My Love, My Life: Mov Kua Dlis Rua Kuv Me Nplooj Sab
By Brian V. Xiong
Hmong Educational Resources (HER) Publisher believes in the power of education and the impact of stories. We’re pleased to publish this new book, “My Love, My Life: Mov Kua Dlis Rua Kuv Me Nplooj Sab,” written by Hmong teacher, Ms. Pang Yang, and her Hmong students at Park Center Senior High School.
This is a book written through the authentic lens of Hmong Minnesotan high school students. Although they may be young, the lessons they learned, and their understanding of love is unparalleled. This title is made possible by an Education Minnesota Foundation classroom grant, The Untold Narrative 2, and Minnesota Legacy Cultural Grant, Finding Our Roots.
This book is available for the community at www.herpublisher.com. Thank you for supporting our Hmong students and teachers in the education world. As Ms. Pang Yang shared with us from working with Hmong students:
As Hmong language teachers, we are still learning the Hmong language and culture with students; we do not yet have the deep core knowledge to be able to take our students to a different level of understanding. As a result, we love partnering up with community artists, elders, and experts to enrich our classrooms. Together, we create a special learning community.
This year our resident artist, Xibfwb Yaj Ceeb Vaj is a Hmong language and culture expert at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He gave students a deeper understanding of the Hmong wedding celebrations, and how women are the backbone of the family. Hmong women are the founder and creator of Hmong origin. They are the inventor of Hmong language, arts, rituals, and ceremonies. On the other hand, Hmong men are the performers of the culture. The purpose is to encourage our Hmong youths to NOT get married young, but to allow students to analyze and interpret Hmong weddings to a different level of understanding. This will help our youths understand the parts of a Hmong wedding, their purpose, and how different parts play out in the day of two individuals who are meant for one another.
Xibfwb Yaj Ceeb’s chapter on Hmong Weddings will give you a glimpse and deeper understanding of how Hmong weddings begin. Hmong Dawb and Hmong Leng/Ntsuab may differ slightly, but they have similar ways of officiating weddings. When two individuals decide to come together as one, wedding celebrations bring two different clans together to begin a new beautiful journey. In the Hmong culture, some say, when you marry your partner, you also marry their family. In order for wedding ceremonies to exist, there must be love between two people.
Love is one of the most powerful emotions. Without love, it can tear a person down or couples apart. With love, anything is possible. Love keeps partners bonded and committed to one another through time. Love is a journey one takes. And through selflove, one can discover their needs, wants, and desires. It can make one wholesome. Love can look different through time. My parents, who are in their mid to late sixties, born and raised in Laos and came to the United States in their late twenties in 1980, see love as something you do for one another. For them loving each other means, you wake up and do your household chores, go farming, put food on the table, raise your children and grandchildren. Love is what you do for your partner in your everyday life together. They also believe that when you love your children, you stay with your partner regardless. As a result, many Hmong women choose to stay in marriages for the benefit of their children. That is why divorce was very uncommon in Laos in the early days.
However, when the Hmong arrived in the United States and new knowledge was acquired, I believe love is no longer what it used to be, or maybe it is disguised to look differently in the 21st century. Going about your everyday life with your partner was no longer going to cut it. Although many Hmong couples may stay for their children because of love, others have taken a less traveled path to divorce when marriages fail. That is where we saw the increase of divorce in the Hmong American community. In the 2000s, when couples no longer love one another, the healthiest decision may be to separate.
Through my readings about relationships and love, I have come across Dr. Gary Chapman, who is a pastor, counselor, and speaker most noted for his book, The 5 Languages of Love. The book shares the idea that everyone has a love tank. When the love tank is empty, one’s partner or must fill-it, just like a gas tank. The love tank can be filled through one or more of the love languages, and knowing your partner’s love language is key to keeping them happy and in love. The Five Love Languages are:
(1) Words of Affirmation.
(2) Quality Time.
(3) Receiving Gifts.
(4) Physical Touch.
(5) Acts of Service.
Learn more about what you partner’s love language is at www.5lovelanguages.com. Through knowing your partner’s love language, partners can have a fulfilled life together. They stay committed with each other for the right reasons.
In this book, these are the compilation of authentic love stories of my Heritage Hmong students’ parents who have agreed to share their love stories with you. This interview assignment was part of Xibfwb Yaj Ceeb’s residency. As I read through each story to edit, I cried, laughed, and felt all the emotions in between. I hope the stories will fill your heart just as a bowl of rice porridge does when one is sick or on a cold wintery day.
Furthermore, there were many more beautiful stories to publish, double what you see in the book; however, some stories were not yet ready to be disclosed to the world yet. For some, students and/or their parents chose to stay anonymous, or names have been changed to respect privacy. I respect their decisions. However, all the stories are as authentic as can be.
As you read each story, read it with an open mind and an open heart, as the vulnerability of students and parents have been poured out for you to dig deeper and give you a different perspective. For youths, learn from the mistakes young adults make as they get into relationships, but also learn from their wisdom that they share with you through the acquired knowledge with their lived experiences. Your parents’ stories are lus nyiaj lus kub, golden wisdom for you, as you become young adults in your next stage of life.