to get notifications.